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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: A sweet RPG song?

Level up your rhythm action skills in Square Enix's bizarre new title...

Okay, well here's a weird one. The latest title on Square Enix's seemingly endless Final Fantasy production line is a charming Elite Beat Agents-style rhythm game, set to music from titles throughout the FF series. Square Enix actually sell thousands of soundtrack CDs in Japan, so maybe it's not as mad as all that.

Theatrhythm, then, is an exercise in good ol' fan service. The game features stages themed around each mainline FF game, each one divided into three game types: Battle mode, Field mode and Movie mode.

In Battle mode, you must tap along with the coloured circles that scroll across the screen from left to right in time to music from the game's various battles, knocking HP off a monster on the left of the screen with every poke. If you've ever played Rhythm Paradise or Ouendan, you know what to do.

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Some circles have an arrow inside, meaning you must swipe in the indicated direction; others are linked together, requiring you to tap, hold and release in time.

In a column down the right-hand side of the screen, you can see your party, made up of cutesy versions of characters from the series. According to a Square Enix rep who talked us through a demo at Tokyo Game Show, each character has his or her own set of parameters, and these dictate how much damage your pokes inflict upon those pesky monsters. Yes, Square Enix have even managed to make a rhythm game overly complicated.

Field mode is set to FF field music, and this time the object is to help your on-screen character traverse the scenery and collect an item at the end by tracing lines and touching circles as they streak across the screen. And in Movie mode those circles float around over videos of key FF cutscenes, requiring you to follow them around the screen with the stylus.

This being Final Fantasy, there's an elaborate and overblown plot, but who really cares? This one's all about the rhythm action, and nothing more.

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