Square Enix’s Infinite Playlist
HIGH A wonderful playlist with interesting remixes.
LOW The art style does nothing for me.
WTF What’s with all of these RPG elements?
Hi everyone! Eugene Sax here with another review from Gamecritics.com.
Ever wanted to have Cloud, Squall, Yuna, and Vivi team up to fight Sephiroth and Kefka? Well now you can in the latest Final Fantasy rhythm game. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is the newest installment of this musical remix series where players can go through hundreds of songs from the franchise’s history.
In Bar Line, players will be using a combination of pressing or holding buttons to tap in time with the music, as well as flicking or moving the control sticks to hit notes, or some combination of these options. In some songs, it can also require players to hit a note and then move the control stick to follow the note up and down the screen. There’s also a simple control mode where players can hit one button to hit all notes in the song, or a pair mode which allows two players to play on one note chart. All three control styles can be used for all parts of the game, making it the first of the series that can be played completely co-op if desired.
Bar Line has three different modes of play — Series quest (their campaign mode), Music Stages (their free play mode), and Multi Battle (online multiplayer). Series quest takes players through each individual game, playing through the bigger songs while cutesy versions of game characters and monsters will battle underneath the notes. Once the level is completed, the song unlocks for free play. Each song can also have an additional modification where it can be more strict on timing when players hit the notes, or it can make notes move faster than normal. There are some light RPG elements as well — completing songs will level characters up and enable them to do special moves if players nail a long chain of notes or getting through a certain portion of a song. The other two modes, the Music Stages and Multi Battle mode, are more about getting the highest score and highest chain possible.
As you can tell from what I’ve said so far, there is a lot going on in Bar Line, and this is both for better and for worse.
For example, I love the expansive playlist of over 350 songs that collects all of the greatest hits from the Final Fantasy IP, but it also includes different types of remixes and tracks from other media, like the mobile games, animated films, and other Square franchises. On the flip side, the RPG elements are superficial, and I only needed to pay attention to them if I wanted to achieve a specific side goal during a song in order to get an unlockable. I also have to admit that the art style did absolutely nothing for me. So much so, in fact, that I eventually turned off the art because I wanted to focus solely on the note charts.
That said, the music nerd in me enjoyed Bar Line‘s rhythm aspect, especially as it seems more focused on playing different parts of a song, rather than specific instruments in a song. In a way, it felt more like being a conductor rather than someone seated in the orchestra, and for this music I think that’s the appropriate choice. Also, being able to play every minute of Bar Line in co-op is an interesting addition to the rhythm genre since there can be more than two players on different note charts, while having some paired notes go between players kept the music sounding and feeling fresh.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Theatrhythm Final Bar Line. The note charts are interesting and build on themselves as sections of a song are repeated, the track selection is immense, and as a bonus, it plays great both in docked mode or on the go, which means that it’s easy to pick up and get a couple of songs in, anywhere or anytime. Rhythm fans and Final Fantasy fans alike shouldn’t miss out on this one.
For me, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line gets an 8 out of 10.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Square Enix. It is currently available on PS4 and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. About 1 hour was spent in multiplayer
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and Mild Suggestive Themes. From the ESRB Website: “This is a rhythm game featuring characters, settings, and sequences from the Final Fantasy franchise. Players engage in rhythm-based battles, commanding their fighters to use swords, pistols, and magic spells against enemies (e.g., dragons, ogres, half-human creatures). Video clips/cutscenes also depict instances of violence: large-scale battles with explosions; a character impaled by a lance; characters shot with guns/arrows, accompanied by brief blood spurts. Blood may also appear on the ground and on characters’ faces. Some female characters wear revealing outfits (e.g., low-cut tops, deep cleavage). The word “a*s” appears in the dialogue.”
Colorblind Modes: There is one color change option. This changes the notes from red, green, and yellow to blue, teal, and orange.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Text and voiceover are in the game, but the text is not resizable. Playing with no sound doesn’t hinder gameplay, since each note has an indicator on when the note needs to be hit. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable controls: This game features no remappable controls, and no control diagram. Players can use the face buttons (A, B, X, Y), the shoulder buttons (R, L, ZR, and ZL), or the directional buttons (up, down, left, right) to hit the notes. Players will also use the left or right joystick to flick in directions, or to follow a note on screen.
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This game is a definite step back from the 3DS games, which weren’t amazing to begin with. I’ve never been a big fan of touch controls, but given Bar Line, it occurs me to now that touch controls were the best way to play the 3DS games, and removing them just makes the control scheme limited and worse.
And . . . there are just so few modes. I mean, the originals didn’t have other modes either, but it just feels like in 10 years they couldn’t think of a single way to innovate the experience?
I wonder if they’re more about the experience about playing the songs instead of having other modes. Think of Guitar hero, right? Aside from adding additional instruments, there wasn’t a lot of additional modes for that either, right?
But the fun with Guitar Hero came from actually getting good at using the plastic peripheral, as is the same with Rock Band, Gitadora, DDR and Pump, etc. Final Bar Line doesn’t have fun controls, though.