Theatrhythm: A Tribute Done Right

Theatrhythm: A Tribute Done Right

25 years is a long time.  That’s a quarter of a century, if that helps put it in perspective.  Not many things in our life last that long: marriages, companies, video game series.  Sometimes, however, through the benevolence of some undoubtedly under-appreciated and forgotten god devoted exclusively to the prolificacy of gaming franchises, some games do manage to exist for a long time.  Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series is one such franchise that this oddly specific deity has magnanimously chosen to grace with seemingly eternal life.  This becomes deliciously ironic if one were to research the origin of the game’s title.

And who doesn’t love ironic titles?

I bring all this up because this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series.  Well, over in Japan, anyway.  I know this because I recently came across a rhythm game for the 3DS entitled Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, and it said so right there on its cover.  So, despite its awful name and my complete lack of knowledge on how it’s pronounced, I decided to purchase it.  Of course, I didn’t buy it without any prior knowledge of the game’s content.  I’d been following (read: salivating over) it since its inception in Japan and looked forward to the little tidbits of information and screenshots that came in every issue of Nintendo Power leading up to its release.  I only say that I came across it because I had no idea it was available for purchase in the States already.  I’ve been pretty busy in my life lately, but, considering the game boner I had for it, I was surprised it slipped my mind.  I actually went into Game Stop to pre-order it when the chick behind the counter looked at me like I had just farted and said, “That’s already out.  Wanna buy it?”

I farted in thanks and walked out with my new purchase. (Definitely not pictured)

I got the game home, placed the kids in the nearest dumpster, and popped that sucker in.  I was totally blown away from its awesomeness.  I seriously couldn’t believe how freaking amazing the game was, nor could I believe I was having so much fun with it.  It’s been a long time since a game really snagged my attention to the point where I did nothing but play it for an entire weekend (the last instance being Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor).  I really couldn’t put the game down.  My wife was pissed.

Probably because of the whole dumpster thing, too.

I should probably have prefaced this by saying that I’m a HUGE Final Fantasy fan.  I’ve been a fan since FFII on the SNES, and FFVI is one of my favorite games of all time.  It also helps that I unhealthily love rhythm games.  I have every rhythm game on the DS, but that’s for another post.  Point is, this game is a marriage of two of my favorite things in gaming, and then it gets topped off with some of my favorite music in gaming.  The girlish squeals I unleashed upon first playing this game were as embarrassing as they were piercing; hyperbole cannot do my satisfaction justice.

I was this happy.

Theatrhythm radiates charm.  Its addictive, rhythm-based gameplay mixed with character growth, amazing and memorable music, and unique, adorable art style all culminate into a beautiful game and an excellent gaming experience.  Plus, there’s all kinds of things to enjoy in it other than the actual game.  Fans can peruse the collectable cards found in-game to learn more about the franchise’s history or to simply wax nostalgia.  There are also movies that show some of the greatest moments in Final Fantasy for each individual game. And let us not forget the things your party says before the stage begins.  I really don’t know how to explain it.  Each member randomly says two or three words, and these words are somehow supposed to make a sentence.  Technically and grammatically it works but with hilariously incoherent results.

Cloud’s emo-ish prepositional phrase is as depressing as Tidus’s careless adverb.

Square Enix really went all out when they decided to celebrate their greatest achievement.  I honestly felt like this was more than a game as I played it; it was a labor of love.  Nobuo Uematsu, long-time composer of Final Fantasy and creator of most of the music found in Theatrhythm, actually cried when he played this game.

Will you cry with me?

I can’t say that I cried with him (mostly because I’ve replaced my bodily function of “crying” with “flexing”), but I can say I had some emotions stir within me because I grew up with this music; I vividly remember walking home from elementary school and humming some of these tunes.  While playing Theatrhythm, I felt like a kid again, and I thought to myself, this is what a gaming tribute should be, nay, feel like.  I wish freaking Nintendo, the most lucrative and nostalgia-dependent company in gaming, would take note.

