If you’re a fan of rhythm games and love Final Fantasy, there’s no finer game for you than Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line.
The Theatrhythm series isn’t new: it’s been around for over a decade, first appearing on the 3DS. Tap notes in time to the beat of iconic Final Fantasy music, and chibi-style characters based on the Final Fantasy series will fight against monsters. It’s a simple premise but one that works incredibly well. And the latest game in the series, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, putting Theatrhythm on PlayStation consoles for the first time, may just be the best yet.
This is a true celebration of Final Fantasy, featuring songs from every mainline entry and a number of spin-offs. There are even some non-Final Fantasy games included, although of course the Final Fantasy series is the main focus of the game. There are 385 songs included in the main game, in fact – a ridiculously high number – with even more if you opt to purchase the Deluxe edition. More Final Fantasy music in one place than you could ever dream of.
Tapping away to the likes of One Winged Angel or To Zanarkand is every bit as incredible as you’d imagine it would be. Of course, not every Final Fantasy game has a soundtrack as rousing, but there are plenty of hits here, and even the ones you aren’t quite as familiar with may reveal some hidden treasures. What’s great about Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is that it doesn’t impose a strict control scheme upon you: its button presses are flexible, allowing you to use the combination that best suits you.
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When playing Battle Music, you’ll have four lanes of notes to keep up with. When a note hits the end of the line, that’s when you hit it. A note can be played with any face button or shoulder button. You’ll occasionally need to press more than one button at once, so find the combination that works best for you. We used circle when there was only one note, switching to the triggers when we had two notes at once. Other notes have directional arrows in them, and on those notes, you’ll need to move the thumbstick – again, either thumbstick will do – in the relevant direction.
When playing Field Music, things are a little different. This time, you’ll only have one lane of music, and you’ll often have consecutive wavy lines of notes to keep up with. For these, you’ll need to hold down a note while also moving a thumbstick to match the waves of the line. In each mode, you’re awarded points for how accurate your note hits are: score ‘critical’ each time for the most points, and anything better than ‘bad’ will keep your chain going. Miss a note, or get a ‘bad’, and your streak ends.
You can’t simply jump into any song from any game when playing Theatrhythm Final Bar Line: you need keys to unlock new titles. You’ll be given one key right at the beginning, to unlock the game of your choice (Final Fantasy VII for us, naturally). After playing a few songs, you’ll be given another key to choose another game, and so on.
There’s a free play mode to jump into, allowing you to choose any song you’ve unlocked, as well as a host of extra songs. And, if you fancy battling against others, there’s an online multiplayer mode available to test your rhythmic prowess. It’s a very welcome touch, expanding Theatrhythm Final Bar Line‘s gameplay exponentially. But for us, the joy of simply making our way through each song by ourselves is more than enough.
There’s extra depth to engage in if you want it, too. By unlocking a new title, you’ll also unlock a number of characters from that game, which you can use to create a party. Squall, Tidus and Cloud, together in the same team! As you play, each party member levels up and gains new skills, impacting how well they fight against enemies as you play. Each level has various optional objectives, and if you wish to truly get the most out of Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, you’ll want to optimise your party to beat the enemies in each level. You don’t need to, though: for most players, the enjoyment of the rhythm game – and the sublime soundtrack – is what we’re here for.
An incredible celebration of the series from across the years, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is a must-play for any Final Fantasy fan. Beautifully presented with multiple modes and potentially endless gameplay, this is one of the best rhythm games you could possibly own. It’s an absolute joy to play – just as tapping along to the Golden Saucer’s theme tune, or Balamb Garden’s theme should be.