Ooooooh, so this is what the first Theatrhythm game could have been. Curtain Call exists not only as a sequel done right, but also as an idea that the publisher finally realized had genuine potential after the original’s reception.
While this is just a theory, it doesn’t take much to realize just how meagre an offering the first Theatrhythm was in comparison to its successor. I’m not speaking of just the song count; despite how significant three times the amount of songs is, that sort of content growth is expected. Curtain Call’s variety of modes on offer is what blows me away.
It’s been a long time since I’ve played the first game, but there’s no forgetting its lackluster efforts at keeping my attention. While the songs and mechanics on offer were nice, it was pretty much a time killer; something to dip into for a bit when I had the chance. The Dark Notes were Theatrhythm’s attempt at creating a hook to catch me with, but the song’s it used grew repetitive as the mode built itself with a small selection of the game’s music. It was a drag, and a real stain on an otherwise terrific title.
Curtain Call farts on the first game’s lunch in that regard with Medley Quest, a mode that puts your party on branching paths with various “stops” (songs) along the way. Your team’s health bar is constant from song to song, with the goal being getting to the stage’s boss before dying. The stages are organized by length, meaning the longer the stage the more songs to play (and just one health bar to do complete it with). The rewards are constant, and the branches mean a return trip isn’t quite the same as your first time around.
Also on tap is a very fun multiplayer mode. While it’s interesting to face off against the computer, it’s thrilling to take on your friends through the power of the internet. Just last night I played a few matches against Qoopa Klub’s Jeremy Johnson, and got my butt handed to me. As expected, you compete for points, but the wrench thrown into the mix is the power ups. While they’re easy to scoff at (and I certainly did at first), they add a lot of confusion to the mix, and the results are hilarious. Maybe those who believe Mario Kart is tarnished by the Blue Shell will take issue, but the power ups in Curtain Call do an excellent job of adding a bit of madness to the experience. The game’s rhythm targets can speed up, become hidden until the last possible second, and even shrink down before expanding back just when it’s time to hit the mark. If there’s a way to turn them off, I want nothing of it. What makes online play so appealing is that whether you win or lose, you can choose a Collectacard, which shows off some character artwork as well as providing an optional stat boost to your party members.
Curtain Call is rich with content, shaming its predecessor with its collection of modes and trinkets. It makes sense that Square-Enix is billing this as the last Theatrhythm game, as I doubt anyone will be wont of more. DLC is on offer, so there’s even more on the way. You almost expect the cartridge to bulge a bit with all that’s on board.
I think Curtain Call is owed a standing ovation.