This article started out as a "First Impressions," but 52 hours later, I feel like I have gone a bit beyond simply "first" and now I am into full on "Game Review" mode, but not a "Full Review."
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is the sequel to the 3DS music/rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy that was released by Square Enix back in 2012. I reviewed that game and was apparently pretty harsh (or at least I think I was), but since then, I grew to love that first game and almost everything that is done here in the sequel has been an improvement over the first game.
First off, if you have not purchased either game and you are on the fence, I would recommend buying only Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (hereafter referred to as TFFCC), not because the TFF is a inferior game, but because TFFCC does everything that TFF does but it also gives you access to over 100 songs right off the bat. By the time you reach roughly eight to ten hours, you will have unlocked all 221 songs, whereas in TFF you have access to about 80 songs.
TFFCC also pulls music from a lot more sources than the first game. New to the sequel are songs from Final Fantasy I - XIV, Final Fantasy Tactics, Mystic Quest, Crystal Chronicles, X-2, Advent Children, Crisis Core, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon, Dissidia and Dissidia 012 [duodecim], Type-0, XIII-2, Lightning Returns. There are downloadable songs which you can purchase at $0.99 a piece, but are from various Square Enix games like Xenogears, The World Ends With You, Chrono Trigger, Romancing SaGa 1 - 3, SaGa Frontier, Final Fantasy Adventure, Seiken Densetsu 3, Secret of Mana and Bravely Default.
The mode of play is pretty much identical to TFF although I have noticed that battle music stages (usually battle music) seem easier while the field music stages (typically overworld and dungeon music) and the event music stages (themes played over in-game cinematics) are more difficult. I've noticed that I have received a "Bad" rating while holding my stylus over the green slider (the one where you hold and follow the path during the field music stages), possibly because I wasn't holding the target up/down enough in the direction that the path was going (??).
Another addition that I did not think that I would initially like is the online battle system where you can engage in a 1:1 battle with another player either locally, domestically, internationally, or against a computer AI if you are unable to connect with other players (or if you just do not want to). Battles are run like a standard battle music stage with your party of four characters going up against random monsters as well as a boss-type monster (Kefka, Cagnazzo, The Undying, et cetera). After a certain number of successful hits, you perform one of nine attacks on the other player that have varying effects such as having the notes/triggers move faster, having them move at varying speeds; needing to hit the note/trigger precisely (critical hit) otherwise it is counted as "Bad;" having the notes/triggers show a question mark until right before you have to tap them so you don't know if it's a regular tap or an arrow swipe; having the arrow triggers spin which makes anticipating which direction they will be pointing when you have to swipe them pretty difficult. Basically you are messing with the other person while they mess with you and whomever has the most points at the end of the battle wins points (bragging points) and in-game collectable cards.
In TFFCC, I have noticed that some songs are used in the BMS's such as "Aerith's Theme" or "Final Fantasy Theme (FF XII Version)" which are not battle themes, but I am guessing were included in this category so you could use them in battles.
In TFFCC, cinematics were removed from a lot of the games in the series (FF I - XIII), but some of those that were included (Final Fantasy Tactics) were very short, lasting less than two minutes and having just over 50 notes to tap, which seemed kind of sad and useless. Another criticism I have is that while there are a lot more characters to choose from, there are some characters that have doubles due to them appearing different in different games (Tifa from FF VII and the film Advent Children; Lightning from FF XIII and FF XIII-2). Personally I would have like to have had additional characters from Final Fantasy (White Mage), Final Fantasy IV (Cid or Yang), Final Fantasy VI (Shadow, Setzer or Realm), or Final Fantasy VII (Red XIII).
Overall, I love this game and listening to the music from a number of the games in the Final Fantasy series that I have not played (VIII, X, X-2, XIII, Chocobo Dungeons, Type-0, Crystal Chronicles) definitely makes me want to go back and play these games. Well played Square Enix marketing department. Additionally, I began thinking of all the Nintendo game series that have great music that I would love to see implemented in this style: Dragon Quest/Warrior, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong (Donkey Konga does not count). Granted there would have to be some tweaking since not all are turn-based RPGs, but something similar could be thought of for any one of these games and I, along with a good portion of the video game music loving community who own 3DS', would buy these games up in very near to a heartbeat.