I'm a huge fan of Final Fantasy music and have been listening to it for years. There are times in my younger days that I'd leave my SNES on just to hear the music in FFIV and FFVI play. This was before I knew you could import soundtracks, which I started doing around the time of Final Fantasy VII. When Square Enix released the original Theatrhythm, I was extremely excited to play it, but was ultimately left feeling cold. Sure, the music was fantastic, but the track list barely made a dent in the massive Final Fantasy collection, and many of the game's features were poorly implemented. The original game was a big disappointment, but thankfully Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call fixes so many of these issues it's almost like a completely different game.
The best part about Curtain Call is that the track list has increased from around seventy in the original to well over 200, and that's before DLC. The variety that was lacking from the first game is greatly improved thanks to this, because not only are there more tracks from each series entry, but more games are represented. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy Type-0 are all fantastic additions this time around, just to name a few. Along with new music, there are also tons more characters to choose from and unlocking new ones is a much faster, friendlier process than before. Having a party of Auron, Kain, Ramza, and Rydia is pretty great.
When I said that Curtain Call was almost like a completely different game, it's really more accurate to say that this is the game we should have gotten the first time around. The gameplay hasn't really changed much, but it's all put together so much better. Content is spread out across three different styles of play. The music stage area allows for open access to the 200+ library of songs sorted by game. Players can practice stages, marks favorites to replay, randomly select a song, or just play a song on either basic, expert, or ultimate difficulties to earn points. Basic mode is almost too easy, as there's little effort required to do well. Expert is a good balance for someone like me who has coordination issues, because ultimate mode just left me wanting to throw my 3DS. I'm getting better the more I play, but some of these combos require way better eyes than I have. This free mode allows players to sample the game's soundtrack at their leisure while still being rewarded with Rhythmia, which is used for unlocking new features.
The new Quest Medleys are missions where you take your party through a series of tracks to fight a boss and obtain shards, which help unlock new characters. These are fun, addictive little quests which give you a reason to work on building up your characters. The stats, skills, and items you can equip on your party of four might seem like window dressing, but boosting these helps your performance in battle and in turn, improves your score. This mode is well-paced and constantly updating, giving you reasons to replay it, as it is a quick way to unlock new characters and obtain new items. It helps that these are often themed around a series, but they still give you a choice in your path, so you're not playing the same stuff repeatedly.
As for the gameplay itself, it's the same old hold, swipe, and tap to the rhythm the first game offered. One nice feature this time is the ability to play the game using buttons instead of just the stylus. The button mode was much more comfortable, but I felt like I could be more accurate with the stylus, so it's going to be a personal preference there. Either way, I still hate those diagonal swipes, as I never seem to hit them just right.
Songs stages are divided up into battles (BMS), field maps (FMS), and cinematic events (EMS) just like before. The battle stages can even be played online this time instead of just via local multiplayer, and it works really smoothly as players perform the same song to see who gets the higher score. Versus mode even brings in new skills meant to give you an advantage against an opponent, and it really does add a challenge. This competitive mode also gives you a reason to level and equip your characters with better abilities, as it can give you an edge in battle.
With the original Theatrhythm, I quickly found myself back listening to my music collection on iTunes instead of repeating the same tracks over and over in-game. With Curtain Call, I'm still tackling quests, playing random tracks in the free mode, and occasionally battling friends over Wi-Fi. While very similar to the style of the original, the entire structure around the music segments has changed greatly, and it makes all the difference. I'm so glad to have Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call on my 3DS memory card (despite being a staunch physical media supporter), because this is one of those games I plan to keep coming back to over and over again.
Enjoyed By? If you are a Final Fantasy fan or just love music, pick this up.
This game was played on 3DS via an eShop code provided by the publisher.