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"I played Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for the first time today. Not too shabby! As I remembered various things from the past 20 years, I was reduced to tears. FF music fans should definitely play it. Won't you cry with me?"

An... out-of-nowhere entry in the reflex-inducingly popular Final Fantasy series, this game's premise is relatively simple: bringing the "conflict of the gods" plot of Dissidia Final Fantasy to the Nintendo 3DS and later a port to iOS, but in the form of a Rhythm Game. In other words, it's Groove Coaster meets Final Fantasy.

Okay, time for a brief lesson in recent-gaming history for everyone: Dissidia Final Fantasy, when first released, caused many fans to wet their pants in excitement just for the fact that a fighting game featuring representative heroes and villains from the Final Fantasy seriesnote  could only be justified with the words, Rule of Cool, on which the concept was basically built.

Then, the sequel (Dissidia 012 [duodecim] - Final Fantasy) was released, but this time around, sadly, the rejoicing (with Lightning joining the fight, among others) was foiled by the rather disappointing announcement that the game in question would be the last in the series, or at least, the last appearing in Fighting Game form.

Turns out, the next game in the Dissidia series is a Spin-Off for the Nintendo 3DS, a Rhythm Game co-developed by Square Enix and indieszero featuring (as the logo above - a throwback to that of Dissidia itself - shows) the characters' avatar versions first seen in Kingdom Hearts coded.

The game follows the events of the gods Chaos and Cosmos, a similar plot to Dissidia Final Fantasy. The space between the two is called Rhythm, which gives birth to a crystal that controls music. Chaos causes the crystal to become disrupted, and the only way to return it to normal is to increase a music wave known as Rhythmia.

The playable characters appearing in the game are the following:

The sequel, in addition to including the DLC and iOS characters, also introduces..

The game also features enemies and bosses from the games ranging from the main villains like Chaos and Sephiroth, mid-bosses like Xande, Black Waltz #3, Gilgamesh, Ultros and the Elemental Archfiends, mainstay monsters like tonberry, bombs and behemoths and even common enemies unique to each game like PSICOM enforcers and bangaa thieves all redesigned to fit the game's unique art style.

The game operates in three different styles of stages. Battle Music Stages have the players chosen party members occupying the right side of the screen like a classic Final Fantasy game. You score hits on the enemy by successfully hitting notes, and by getting higher combos you can unleash stronger attacks like Summon Magic. Event Music Stages feature video montages from Final Fantasy games, and the player has to tap the notes in rhythm while the cursor moves around the screen in various patterns. Field Music Stages are represented by a chosen playable character strolling though the scenery from different Final Fantasy Games. By scoring higher combos you can run faster, encounter Moogles, and even call a Chocobo to give you a ride.

The game's success has earned it the right for a sequel, Threatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call for the 3DS, which released in Japan of April 24, 2014, with North America and Europe getting it Sep.16th and 19th of 2014 respectively. and It now has over 200 tracks (including a number of DLC tracks from Bravely Default, the SaGa series, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, Trials of Mana (then known as Seiken Densetsu 3 even outside Japan), Xenogears, The World Ends with You, Live A Live, Nier, NieR: Automata and Octopath Traveler) with 60 playable characters, which seemingly includes characters from the iOS version of the game plus more. It also has a new Versus Mode to compete in rhythm battles against other players that can also be played online and the option to use the buttons the play the game instead of the touchscreen. Finally, it also has a new set of Event Music stages with the ones in the first game remaining exclusive to it, and Airship Stages that show the notes flying into the screen from the horizon.

The series also received its own arcade edition, known as Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All Star Carnival for Japanese arcades in 2016. All-Star Carnival translates the series' mechanics into arcade form, with the addition of a few new mechanics such as two-button notes and a Summon Meter that allows you to call a select Summon to your party's aid. The gameplay also expands into default multiplayer, with up to four players tagging along on the same quest simultaneously for 16 characters worth of field-running, mook-stomping, boss-breaking action.

In addition to the cast from Curtain Call, All-star Carnival added the following playable characters:

A console version, Theathrhythm: Final Bar Line, came out on February 16, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. It is a console adaptation of All Star Carnival, using the same gameplay mechanics such as chords of multiple notes and the more difficult-to-achieve "rainbow Critical" note judgement. This version allows for local two-player multiplayer and online four-player versus multiplayer. The base game is set to have 385 songs at launch with additional 90 songs pulled from Square Enix's catalouge added via three Season Passes. The Deluxe Edition is notable for including remixes of Final Fantasy VII songs Aerith's Theme and Cosmo Canyon that were originally created for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Square-Enix and indieszero would later make other rhythm games based on other franchises which have similar gameplay: Theatrhythm Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory.

This game contains examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: In Curtain Call, you have the ability to reset your characters' level back to 1 once it reaches 99 in order to increase their max CP. Assuming you don't use the Collectacard Crystarium, CP maxes out after resetting 10 times, at which point the character gets a nice big star next to their character portrait. (You can continue to reset the character's level after this, but there's no point) So technically, the level cap in this game is 990.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: For the original 3DS release, Faris had brown eyes and blond hair, being based on her Yoshitaka Amano art. In the iOS version and continuing into Curtain Call, she has the green eyes and purple hair used for her sprites and other artwork pieces.
    • Firion's sprite has blue eyes, despite his eyes being brown in the original game and Dissidia.
