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Final Fantasy's known for its great soundtracks. Making a music rhythm game using those tunes then isn't the craziest idea, and comes heaped with ready-made nostalgia.

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If you're a veteran player, you'll find something to tug the heartstrings here, such as Final Fantasy X's heartbreaking scene when Yuna realises she can't give up her pilgrimage and settle for a normal life. It may be cheesy for some, but for others - present company included - memory serves to enrich the experience.

This isn't a straight up music game though. There is a story that's reminiscent of the franchise's origins. A cast of heroes set out to restore the balance between two great beings, whose unrest is causing a massive music crystal born on this plane of existence to be disrupted. To return the crystal to normal, our heroes have to use musical waves called Rhythpo.

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Our cast is made up of thirteen faces from across the entire stretch of Final Fantasy titles, re-conceptualised as anamorphic doll figures, all red cheeks and button noses. But they're still packing their skills - four for each character.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

The gameplay's what you'd expect from previous rhythm titles. Tap the screen as the notes appear; red dots a quick tap, green to hold down until the end of the line, and yellow asking you to draw in a certain direction. These are the basics, and difficulty increases over time.

You've the choice of playing any of the previous thirteen Final Fantasy titles, and each is composed of three different game modes, each differing in musical tempo and split by FF hallmarks: Field, Battle and Event.

Field's the first choice for us. Your chosen character pops up on screen and strolls through the landscape while the button prompts scroll across the screen in time with the music; here its mostly long drawn out notes and wavy lines for us to trace correctly. Come stage's end is a protagonist from that game to reward us with an item.

Battles are the onset of sweat, furrowed brow and hand cramp. The tempo is fast as each note symbolises an attack by our chosen foursome, lined up against enemies in classic FF Battle System style. Better timing lands stronger hits, miss and you lose HP. Once you loose the flow, its hard to get back into it.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Successfully finishing a stage grants you Rhythmia - which lets you unlock the game's extras - and experience points. XP transfers into larger HP bar and more skills to equip to your characters.

Some skills are only activated if certain battle conditions are fulfilled, others are constantly active and increase agility. Our doll-like cast may be equipped with items that'll automatically enable at a certain point, releasing us from responsibility and letting us instead concentrate on the music.

Biggest goosebumps come from the Event music stages. The display alters once more: the background is video montages from the best moments of each game, while the notes loop round in different patterns and appear very late. Its a taxing challenge made palatable by the musical score.

After the last notes, we recieve the remaining earned Rhythmia. Collecting will be richly rewarded in this game, because the more points we get, the more extras are unlocked. Beside some hidden characters and music videos of the event music stage, we unlock the individual songs as well.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

There's also the challenge mode, which offers the same songs but with a higher degree of difficulty - and strong nerves are needed.

The game's story feels ultimately superfluous: a brief description at the game's beginning, and an ending that comes abruptly because we'd lost any connection to it hours ago.

Yet we still retain our emotional connection to the Final Fantasy series: revived through the euphoria of actively participating (conducting?) with the franchise's music.

The game's music forms an instant connection with the memories we have of playing these games and the highs, lows, sadness and happiness we'd experienced at the time. After playing this, you'll want to return to those Final Fantasy games that have particular significance to you.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
+ Cute characters + Enchanting music + Plenty of extras
- light touch often registered as a single-tap - story non-existent
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