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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Bringing a new meaning to 'grindcore'

Hands-on opinions with the finished game...

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Although Theatrhythm is keen to make an impression on the genre with its mish-mash of playing styles and tactical options, for the first few hours you find yourself wondering if all the complexity is strictly necessary. No doubt about it, Theatrhythm is the show-pony of the rhythm action genre - while rivals dial back flair for functionality's sake, Theatrythm knows the most powerful weapon in its inventory is its ability to trade on nostalgia.

Iconic action sequences and cutscenes have been pilfered and painstakingly reproduced from across the Final Fantasy spectrum - from blocky NES text to PlayStation FMV - and it would take Sean Connery-levels of manliness to stifle a tear when you're reunited with a favourite scene or tune. For this reason, Square Enix are eager to push them to the forefront of the player's consciouness - sometimes to the game's detriment.

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Materia Girl

Tellingly, the markers are located on the top screen, where the action is. While this means you never miss a graphical flourish - a common occurrence in Ouendan - having the markers and the input mechanic on separate screens creates a dissonance that makes hitting a perfect note far less satisfying than it is in Ouendan.

That's not to say it isn't a good game. but you never lose yourself in the music in the same way you do in iNiS' games.It's also a slow starter. The default difficulty is set far too low (presumably to give you a chance to soak in the graphical splendour), but once you complete a title in full you get the chance to replay sections at a more challenging pace. Still too easy? Then give the Chaos Shrine a visit - it's a nightmarish remix mode that requires as much dexterity as Ouendan's Insane mode, particularly in later stages, when the markers begin spinning as you're trying to hit them...

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With over 70 songs squashed onto the cartridge, Theatrhythm is by no means a slight game, but should you ever exhaust its collection there's the option of buying extra tracks via an in-game menu (no having to flee back to the 3DS splash screen, then).

While it's no classic, Theatrhythm certainly hums a pretty tune, but come its release in the UK this summer, the eventual review score will depend on whather it manages to really get stuck in our heads for good.

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