Soon as they’re done money-diving, I’m sure they’ll read my blog.

Nintendo should take a long, hard look at what Square Enix has done with Theatrhythm, and then they should choke on their shame.  I’m a huge Nintendo fanboy, but I have to calls ’em like I sees ’em: Nintendo’s attempts to pay “tribute” to their long-running franchises are nothing more than pathetic excuses to get some quick cash.  I understand that companies exist on the sole purpose of making money, and I’m completely cool with that.  What I’m not cool with is how Nintendo treats their celebratory, limited-edition collector’s boxset games, especially after I played Theatrhythm.  It’s obvious that Square Enix and indieszero took a lot of time and effort in making their tribute to Final Fantasy.  The biggest tip off was that it was a completely different game with a completely different gaming experience!  I’m not saying everyone has to create a rhythm game to pay tribute to their franchise (though they should).  I’m saying that it’s nice to experience something new while I play something old, which is a polite way for me to say, “Stop bundling old games into one disc and selling them back to us with NOTHING new on them, Nintendo, you shit!”

I hope Iams comes with lots of fiber.

Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition made me want to stab my face off.  It came in a very nice package, I can’t deny that, but the game was exactly Super Mario All-Stars, released on the SNES nearly 20 years earlier.  To add insult to injury, this version didn’t even come with Super Mario World, my favorite Mario game.  The package also included a lame art/history book and an even lamer CD with some music and sound effects from the series, and that was it.  They released a red Wii or something, but that was it.  It sucked.

But, oh, let’s not forget about The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary.  God forbid we forget about Nintendo’s golden boy (see what I did thar?).  He gets an updated remake of one of his games, a Club Nintendo-exclusive CD, a golden Wii remote with the Tri-Force on it, a brand new game with another CD, and a fucking worldwide orchestral concert!?  WHY!!!!!!!!!!!?  Mario has about a thousand more games than Link, he’s made way more money for Nintendo, and he’s the fucking ICON OF GAMING, yet Link still gets more for his celebration!?  I’m sorry, but I’m all interrobanged out here.  I haven’t even mentioned that Samus and Pit just had their 25th on the same year.  Pit at least got a new (terrible) game and became relevant again, but Samus didn’t get shit.  And I think another well-known gaming icon just had their 30th anniversary, and he didn’t get any recognition either.  Who was that, again? He’s kind of an obscure Nintendo character.  Oh, right.  DONKEY FUCKING KONG!

I know that’s not your middle name.  I just got excited.

How did my favorite ape turn the big 3 – Oh and not get anything for it?  He put Miyamoto and Nintendo on the map!  He helped Nintendo bring Universal to its knees!  He’s one of the best characters in Smash Bros!  He fought Little Mac in the ring!  He belongs to one of the greatest platforming franchises of all time!  He sparked controversy in the gaming community, and his game is still coveted as THE game to beat!  Nintendo, why have you forsaken me?  Why doesn’t DK get to shine?  Who is it that you think is more deserving?

Son of a bitch.

Look, I love me some Kirby, and turning 20 is a great thing, but Nintendo is already messing it up.  It’s pretty much going to be like Mario All-Stars Anniversary EditionSeriously.  They’re just going to put a bunch of games onto one disc, add an art book and a CD, give it a nice package, and ship it.  That’s just bullshit.  If you wanna buy that, that’s fine, but I’m not.  I suppose it’s great if you haven’t played those games before, but I feel like an anniversary collection should take advantage of a franchise’s long and rich history by presenting it in a provocative or, at the very least, interesting way, like Theatrhythm!

I suppose I should actually show the game I’m putting over.

If you haven’t gathered, I love Theatrhythm.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I’m especially talking to you, Nintendo.  Star Fox has to be hitting a milestone pretty soon.  Do us a favor and put some thought into it.  I’m pretty sure putting all his games on a single disc and then selling it to people is the equivalent of taking a dump in a box and placing a couple of Reese’s Cups on it.  I sure as hell ain’t sifting through all that shit to get some peanut butter.

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