  • Allegedly Free Game: The iOS version is "free"... but if you want any of the content, you'll have to pay up. It only comes with two songs.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Played with in a hilarious fashion. The vast majority of the characters have very neutral "default" expressions, which can change depending on the situation. Benjamin, whose game in Japan is called "Final Fantasy USA", is the only character whose default expression is constantly angry.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: In Final Bar Line, you can earn outfits for your assistant Moogle as well as skins for the Airship that drops you off at the start of an FMS. Both are entirely cosmetic in nature.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In the sequel, if you play FMS levels with button controls, you don't have to follow the hold triggers exactly like you have to with the stylus: just holding the circle pad in the direction the line is currently travelling causes the cursor to snap to it. Hitting the slide triggers at the end of said hold triggers with button controls takes some getting used to though. Two more are for Chaos Notes in the sequel: a Fortune Sphere will change a song to a lower difficulty level to make clearing a particularly troublesome song less of a hassle, and a Gambler's Soul will change a song to a random other song of the same type - particularly valuable for changing songs in boss fights into something that will have more triggers (allowing the player to do more damage).
    • Final Bar Line adds a lot of accessibility features, such as color-blind button prompts, sped-up or reduced button prompt speed, obscuring or disabling the background animation, removing camera movement when a summon arrives, disabling special effects, and so on.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Of sorts, in the Collectacard description for the Ahriman monster.
    There is no escaping this evil eye. Once you have met its fearsome gaze, you will never be alone again. Even now I feel the loathsome eye on me. Always it is on me. Where is it? Where is it!? Oh, sweet gods...!
  • Ascended Extra: From a Certain Point of View, this game is A Day in the Limelight for the Avatars.note 
  • Ascended Meme:
    • A possible case. Before the iOS port introduced Ramza with the same ability, Aerith was the only character with the ability "Thoroughbred", which resulted in better chocobos during FMS sequences. A famous VG Cats comic depicts Aerith attempting to breed a gold chocobo and explaining the breeding mechanics to do it to Cloud.
    • One of the passwords to get Safer Sephiroth's card is "Momma's boy"!
    • The background for "Band: A Long Fall" in Final Bar Line features four spotlights—a blue one, a green one, and two red ones—referencing the viral twinning.mp4 video. What's more, the beatmap for the Supreme difficulty lines up with the dance from FanFest 2021.
  • Auto-Save: Once you use CollectaCards to power up a character, the game will save right then and there to prevent you from Save Scumming if the cards you use don't work.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Vivi's Doomsday spell. It deals a great amount of damage and has a really easy trigger of 55 good or more notes of any kind in a row, but deals 30% of the party's total HP to your life bar.
  • Badass Adorable: They may be chibi-fied, but that doesn't change the fact they're still Kain, Gilgamesh, Sephiroth, etc.
  • Black Mage: Shantotto, Rydia, Gunner Yuna and Vivi who focus the most on casting spells like Fire and Thundara. Useful in that spells are activated automatically, so mage characters can attack normally and have the spell kick in for extra damage.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Some monsters that qualify as bosses in easier Dark Notes and Quest Medleys are just normal monsters in harder levels.
  • Boss Remix:
    • The "final boss" track for facing Chaos is a remix of the original Final Fantasy theme for the Chaos Shrine. Remixed, to feature ominous bell rings, a dramatic orchestra, and just a hint of an organ. About the only thing Square-Enix left out is the Ominous Latin Chanting.
    • And because Square just doesn't do enough of they impossible already, they made it more epic in Curtain Call. Much of the theme is the same, but they've added a little more instrumental, given it a proper intro, and overall just made it better.
  • Button Mashing: Thanks to the advent of two buttons, All-Star Carnival now includes charts that involve hammering the buttons as fast as possible.
  • Cap:
    • The interface-induced cap is invoked if you manage to get all critical hits in a song, without equipping items or abilities in the first game, resulting in a score of 9999999.
    • The maximum amount of experience you get can get during a single song is 39996, or 9999 for each of the 4 characters: you can reach this amount if you play through a BMS where you kill multiple Magic Pots and/or use one of the consumable items that multiplies the amount of experience you get after the song. Since the total number of experience needed to reach Level 99 for every character is 65535, you can have a character go from Level 1 to 30-40 in a single song.
  • Checkpoint: In Curtain Call, completing a song on an Aetheryte space will allow you to retry the quest from that point if you fail later on.
  • Chibi: the game's use of avatars is bound to induce many fans to Squee.
  • Clip Show: The videos in the backgrounds of the event stages are these for the games the song comes from.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Played with in Final Bar Line as, when the party is turned into toads, their each member's color match the color of the character type they are: red for Physical, blue for Magic, etc.
  • Combat Medic:
    • Minwu is this compared to the other White Mage characters: his HP caps at greater than 9K while the next best character's caps at around 6 thousand. Along with all the best healing spells, this makes him great for higher difficulty songs.
    • Orlandeau, who has a special attack, is tied for the highest ex-Crystarium strength in the game, and gets nearly max HP. On the other hand, he has most of the game's strongest healing and protection spells, excluding Full Cure but including Mighty Guard.
    • Chaos, who has no healing spells but Full Cure, but that's still pretty good. And on the combat side he's, you know, Chaos.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Some of the longer songs from the 3DS and iOS games are cut in length for All-star Carnival. After all, who wants to wait their turn for so long because someone decided to play the full version of "Dancing Mad" or "One-Winged Angel" three times in a row?
