I was wrong, but I'm too happy to care.
If you had asked me two weeks ago whether or not Theatrhythm was a worthwhile endeavor for Square Enix as a publisher or you as a gamer, I would have performed my patented evil laugh. Who gives a shit about Final Fantasy anymore?
Unfortunately for my ego, I was proven wrong last night when I got to play Theatrhythm at a Pre-E3 judges event. The Nintendo 3DS exclusive that puts the venerable soundtrack of every major Final Fantasy release at your fingertips is actually a lot of fun.
All of the memorable battle and character themes you could hope for are playable in an Elite-Beat-Agents-inspired role-playing adventure. The demo I played featured a ready-for-retail build of Theatrhythm. I went with two favorites in my limited time.
The Final Fantasy VII soundtrack suite allowed me to play through Aeris's Theme and a battle montage. The characters I controlled proceeded to explore the world or fight familiar faces with every tap, dash, and hold.
As confusing as it might look, the gameplay itself is stupidly intuitive, as it switches styles throughout a game's sound suite. In the first section I tapped, dashed, and dragged my stylus up and down the bottom touchscreen as a wave of icons flew by. In the next section, my four party members took turns attacking, as hold notes, taps, and dashes flew down four separate bars. In the final section, I directed the track around the screen as a cinematic played in the background.
Again, how is this fun? This sounds like a complete waste of time, and in a way, that's exactly what it is. Theatrhythm seems like an almost idealistic time waster, providing edible 15 minutes of fun. If Theatrhythm can make me shut out the other games I was surrounded by last night, I think it'll do just fine at the dentist's office or on the bus.
I played the Final Fantasy VI (III, whatever) suite next and tripped hard on nostalgia. What is it about these now classic game soundtracks that can bring a smile to even the most cynical gamer's face? You couldn't pay me to play a Final Fantasy game today, but Theatrhythm has quickly risen to the top of my 3DS preorder list.
Combining tons of memorable tracks, a cute art style, and about as much Final Fantasy my addled brain can handle makes Theatrhythm more enjoyable than I could have imagined. Check it out on the Nintendo 3DS when it lands July 3rd.