It could be worth learning how to pronounce this game after all.
Away from the noise of the TGS show floor I had the chance to play Theatrhythm Final Fantasy in conditions that are more similar to how people would play this game - a quiet room with headphones on.
That's a lot of "Final" games
Using elements from every single Final Fantasy game (all the way up to XIII), this game takes the overworlds, battle scenes, and pre-rendered movies that the series is famous for, and makes them into Elite Beat Agent style rhythm action games.
Only select modes were unlocked in the demo. The first one I chose was a FF1 battle scene. The music was a fantastic remix of the classic battle theme. As I started my "battle" four characters lined up as they would normally, but instead of selecting attacks, strings of icons came flowing towards them, requiring me to touch the bottom screen as the icon reached my character. At first it was simple taps, but as it progressed there were also flicks and holds, all of which were very forgiving. Nailing the timing garnered "perfects," which award extra points and multipliers.
Successful play fed back into the battle. When I reached a certain number of successful hits in a row, the icons would turn gold, similar to a Guitar Hero game, and successfully hitting all the gold notes called your summon, who then proceeded to destroy the enemy.
I finished the level with a couple of monsters killed, but one was left standing when the music track finished, meaning I hadn't perfected the stage. I was told that if you have a successful run of perfects you are able to kill every monster before the song is over. When the level is over you get the classic "level up" music and a grade breakdown of how you did.
The next stage type was an overworld level I chose a FF5 level with a cheerful countryside background. This mode played in a very similar way with taps and flicks, but there was only was note line and one character walking briskly through the level. The note line curved up and down at times, requiring me to tap, hold, then move the stylus up and down to keep the circle within the line. It was similar to Elite Beat Agents in a way, except you are not directly touching the line but guiding what is happening on the 3D screen above.
The last mode was "event," where you watching a pre-rendered movie taken directly from one of the Final Fantasy games while basically playing EBA over the top of it.I chose a scene from FF9 which started off slowly with flowing lines all over the screen, only occasionally asking for a gentle flick or tap in time with the music.Things did get heated up eventually and the line got partially obscured with darkness, meaning you couldn't see very far along the line, making it harder to react to the inputs required.
No idea what's going on here
All the music in the game sounded great. I'm guessing the more modern games use music taken directly from the games, but the older games have all got great remixes to bring them on par with modern video game music.
With each entry in the Final Fantasy series having three modes of play, there seems to be quite a lot to this game and I left feeling excited and a lot less disappointed compared to when I found out the first 3DS Final Fantasy game wasn't an RPG.