  • Continuity Porn: This game is full of references to the main games, ranging from obvious shout outs to subtle nods.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: How multiplayer is done in All-star Carnival. Instead of fighting other players, you join them in an ongoing march against waves upon waves of enemies. On a more local scale, AsC also has Pair mode, in which the two sets of joystick-button pairs are divided amongst two players, who each have their own vertical half of the playfield to use.
  • Critical Hit: The best rank for hitting a note correctly. Emphasized more in the sequel, where there are additional glowing critical triggers that allow the character to perform an extra-powerful hit in a BMS, give the character a burst of speed during a FMS and give an item during an EMS if you get a Critical on them.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Any and all enemies classified as a 'boss' in any given BMS track will be accompanied by a loud roar. This makes more sense for some than others; Behemoths and Adamantoises are expected to be roaring... Goblins, Reno, and the like, not so much. Befitting for Tonberries, but not because they look like they're supposed to roar...
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • If you're coming to the sequel from the original, there are notable differences in the rhythm patterns. Also, if you're used to playing without items during BMS, you're in for a treat; the summon pattern is now mandatory.
    • If you're coming to All-star Carnival from other games, note that your party composition is locked in after your first stage. Also, watch out for those Double Triggers!
    • Conversely, if you're coming to the 3DS games from All-star Carnival and decide to use Button Style, note that as long as you have a button pressed down, the game will refuse to register any Slide Note input, meaning that you can hit a Touch Trigger and then miss the subsequent Slide Trigger a sixteenth-beat later despite flicking the Circle Pad at the right time simply because you didn't release the button fast enough.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
  • Diagonal Cut: Odin, as usual. However, rather than slicing the enemy in two, he imposes the kanji 斬 zan, or "cut", over the enemy and cuts that in half.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • The 3DS games allow you to purchase additional songs and characters via the DLC shop. Some of the songs are from Final Fantasy games, but there are also songs from other Square-Enix properties such as Romancing SaGa and The World Ends with You, all collectively under the Square-Enix Titles label. You can use DLC songs in versus matches, but only if the other player also has the DLC songs you want.
    • This is the entire basis of the iOS port, as the free song pool is extremely limitednote 
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: If you're trying to farm items from Boss 1 or Boss 2 of any given Dark Note (but especially a low-level one) this is in effect. Do too well in the Field sequence, and Boss 1 will not appear in the Battle sequence, and getting Boss 2 to appear requires doing well in the Field sequence, but poorly in the Battle sequence, or vice versa. This is recitified in Curtain Call, where to hunt midbosses you simply need to find their respective spaces on the map.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In Curtain Call, spaces can be skipped with a Teleport Stone. You can also use an Airship Ticket at the start of the quest to jump across the main body of the map, with the First-Class Ticket guaranteeing that you'll go straight to the final dungeon entrance when you complete the song, or use the Airship space partway through on some maps for the same effect as an Economy Ticket.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Of the three games in the series (not counting ports), the original is the only one to have a score bonus for having no equipment or special abilities equipped. All subsequent games base your score strictly off of performance.
  • Easier Than Easy: Beginner difficulty in All-star Carnival.
  • Enemy Mine: In the original, Sephiroth is among the unlockable allies, despite being present as well as an enemy (in the form of Safer Sephiroth). Curtain Call adds Jecht and Chaos as possible party members.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Square Enix themselves summed it up as a "Theater Rhythm Game".note  The "theater" part relates to the action happening in the background as the player performs along the the "rhythm" (ie. Battle games have a standard FF ATB battle going on, Field games have your character running across scenery, and Movie games have sequences from the title in question). The second game is less subtle, as the title screen consists of stage curtains opening, and the cover shows the basic cast standing on a stage, in a curtain call position hence the title.
  • Excuse Plot: Perhaps notably, this game may have the least plot of any title in the Final Fantasy series. Asides from a "boss fight" against Chaos triggered once you accumulate a certain amount of Rhythmia, the only bits of plot come in two scrolling blurbs in a text box. This is not necessarily a bad thing, given the contortions gone through to make a plot for the original Dissidia spinoff, it's sort of hard to imagine any kind of sensible plot arising from the "... and then they became super-cute and used music to solve their problems" premise inherent to the rhythm game.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Of a sort. Somnus from Final Fantasy XV is available as a DLC Field track in the first game, although it's credited as coming from Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Justified because Versus XIII hadn't been rebranded as XV yet.
  • Fake Difficulty: Several particular aspects of the game cannot be anticipated without relying on Trial-and-Error Gameplay to memorize the song:
    • During EMS, a cursor follows a pre-determined path circling all over the screen and notes appear along that path. The cursor is prone to suddenly speeding up or slowing down, ruining your timing unless you listen carefully to the music and know the song so you can keep to the beat in spite of the cursor's speed. It also seems that the timing for the notes in EMS songs is noticeably stricter than in other two song types, at least in the sequel, making it much harder to get a Critical on them.
    • On the highest level Dark Notes, some (but not all) yellow slash arrows will rotate as they cross the screen, completely ruining you on faster songs if you don't notice it in time.
    • For something else, a lot of notes don't match the beat of the song, depending on what difficult you're on. Experienced rhythm game players will notice notes that are out of place, or empty spaces where notes should be present, making it harder to complete the song by following the rhythm.
