Theatrhythm Final Bar Line has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch and what a package it is! From its humble beginnings on the Nintendo 3DS, the rhythm game series that harkens back to the early days of the Final Fantasy franchise finally makes its debut on the Switch with a plethora of modes and well over 300 songs to learn, in addition to many DLC offers on the eShop. So grab your Chocobo, lift your Buster Sword and let’s Omnislash into the history and epic scores that the Final Fantasy franchise is known for.
The first time I played this little series was back on the Nintendo 3DS and it blew me away with its sheer amount of songs, intuitive touch screen controls and it also introduced me to many familiar, and not so familiar Final Fantasy, characters for the first time. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line has finally arrived on the Switch and brings with it well over 300+ songs taken from 40 different games from the Final Fantasy franchise such as some from the main line series as well as spin-offs, remakes and even soundtracks CDs.
Playing Theatrhythm can be pretty challenging but don't fret, let's run down what we need to be aware of in this game. There are four circles lined up on the right hand side of the screen and it plays out like most rhythm games do, requiring the player to press the right button or analogue direction which corresponds to each note. Coordination is key, but you can adjust the difficulty easily in the settings.
During battles, you can select a party of characters which you can level up and earn new abilities for. However, you don't actually have full control over your teammates, you merely focus on hitting notes and aiming for perfect scores; missing notes can break your chain and deplete your team's health. Your party members have their own abilities that automatically help you during battle such as defence, physical and support types, allowing you some assistance during battle.
The game is split into three modes:
Series Battle allows you to play through classic games from Final Fantasy’s history. In this mode, you’ll be collecting keys from different games in the series, allowing you to unlock over 29 different games, each having their own songs, stages and quests to complete. You will also unlock new characters here to add to your party, which you can customise in the edit party section.
Music Stages allow you to play any song you want from any games you’ve currently unlocked from the Series mode. Here, you can change up the difficulty from four options including basic, expert, ultimate and supreme. You can even change styles such as playing using either standard controls, Pair Style which allows you to play with another person, or Simple Style which allows you to use a single button, allowing everyone to join the fun. It’s always nice to see games be more accessible for all skill levels.
Lastly, Multi Battles allow you to battle against random players around the world, which is always a nice inclusion. After a song is selected by each player, one is picked at random and the game begins. Each player can only see their own progress through a small window at the bottom left-hand corner, which also shows the character's health and score. There's even an ability to throw different distractions at other players to ruin their perfect score. After the match is over, players get a total tally of their score and may even get to pick up a new card as a reward depending on where they placed in the match.
Then there’s also a Museum Mode with a ton of goodies to unlock, including cards, music, feats that act like achievements, and more. You can also edit your proficard with different designs and characters, allowing you to exchange them with others after playing online.
Each mode offers something new and there’s alway the chance of unlocking new goodies and feats as you progress.
The game’s songs are a collective mix of styles which not only are great to listen to, but play as well! There are different types of stages, such as Battle Music Sequence (BMS), Field Music Sequence (FMS) where your characters are walking and Event Music Sequence (EMS) that see a classic scene from the Final Fantasy world playing in the background.
There is tonnes of content here to unlock and dozens of DLC songs to purchase, which should provide weeks, if not months, worth of content to enjoy.
- Intuitive controls
- Three unique modes
- Different battle types
- Tonnes to unlock
So I've got a few gripes here, such as the absence of the 3DS’s touch screen controls which I am sad to say was my preferred way to play the series. The buttons work fine but sometimes, there is a lot going on at once and it can get confusing, especially when you're required to hit both analogue sticks in different directions at the same time, only to then follow up with taps and swipes. I feel that if the game had come with touchscreen controls, it would have alleviated the issue.
Also, the game is stuffed full of songs to the point where it can feel like a mammoth task just to unlock them all. While this is great when you have the time to sink one hundred hours into a game, it would have been nice to include a way to unlock things a bit quicker for people who don't have all that excess time.
Finally, I've found it hard to find people with my skill level when playing online. I’m more than happy to play at a slower pace than others are, but there doesn't seem to be a way to set a certain difficulty setting when searching for other players. Apart from setting up your own room, you're probably going to end up facing a lot of tougher players than you need to.
And lastly in the 3DS version of Theatrhythm, you could collect unique character cards just like you can do here. However in Final Bar Line, they’ve lost some of their charm as you use to be able to flip the cards over to see additional information on that character, however you can't do that in the Switch version. This makes cards a little less fun to collect. Also, in the 3DS version, you could keep all cards in a cute little ring binder, but now it's just a blank blue space which makes the collection side of things a little bland.
- No touchscreen control
- Takes a long time to unlock all the songs
- No difficulty options when searching for players online
- Character card collection has lost some of its charm
Final Score: 9/10
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is a fantastic collection of Final Fantasy’s finest music in one massive collection. With well over 300 songs to unlock and play, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul to see them all. There are some light RPG elements when playing around in the party edit option and at least 100 characters to unlock, not to mention the tonnes of collectibles to earn, quests to complete and feats to see. Throw in some online battles and you’ve got a game that sets its sights on the stars and soars above all the rest. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is one of the best rhythm games you can buy on the system to date. So, what are you waiting for?
Thank you for checking out our Theatrythm Final Bar Line Switch review, thank you to Square Enix (via Bandai Namco AU) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: