Drunken Thoughts – Open Your Ears

A certain co-host of mine got me the collector’s edition of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (now that’s a name to make Shin Megami Tensei games jealous). Like its predescessor, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, it’s a rhythm game with a soundtrack consisting entirely of music from various Final Fantasy games.

For some reason I didn’t get too sucked into the first one, but something about the sequel has sunk its claws into me, and it got me thinking. Despite the quality of Final Fantasy games varying over the course of the franchise, main games and spin-offs included, one consistency between just about all of them is their exceptional music. Even in games that were less well received than others, like Final Fantasy IX or Final Fantasy XIII, the soundtracks have maintained a level of quality many games strive toward. Now, I liked Final Fantasy IX and I think XIII was a bit misunderstood, but I’ve seen people hating on these games yet mentioning they love the songs Festival of The Hunt (FF9) or Blinded By Light (FF13).

When the overall game is good the music is icing on the cake, invoking just the right emotions for the situation or getting you amped up during a major boss fight. When the game hasn’t been so good, the music has been acted as a glimmer of light in an otherwise dark place. Something like “The game kinda sucked, but at least the music was good.” Take Final Fantasy XIII-2, it’s a game that got pretty lukewarm reviews, although to me it looked like the community’s thoughts on it were less than the 79% from the journalists. Its main battle theme, The Last Hunter, feels appropriate for the game’s theme and a song you would want while fighting enemies in an RPG, regardless of the quality of the game around it. Even the monumental failure that was Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 had a soundtrack that has former players requesting integration into the current incarnation of FF14, A Realm Reborn.

There’s no shortage of music to include in a game like Theatrhythm, and boasting around 221 songs before DLC it shows just how huge a library Square-Enix has to play with. A library that most can agree is pretty worth listening to. So much so that music from Final Fantasy is a staple in concerts like Video Games Live, the Video Game Orchestra, and the number of concerts started by Square-Enix and Final Fantasy composer legend Nobuo Uematsu which feature nothing BUT Final Fantasy songs. I unfortunately missed one of them, Distant Worlds, when it came to Boston a year or so back, but tickets are usually gobbled up fairly quickly since it’s a very sought after event.

If you’ve watched the show you’ve probably heard me ramble on about how sound and music in video games are huge to me in video games. Bad music can make a good game worse and good music can make a bad game not so painful. Good music can make a good game an incredible game, one that makes you want to listen to certain songs from its soundtrack to bring you back to your favorite moments or make you want to pick the game back up and play through it again.

So far that’s been what Curtain Call has been like. It’s a testament to the skills of people like Nobuo Uematsu and Hitoshi Sakimoto who have brought us some of the best scores video games have heard, both in the Final Fantasy series and completely unrelated franchises. Making things even the haters don’t hate so much, that everyone can enjoy.

Go get Curtain Call if you have a 3DS, or just fire up some Final Fantasy soundtracks on YouTube, you won’t regret it.

– Jimizzle

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