THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE: Creating the backdrops

The backdrops for each music stage in THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE were created with great love and reverence for their original games. We reveal the process for making them.
By Erina Onishi

Hi there, my name is Erina Onishi and I am the lead in-game brand planner for THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE.

  • Favourite FF game: FINAL FANTASY XIV (there was a time I used to play until 6 in the morning on weekdays!)
  • Favourite FF music: FINAL FANTASY XI - The Sanctuary of Zi'Tah (I’ve never played the actual stage in FF11 but somehow this music makes me long for home.)

For this game, I was primarily in charge of the oversight and management of FINAL FANTASY-related elements, with a focus on the backdrops used in the music stages.

I’ll first explain how the backdrops were made, look at some of the elements to watch out for and share some backdrop recommendations from the team!

Imagining the scene

We decided that the backdrop for every piece of music in THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE would be based on scenes from the original game in which it played.

For example, the track featured in the image above is Jack’s Theme from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN and we based its stage on some of the scenes shown during that game’s release date announcement trailer:

We thought long and hard about which scenes we should pick for the in-game stages, to ensure that the memories they conjured for fans were as clear and vivid as possible.

Making a request to the 3D graphic designers

Let me tell you a little about the process of creating these stages.

Once we decide on the scene to use for a track, the next part of the process is to draw out a rough plan for the specific layout of the background and then make a request to the graphics designer who will work it up.

At the same time, the planners and other staff do as much “location hunting” as they can. This involves travelling to the scene or location in the original game and looking at the background from different angles, as well as gathering more detailed information about the patterns used on the floors and walls etc.

The results of these information gathering sessions are shared with the graphic designer and put to good use in the creation of the final backdrop design.

Checking and finishing off the backdrop

Once the layout has been carefully scrutinised and the details have been added in, we check over the backdrop. At this point the backdrop is around 90% complete, and from the development team’s perspective this checking back step marks the end of our work.

The only thing to do after that is to collate the designs into a document and have it checked over by Square Enix.


The beauty of the backdrops in THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE is in how they each maintain the individual feel of the different FINAL FANTASY and Square Enix games they’re based on, but also share a consistent look through the THEATRHYTHM art style.

I’d now like to hand over to two on our 3D graphics designers who worked hard to achieve that amazing balance in the BMS stages, and hear about the backdrops that they personally recommend you check out.

Mugiko Sakai (Graphics designer from indieszero)

My name is M. Sakai and I am a 3D graphics designer.

  • Favourite FF game: FINAL FANTASY IV (It was my first ever FF game and left an impression that stays with me to this day.)
  • Favourite FF music: Cosmo Canyon from FINAL FANTASY VII (The music really immersed me in the atmosphere of Cosmo Canyon.)

I was mainly in charge of creating the backgrounds for the BMS stages on FINAL BAR LINE.

My favourite backdrops

  • Fight On! from FINAL FANTASY VII

The details to look out for

There are loads of backdrops that I want to draw attention to, but the ones that I particularly recommend are those which let you peer into the successive generations that make up the history of the FINAL FANTASY series overall.

The two that I’m introducing here are both from the FINAL FANTASY VII series, which contributes the most songs to the THEATRHYTHM catalogue of any individual series. They simulate the scene for the same battle in the original FINAL FANTASY VII and in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

The creation of these two backdrops, in particular the one for the track from the original FINAL FANTASY VII, was only finalised in the latter part of the development schedule. For a long time we were re-using a different backdrop based on the previous game as the stage instead.

As someone who had excitedly played FINAL FANTASY VII years ago, I had a really emotional reaction when the new backdrop was ready and first implemented in the game. The music itself is thrilling in its own right, but I hope that fans can enjoy both the nostalgic original FINAL FANTASY VII and the new REMAKE through these different backdrops as well.

Ohara Naoya (Graphics designer from indieszero)

Graphics designer Naoya Ohara here!

  • Favourite FF games: FINAL FANTASY IX (I love everything about the game, from the setting to the story and the characters!)
  • Favourite FF music: Searching for Friends from FINAL FANTASY VI (I just cannot forget the scene where this song plays for the first time…)

On THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE I was mainly involved in making the background graphics for the BMS stages.

My favourite backdrop:

  • Grand Finale from FINAL FANTASY VI

The details to look out for

Grand Finale uses the opera house background from the Ultros battle, and it was created as a new stage just for this track!

Before I started working on this backdrop, I held detailed consultations with the planners and the other graphics designers about how to respect the feel of the original game while still making it in the best way for a THEATRHYTHM stage. No effort has been spared, including having the audience created especially for the opera house!

So many people helped and collaborated in making this background, so it’s a very special one for me (I also loved FFVI from back in the day, so it feels special for me in that way too).

I took special care adding various little touches to the presentation so that the atmosphere of the opera house isn’t lost. I’ll be very happy if players notice them!

I invite everyone to look for their favourite backdrops in THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE too!

THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE is out now for Nintendo Switch and PS4. Three editions are available:

  • Standard Edition: Available physically and digitally, this contains 385 songs from across the FINAL FANTASY series

  • Digital Deluxe Edition: Contains all songs from the standard edition, plus 27 additional tracks, and Season Pass 1.

  • Premium Digital Deluxe Edition: Contains all songs from the standard edition, plus 27 additional tracks, and Season Passes 1-3.

The game is available now:

You can also play a free demo available that lets you experience 30 tracks from the game, including beloved songs from FINAL FANTASY II, FINAL FANTASY V, FINAL FANTASY VII, FINAL FANTASY XIII, FINAL FANTASY XIV and FINAL FANTASY XV!

Your progress even carries over to the full game!

For news and updates about THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE, be sure to follow FINAL FANTASY on social media: