The Final Fantasy series is well known among gamers, whether you’ve played them or not, with each one having their own distinct stories and cast of characters. With as wide of a catalog this series has, so does the music that defines each game. And for those who wish to relive their favorite Final Fantasy’s music or simply enjoy the ones they’ve never played, the recent release of Square Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Bar Line for the Nintendo Switch is one of the best new rhythm games for all music lovers.
When news hit of a brand new rhythm game coming out for the Nintendo Switch (also available on Playstation 4), I was really excited. I played the past rhythm games Square Enix had released on the Nintendo 3DS like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call. While I finished Theatrhythm Final Fantasy but not Curtain Call, I do get immense enjoyment out of playing these games. Final Bar Line expands the amount of music you can play and experience.
Final Bar Line has three different versions of the game you can download—Standard, Digital Deluxe Edition, and Premium Digital Deluxe Edition. The Digital Deluxe and Premium Digital Deluxe simply gives you more DLC music you can play while Standard is just the regular game without the DLC. I decided to pay a little more for Digital Deluxe if only to get the The World Ends With You Pack and NieR Pack that could be played in their Music Stages mode.
Speaking of modes, in addition to Music Stages mode you have Series Quest and Multi Battle mode. When first starting the game, Series Quest mode is the only one you have unlocked. Once you play through your first Series Quest, you’ll be able to unlock the other two modes.
What’s interesting about Final Bar Line is you’re only able to unlock one Final Fantasy series at a time with a key you’re given to choose which will be the first you’ll play. Once you unlock the series of your choice, you’ll be able to obtain another key to unlock other series stages by playing through that series. Because I love Final Fantasy XV and its music, it’s a no-brainer I would unlock that stage first.
Being used to playing these rhythm games with a stylus pen and touchscreen, getting used to the controls for Final Bar Line on a Nintendo Switch took a little time to get the hang of. There were quite a lot of button presses to familiarize yourself with, and rhythm games were all about timing. I got a number of Game Overs during some of the songs I’ve played because the beats were coming in hard and fast with a lot of these songs. Luckily, the more I kept redoing songs or progressing to the next one, I got better at hitting all the right notes.
Final Bar Line can be a challenge, but if you equip your party with abilities you gain through leveling up and useful items enemies drop, you can largely manage the entirety of a stage without getting a Game Over.
So far, I have completed Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy XIII in Series Quest mode. After clearing those stages, I took a break to try out their Music Stages mode. Once you clear a stage in Series Quest, you’ll then unlock all those songs to be played in Music Stages. From what I understand, Music Stages is a more leisurely way to play Final Bar Line while listening to your favorite tracks without the pressure of necessarily getting through a whole song without a Game Over. You’re still prompted to follow the rhythm but at least if you miss a note, it doesn’t feel as high stakes as Series Quest when you want to progress further along the map to get a new key to unlock a new stage, or be able to hear the other highlighted music from that particular Final Fantasy game.
The verdict is still out on whether I’ll love or hate the fact that Final Bar Line doesn’t make it so easy for you to have all stages unlocked and ready to play, but a little challenge does entice players to keep coming back to collect all the stages. Either way, Final Bar Line has been a fun musical gaming experience in my first few hours with it.