Theatrhythm Final Bar Line Intended to be Final Game in the Theatrhythm Series

Japanese outlet Dengeki recently interviewed Producer Ichiro Hazama from Square Enix and Indies Zero Director Masanobu Suzui about the incoming highly anticipated rhythm RPG, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line.

Some of most notable exchanges in this interview are the following, translated by our team’s Ryuji:

Interviewer: Theatrhythm is now back after a long time since the 3DS and arcade versions. When did development of this new title begin?

Masanobu Suzui: The project started around the time we finished developing the Epic Games Store version of Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory, which was around in the Spring of 2021.

Ichiro Hazama: It’s not easy for us to say, but it’s rather rare to be able to develop and release a game in about two years nowadays. Especially one that meets Square Enix’s standards.

Suzui: If you think about it from the perspective of our Indies Zero standards, however, this is probably about the average line. However, we were able to develop this title quickly partly because we had done a lot of preliminary work beforehand.

Interviewer: I was really surprised that the release date was six months after the announcement.

Suzui: We mostly did that because of promotional reasons. Due to the nature of rhythm games as a whole, it is difficult to attract attention with just the story and characters. So we tried to condense the information around the announcement of the title and the demo version.

By releasing the demo version about two weeks before the game’s release rather than several months before, our goal was to avoid delaying the release of the full version. The demo version features transferable data and has [30 songs], so we hope you can play it as if the game were already released!

Interviewer: If I may ask, I’m quite curious about how it says “Final” in the title. Does that imply that this is the last title of the series?

Suzui: Yes. As you may have guessed, this is the final title in the Theatrhythm series.

*Hazama also agrees with the statement.*

Suzui: That was our intention from the beginning of development, and we put everything into this game so that there would be no regrets. Still, if this is not the last in the series, I will feel like I’ve been cheated, honestly. (bitter laughs)

Interviewer: Aww, really? But from a fan’s point of view, I would like to see the series continue, and I believe that if the fans’ voices are strong enough, the series will continue, right?

Suzui: Indeed, the series has continued because of the voices of the fanbase. In that sense, whether or not this will be the last in the series may depend on the feedback from all the players who purchase it. I’ve been making every game with the intention of making it the last.

Hazama: Yeah. This isn’t the first time this has happened, honestly. When I was also developing Curtain Call, I also thought that one was the final one in the series.

That being said, the name “final bar line” comes from a musical expression that refers to the two “lines” at the end of a musical score that indicate the end of the piece you’re trying to play.

Suzui: In fact, when I talked about this project with Nomura-san, his answer was, “Didn’t you say you were going to ‘end this’ at Curtain Call? What do you mean, you’re going to develop a new title?” (laughs). After some discussion with him, we came to call it Final Bar Line. As a side note, the title logo also has an end line.

Interviewer: Is there a reason that “Final Fantasy” is also missing from the title?

Suzui: This was done to avoid repetition. “Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Final Bar Line” would mean the word “final” would repeat itself twice, so Nomura-san even suggested: “can’t we remove Final Fantasy from the title”? For some time, I’ve been talking with Hazama about how we hope Theatrhythm itself will become a major IP. I feel that the recognition of [the title] has grown thanks to the countless titles we have released and everyone who have supported us.

Hazama: Although the game at its core has Final Fantasy songs first and foremost, this time, we borrowed many songs from other Square Enix titles as additional downloadable content, so we agreed that removing the Final Fantasy from the name would emphasize the fact that this is a new ‘Theatrhythm’ game.

Additional notes:

  • An asterisk at the end of this interview mentions that this was only half of the entire thing. The second half will come at a later date.

Other questions in the interview discuss the process of adapting songs that utilized the 3DS’ touch screen. One interesting tidbit includes the fact that the Switch utilizes a capacitive touch panel rather than a pressure-sensitive one (like on the 3DS). Capacitive touch screens make it difficult to distinguish between touch and slide inputs. The touch controls were considered at some point, but after concluding that they would severely impact the gameplay, the team quickly shifted gears and focused on making it button-control-focused.

So, it’s possible that this may be the final outing for the Theatrhythm franchise. And if that truly is the case, then it’s certainly going out with a bang. The song number here is widely impressive, and it’s difficult to think of what they could do to top this project.

Final Bar Line 9

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is releasing for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on February 16, 2023. A free demo is also now available.

If you missed it, check out our impressions of the demo.

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.