Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy Features

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Preview: The Best Final Fantasy on Nintendo in Years

Final Fantasy has had a troubled relationship with recent Nintendo platforms. The slightly lacklustre Crystal Chronicles subseries was always a sideshow to the franchises' main offerings, never available on Nintendo consoles. No wonder then that the barely-pronounceable reveal of Theatrhythm, a rhythm-based Final Fantasy spin-off, did nothing to reassure fans that Square Enix saw the 3DS as anything more than another proving ground for more derivative experiments.

But Theatrhythm, perhaps tellingly, makes no mention of the series' Crystal Chronicles days. The game's jukebox proudly blasts remixes from the main Final Fantasy canon, with every core numbered release represented. Starting at the 8-bit chiptunes of Final Fantasy 1 and finishing with the orchestral masterpieces of Final Fantasy 13, this is the first time you'll ever hear Final Fantasy 7's 'One Winged Angel' on a Nintendo system.

Theatrhythm keeps a familiar dosage of RPG elements despite its musical focus and ignorable story. You recruit a four-man party from the game's huge cast of fan favourite characters, each redrawn in the game's chibi style. Each begins the game as a grumpy level 1 novice. "Get lost," berates pink haired Final Fantasy 13 heroine Lightning. "I'm no hero!" whines Final Fantasy 7's Cloud. Luckily these weaklings can be levelled up, increasing their stats and unlocking gameplay-aiding abilities.

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FeatureThe 3DS games of TGS

Hands-on with Rhythm Thief, Bravely Default, Kingdom Hearts, Rocket Slime 3 and more.

Given the number of delightful oddities that came out of Japan when the DS first launched, it's been rather sad to see such a conservative first wave of 3DS software. With that in mind, not to mention the relative paucity of announcements at E3 a few months back, this year's Tokyo Games Show was an important week for the handheld. Would developers finally step up with some serious support for the system, or would the industry place all its chips on Vita?