Nobody expected Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy to be a success when Square Enix entered the rhythm genre back in 2012, but the company surprised us. Tapping, swiping, and sliding the stylus on the 3DS touchscreen to classic Final Fantasy tunes was much more addicting than anyone could have expected, so of course it got a sequel. I got a chance to play Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call at E3 this year. The good news is that fans of the original will be right at home. The bad news is that home hasn’t seen any renovations in this last two years.
Curtain Call follows the same formula as the first game. You go from opening to ending theme segments, hitting field music, battle music, and event music along the way. all the while you’ll be tapping, swiping, and sliding the stylus along the 3DS touchscreen to hit notes. The gameplay in Curtain Call is still excellent, and it’s always cool to see your favorite Final Fantasy characters interact with some of the best music the franchise has to offer.
While there is nothing new about the gameplay, there is quite a bit of new content. A total of 221 songs will be available from the get-go, with more promised as DLC. Final Fantasy X-2, XIII-2, Tactics, Type-0, and other spin-offs are all represented for the first time. Even music from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children will be included (no word yet on The Spirits Within). There are 60 playable characters from across the many Final Fantasy games, again with more to come as DLC.
Curtain Call has the same charming art style as the first game, though the game is presented as though it were set on a stage. While the gameplay is pretty, the CG event videos don’t look nearly as good on the 3DS as they do on an HD screen. The compression isn’t awful, but the scenes have lost a lot of their grandiosity.
I’d be lying if I said Curtain Call isn’t fun. There’s plenty to love here, especially if you were a fan of the first game, but it feels more like an expansion than a sequel. The new songs and characters could have easily been added into the first game as DLC. Setting the game on a stage is an interesting aesthetic choice, but it doesn’t add anything new. There is a two player versus mode, though it wasn’t playable in the demo. If it’s good, it could be enough to warrant a new release.
Fans of the first Theatrhythm will really enjoy Curtain Call. Square Enix hasn’t mucked with the formula that made the first game such a joy, instead choosing to expand on it with more music, characters, and a new art style. “Expand” is the operative word there – this doesn’t feel like a proper sequel – but at least it’s fun.