I started gaming with the NES. I had quite a few games back then which are now mostly forgotten. I remember I had a game called Totally Rad. I never finished it but I always liked it because the bosses filled the screen and you could use magic to turn into animals. Also the game is called Totally Rad.
Back then there was no internet and I never bought magazines so I chose every game based on the box art. Which is how I ended up with Super Turrican. Turrican was my Mega Man, I never finished it.
Having spent the past three days playing Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Or to give the game it’s full title Theatrhythm trademark Final Fantasy copyright. I find myself with a few questions.
Theatrhythm is a 3DS rhythm game celebrating 25 years of music in Final Fantasy. The first thirteen games in the main series are represented each with three songs or stages.
There are a few ways to play these stages but at first your only option is Series mode. In Series mode you pick a Final Fantasy title and then you play through all three of it’s stages in ‘series’ on the easiest difficulty, known as Basic Score. Doing so unlocks those stages in challenge mode where you can play them individually and try the harder difficulties. So this is where we get to my first question.
Why does Theatrhythm force you to play the Basic Score for every stage?
Starting out on Basic Score for the first four or five stages is fine. But soon enough you’ve got the hang of it and Basic Score is starting to feel a bit dull. Unlocking all thirty nine stages in this way felt like an enormous grind. Showing a bit of patience has always been part and parcel of the Final Fantasy experience. It just seems a little out of place in a rhythm game and I can’t understand why Square Enix chose to gate the content in this way.
The obvious answer would be ‘to artificially extend the game play’. To which the obvious reply would be ‘that is a horrible idea, everyone in game development please stop doing that’.
Isn’t that an unusual thing to do anyway? To try and artificially lengthen game play in a rhythm game. Surely rhythm games are like puzzle games or classic arcade games. Genres built around re-playability.
Besides, the best way to keep a game like Theatrhythm at the top of everyone’s Activity log would be to support it post release with string of all new downloadable content. Which leads me on to my next question.
Will there ever be a game of the year edition for Theatrhythm?
That’s right Theatrhythm has DLC. So much of it, in fact, that it would cost me more than the price I initially paid for the cartridge in order to download it all.
You can infer from this statement that I no longer define a ‘game of the year’ as a game which has won a prestigious ‘game of the year award’. Rather I define it as a version of a game which is now complete. A sign that no more DLC is to be released, your patience has been rewarded and now is the time to buy the game.
Here’s my solution to DLC and used games. Anyone who buys a game at launch for full price receives all future DLC for free, or heavily discounted. Anyone who buys the game used or waits a few weeks for a price cut has to pay for it. Then anyone who gets the game of the year edition essentially gets the same deal as the early adopters. Everyone pays roughly the same price for their games, no one has to feel like a chump.
I can’t say that Theatrhythm’s DLC is truly offensive in any way. The main issue I have is that there are no audio clips or previews of any of the songs available for download. Seems like a no brainer. Instead all you have to go on beyond the song’s title is a bit of text. Here is the description for the song I bought.
“This jaunty rock song from FFVII’s boss fights starts with an exciting guitar solo and is far and away one of the most popular songs in the long FF series.”
Those cheeky scamps at Square Enix. They knew. To be fair the FFVII battle music chosen for inclusion in the main game was ‘One-Winged Angel” and rightly so. On the other hand it was the developers who decided, only one battle theme per Final Fantasy in the game, so screw them.
Theatrhythm has me wondering if this well established console gaming trend of ‘game of the year’ and ‘complete’ editions could be making it’s way to handhelds. Smart money is on yes it definitely will.
Speaking of the Elite Beat Agents. (Bite me.)
Why does Elite Beat Agents Have a Better story than Theatrhythm?
Elite Beat Agents is a DS rhythm game released as a western counterpart to the Japanese Ouendan games. In Elite Beat Agents every song has a nice little narrative framing device presented as an animated comic strip. There is also a satisfying finale in which the agents have to save the world by performing the Rolling Stones’ Jumping Jack Flash.
Theatrhythm, by comparison, has nothing. Isn’t that weird. Isn’t that downright unfathomable. It is a Final Fantasy game after all. I’m not calling for some kind of Dissidia style fan-fic nightmare. But a little bit of context would have been nice. I mean beyond the two screens of text that the game already provides.
What currently stands as Series mode could very well have been a story mode. All it needed was a few a lines of dialogue here and there. If we’re going to push the boat out, have a cut scene or two with that cute Theatrhythm art style. Characters like Sephiroth and Kefka do appear in the game but there is no ceremony. They are just there. What a waste.
Often times in Final Fantasy speceific music tracks are linked with important events in the story. For example busting out of Midgar on the motorbike in FFVII. I think what I am trying to say is that it would have been appropriate to see a manifestation of the story and narrative elements that combine with the music to make it so special.