Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game with role-playing elements. It's a nostalgic collection of several songs from the first Final Fantasy all the way up through Final Fantasy XIII, with button inputs for you to press in-time with the music.
Pro Incredible amount of nostalgia for Final Fantasy fans
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a good callback to the games in the series, specifically geared toward longtime fans. The cast of characters and songs ranges from the first Final Fantasy back in the 1980s all the way to Final Fantasy XIII that released in 2009. Having the recognizable characters together like Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VIII, Yuna from Final Fantasy X, Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII, and Terra from Final Fantasy VI, as well as a fantastic collection of iconic music from the franchise, helps this feel like a great celebration of the series. Most of all, getting to see familiar cutscenes in the background of the rhythm gameplay is a nice touch that Final Fantasy fans can appreciate.
Pro Engaging rhythm gameplay
The way the rhythm controls work is great for keeping you engaged and on your toes. While the basics are simple enough, with certain prompts signalling for you to press or tap your buttons or to instead use your 3DS stylus to trace a long note with the touchpad, things pick up pretty quickly. Once you get to the more upbeat battle themes that are faster and have a mix of different button inputs flying from left to right across your screen, it's a fun and satisfying challenge to pull off all of the notes correctly. For Final Fantasy fans especially, following along with the gameplay to the songs you know and love by heart is really special.
Pro Comprehensive collection of tracks that span the Final Fantasy franchise
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has 78 music tracks in the base game from Final Fantasy I to Final Fantasy XIII, with a handful of the most memorable songs from each title.
Battle themes from the earlier Final Fantasy games are the ones that hold up best, with fast-paced melodies and a distinct sound that carries through the first six games. Fans are sure to recognize the bigger, more iconic final boss themes like the opera-orchestral "Dancing Mad" from Final Fantasy VI and "One-Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII. The wonderfully emotional vocal themes, "Melodies of Life" from Final Fantasy IX" and "Suteki Da Ne" from Final Fantasy X are also here as well.
And if you want even more songs, there are over 50 DLC songs to purchase through the Nintendo eShop.
Pro Cute visual style
The chibi character sprites are quite cute as another throwback to older Final Fantasy games. The rounded, colorful designs make even more serious characters like Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII look adorable, helping them fit in with this unusual but fun mash-up of genres. Younger players who aren't as familiar with Final Fantasy may find the style appealing as a way to get into the series through this game, while older fans can appreciate the differences and novelty.
Con There isn't much of a story mode
Other than some quick exposition at the start to set things up, you won't find a story mode here at all. Since the Final Fantasy games are well-known as RPGs with good stories, it's weird that Theatrhythm includes RPG elements but all but ignores the story entirely. The story isn't exactly essential, though, since the gameplay carries everything quite well. But for fans who are on the fence about getting a rhythm game, you unfortunately won't find a noteworthy story mode here to pull you in.
Con The role-playing elements don't matter that much
While it's nice that the game has role-playing aspects like stats and skills to upgrade, there's really no point in bothering with them. They're supposed to help you with the rhythm gameplay, but they don't actually make a difference in the end, since you still have to do most of the work with your own reactions and button presses. The role-playing part is just there for the sake of being there, and as a wink and nod to the RPG identity of the franchise.
Con Text in the background cutscenes is in Japanese
For whatever reason, we didn't get the localized versions of the cutscenes. The devs instead left the Japanese text in the English version of the game instead of including the same shots of the localized scenes. While fans may be able to recognize when and where the scenes play by memory alone, new players will probably be lost and unable to follow the emotions that help carry the songs.