Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Review

Remember when Final Fantasy 7’s Aerith and Sephiroth teamed up with Final Fantasy X’s Yuna and Seymour Guado to fight Gilgamesh and Kefka from Final Fantasy 5 and 6? While that might sound ridiculous, you can make it happen in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line thanks to the power of music. The latest in Square Enix’s rhythm series had me tapping both my feet and fingers as I matched the beat alongside 35 years of my favorite Final Fantasy songs with some very light RPG gameplay. It’s a colorful and enjoyable journey, and one I had a hard time putting down.

The Theatrhythm series has always been about assembling a party of four recognizable RPG characters to tap, slide, and hold buttons to the music, leveling them up as you go. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is the first time it’s jumped from handheld to home console, and its impressive 385 songs from across 29 different Final Fantasy games sets a new bar that will be challenging to top in the future. Every song can be completed on your own, against other players, or in the co-op Pair mode, where each player is responsible for half the notes. There’s also Simple mode, which converts everything to single button inputs, making it the most accessible game in the series to jump into yet.

Including the two to three hours I spent upgrading or customizing my party and retrying failed songs, it took me roughly 40 hours to clear all the songs. Those are broken up by game into 29 different series, some of which take far longer than others, with most having somewhere between 10 and 20 songs to unlock while one outlier had 32 – I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy XIV. That said, they are all worth completing, as the soundtrack is fantastic and has plenty of custom medleys and new special arrangements that encompass the most notable songs in the Final Fantasy catalog. That comprehensive approach means it’s also great to see lesser-known characters like Benjamin from Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and Wol from Mobius Final Fantasy get a chance to shine, although I was bummed my favorite, Ronso Kimahri from Final Fantasy X, didn’t make the cut.

Every song was a delight to jump into.

Every song was a delight to jump into and see how the developers arranged the various button prompts. Tapping the right buttons to the beat of Final Fantasy X’s Blitzball or sliding the analog sticks to match the rhythm of Final Fantasy 7’s One Winged Angel is immensely satisfying when you manage to chain your inputs together. The DS and 3DS versions of Theatrhythm were limited to single prompts due to the nature of their touch controls, but the jump to consoles allows for another layer of complexity: Final Bar Line adds new dual button prompts or combinations between holds, taps, and slides to nicely ramp up the difficulty. Certain combinations were initially challenging to figure out as I had to adjust which buttons I would press based on the variation. Still, once I did, later stages caught me off guard again by adding triple and quadruple combination prompts, or modifications like extremely quick prompts, to keep things interesting.