A Rhythm game with the Final Fantasy Series music

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a videogame set in a Final Fantasy meta-world of sorts (similar to Dissidia/Duodecim) in which the main characters of the series appear and fight together against a greater evil. You traverse the worlds and fight baddies to the rhythm of popular FF songs and tunes and your performance will impact how far you travel, how well you fight and how much points you'll score

  • Title: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
  • Developer: Square Enix (1st Production Department) and indieszero
  • Puiblisher: Square Enix
  • Release date:
    • 2012-02-16 (JP)
    • 2012-07-03 (NA)
    • 2012-07-05 (Australia)
    • 2012-07-06 (EU)
    • 2012-12-13 (iOS)
  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS, iOS
  • Links: (to be added)

The game in a nutshell

You play T:FF exclusively with the touch screen. You pick four heroes to be your party throughout the adventure (these can be changed later). A song from Final Fantasy starts and you have to react to three different triggers that appear on screen: Tap, Hold and "Slash". If you do it correctly, you get XP at the end of the song and some Rhythmia (a kind of "progress currency" I'll explain below). Victory Fanfare ensues.

If you're not interested in knowing how the game is or just want to know what I think about it, skip from this horizontal rule to the next one

"Advanced" Mechanics

The party

The game requires you to choose a party of four to ride into battle: one leader (that gets a small XP bonus) and three members. You can switch characters at any time between stages or Series. Available characters are:

Every one of these characters has a number of Ability Points (that increases with his or her level) and three or four slots in which they can equip passive and (re)active abilities. More abilities can be learned with enough leveling.


The game features three different triggers to react to:

  • Tap: You have to tap the touchscreen in time as it passes through the marker. These are always red
  • Hold: You have to tap the touchscreen as the first circle passes through the marker and then hold it in place until the end of line, marked with a second circle. These are always green
  • Slash: You have to draw a small line (up, down, left, right or any of the four diagonals) as the trigger passes through the marker. The lines have a direction, so an up-down motion is not the same as a down-up motion. These are always yellow

Stage types

There are three different kinds of stages, each one reminiscent of the main aspects of the FF games:

1) Field Music Stage (FMS): This stage reminds us of the traveling and exploring parts of a game and usually feature "overworld" tunes. In these stages, the party leader walks around the world and can find Moogles that give treasures and other allies or monsters. The marker is set at the right of the screen and the triggers come in from the left. The hold triggers may go up or down in their path and the stylus must move accordingly. Here's a handy diagram and please excuse it for being rudimentary

 |                                                              |
 |              ´**´                                    +----+  |
 |          ´´´´´  ´´´´´                                |    |  |
 |   /--   ´*          *´  /--    /--                   |    |  |
 |   |H |´´´            ´´´|H |   |SU|                  |    |  |
 |    --/                   --/    --/    /--           |    |  |
 |                                        |T |          |    |  |
 |                                         --/    /--   |/-- |  |
 |                                                |T |  ||M ||  |
 |                                                 --/  | --/|  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      |    |  |
 |                                                      +----+  |
 |                                                              |

   /--     /--     /--     /--
   |M |    |T |    |S |    |H |
    --/     --/     --/     --/
  Marker   Tap    Slash    Hold

   |Fig 1. A typical Event Music Stage                      |

So, in this particular example, you'd need to tap twice when the Tap triggers are in the Marker Zone, then an upward flick of the stylus and then tap and hold, while going up and down so that the marker touches the asterisks (*). Notice that you don't have to match the exact "height" of the marker along the vertical axis, only the movement of the hold trigger.

2) Event Music Stages (EMS): This stage reminds us of cutscenes and important events (duh) of the story in question. It features music related to characters and specific scenes. In this stage the marker itself moves towards the triggers along a line that is continuously appearing and disappearing. In this stage, hold triggers have no determined "height" and only their duration matters.

 |                /--               /--                         |
 |                |  |´´´´´´´*´´´´´´|H |                        |
 |                 --/               --/                        |
 |                                   ´                          |
 |                                   ´                    /--   |
 |                                   ´                    |SDL  |
 |                                   ´                  ´´ --/  |
 |                                   ´                 ´´  ´    |
 |                                   ´                ´´   ´    |
 |                                   ´               ´´    ´    |
 |                                   ´              ´´     ´    |
 |                                 /--       /--   ´´      ´    |
 |                                 |SU|´´´´´´|T |´´´       ´    |
 |                                  --/       --/          ´    |
 |                                                         ´    |
 |                                                         ´    |
 |  /--                 /--      /--      /--            /--    |
 |  |M |´´´´´´´´´´´´´´´´|T |´´´´´|T |´´´´´|T |´´´´´´´´´´´|SU|   |
 |   --/                 --/      --/      --/            --/   |
   |Fig 2. A typical Event Music Stage                      |

3) Battle Music Stages (BMS): The bread and butter of RPGs. This stage is all about fighting monsters, using magic and overpowering the baddies in general. In this stage you have four lanes, each corresponding to a member of your party. The marker zone is placed at the right and the triggers come in from the left just like in the FMS. In BMS, however, you don't have to move the stylus during a hold trigger and you only have to care about its length. You don't have to match the "height" of the triggers even if they are in separate lanes.

