REVIEW: ‘Theatrhythm Final Bar Line’ Is A Musical Delight (Switch)

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Theatrhythm Final Bar Line — But Why Tho

The Final Fantasy series is well known for its music, so it is no surprise that Theatrhythm Final Bar Line has fans excited to relive some of their favorite musical memories in this delightful rhythm game. Featuring over 385 songs from 29 games, and more on the way, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line features some of the greatest music video games have to offer.

My experience with Theatrhythm Final Bar Line started with a brief introduction to the Series Quest mode and a tutorial on how Field Music Sequences (FMS), Battle Music Sequences (BMS), and Event Music Sequences (EMS) work. Series Quest takes players through their choice of 29 different games in the Final Fantasy franchise, playing through various events featuring songs from those games and unlocking those songs to be able to play in the Music Stages mode. There isn’t any depth here in terms of story, instead choosing to focus on the music and assuming players either know the story or aren’t as interested in it. Each game also unlocks several characters that can be added to the four-character party used in the game. It was really neat to be able to play through the Final Fantasy XIV story using characters like Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics. Mixing and matching characters is also really important when counteracting enemy strengths and weaknesses, which is vital if you want to complete the secondary quests used to unlock goodies that are super helpful along the way.

The events in the Series Quest mode primarily consist of FMS battles against average enemies on the way to boss battles, which use the BMS system. These different systems slightly change the types of button inputs used. FMS uses a sliding thumbstick and button combo while the party characters travel across the screen battling enemies in a changing environment. This emulates the time players would normally utilize in Final Fantasy games to travel through the overworld, grinding out enemies to level up, minus the actual grind.

The BMS events are the big moments, the battles against enemies like Sephiroth or Ifrit. In BMS mode, the party setup is akin to that seen in mainline Final Fantasy games, with a party of players and enemies facing each other and exchanging attacks. The note inputs in BMS mode are located on four lines instead of a sliding scale and don’t require sliding the notes like in FMS events.

I didn’t think the change between FMS and BMS events would matter much since I was mainly there for the music anyway. However, it actually does a really good job of keeping the different battles from feeling like carbon copies with different input timing. It was also nice to re-experience all the countless hours I’ve spent grinding out experience in Final Fantasy but without the grind. The BMS moments against iconic bosses with their equally iconic themes really hit hard too, and you could feel that story-like approach of having those moments play differently than the lesser moments from those games.

Once I finished the stories, I found myself constantly going into the Music Stages mode to replay my favorite songs. The cool part about Music Stages is that the EMS system used here focuses on what is happening on the screen where actual clips from the games are shown. Since the Series Quest mode keeps the look and feel the same across all games, it was nice to see clips of some of my favorite Final Fantasy moments while playing their songs. My only real complaint is that there aren’t as many songs that use EMS, and I wish I could have experienced all of my favorite series moments this way instead of just a select few.

The songs played in both Series Quests and Music Stages also contain varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from basic all the way to supreme. These add significantly more notes at a much faster speed as you increase the difficulty, which makes for quite a challenge on some of the more involved songs. You can also choose between standard control mode, paired mode to play with a friend, or simple mode, which removes using the directional thumbstick movements and uses single-button input to make the game easier for folks that might struggle with the standard mode. It was nice to have all of these options, especially when I started feeling really confident and tried to play “Let The Battles Begin!” on supreme difficulty. It went about as well as one would expect, but it was really fun to attempt the challenge, and I’ll certainly be practicing so I can eventually nail it.

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line also features an online Multi Battle mode that pits four players against each other to see who can get the highest score. I was unable to play it yet since the game did not have an online population during the review period. Still, based on how the gameplay functions in the main Series Quest and Music Stage modes, I’m really excited to try out my skills against other players in Multi Battles. It’s a nice little addition for players to see how they stack up against others, all while background battles occur between the characters.

As much as I deeply enjoyed my time with Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, I couldn’t help but wonder who this game was for. Fans of Final Fantasy are almost assuredly going to be interested in the sheer amount of songs and characters available from the franchise, but it’s hard to see why anyone not already in love with the franchise would want to pick it up. The assumption that players are already familiar with the various Final Fantasy games and characters can be a barrier for those who aren’t as familiar with or have never experienced some or all of the main games. I would have liked a bit more approachability for players like that, but I do understand that the sheer volume of content makes that a challenge. Square Enix seems content with having this be mainly just for Final Fantasy fans, and in that regard, it succeeds.

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is a fantastic game, no doubt about it. The gameplay is easy to learn but difficult to master, and the massive library of songs and characters gives players countless hours of content to enjoy. Knowing there is more on the way through DLC is mind-blowing, considering how much is already available. It might not be the most approachable game for players who aren’t already fans of Final Fantasy, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to enjoy for players of all levels of fandom.

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line releases February 16th, 2023, on Nintendo Switch and PS4.

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10


Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is a fantastic game, no doubt about it. The gameplay is easy to learn but challenging to master, and the massive library of songs and characters gives players countless hours of content to enjoy.

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