Sampling Theatrhythm with the Final Bar Line trial

I touched on Final Fantasy Theatrhythm Final Bar Line by Square-Enix in a preview in December, and since that time the company has released a trial version to allow players a sampling of the game and a chance to get a head start on leveling up a few characters before the release of the full game this month.

GemuBaka made note of the game in a roundup of rhythm games, and based on press information available at the time, here is the summation of what the product has to offer:

“Moving into 2023, the latest version of Theatrhythm by Square-Enix looks to splash onto the Nintendo Switch. This entry is scheduled for release on Feb. 16, and on top of a physical release, it was announced there are two digital deluxe versions that tack on 27 more songs, as well as up to three of the planned expansion packs that feature music from other Square-Enix franchises.

“I actually haven’t played any of the other Theatrhythm entries, either on Nintendo 3DS or arcade, but this Final Bar Line entry promises 385 songs in the base game – 167 more than what was featured in Curtain Call – so this seems like the perfect time to jump aboard. A total of 104 Final Fantasy characters are lined up (including Benjamin from Mystic Quest!), a museum offers plenty of gallery features and online matches for four players.”


This trial version, which I downloaded on the Nintendo Switch, gives players a sneak peek of five different versions of Final Fantasy – Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIV Online and Final Fantasy XV. The demo launches by awarding the player a key, and they can choose one of those available entries to unlock.

The game features a quest mode, and progressing through these songs and challenges unlocks a song in free play, opens up a path to more songs, levels up characters and awards a variety of loot to the player. Merely clearing the song on any difficulty (songs can have up to four difficulties – normal, expert, ultimate and supreme) moves the player ahead to the next song, but meeting a quest condition during the song awards additional unlockables for the gallery.

Depending on the Final Fantasy entry chosen, the player can tackle between 3-6 stages before they reach a treasure chest that awards a new unlock key so they can repeat the process. Theatrhythm features more songs per game entry, but the demo cuts players off once they reach this first treasure chest.

Unlocking a Final Fantasy entry also provides access to a roster of characters from that game. The first game you select determines your starting party members, but as additional characters enter the mix, players can mix and match the characters as they please. This further works because each character is assigned a “class,” such as those more proficient in fighting, defending, magic and healing. The player can choose a balanced party or stack certain classes to tip situations such as quests into their favor.

Playing a song in Theatrhythm also grants these characters experience points, and they can level up and gain new stats and abilities. The demo locks this progress up to level 30, but this allows the characters to build up four abilities, with three able to be assigned to the character at one time.

At the same time, there is a sort of “overall” experience system that awards players with unlocks at specific intervals. Again, the demo has a cap in this regard – 2,000 – but a chunk of unlocks are still tied to this progress. Thankfully, it was announced the progress earned in the demo carries over into the full game.


I streamed my play through of the Final Fantasy Theatrhythm Final Bar Line trial version, and while you might equate a demo to a bite-sized play through that ends quickly, just playing each quest song on expert lasted 2-3 hours. This time doesn’t include leveling every character up to 30, clearing every single optional quest, exploring the gallery, customizing the best party options and tackling all of the difficulties in the free play mode. If a player explores the entirety of the demo’s options, they could easily squeeze 5 or so hours out of the trial, and dedicated music game players who aim for personal best scores and perfect chains can probably pull double-digit hours out of this offering.

I’d previously noted that Theatrhythm would likely be my first retail game purchase of 2023, and this trial is making me feel more confident in placing my money down for a copy of the game.

I enjoy the storybook-style graphics of the game, and anyone who has touched a Final Fantasy game before should know what they are getting into with the music that is the backbone of Theatrhythm. Understandably, if you aren’t into Final Fantasy, you’re probably not going to want to invest a lot of time into this game, but rhythm game fans not experienced with the series might still have limited interest in the challenging gameplay.


I guess I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I was pleased that playing songs from Final Fantasy II gave me the 8-bit renditions of the music tracks, and similarly for Final Fantasy V having the 16-bit renditions. I was expecting these might be replaced with tracks used in some of the remakes released over the years such as on the PSP, but I suppose that could still be possible with the tracks I have yet to see beyond the scope of the demo.

Still, it sounds like these tracks have been polished up a current-day format’s bitrate, so they all sound fantastic in quality. I couldn’t sample Final Fantasy Mystic Quest in the demo, but I’m looking forward to experiencing those music tracks in the full game.

While the player’s focus will be heavily gravitating toward the rhythm game markers, there are underlying RPG mechanics at play in Theatrhythm. Successfully hitting notes and striking certain commands unleash attacks on enemies, and a meter builds so a summon can enter the battle and do additional damage on your behalf.

I’m sure there is a lot more in play in the full release, but I felt the feedback on the battles wasn’t as evident as playing a rhythm RPG such as The Metronomicon. I discovered additional user interface elements in the expanded options menu, and this gave me more information on what is going on in the battle. The expanded game display features real-time data on the number of enemies you have defeated, and damage dealt along with a rundown of your note ratings.

Regardless, the mechanics still come together great, and there is a lot of tinkering possible to customize your party in ways that take advantage of enemies being weak to certain elements or even healing yourself as much as possible to give you an edge in a song you might be having difficulty clearing.

The big question mark the trail version leaves you with is the game’s online offerings. We’ll have to wait for the full release to sample this or any of the planned DLC songs, but we’re not far away from this release date. Still, the demo offers a variety of ways to play the game, which includes simple modes and a pair mode. The songs in the trial also widely span the difficulty range, peaking at level 14 with a few songs so rhythm game fans can see if Theatrhythm will test their mettle.

The Final Fantasy Theatrhythm Final Bar Line trial version accomplished its mission of getting me excited for the full game release. With so many offerings on tap in the base game, now looks to be the definitive time to jump on the series’ bandwagon.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, GemuBaka Preview


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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  1. | Rhythm Game Roundup: Theatrhythm, Museca, CHUNITHUM, Hello Kitty, Samba de AmigoGemuBaka - April 17, 2023

    […] I spoke on my experiences with the trial version that launched back in February, and this demo served to prepare me well for the full release – there isn’t much more I can expand on outside of telling you the game is packed to the gills (Gil?) with content. […]

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