  • Fake Longevity: Going for all of the trophies in Curtain Call is definitely this as there are several that take a long time and are mutually exclusive to various game modes: 500 Songs must be played in Music Mode only and clearing a certain number of each type of Quest Medley with Inherited quests being counted separately (Quest Medleys lose a LOT of appeal after unlocking every character).
  • Fanservice: This, along with Dissidia, might as well be called "Fanservice: The Video Games", though Curtain Call takes this even further by adding series Black Sheep Benjamin as well as characters like Ramza from Tactics, and even Ace from Final Fantasy Type-0...AND songs from not only their games, but Crystal Chronicles, Advent Children (despite being a movie, though a few of the songs were remixes from VII to begin with) and Dissidia/012. And that's just a few of the newcomers.
  • Final Boss: The final node of a Chaos Map will have one, alongside whatever midbosses and EX Bosses are present on the map. Failure to slay the final boss at least once during their respective track will result in a quest failure, even if you survive the track to the end.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The standard spells return as abilities that activate when you combo certain kinds of notes. Also, the summons Ifrit, Shiva, and Ramuh.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • The credits roll. Is that a herd of Jenovas? Yes. Yes, it is. Also in the credits, a group of Mooks gang up on an Adamantoise. The Adamantoise takes a single step and flattens them all.
    • Also also in the credits, right at the end, you can see Seymour Natus chasing after a runaway Mortibody.
    • Again in the credits, there's a segment where Gilgamesh and Enkidu are fighting Ozma, with Ozma growing larger after each attack. As the screen pans past them, Ozma begins retaliating, and later in the credits, Ozma is seen carrying Gilgamesh through the sky, with Enkidu flying alongside them.
    • In the credits for Curtain Call, at one point Cid balances on top of Ozma like a circus acrobat on top of a ball, rolling it across the ground.
    • Curtain Call also features such hilarity as Hell!Mateus chasing a couple unlockable characters like Wile E. Coyote, an Iron Giant and a Red Giant duking it out like a couple of Gorons boxing, and Xande and Exdeath swordfighting with staves.
    • In Curtain Call again, a couple smaller monsters find Orphan's blade sticking out of the ground and are messing around at the base. The second they're off-screen, Orphan's blade is suddenly huge and missing the main characters (which are presently chocobos, for whatever reason) by inches.
    • In some FMS songs, you can spot some unusual things in the background, such as brooms cleaning the cave in Matoya's Cave, or mandragoras hiding in Sarutabaruta. And in the DLC Song "Rufus' Welcome Ceremony," the TV ratings meter appears in the corner.
    • While battling on Chrono Trigger's End Of Time stage, occasionally Spekkio will lean out of his room to watch what's going on.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In Curtain Call, if in an Inherited Quest you go to a space and the space in prior players' iterations uses a DLC track you don't have, the game will quietly substitute that track with one you do have, and if the space you're on is a BMS space, the game will use the monsters of the last BMS track you played. This can be used to one's advantage to easily farm certain rare drops, but unfortunately, under certain circumstances, most notably playing that space without having played a previous track since loading the game up or using a Gambler's Spirit to change the song to another one, the game will crash and send you back to the 3DS home menu.
    • In Final Bar Line, shortly after the game's release, players discovered that their save file can end up corrupted, making them unable to access some game modes (such as Music Stages) or even to access the title screen at all. This can happen if the player deletes a set of Summon Stones and closes the game without leaving the Summon Stone menu (triggering the auto-save to confirm the deletions). Deleting your save file or starting a new file under a new profile allows players to resume playing. The two bugs were eventually fixed in March 2023.
  • Gameplay Roulette: In All-star Carnival, Medleys have you shift between BMS and FMS mode within the same stage as you progress from one sub-track to the next.
  • Genre Shift: from Fighting Game to Rhythm Game.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The boss battle with Chaos when you hit a certain Rhythmia threshold feels like this.
  • Glass Cannon: Kain, Edgar, Cloud, Tifa, Paine and Machina are built almost exclusively for physical combat in Battle Stages and have little to no magic or defensive abilities and despite having higher health than most they are usually boosted by skills like "Sacrifice" and "Darkness" which lowers defensive parameters and HP in exchange for more attack power. Although many characters can learn them, the most notable example is Kain: When you first unlock him, he starts at level one with Sacrifice equipped... however, since the HP Sacrifice takes away is greater than Kain's maximum HP at level one, he becomes a literal One-Hit-Point Wonder. Thank goodness Sacrifice can be taken off.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Of an optional variety - over 25 characters and 80 CollectaCards to get in the first game, and over 60 characters and 160 cards in Curtain Call. There's a lot of stuff to collect.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • The difficulties in Challenge and Series mode are Basic, Expert, and Ultimate. Expert can be challenging, and Ultimate tracks range from incredibly hard to the stuff of nightmares.
    • All-star Carnival has the Transcendent difficulty on some songs, requires a sufficiently good performance on the song's Ultimate chart. Whereas Ultimate charts top out at level 10, Transcendent charts are rated at least level 11, making Ultimate charts look like a child's toy. It is also available in Final Bar Line as the Supreme difficulty in the English localization.
