Real Talk By: The Wizard
No doubt 2014 has been “the year” for the Nintendo 3DS. We have seen many great titles this year on Nintendo’s little handheld. Games like Smash Bros, Bravely Default, Pokemon’s, Mario Golf, Persona Q, and others have given us many hours of enjoyment. But there are also excellent titles that seem to fly under the radar virtually unnoticed.
Theatrhytm: Final Fantasy was one of those “under the radar” titles released back in 2012. In my opinion it was the best game no one played. It did have its flaws, but it was a very enjoyable title. It basically is a rhythm based game with RPG elements, all played to some epic Final Fantasy music. Think Guitar Hero with a stylus, but instead of pressing and holding buttons on the guitar, you tap, swipe, and hold the stylus in sync with musical notes. The RPG elements are all about picking a party, and completing levels to gain experience. The more you used Cloud Strife, the more experience points he would get toward using magic spells, and other abilities. You could pick and choose what to equip depending on the type of level you were playing, and even create an entire party based on how you wanted to tackle a level. The game consisted of three different types of playing fields. You had the battle instances, which resemble turn-based combat playing fields. They are a frantic mix of tapping and swiping the stylus all to the battle music from previous Final Fantasy games. There are field stages, which play world map music, and are more about holding the stylus and dragging. Finally there are event stages that play similar to the motions used in the battle sequences, but they are much slower paced and have cut-scenes from memorable Final Fantasy games playing in the background. Theatrhythm was a great game, with a half-way decent amount of depth. You would play it, and enjoy it, but you felt like it was lacking slightly regarding certain aspects.
Fast forward to 2014 and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call was quietly released. Upon reading up on this game a few months before coming out I wondered exactly what this was all about. The first one had a lot of songs, especially when factoring in DLC. I really had no idea what to expect. How could they really improve a game that was already pretty great? All I could think was maybe they were releasing more songs that were in the original Theatrhythm DLC, and including a few more characters. I really had no idea what to expect from this game. I liked the original enough to go in blindly and pre-order Curtain Call, but was curious how it would stack up to the original, and if I could even justify buying the game again.
Theatrhythm: Curtain Call is a rhythm game almost exactly like the original. There are actually quite a few differences though. Seeing how this is a music based game let’s just start with the music. It pretty much goes without saying the music is top-notch. Not only is the music great, but the amount of tracks compared to the original Theatrhythm is completely ludicrous in a good way. There are well over 200 tracks this time shipped with the game. This is not counting DLC tracks that you can purchase. Also, the amount of games that have music pulled from them is very diverse. I was pleasantly surprised to see tracks not only from the main games in the series, but also from other games like Final Fantasy Tactics. If you are a Final Fantasy fan the vast majority of music you want in the game is probably there already. Surprisingly, the tracks sound great even though they are not on CD based media. So no complaints so far.
In the game-play department Curtain Call again plays pretty much the same as the first Theatrhythm, but with minor differences. For example some of the notes look slightly different, and they also seem to pop louder when you hit one correctly. There are also more characters, spells, and abilities to choose from this time around. There are still many of the staple gameplay modes from the original like free play mode, story mode, and the street pass mode that revolves around “Dark Notes”. These are scores that you complete, and pass to a fellow player via Street Pass for them to challenge. You also set up a custom profile card so people can see your overall scores and ranking compared to theirs. I was pretty surprised after playing the game for a few hours to see I unlocked online mode where you go head to head in real-time against another player via online ranked battles. My main complaint with the original Theatrhythm was that there was no online mode, so I was a happy camper at this point. I really enjoy the online mode, but I must say my one main gripe here is that it feels like it relies heavily on luck. If a player gets enough chains then you are hit with a negative status ailment. This can be a bit annoying because it is random and you always feel like you are passing the weak status ailment’s to your foe, and getting all the worse ones. Still it is a fun little mode, I just wish there was a mode where you just go head to head and only your skill, and party setup were what land you a win. There are a few other modes that I will not get into detail about, as this is already a long post. Just rest assured Curtain Call is packed full of content, and there is plenty to keep you busy for hundreds of hours.
As far a graphics are concerned Theatrhythm does look good. I would not go as far as to say it looks amazing. The 3DS is not flexing any muscles. It does however look more than acceptable. Besides, this is a rhythm game, the graphics mean next to nothing. Don’t be expecting any adult like character models as well, all the characters have a sort of deformed cutesy look.
In conclusion Theatrhythm Curtain Call is a great game. If you played the first expect more everything. Simply put it is better in every way, shape, and form, with tons of content to keep you busy for many months. There are really only a few things I would change about the game. First I would add currency to the game so you could buy equipment for your characters. Second, I would add an online mode where there are no status ailments. That’s pretty much it. These are only small gripes that really do not impact my score of the game. I still find myself totally addicted and unable to turn off my 3DS. You will constantly find yourself saying “after one more song, I’m done, really I am”. If you are a fan of Final Fantasy, or rhythm based games, Curtain Call is a no-brainer. I would even go as far as to say if you are not a fan of either genre to give it a go. It really is that good and might turn you into a fan. Besides, you can justify downloading the free demo to give it a whirl.
I will probably catch a storm here, but I would easily say Curtain Call is the best handheld game of 2014, and one of the strongest games in the Final Fantasy franchise in recent years. Yes, better than Smash Bros., Bravely Default, and every Pokémon game. Don’t even bother with the original Theatrhythm, Curtain Call makes it pointless to ever even consider picking it up except for the die-hard fan that must own every Final Fantasy game. Curtain Call will end up being a desirable game, that will disappear from the shelves in a few years. Just go buy it now while you can still find it easily.
Theatrhytm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Gets
5 Out of 5
+Lots of Customization
+Music is Great
+A Nintendo game with an online mode!
-Online can feel like it relies on luck at times
-I do wish characters could buy and equip weapons and armor