Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Review

Square Enix’s mobile offerings garner a lot of scorn. The quality of its games and ports are typically good, but priced so ridiculously high that the company may as well just rattle a coffee can under our noses like the clocktower woman from Back to the Future (‘Saaave gaming’s past! Indulge in nostalgia!’) Unfortunately, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is an example of Square Enix’s mobile market at a new low. It’s a shoddy, problem-plagued port of a charming Nintendo 3DS game, and its grab for in-app purchases is unacceptably severe.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy first hit the Nintendo 3DS last summer. It’s a rhythm game (the bizarre name should give that away) that merges RPG action with a whole lot of tapping along to some of the Final Fantasy series’ best music. As you keep time to the music, adorable puppet-sized versions of popular warriors from the series battle enemies or trundle along an overworld. If you screw up and miss notes, you lose your hit points. If you keep up, you’re rewarded with items and collectable cards. There are also event scenes that require you to tap along with famous cinema scenes from the series’ past.

“Are we…in Heaven? Maybe now we can rest–aw, heck.”

Concept-wise, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was a winner on the Nintendo 3DS, and the formula should have travelled over to iOS without a hitch. Unfortunately, the port’s problems are more numerous than Ultros’s tentacles. You can download the initial Theatrhythm app for free, and it comes with two songs, one of which is Sephiroth’s (in)famous theme, “One-Winged Angel.” Additional songs must be bought, surprise surprise, and they’re not cheap. Single songs cost 99 cents. ‘Basic’ bundles of four songs cost $2.99, and by the way, the selection is not as good as it should be, even though the iOS version of the game offers songs that aren’t available on the 3DS version (yet).

Nothing against Final Fantasy VI’s battle music, but where’s Devil’s Lab? Where’s Aria di Mezzo Carattere, the opera scene that immortalized Final Fantasy VI’s soundtrack? Mind, it’s hard to shake the impression that Square-Enix intends to offer more beyond its Basic song bundles. Keep your credit card warm.

You said it, Squall.

Oh, and good luck when you hit the App Store with high hopes of grabbing the likes of Final Fantasy IV’s Inside the Giant, because the game will gladly take your money but it might not give you the song in exchange. We’ve had continuous problems with download screens that hang for infinity. Heck, consider yourself lucky if you get the game to work. We experienced crashes on the iPod Touch 4, and the App Store is peppered with complaints about the game not running smoothly on anything under the iPhone 5.

The Nintendo 3DS version of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy offers around 80 unlockable songs for a $30 purchase (in addition to some purchasable fare). If you want to build up a comparable store of songs in the iOS version of the game, you have to spend a lot of gil. On one hand, buying songs through in-app purchases really lets you fine-tune your music library to your liking. On the other hand, bundles may contain two songs you moderately enjoy and two you hate, and the whole shebang is a technical mess, anyway. Since the initial download is free, you might want to check the game out. But before you open your wallet, you might want to make like the chocobo in this game’s icon and run, run, run.

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