Strangely enough, North America only recently got a demo of Theatrhythm on the eshop. The actual game has been out for a couple of weeks by now though, so it is an odd move by SquareEnix, especially since Europe and Japan got demos before the game released in their territories. Nevertheless, I guess it’s better late than never. It could very well convince some people who are still unsure if they want a rhythm game. Myself, I was already planning to pick up the game once the price dipped a bit lower. Being someone who has mixed feelings about rhythm games, I wasn’t willing to pay full price for it just yet.

Did the demo change my mind? Not really, but it did confirm that I do want to pick up the game eventually. It also confirmed that I truly am absolutely pathetic with rhythm games. I’m having trouble completing any difficulty above the first one. Nonetheless, I had fun with it. It is strangely addicting and the music is probably a big part of why. The demo comes with two songs: A Man with a Machine Gun (FFVIII) as a Battle Track, and Sunleth Waterscape (FFXIII) as a Background Track. Those two are some of my favourite songs from the Final Fantasy series. In particular, Sunleth Waterscape is probably my second favourite track from FFXIII (only topped by Lightning’s Theme). So I was quite happy with the selection provided in the demo.

One thing I noticed is that the Background Tracks/Stages are a lot easier than the Battle Tracks/Stages. I actually managed to finish Sunleth Waterscape on the second difficulty level, whereas I kept failing (and pretty early in) on A Man with a Machine Gun. It is probably because the background tracks, which feature one of the characters walking along a path, have only 1 line of “notes” to follow, whereas the battle tracks have 4 characters and 4 lines of “notes” that scrawl, which probably makes it harder to concentrate on actually doing what the notes are asking because you have to divide your attention between 4 lines. The demo didn’t let us try a story segment part, unfortunately, which is the third kind of stage playable for each and every mainline final fantasy game.

Gameplay-wise, it is very similar to Elite Beat Agents, where you have to tap, tap and hold, or slide the stylus on the touch screen depending on the notes that are flying across the screen. I find these sorts of rhythm games to be the trickiest for me to get accustomed to. Button presses are much easier and feel more natural to me personally, and with the tap and hold notes, unlike with button, the touch screen would sometimes not register that I had tapped and was holding the note.

Still my overall impressions were good, even if I probably won’t ever be able to finish all the stages on the hardest difficulty setting. Truthfully, a big part of my enjoyment comes from the fact that I absolutely adore the music of Final Fantasy; and I’m sure that is probably a big hook for the majority of players as well. It’s a nice anniversary title too as it pays tribute to all the mainline games and not just 1 or 2 of them.

–SW

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