 |                                                              |
 |                                                +----+        |
 |                                        /--     |/-- |        |
 |                                        |T |    ||M || Cecil  |
 |                                         --/    | --/|        |
 |                                                |    |        |
 |                                     /--        |/-- |        |
 | +---------+                         |T |       ||M || Light  |
 | |Gilgamesh|                          --/       | --/|  ning  |
 | +---------+                                    |    |        |
 |                                 /--            |/-- |        |
 |                                 |T |           ||M || Firion |
 |                                  --/           | --/|        |
 |                                                |    |        |
 |                 /--        /--                 |/-- |        |
 |                 |  |´´´´´´´|H |                ||M || Bartz  |
 |                  --/        --/                | --/|        |
 |                                                +----+        |
 |                                                              |
   |Fig 3. A typical Battle Music Stage                     |
   |                                                        |
   |       This team was chosen because it's full of        |
   |           characters who kick ass right and left,      |
   |           compared to those crybabies of FF VII, VIII, |
   |           IX, X and XII. No one cares for FF XI.       |
   |                                                        |
   |       If you don't like it, go and make your own team  |

What are the separate lanes for, then? They determine how much and when every one of your party members get to attack. In the example above, let's suppose that I miss the Hold trigger. That would result in Bartz not attacking and, potentially, not activating his abilities. This is important, as XP is dependent on which and how many enemies you defeat.

4. Opening/Ending Stages: In Series mode (see "Game modes" below) there are two additional stages not playable anywhere else in the game. In this stage, we remember the opening and ending scenes of the game, when the story is explained to us or the epilogue is narrated. In this stage there's a single crystal in the middle of the screen and several notes float towards it to the beat of the song. These act like Tap triggers, except that there is no penalty for missing here. These scenes are skippable and its only purpose is to be a bonus source of Rhythmia (see "Numbers" below)

Game modes

There are three main modes of T:FF

  • Series: which is the closest to a "Story" mode. Here, you choose one of the main series of Final Fantasy (I through XIII) and you will play in order an opening stage, a FMS, an EMS, a BMS and an Ending stage. You can't change party between stages.
  • Challenge: This is Freeplay. You can choose any single song and play it. Once you finish all Series, you unlock the Expert versions of every song. A high score on Expert difficulty will unlock the Ultimate difficulty. You can also unlock Expert difficulty for Series mode.
  • Chaos Shrine: This is a bit complicated to explain. In here, you can unlock what is called a Dark Note. A DN is a mini-Series, consisting of one FMS and one BMS with difficulty between Lvl. 1 and 99. High level DNs are perhaps the best way to train your party after Lvl. 30 or so. Once you beat a DN, you'll get a new DN, with random FMS and BMS and difficulty level of the average level of your current party. You can also send and receive DNs via StreetPass

Numbers and other features

  • Levels and stats: Just like any other RPG, your party members have a level and several stats that determine his/her performance in battle. 
  • Rhythmia: According to the game's story, Rhythmia is a mystical power that can restore the balance to the Force or something. In-game it's a measure/currency of progress. Every 500 Rhythmia or so, you get a prize or something (unlocking tracks for the Music Player, new songs for Challenge, free items and so on and so on)
  • Music Player: You can play the music of the series without actually playing the stages. Cool huh? You have to unlock these by playing, though
  • Card Album: One of the prizes that Moogles can give are collectible cards of the characters and monsters of the games. You can store them in a digital album and they can level up to become holofoil cards.
  • Trophies: Also known as achievements. For bragging rights. Some are ridiculously difficult

What do you think, Andy?

First of all, I have to say that I'm biased in favor of Final Fantasy games: I enjoy playing them (which doesn't mean that I think they are all good games, but that's another writeup). Having said that, it's an interesting thing to do with the FF franchise and I applaud SQEX for giving it a try. I also like rhythm games and this is quite good. I doubt there's a rhythm game with this much depth in mechanics (because it's part RPG, with all the growth and discovery it entails)

Its main problem, IMO, is that it gets a bit too repeptitive at times. For some reason this didn't happen with a similar earlier game, Elite Beat Agents. The EMSs are sometimes boring to do due to them having relatively few triggers to their playing time.

Difficulty-wise I like it. I have reached Lvl. 99 stages and they are still very challenging to me, although your mileage may vary. There are actually two twists to the game at this difficulty level, but it's better if you find them on your own (they add to the challenge). There are unlockable characters as well, but these too should be a surprise to my readers. Trying to get everything there is in this game can take quite a while, which means there's a lot of replayability. For some, that means a lot of boringness.

There are also downloadable tracks (52 at this moment, I guess there won't be many more because a sequel is announced for later this year) and by my calculations, getting them all should cost a bit less than the base game itself. 

I think this is a great game, but not for everyone. You don't need to be a big FF fan to enjoy all that it has to offer, but knowing your music can certainly help a lot when battling to Dancing Mad

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