THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE: The music on the game menus

How did those amazing musical arrangements for the THEATRHYTHM menus come about? The developers and sound team explain.
By Yuichiro Takahashi

Hello - my name is Yuichiro Takahashi and I work as a planner at indieszero, the developer of THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE! I worked as a sound planner on the game, and was in charge of creating music stage data as well as planning out the audio in general.

  • Favourite FF game: FINAL FANTASY V (It was the first game in the series I ever played)
  • Favourite FF music: In Search of Light from FINAL FANTASY V (The bold tune is so fitting for a last dungeon).

In this article I’d like to talk about the arranged tracks that were used on the game’s menus!

We asked the Square Enix sound team to create the menu arrangements for the game and were greatly helped by Mr. Keiji Kawamori, who has been of the utmost assistance to indieszero since the very first THEATRHYTHM game.

In the first half of this blog, I’ll talk about what kind of music was ordered and in the second half I would like to hand over to Mr. Kawamori and the arranger Ms. Yuko Komiyama to talk about the way they approached these tracks and the main points they focused on.

When requesting a new arrangement track, we write out a “music order form” document. I’ll explain how it works, using the party selection screen (below) as an example.

The first thing to decide is which of the original music tracks will form the basis for the new arrangement. We actually used music from FINAL FANTASY VI for the party select screen on both the original THEATRHYTHM and CURTAIN CALL, although it just came out that way - it wasn’t planned intentionally.

However, we decided that continuing the tradition on FINAL BAR LINE would keep consistency over the series, so the team limited our choices to music from FINAL FANTASY VI.

We ultimately decided to base the arrangement on ‘Protect the Espers!’ and the next step was to think about how exactly we wanted the track arranged. These kinds of decisions are based on the role and functionality of the screen the music would be played over.

The party select screen is a place where the player will take time to think over decisions and try out different setups, so the key points we set down for the arrangement direction were that it should have a lower tempo than the original version so it did not feel hurried. It should also have a courageous and tactical feel to go with the function of the screen.

We align the direction of the BGM arrangement with the functionality for each individual screen in this way.

I will now hand over to Mr. Kawamori from the Square Enix sound team and arranger Ms. Komiyama to talk about the details of the arrangement itself!

Hi - I’m Keiji Kawamori from the Square Enix Sound Department. I work as a music director, and am often involved in making arrangements of different FINAL FANTASY tracks.

  • Favorite FF game: FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE (I chose the most recent game I was involved with making!)
  • Favorite FF music: Struggle for Freedom from FINAL FANTASY XII (we were still working with internally generated sound sources at this point, so I have memories of how hard it was to squeeze this track into the memory limit…)

When I’m working on THEATRHYTHM games, I always get strong feelings of nostalgia from hearing all the old songs again and the memories of the original development that they conjure up.

Points I took special care on

Choosing who to handle the arrangement was a carefully made decision. Ms. Yuko Komiyama immediately came to mind when I was looking for a composer who respected the music of FINAL FANTASY and was also a skilled arranger, so I asked her if she would accept this request.

Things I particularly liked from the arrangement on the party select screen

I like the vibrant opening section that really matches well with the fun atmosphere of the game.

The game itself is overflowing with love for the music of FINAL FANTASY, and this was pushed even further with the addition of Ms. Komiyama’s wonderful arrangement that fully displays her passion for music. It makes THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE even more satisfying and enjoyable - I hope everyone has fun with it.

Hello! My name is Yuko Komiyama and I handled this new arrangement for THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE.

  • Favourite FF game: FINAL FANTASY IV (It was the first FINAL FANTASY I ever played and the game that showed me how great game music can be)
  • Favourite FF music: Locke’s Theme from FINAL FANTASY VI (I often find myself humming this tune recently)

It was being so wowed by the music of FINAL FANTASY IV that got me into this industry in the first place, so it was fortuitous indeed that I would get the chance to make arrangements for THEATRHYTHM. I still can’t quite believe that I get to be involved in making something that has the FINAL FANTASY name on it!

For this job I was given a very detailed idea of the kind of music that was needed and was able to make it without much deliberation. I feel that there is a concept of “having fun” in all the classic tracks from FINAL FANTASY and other Square Enix games, so I definitely tried to have fun with the composition.

All of those classics keep the core elements that make them so good even when arranged in different ways, so there are many possible directions that you could take them in. That always leads to headaches when trying to decide what to do. The brief here mainly involved creating music for menus, such as the multi-battle and results screens, so I took particular care in making sure that my music did not get in the way while players were thinking intently.

Points I took special care on

I wanted to reflect my appreciation for how luxurious FINAL FANTASY music has always been. Even with the limited hardware specifications of the Famicom / Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom / Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the quality of the music produced for FINAL FANTASY games was always high.

In recent years they have featured an incredible sense of scale through the power of the orchestra, and also a subtle charm, but we have consistently seen the same kinds of beautiful melodies since FINAL FANTASY I.

In order to do nice arrangements of the FINAL FANTASY tracks from across the years, I used live recordings of instruments on some pieces. The recordings took around a day and a half and cover pretty much the whole range of instruments available, from bass, guitars and piano to jazz organs, drums, string section, brass, woodwind, percussion and choruses. Thanks to all the recording staff we were able to put together an awesome track.

Arrangements that I particularly liked from THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE

I would say that the opening movie track is a favourite of mine. There is a perception that the FINAL FANTASY series uses a lot of orchestral pieces, but this genre of orchestral arrangement was something that could only really be done with THEATRHYTHM.

Incidentally, the whole thing was recorded using live instrumental performances! All the performers really got into the groove, so please take a listen to the results when you start up the game!

One other arrangement that I like is the THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE Special Battle Arrangement Medley. The sheet music for this one was incredibly complex and probably made the performers want to cry, but they all knew the original versions of the different battle themes featured. Understanding what the final result should sound like made them want to put in that extra effort to see it through, so they pushed through many different takes and also came up with lots of good ideas.

Both the staff making the medley and the performers naturally found themselves saying how nostalgic the music was and how much fun they were having, so the whole team enjoyed themselves from start to finish. Incidentally, I got such an adrenaline rush while working on this track that my heart rate was up around 180 BPM!

If someone’s time playing THEATRHYTHM is made even a little richer and more exciting through the music that I made, then I consider it a great success. I hope everyone has fun going all out tapping away the rhythms!

Thank you very much, Mr. Kawamori and Ms. Komiyama!

This is Yuichiro Takahashi from indieszero again. All the arrangements we had made are simply wonderful, so please listen out for them while you are browsing the menu screens!

By the way, my personal favourites are the FINAL FANTASY XV “Valse di Fantastica” arrangement that plays in the museum menu and the “Happy Birthday Victory Fanfare” that plays during the cake sequence for character’s birthdays!

That’s it for this time! THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE is out now for PS4 and Nintendo Switch:

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