  • 100% Completion: This game has trophies, unlockable characters and songs, and 81 CollectaCards (in three grades of rarity), not to mention getting 100% scores on the songs themselves. And this is just the first Theatrhythm game. Getting all the cards is made easier if you have all the Passwords, but those are never hinted in the game proper, requiring you to look for them online.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Versus mode in Curtain Call has EX bursts that can cause effects that include concealing note types until just before you have to hit them and messing with note speeds. In harder Quest Medley maps, some bosses also cause effects like this when they appear and you can also see them randomly in any FMS songs regardless of difficulty.
    • The airship songs in the sequel are a minor form of this: since the notes fly into the screen further away, their exact location is slightly harder to gauge. The airship's Feature Mode, Boost, makes this worse by reversing the perspective so that the notes now start off much larger and shrink as they approach the trigger zone.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • Many potential ones are averted; the % completion counts are based on how many songs you have unlocked, not the total number. The game will even give the player a crown for completing 100% of charts on a difficulty, only to take it away after a new song is unlocked. It seems to be played straight on the music player for total number of songs.
    • A player will undoubtedly receive Sephiroth's CollectaCard both before they receive Safer∙Sephiroth's card and before they unlock him as a playable character: the giveaway is that his base form's card faces to the left (as do the other playable characters) and is located in the 'playable' section of the binder.
  • Jack of All Stats: Onion Knight, Faris, Lightning, Noel, Benjamin and Ramza can be an asset on whichever kind of stage you want with their balanced stats but don't particularly excel in any way either. Out of these, Ramza is probably the closest to a Ridiculously Average Guy: on lv99, all his stats are the exact same (except for his Spirit, which is a single point lower), and other than Cheer which has all 3 levels, Ultima which he can learn in an unique way in his native game and Mimic and Shout which have no levels, every single ability he learns is either a level 2 ability or a second-tier spell.
  • Killer Rabbit: Staple monsters like the Behemoth and Ahriman appear. They've never looked cuter, but considering they're among the series's famous Demonic Spiders...
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Prishe is one true to her source material with stats focus both on dealing out damage with monk skills and regenerating health and protecting with White Magic.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Several of the major plot points of every single Final Fantasy game represented flash in the background of the Event Stages and the Ending Tracks, including summaries of the endings.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Several characters, most prominently Cid and Princess Sarah. Both have pitiful stats and are limited to support abilities, but Cid has Libra Lv3 and Luck Up Lv3 making him invaluable in Dark Notesnote , while Sarah eventually learns Soul Voice, doubling the power of her song abilities and thus affording the entire party large 40 point buffs to the stats of your choice, because she learns the songs for all four base stats, and others.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Of the thirteen characters you start the game with, at max level the only character with a natural star-rank in both Strength and Agility is Firion—plus he has the highest natural strength of said original lineup, outstripping even Cloud. In Curtain Call, Firion's stats are realigned to Stone Wall while Squall and Lilisette pick up the slack with stats that give them the best balance for transitioning from Field Music to Battle Music.
  • Limit Break: The 13 initially selectable characters will learn one when they reach level 40: most of them automatically deal massive amounts of damage to boss monsters, allowing you to kill them as soon as they appear which is extremely useful in Dark Notes, while others give various significant bonuses such as large stat boosts, large amounts of healing for every note if you chain enough in a row and huge damage multipliers for every spell cast. The sequel gives more characters a Limit Break but there are still the odd few who lack one.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: While loading a stage in the first game, the game will show your four chosen characters say a part of several phrases they're known for in their proper game, combined into a single sentence. This results in some pretty... bizarre phrases.
    Let's go, we return artfully in defiance!
  • Magic Knight: Ashe, Sephiroth, Serah and Equilibrium Lightning are the closest examples although other characters are such as Faris, Cecil, Lightning and the Onion Knight branching out to The Sneaky Guy, The Paladin, and Jack of All Stats.
  • Magic Music: The Song tree of abilities based on the Quirky Bard classes of the series which provide large status buffs to the entire party, Princess Sarah in particular learns all of the basic ones as well as the ability Soul Voice which doubles the effectiveness of the songs she sings.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Onion Knight. He starts with some of the lowest stats, but has some of the highest near the end. Also levels up faster in the early levels than pretty much everyone.
    • Chaos in the sequel. While his stats (except his agility and luck) are decent from the get-go, he requires over twice (and in some cases, over four times) the experience to get his early level ups. In addition, he starts with no CP whatsoever. He makes up for it by rapidly gaining CP (to hit the usual unboosted maximum of 50) at late levels, and also being the fastest by far to gain his last 10 levels. In addition, most of his abilities are the highest-level versions of said abilities, or other powerhouse moves (like the aptly-named Ultima spell). It takes several level resets (thereby raising Chaos' max CP) or CP-raising cards that're all pretty rare to be able to equip more than one of his good abilities at a time.
  • Marathon Level:
    • The 3DS version has Dancing Mad, clocking in at four minutes long with 350 notes. But it pales in comparison to...
    • Advent: One-Winged Angel from the iOS version. The song is six minutes long, two-to-three times the length of most other songs, on Easy there's 475 notes, and on Ultimate there's 973. The sequel also has this version of the song available as DLC; it has the same number of triggers, but technically fewer notes, since slide triggers only count as a single note as opposed to 2 in the iOS version.
    • One DLC song in Curtain Call, Calling is a minor example for the field music levels. It clocks in at over three and a half minutes, considerably longer than most other songs of any level type, and on Ultimate has 484 notes.
