I must have spent hundreds of hours attempting to get SSS rankings on every song in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy on the 3DS way back in 2012. So, when Square Enix revealed a new game in the difficult-to-spell series, I was more than excited to give the game a go on Nintendo Switch.
For those of you who have no idea what to expect from Theatrhythm, let me give you a quick rundown. Final Bar Line is a rhythm game that features almost 400 tracks from Final Fantasy, with planned DLC for Nier, Live A Live, and even more memorable tracks down the line. It’s a very simple premise, has easy-to-learn, hard-to-master levels, and a very defined audience of JRPG and rhythm game fans.
After playing the Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Switch demo I was hankering for more, and as you would assume, the full game provides just as good of an experience as the demo. During the demo, I chose to unlock some tunes from OG Final Fantasy VII as it’s my favourite in the series, and I was able to play five songs in total before being blocked off from more. So I picked up where I left off ready to obtain my SSS rank in One-Winged Angel…
Every song gives me a quick burst of nostalgia as I reminisce on my time playing the PlayStation 1 and 2 games as a child, and my head bops along with every tap of a button. This head bopping gets more furious as I increase the difficulty and it’s surprising how much intensity can come from a rhythm game. Though this may just be my preconceptions as I’m not a rhythm aficionado.
Outside of the rhythm elements, you also get to put together a team of four chibi Final Fantasy characters who battle enemies as you progress through each song. I must admit, I know these characters and their stats are important to complete side quests for each level, but I just like to choose my favourites and hope for the best.
I do recommend you pay attention to the tutorials and equip your party with the best gear, but if you’re like me and just wanna boogie and pick up some SSS ranks, they don’t matter too much unless you wish to play this game as somewhat more of an RPG.
For some reason, Final Bar Line on Switch doesn’t include touchscreen controls, as it does on the 3DS version, which is odd, as tapping, swiping, and holding the stylus on the screen in the original was very satisfying and worked like a dream. I do find it slightly fiddly when I have to press a direction on both analogue sticks at the same time as the Switch Joy-Cons don’t have that comfortable a layout at the best of times.
In saying that, the general Final Bar Line vibes are very similar to the original game back on 3DS. As I mentioned above you’re following a very similar formula, you just build a team of four chibi characters from numerous Square Enix IPs, side-scroll across familiar backgrounds, and tap away at your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons to the beat of some absolutely classic tunes. What more could you need, really?
An aspect I didn’t get too much time to try out is the Multi Battles. This mode allows you to play with up to three other people online to see who’s the best. I’ll come back here after release and let you know how well it performs on Switch, but I can’t comment right now, obviously because I’m trying the game before it’s out and I can’t seem to find anyone else to join.
To touch on Switch performance outside of online play, it’s absolutely perfect. Short load times, no lag, and the ability to play it portable may make the Switch version the best way to play this game, I just wish they had kept touch controls.
I don’t think the game will surpass your expectations, but it will meet them, as it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a Final Fantasy rhythm game with all your favourite characters and even some adorable chunky chocobo to make you laugh.
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Switch review
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line takes a very simple premise with easy-to-learn and hard-to-master levels and ties them all up in an adorable little chibi ribbon. It’s a must-play for any Final Fantasy superfan, but the lack of touchscreen controls on Switch is an oversight