The Fantastic Musical Slave Crown

Holy to the balls, I’ve been playing a lot of TheatrhythM Final Fantasy. And yet not nearly as much as I want. It truly sucks that the only place I can play is on the train to and from work, because as you can guess, a rhythm game is harder to play in a non-stationary environment like a shaking, accelerating train car. It’s even harder when you have to hold the 3DS with one hand and poke and slash the screen with the other. Standing up. But it’s just as bad when you’re sitting down and crowded in on both sides by other passengers who are fat and smell like whores and bums. I’m sure they’re just as annoyed with me, because even with headphones on, this is not a game that can be played silently. Tap-tap-tap-tap tap-tap-tap-tap hold-slash hold-slash hold-slash. That’s what it sounds like when I’m playing the Big Bridge Gilgamesh Battle Theme stage from Final Fantasy V.

Getting the game couldn’t have worked out better. In fact, it went precisely according to plan. My son and I defeated Ganon in the Ocarina of Time, and the next morning I got a call from Yamada Denki who had my game. In addition to this great news, they offered me a free gift from a list (I went with the screen cleaning kit) when I went to pick it up. I suppose it was to say sorry we were out of stock and thank you for not buying it somewhere else. You are welcome, dudes. What makes it really special is that even after acquiring it, the game is still unable to be found on any store shelves two weeks since its release. I checked right after getting mine – it’s gone. And I’m still visiting game shops as if I was on the hunt, and that shit is nowhere to be found. But it’s getting played, all right. In fact, there is a wireless handshake thing similar to the Mii Plaza where if you’re walking around with a 3DS kicking TheatrhythM and you come into the proximity of another person rocking the same game, the systems exchange your profiles and make available a duo of TheatrhythM stages that you can attach to your profile for others to download. So far, I’ve collected about six other people’s profiles, one of whom has somehow already achieved 99,999 Rhythpo points which is fucking insane.

The game itself is just about exactly what I expected, so I’m happy as a chocobo in a breeding stable. Still, I have some issues with this game that need to be documented here:

1. Not enough songs. That’s the most obvious flaw of the game, and Square-Enix saw this one coming a long way off. In fact, this is the first game for the 3DS that has extra downloadable content that costs money. Sumbitch! At more than a dollar a song and a library of over 1,000 songs for each of the 100,000+ players, this little music game has the potential to finance another Final Fantasy movie. Solution: Just fucking pay it, get more goddamn songs.

2. The Final Fantasy VII overworld theme music does not start at the beginning with the intro, but rather midway through the song. This sucks, because that is one of my favorite pieces of music ever, and it’s because of the way it builds up from the intro into the humble melody, gradually gaining momentum before it explodes into a full orchestral ensemble. In TheatrhythM, it just begins at this point, sapping it of all feeling and sentimentality. Solution: Get over it, rejoice at the inclusion of the Big Bridge, FFIV’s Battle Hymn of the Four Elemental Fiends, Celes’s theme from FFVI, and the perfect, unadulterated port of FFIX’s overworld music (complete with intro).

3. Making a “slash,” that is, responding to a cue that appears in the form of an arrow requires you to drag the stylus across the touch screen in a certain direction, and it will occasionally say you did it “bad” even if deep in your heart, you know you did it “fucking great.” Solution: use your whole arm, because the wrist cannot be trusted to make quality up/down left/right movements. Also, place the stylus on the screen way before the arrow meets the rhythm point – it’s only the motion that counts; not the contact or release.

4. The theatrical event stages show a montage of screens and scenes from whatever Final Fantasy game they come from. Some of these scenes reveal major plot points including footage from the goddamn ending movie! Believe it or not, there are people who haven’t finished all of the Final Fantasy games and don’t want these endings revealed at this time. I know, because I’m one of them. And even if I did finish them all, there’s a kind of forbidden preciousness to the ending movies that makes me only feel worthy of watching them if I’ve actually done the work of conquering the last boss. Solution: play all event stages with NO EQUIPMENT on your characters. For some reason, this deactivates the special stage extension which reveals the most sacred bits from the games.

5. And finally, the biggest problem with TheatrhythM is that by playing it, you end up wanting to go back and play all of the Final Fantasy games at the same time. These days, whenever I hear the music from FFs IV, VI, and XII, I get this sort of trembling ache in my heart that makes me want to start a brand new game of each, cover myself with a thick fleece blanket, rip open a five pound bag of Twizzlers, down a six pack, quit my jobs, order a pizza, and wait for them to take me away. You know that “I’d rather be fishing” bumper sticker? Yeah, that’s me all day long, only I’d rather be playing Final Fantasy games. I’d rather be playing Final Fantasy games WHEN I’m playing goddamn Final Fantasy games, and it’s fucking killing me. Solution: play all Final Fantasy games forever until the end of time and treasure every moment as if it will actually be the last time you get to play it. Also, buy some Twizzlers.

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