Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
E3 2014 Hands-On Preview
"Curtain Call is everything that Theatrhythm was, with more, more, more: more songs, more features, more in-depth gameplay..."

The Final Fantasy series has brought us a lot of titles over its history; far more than the "XIV" affixed to the latest mainline title would suggest, once you start counting spinoff titles and side stories. And yet, the number of games released pales in comparison to the number of soundtracks released. We RPG fans love our music, which is how a single Final Fantasy game can have three or more album releases with a variety of tracks and arrangements. Given the popularity of rhythm-based games, it's almost shocking that a Final Fantasy-themed music game didn't happen until 2012.

Released on both Nintendo 3DS and iOS, we covered Theatrhythm Final Fantasy in atypical fashion, being a title that technically doesn't fall within our realm of coverage. With the sequel coming, several of the RPGFan staff felt that the heavier RPG elements warranted proper coverage, and those that didn't feel this way were quickly overruled. So here we are.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, like its predecessor, is a game about tapping. Tap, tap, tapping to the beat of 221 songs with a cast of over 60 characters pulled from the entire history of Final Fantasy. The massive song count comes from the inclusion of all of Theatrhythm's original and DLC tracks, except one. Yoko Shimomura's lovely "Somnus" from Final Fantasy XV is not included (though you can hear a sample on our Drammatica review). On top of these tracks as a base, Curtain Call adds another 90 songs, as well as offering its own DLC packs. The game's director, Masahiro Suzuki, has stated that he sees Curtain Call as the final game in the series, that will be used as a base for future content packs. In the last two months, the Japanese release has seen 5 such packs, with each one containing a new character and 4-9 tracks each. It's easy to see Curtain Call gaining tracks from, say, future Final Fantasy XIV patches (Ramuh's battle theme, please), and Final Fantasy XV.

So how is the song selection? Extensive! Each mainline Final Fantasy title is represented via up to 14 tracks, across battle, field, boss themes, and more. FFIII's Crystal Tower, FFV's Clash on the Big Bridge, FFVI's Dancing Mad, FFVII's One-Winged Angel, and so many other favorites are here. Curtain Call doesn't skimp on non-mainline games either: you'll see tracks from FF Mystic Quest (!), FF Tactics, FFX-2, FFXIII-2, Crisis Core, two Crystal Chronicles titles, and Type-0. Even Dissidia, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and, strangely, Romancing SaGa are represented. The optimist in me hopes that the inclusion of SaGa could pave the way for future themed DLC packs, such as, oh, I don't know, Kingdom Hearts. Either way though, the selection is massive, and I can't wait to play all of the FFXIV tracks. And Advent Children. And Tactics. Okay, I'll stop. But I'll say that the full tracklist is worth perusing.

There are several song types, which present themselves in various ways. The stage types return from the original game — field themes, battle music, and event music — with the addition of airship themes from most of the Final Fantasy games. Each mode requires you to react to different motion patterns in order to play (or tap) along in tune with the music, and each successful tap damages the enemy your party is facing. New glowing notes offer a damage bonus if you tap them perfectly, and missed notes cost you HP. As you can imagine, running out of HP means Game Over. Based on our time with Curtain Call at E3, it looks like the Event themes will once again prove to be a challenge, as it's the one mode where notes don't slide across the screen in linear fashion, but rather an unpredictable maze-like path around the screen.

Gameplay modes include a mix of new and old: The Quest Medley mode was new to the iOS release, and an enhanced version is present in Curtain Call. Quest Medley offers up overworlds and dungeons to trek through, challenging you to complete a series of songs consecutively to get your party across the map. In contrast to the iOS version's linear map, Curtain Call's Quest Medley offers branching paths, locked doors that you must win a key to pass through, save points, and the chance for rarer loot and increased EXP based on your progress. It takes what was a cute name for "complete 10 songs in a row" and wraps it up in a system that's much more RPG-like. You'll also be able to share quests with your friends for a variety of challenges. Another addition that ups the RPG ante are the enhanced CollectaCards. These collectible cards were present in both versions of the original Theatrhythm, but were simply a fun thing to collect. Now, they can also be used to enhance your characters.

New to Curtain Call is a "Daily Feature" that randomly selects a song that, if you complete it that day, offers bonus Rhythm Points that boost your characters' stats. Perhaps the most exciting new mode though, is the Versus Battle mode, which allows two players to see who's the best at a given song. Similar to a Tetris or Puyo Puyo Vs. mode, players can inflict different statuses on each other to hinder their progress. Finally, I can challenge the RPGFan Music editors to see who's really the best (I am going to lose so hard). And yes, Versus works for both local matches and over the internet. You can even battle a CPU "player."

For those of you skipping to this paragraph and ignoring everything else I said — I know you're out there — what you need to know is that Curtain Call is everything that Theatrhythm was, with more, more, more: more songs, more features, more in-depth gameplay, and things like Versus Mode and planned DLC that will extend the life of the game for quite some time. Let's just say we're looking forward to September.

© 2014 Square Enix, indieszero Co., Ltd.. All rights reserved.

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