      • Another DLC song, Shadowlord, plays around with this. It's about 5 minutes long, though half to most of the notes are concentrated in the last third of the song.
    • Also from Curtain Call is Sacrifice Part Three, a DLC BMS level that is 3:52 long with 638 notes on Ultimate. Evil Wings, another DLC BMS level, is four minutes long with 600 notes on Ultimate.
    • All-star Carnival has Medleys that put you through shortened versions of multiple tracks one after another, even giving you a "Halfway Point" report indicating your score, judgement counts, etc. after you finish the tracklette that crosses the 50% mark of the medley's time. They are about as long as two regular songs and as such will use up two stages, so you cannot play them if you're on your last stage.
    • All-star Carnival averts this with regards to non-Medley songs; several songs such as One-Winged Angel have been shortened to fit the arcade format.
  • Megamix Game: Those games celebrate the franchise as a whole by compiling a great chunk of the memorable music tracks from most of its game, as well as other Square Enix titles as DLC for good measure.
  • Me's a Crowd: In Curtain Call, the alternate versions of Tifa, Yuna, Lightning and later Cloud count as entirely separate characters and can be used in the same party as the originals.
  • Metal Slime: Magic Pots are the closest thing to one: they only seem to appear on specific backgrounds and do so rarely, and killing one is generally worth at least as much EXP as every other enemy you kill on average in a single song combined. The sequel has Chaos Maps with "bracing" as a part of their title: these maps have a large number of songs with multiple Magic Pots and Movers as enemies, allowing you to use them to quickly level up your characters.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Warrior of Light, Seifer, Galuf, can slide to either tanks or physical damage dealers depending on the abilities you equip to them or provide a balance if you need it.
  • Minimalist Run: If you want a high score, the game rewards you for making it through a song with no abilities or items equipped with a Stoic bonus of 2,000,000 points. Thankfully removed in later games, where there's no artificial restrictions for higher ranks. The Stoic Bonus is a Rhythmia bonus instead in later installments.
  • Min-Maxing: Depending on how hard a chart is for you, HP is either the Dump Stat or vitally important, along with Cure and Protect spells.
  • Mirror Match:
    • Sephiroth is in the game as a party member. Safer Sephiroth is in the game as boss enemy. This trope will likely come up sooner or later.
    • Curtain Call does this several times over: Jecht is now a playable character, while Braska's Final Aeon is an enemy; Sephiroth returns as playable, Safer Sephiroth returns as an enemy, and the Imaginary Champion (Sephiroth's Manikin from Dissidia) appears as the resident Manikin; and Chaos is now a playable character, while both Chaos and Feral Chaos appear as enemies.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • In te first game, trying to target the Stoic Bonuses on EMS sequences deprive you from getting the extended versions of the cinemas that usually lead to the best moments of the game. Want to see how Aerith's Holy vaporizes Meteor? Too bad! You get her sinking in the water. Other egregious examples include "Waltz for the Moon" ending with Rinoa sobbing over Squall's "dead" body and FFIX's "Beyond the Door" fading out just short of its triumphant final chords.
    • A more general, minor version of this are the descriptions of various CollectaCards: despite the cheery and cartoony aesthetics, most of them are noticeably gloomy regardless of subject, and the music that's playing when you're viewing them is a remix of Rose Of May.
  • Nintendo Hard: While it is rather easy on the Basic difficulty, it can get surprisingly hard on the later difficulty settings. And Cosmos help you if spinning arrow notes are included.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • The Event Music Stages are this if you're staring at the event more than you're paying attention to the notes. Warning: Repetitive tries on one of the thirteen events will eventually make you play the main games again for good measure.
    • The sequel takes it to its logical extreme with a medley comprising music from some of the main games, as well as visuals from all 14 main games. Even further extremes with now not just them, but the spin-off games represented such as Tactics, Crystal Chronicles, Mystic Quest, and even Advent Children (which wasn't even a game) now have them.
  • One-Hit Kill: Odin's Zantetsuken skill is an instant kill to the current enemy, although if the enemy is a major boss, it is possible that the attack will miss.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Any character that starts at level 1 with either Sacrifice or Luck Up, which boost other stats (strength and luck, respectively) in exchange for more hit points than anyone has at level 1. Averted in the second game if the CollectaCard Crystarium is used to boost their hit points above 501.
  • Ornamental Weapon: In addition to the other Warriors of Cosmos that have ornamental weapons, Firion, the Walking Armory, only ever uses his Blood Sword in combat.
  • The Paladin: Cecil slides from a regular Magic Knight to this in the sequel, losing his attack magic in favor for exclusive defensive attributes and physical damage power.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: In Final Bar Line, any Series Quests with the "Physical attacks deals twice as much damage" added effect becomes this, as it is easy to deal huge amount of damages, thus allowing you to kill much more monsters for a lot of EXP. The "Let the Battles Begin" quest from Final Fantasy VII Remake in particular deserves a mention, as no monster is resistant to physical damage, and bosses don't inflict status effects, leaving you free reign to destroy them and amass huge amounts of experience. Add a Golden Egg to the mix, and you will hit the 9999 EXP cap every time you complete the song.
  • Piñata Enemy: In Curtain Fall, defeating a Magic Pot in a Battle Stage will guarantee a large experience award and a decent chance for a good item, while Pupu is not as valuable experience-wise but has excellent item drops.
