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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy review: Enjoyable, if fussy, fan service

Weirdly, it's not even a great music game...

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Thanks to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy our lives have a new soundtrack, and now everything's epic. And we do mean everything. Bleary-eyed teeth brushing sessions have morphed into a battle of attrition between gum and bristle, played out to the fanfare of Final Fantasy VI's battle theme.

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Early morning staggers to the office's toxic coffee machine have given way to Mambo de Chocobo-charged powerwalks, and dishevelled moggies are also a thing of the past now we've got the famous FF intro strains permanently implanted in our brains as a stroking metronome.

Aural splendour has been one of the Final Fantasy series' calling cards since the very beginning, so it was only a matter of time before Square-Enix squeezed out a rhythm-action game showcasing its greatest hits. Every mainline game in the Final Fantasy series is represented (from I to XIII) and in Quest Mode you get to play an abridged version of each storyline, classic sprites 'n all.

GOING FOR A SONG

Visually it's presented with typical Square-Enix luxuriousness, but it's the harp strings that most tug at the heart strings. Regardless of whether they were originally pumped out of a NES or a PS3, Final Fantasy's musical scores represent anthemic tubthumping at its very best; they demand to be tapped along to, and now we've got a game that cuts out all the saving the world and allows us to concentrate solely on that.

The nuts and bolts of the action are typical rhythm-action fare - you tap, trace and swoosh a succession of markers in time with the beat. Success is rewarded with graphical flourishes and new encounters, but repeatedly hitting bum notes will earn you a private concert with the game over screen. Standard stuff, but it's a winning formula.

For Final Fantasy fans, the appeal is obvious and instantaneous, and with over 70 songs squirrelled away inside the cart (and another 50 planned as paid DLC), it begs to be owned. As something you'd want to sit down and play for aaages it's less essential.

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Stripped of its FF theatrics, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a fussy, over-complicated and somewhat mediocre rhythm action game that can't hold a tune to the likes of Ouendan. But you'll never get that chance to strip it down to its core; it's wrapped in so many layers of infectious fan service that you can't help but lose yourself in the music

The verdict

Scatty, overambitious design disappoints, but the Final Fantasy love rings out loud and clear like the honk of a Chocobo with its head trapped in a tuba.

  • Essential collector's item for Final Fantasy zealots
  • Challenging, and rammed with unlockables
  • Imperfect, over-ambitious rhythm action game
  • Don't like FF? There's literally nothing here for you
8
Format
Nintendo 3DS
Developer
Square Enix
Publisher
Square Enix
Genre
Rhythm Action

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