For the reason that franchise’s introduction in 2012, the Theatrhythm video games have masterfully capitalized on the Ultimate Fantasy collection’ unbelievable soundtracks. Utilizing a gameplay system that is approachable but deceptively difficult, whereas additionally mixing iconic scenes from previous video games within the background, the video games act as a playable portfolio of FF’s most memorable moments. Ultimate Bar Line is purported to be the ultimate sport within the Theatrhythm collection, at the least for some time, and if that is true, it is an unbelievable ultimate act.
Theatrhythm Ultimate Bar Line presents 385 music tracks from throughout the Ultimate Fantasy spectrum, with a wholesome combination of fan favorites and deep cuts unfold out throughout 29 completely different classes. After deciding on a music, gamers will press buttons alongside to its rhythm through three sorts of notes: pink, which requires a single button press; yellow, the place a button press is paired with flicking the joystick in a chosen path; and inexperienced, which have to be held for so long as the inexperienced bar is current.
This visitors light-esque system sounds easy, however it may be downright devilish in observe, particularly on larger problem ranges. Keying in on which components of the music the notes are similar to may be powerful, particularly with compositions as advanced as what longtime composer Nobuo Uematsu and his friends have devised over time. That stated, it is nonetheless immensely enjoyable having the ability to work together with these iconic songs on this means, as I discovered my entire physique shifting to the beat whereas I tapped alongside on the controller.
There’s one small foible about these notes that I need to point out, because it’s simply what’s given me essentially the most trouble–not solely within the sport, however all through the complete franchise. Throughout a inexperienced be aware, when the top of the strip is reached, the button have to be launched in rhythm with the music as nicely, and the timing of the discharge impacts your be aware streak. I’ve misplaced extra streaks to this than anything, just because my mind is tricked into pondering I am supposed to carry the be aware till the subsequent be aware hits. It is a novel little mechanic that ups the problem, but additionally ups the frustration till it begins to really feel extra pure.
To say that the 385-song library of Ultimate Bar Line is in depth is an understatement. The best hits from the collection are here–Zanarkand, a number of variations of One Winged Angel, Melodies Of Life, and many others.–but there are some surprising tracks that do an exquisite job of exploring the complete breadth of Ultimate Fantasy’s portfolio. There is a monitor from The Star Onions, a band created by composer Naoshi Mizuta that strictly covers FFXI music. There are additionally a couple of songs from the electronica remix albums SQ Chips and Extra SQ. Even a pair of FFVII preparations featured in Tremendous Smash Bros. Final–Cosmo Canyon by Yoko Shimomura and Aerith’s Theme from Keichii Okabe–are right here. That is an anthology of music hardly ever seen in a single place, and having all of those nice tracks collectively is far appreciated.
Every music suits into one in all three completely different codecs, or what the sport refers to as “Music Sequences.” The primary is Battle, the place every be aware seems in one in all 4 completely different static rows on-screen. I discovered Battles to be the simplest of the three units, as although notes had been coming shortly from left to proper, I used to be capable of deal with the goal space and time my presses to them extra effectively than the opposite Sequences. For veterans of rhythm-based video games, Battle Music Sequences felt like Guitar Hero or Rock Band to me, and that familiarity helped out in the long term.
Occasion Music Sequences flip the rows from horizontal to vertical, with notes approaching from the highest of the display screen whereas scenes ripped proper from the supply materials play within the background. The place Battle felt like Guitar Hero, Occasion’s new format seems essentially the most like these basic rhythm video games. It is a change from earlier Theatrhythm video games, the place the notes used to scatter across the display screen so I might faucet and watch on the similar time. I can nonetheless watch the scene because the notes fall, nevertheless, the vertical motion felt off regardless of how acquainted it appeared, and I discovered myself lacking notes extra usually right here than in Battle. I perceive the concept behind the change, however I want Occasion Music Sequences had saved the distinctive scattered notes motif of earlier video games.
Discipline Music Sequences return to horizontal notes, however this mode additionally incorporates sliding inexperienced notes, the place gamers should maintain the joystick up or right down to hit the little dots contained in the inexperienced strip. I think many will develop a love/hate relationship with this format, because the sliding can flip even the slowest and most melodically easy monitor right into a problem. Of all three codecs, this was the one which brought about essentially the most restarts, because the sliding goal brought about extra confusion for me than the opposite modes’ static rows. I did ultimately wrap my head round it, and when that occurred it was marvelous, however the studying curve is larger than the opposite modes.
Most of Theatrhythm’s songs have to be unlocked, and that occurs within the Sequence Quest mode. Right here, a celebration of 4 characters will stroll by way of every sport’s story through its music, whereas additionally showcasing the necessary moments in every sport. As extra video games are unlocked through Sequence Keys earned through the playthrough, extra characters may be unlocked for the occasion. Finishing songs earns expertise factors for every member of the occasion, and leveling up earns new skills for these characters as nicely. Finishing a particular goal in every music additionally unlocks a CollectaCard, which provides entry to screenshots and different objects within the Museum mode.
Whereas customizing a celebration and outfitting them with particular skills is cool, it does not add a lot to the general expertise. My focus is on tapping notes and listening to music, so the occasion touring by way of a city and combating the occasional monster is ancillary at greatest and flat-out distracting at worst. Positive, the injury my occasion offers will increase as I do higher within the music, and my misses trigger injury to be dealt to the group, however with the fights taking place away from the targets I am unable to actually take note of the motion. I get that one thing must be happening within the background, and I respect the sunshine RPG parts each hearkening again to the supply materials, however do not count on the impression on total gameplay to be greater than serving to you full non-obligatory quests. That being stated, watching Squall, Auron, Sephiroth, and Ramza from Ultimate Fantasy Techniques group up is neat in any context.
When Sequence Quests are completed, each unlocked music may be performed once more within the Music Phases listing. Customized playlists may be created and performed with out pause from begin to end, which opens up much more methods to problem your self. The opposite most important gameplay mode is Multi Battles, the place as much as 4 gamers play by way of a music and compete for prime scores, however the core gameplay does not see any main adjustments. These modes, whereas pleasurable, contain taking part in the identical songs as these within the Sequence Quests, so they do not add a lot to the sport exterior of various methods to expertise the identical music.
Theatrhythm Ultimate Bar Line is the apex of the Theatrhythm spin-off franchise. Its huge and different library of music is a nostalgic thrill, the gameplay is approachable whereas providing loads of problem, and the sprinkling of RPG parts like occasion customization presents a private touch–even if that contact is not tremendous impactful. There’s one thing right here for everybody, from the staunchest Ultimate Fantasy fan to the one who solely is aware of Cloud and Sephiroth from Smash Bros. There are a couple of minor missteps alongside the way in which, however none of them create any main malfunctions within the expertise. Merely put, Theatrhythm Ultimate Bar Line is a master-class symphony of enjoyable and nostalgia, and it’s a sport worthy of the music library it options.