  • Play Every Day: You get a small Rhythmia bonus for playing at least one song each day, which increases as you play consecutive days; the bonus peaks out at 7 days with a "Weeklong" bonus and then resets. Curtain Call also marks certain songs as top hits for the day, earning you a small Rhythmia bonus for playing them the first time that day.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Some of the abilities earned are useless by the time they're earned. For example, by the time Cecil learns the HP Plus level 3 ability, HP Plus level 2 will already put him at max hit points.
  • Quirky Bard: Princess Sarah who comes with low everything except Luck but has almost every stat boosting song ability as well as a skill that doubles their effectiveness.
  • Rainbow Motif: Present. Instead of out-and-out rainbows, though, the game favors color-changes that follow the rainbow 'cycle'.
  • Rank Inflation:
    • There are nine ranks based on the player's points. From F, up to SSS, with the stoic bonus. In the sequel, stats are rated on the same scale as well.
    • All-Star Carnival adds a rainbow Critical judge rank that's higher than a regular Critical.
  • Red Mage: Cecil, Terra, and Ashe vary in stats, but all can learn both attack and defensive/healing skills. Between the three, Terra leans more to attack magic with the "aga" Fire, Ice, Lightning spells, Cecil to defensive and healing magic with Curaga and Protect Lv 3, and Ashe fills in the middle with Cura, Protect Lv 3, Fira, Blizzara and Thundara. In Curtain Call Hope joins in on the action while Cecil loses his skill in Black Magic.
  • RPG Elements: Many, including:
    • Characters have levels and stats, and gain exp after songs.
    • Enemies drop items, which you can use to help you clear stages.
    • Characters also have equipable abilities in two forms, auto-abilities (such as Strength Up and HP Up, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin) and activated abilities (Such as Focus and Fire, which will deal extra physical or magical damage to opponents if you do well enough with the notes).
    • Curtain Call's "Quest Medley mode" likes to call itself an "RPG mode." The gameplay's pretty much the same, though; you just go through levels on a world map which branch into multiple paths. However, there are a few interesting world map features, like obtaining keys to open new paths, and airships to skip levels)
  • Rule of Cute: this game is to the Rule of Cute what Dissidia is to the Rule of Cool. Do the math.
  • Scoring Points: The exact workings of scoring are a little complicated, but to boil it down: 62.5% of your score comes from Trigger judgements and 37.5% of your score comes from Chain bonuses, with the highest bonus per Trigger being earned starting at 25 Chain. Further documentation can be found here, though in Japanese.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: An enemy still alive at the end of a BMS will flee when the "CLEAR!" appears. If you took out an enemy with the last hit, the next enemy will appear and then quickly duck out.
  • Self-Deprecation: Curtain Call's rare CollectaCard English passwords for the four Archfiends from FFIV make fun of the original translations for their names. Similarly, Benjamin's passwords, English and Japanese, stress his connection to the US (no mention of his Japanese name "Zash") and how unknown he is.
  • Sequel Escalation:
    • Content-wise, the sequel in this. The first game had, excluding DLC, over 70 playable songs. Curtain Call has, still excluding DLC, over 200. It helps that this time, the songs are also taken from spinoffs and a movie (Advent Children)
    • This also applies to the RPG elements of the second game: while everyone could only reach 255 in any given stat other than HP and a maximum of 50 CP in the first game, the second game allows you to go high as 999 in any non-HP stat via the Collecta Crystarium and respetive skills and up to 99 CP via either CC or cumulative character resets.
  • Shout-Out:
    • On the selection screen for choosing which mode to play, a character will walk onto the top screen and say something related to their own game. Zidane will say that you don't need a reason to help people, Bartz will mention Boko, Terra will muse about humans and espers being incompatible, and of course Squall will tell you not to get your hopes up, as you won't be disappointed, and to talk to a wall.
    • The passwords that you can use to unlock some CollectaCards (or level up the ones you already have) are also taken from their respective games, or something related to them: one of Tidus's passwordss is Zanarkand Abes, the blitzball team he was the star player of, one of Shantotto's passwords is her trademark Noblewoman's Laugh, one of Vivi's passwords is his last name Ornitier, and so on.
    • One of the Malboro's passwords in Curtain Call is "Got Remedies?".
  • Skippable Boss: In Curtain Call's Chaos Maps, only the Final Boss has to be fought; the midbosses and EX Bosses can be skipped simply by not taking the paths they're on or using Teleport Stones or an Airship to skip them if alternate paths are not available.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Zidane, Locke, Vaan, Balthier, Yuffie, Rikku, and Edge are built for item collection from enemies and looking for Inexplicable Treasure Chests in Field Music Stages with their Video Game Stealing abilities.
  • Socialization Bonus: StreetPassing with other Theatrhythm players exchanges ProfiCards with them, and usually they come with a Dark Note/Chaos Map attached, which are excellent sources for the character-unlocking shards. Whatever information about stages or drops they uncover is passed on to you, so with some coordination you can quickly unlock the characters you want.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Played with regarding Aerith's Theme; without context, this somber and sorrowful piece may seem like something that should be an FMS and not a BMS, but those who have played FFVII know that this track plays not only during the iconic "Sephiroth kills Aerith" scene but also the subsequent Jenova-LIFE boss battle, so for them making the track a BMS track still makes sense.
  • Spin-Off: To Dissidia.
  • Spoiler:
    • The movies from the event stages contain major spoilers from their games (especially if you can read Japanese, since the scenes from FFI-III did not use localizations). Then again, most of the games represented in this one have been released a while ago.
