Theatrhythm is what a Final Fantasy spin-off should be.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is coming out in less than a month, and while I'm generally a huge fan when it comes to Japanese rhythm games, such as the Ouendan series, I'm not the biggest Final Fantasy fan. My experience with the series is limited to its spin-offs; for example, I absolutely adored Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales on the DS, but I couldn't force myself to finish Final Fantasy III. As such, my only negative feelings after playing the game at E3 deals with my own unfamiliarity with series. Otherwise, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy looks to be a great rhythm game, and possibly one the best games coming to the 3DS this year.
During my brief time with the demo, I played two songs from Final Fantasy 7—The Prelude and Aerith's Theme. In The Prelude, notes scrolled across the screen while a chibified Final Fantasy character walked below them. To progress, I had to use the touch screen and tap in sync with the music as the corresponding notes scrolled past a marked area on the top screen. Some notes had me swiping the touchscreen, while others made me follow a connected path with the stylus. Despite all of these different actions, I never once had a problem with unresponsive controls. If I missed a note, it was entirely my fault. Aerith's Theme played similarly; however, instead of scrolling in one direction, notes appeared along a path with a gold ring that showed when to tap the notes. Additionally, cinematics from Final Fantasy 7 played on the top screen instead of game's chibified visuals.
At the end of each level, I was rewarded with experience and an item called a CollectaCard. Though I'm not entirely sure how they affect the game, I did notice that after making a few mistakes my character lost some hit points. So, I'd imagine the characters can level up like in the mainline Final Fantasy titles.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was certainly a pleasant surprise. I did not expect the game to be as polished, or as entertaining as it was. If you're a Final Fantasy fan, you are sure to enjoy what Theatrhythm has to offer. If you're like me, give the game a chance. You may find a renewed interest in the series.