    • Notably subverted in regards to the "We Have Come" EMS from Final Fantasy Type-0; although the original Extended Version showed Class Zero's final moments, the international release traded it out for scenes from the Battle of Judecca and Clash at Big Bridge as Type-0 hadn't received an international release yet.
  • Standard Status Effects: Final Bar Line adds status ailments from the series that enemies can use on the player and vice-versa. All of them will wear off naturally over time and they cannot be stacked.
    • Blind - All physical skills will miss.
    • Mini - Targets take double damage.
    • Petrification - Targets cannot attack and skills will not trigger.
    • Poison - Targets take a set percentage of damage every second. Poison cannot outright kill the party.
    • Silence - All magical skills are negated.
    • Toad - Targets can only do half damage and skills will not trigger.
  • Stone Wall: Snow and Firion (In Curtain Call) are geared almost exclusively to absorbing damage with high HP and defense increasing skills.
  • Summon Magic: By scoring well in certain sections of Battle Stages, you can summon Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Odin, or Bahamut. The sequel adds Knights of the Round and Chocobo into the mix. Final Bar Line adds Alexander and Leviathan.
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: In Final Bar Line, a unique cut-in of a character's face will appear if the character activates their unique ability.
  • Support Party Member: Cid, Aerith, Vanille, Sarah and Cosmos primarily focus on providing the party Status Buff giving songs and defensive abilities while bearing minor skills in other areas such as attack or recovery abilites.
  • Timed Mission: In a way, the Chaos Shrine songs in the first game are essentially this—your goal in the Shrine is to get good items that randomly drop from bosses in the notes. All notes are made of two parts: A Field song, and a Battle song. The objective of the Field song is to get your character to reach a certain point in the field, designated by a sign, that will make the higher-tier boss spawn in the following Battle song—and of course, in the Battle song, you have to kill the boss (and, naturally, the preceding enemies) in order to get the drop. This turns into a timed mission because the songs are always the same length—the field sequence or battle will always end at the same time, meaning you need characters that are fast for the Field mission and offensively capable for the Battle part in order to actually get the rewards, since not even Perfect-Chaining the notes means you can get far enough or dish out hurt quickly enough.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • In the original Theatrhythm, Final Fantasy XIV was this in a meta sense. The game had been out for a year and a half by the time TFF released in Japan. Nobody and nothing from FFXIV made it in, not even a reference, not even a single song, not even DLC. All due, likely, to the game's then-infamous reputation for being the worst game product ever released in the franchise. Happily, Curtain Call remedies this problem with a vengeance, to go along with A Realm Reborn's massive change of fortune for XIVnote . Completely averted with Final Bar Line, to the point of being an inversion: in this game, XIV has the single highest song count with a total of 33 songs (DLC and remixes not included)! Sadly, Endwalker songs are noticably absent.
    • An even greater example of Curtain Call addressing this problem, though, has to be Benjamin from Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Curtain Call is the first time in twenty-two years that Benjamin, and content from FFMQ, has appeared in a new product.note 
    • Curtain Call has a minor example of unfavoritism: In the first game, Somnus from Final Fantasy XV (back then known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) was a DLC track, but did not return in Curtain Call (at least, not yet) unlike the other DLC tracks.
    • In both games, no representation exists for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. It's at least as much Final Fantasy as Chrono Trigger or The World Ends with You!
  • White Mage: Minwu, Yuna, Lenna, Garnet, Y'shtola, Eiko focus primarily on recovery of HP although some will branch out into defensive magic, the Holy Hand Grenade and summon boosters.
  • White Magic: White Mage type characters have abilities like Cure and Protect which heal you and reduce the damage you take from missed notes.
  • Widget Series: And then some!
  • Word Purée Title:
  • Word Salad Title: Dark Notes' and Chaos Maps' names are composed of a permutation of words based on the properties of the quest, resulting in many titles that don't really make sense.
  • Wraparound Background:
    • In the backgrounds of the field stages. It's easier to see in the ones for Final Fantasy VI (one greener one based on the World of Balance and a very similar but less green World of Ruin one), in which it is to be expected to pass Figaro Castle multiple times.
    • More obvious in the sequel if you play an FMS based on an airship song; those involve, naturally, piloting the game's airship instead of walking. As those are much faster, you can see the wraparound much more frequently.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The “Cosmo Canyon” and “Aerith’s Theme” Remixes from Smash Bros. Ultimate referred to its origin game as “Collaboration Title”.
  • Zerg Rush: In All-star Carnival, the background battles consist of up to sixteen player characters (each player's party has four members and there can be up to four players in the same battle at once) taking on what is usually one or two enemies at a time.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Gather 10000 Rhythmia and you're facing Chaos, to the only original remix in the game: Chaos Shrine. Try as you might, armed with a level 99 Cloud, Terra, Onion Knight, and Lightning, equipped with Bahamut's Magictite, and you will not defeat him until the stage ends. On the other hand, you can give yourself four level one characters, play the shortest song in the game, and drop the 3DS. You will constantly be revived before your HP can even hit zero, and when the song ends, Chaos will simply be engulfed in a massive fireball of spontaneous combustion and perish. Either way, you may not pause the game; the only way out is to turn off the system (or head to the home menu and close suspended software) and reboot, in which case he will simply ambush you after the next fight.