Defining the style of THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE

Mika Okauchi, Art Director of the game, reveals the little details, and fan service moments the team put into the game.
By Duncan Heaney

Hi everyone. My name is Mika Okauchi and I’m the Art Director at indieszero!

  • Favorite FF game: FINAL FANTASY VI and FINAL FANTASY IX (I love Eiko!)
  • Favorite FF music: Battle from FINAL FANTASY VI (the melody line, the way it develops… it’s all so cool!)

I was in charge of overseeing the graphical design around the user interface (UI) for THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE. In this blog, I’ll look at the UI artwork and how we found the style for the game!

Design Philosophy

First, I should talk about the design philosophy behind the game as a whole.

Our intention was to convey that this is a new THEATRHYTHM game that’s distinct from past titles. We chose blue as our main color because it’s a staple of the FINAL FANTASY series and would make the game more appealing for FINAL FANTASY fans to pick up and play.

By using a softer, darker shade of blue, I think we’ve made it feel a bit more high-brow, like you would expect from something like a concert!

We have made sure to include shapes and decorations inspired by music and scores as motifs.

By incorporating straight lines and curves, we have expressed something of the sharpness and softness associated with musical elements such as notes, staves and instruments.

We also took care with how we presented details such as the lines. These were a key feature of the UI in past entries in this series, so I think their depiction is part of what makes the game feel so much like ‘THEATRHYTHM’.

Finally, we utilised secondary motifs as well. Did you notice that this game uses triangles in a lot of different places?

For instance, triangles are used as embellishments to the UI, in background patterns, as confetti and in trigger effects. One of the design goals for this game was to give it a casual, poppy look and so we used these eye-catching triangles to help us to achieve this goal.

Another little nugget that you might find interesting is that this is the third home release for the THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY series, so a three-sided shape felt extra-appropriate!

Having come up with these core concepts in the early development stages, we then went on to design the screen layouts and effects.

If players look at the game and recognise it not only as a part of the THEATRHYTHM franchise, but also as something distinctly new and fresh, then I couldn’t ask for more than that!

Getting the details right

We took a great deal of care over some of the UI details in this game.

On the main menu, you’ll see not just your own characters, but also the party characters of any users with whom you have exchanged ProfiCards. There are 104 characters in this game, so we thought that a feature like this, which allows players to meet as many different characters as possible, would be appreciated.

We put a lot of thought and care into having the characters bow, the lines they speak, the colours of the spotlights, and many other elements of this screen.

We hope that any players who find themselves tired out from all the rhythm action can return to this screen for a little break!

We also created the Edit Party screen sets to look like sheet music or a music stand.

A lot of musicians will write notes or draw doodles on their sheet music, and we thought that if we could reproduce this here, it would help players to feel more attached to their party sets.

We asked Monster Octopus if he would be willing to provide some drawings that we could use to bring this idea to life, and he very kindly provided us with a cute drawing for each of the five party sets!

Thanks to these images, an action as simple as changing to a different party set is transformed into something delightful!

The Music Stages screen is a something that the player will see over and over again as they play the game. We made it so that the track cover art that appears in the background switches around at random, to keep things fresh for players in between the rhythm gaming sessions.

The more songs you unlock, the more pieces of artwork are unlocked as well. See if you can spot your favourite!

Of course, we wanted to make sure that this game feels like a FINAL FANTASY title. The game title doesn’t actually contain the words FINAL or FANTASY this time around, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any different from the other titles in this series.

For this reason, we worked hard to make sure that the game felt faithful to the series in terms of its design. For instance, we used blue text boxes, and a pointing finger cursor on the Edit Party screen.

We deliberately incorporated some retro design choices to give the game a nostalgic feel. For example, when there are multiple cursors on the Edit Party screen, the cursor that isn’t currently being controlled by the player will flicker. This is the kind of touch that FINAL FANTASY fans are sure to appreciate - including myself!

When you start a new series in Series Quests, the logo is displayed as a large on-screen graphic.

We made it like this as we thought it was reminiscent of the openings of the original games. I hope that this feature will help players to remember when they first set out on the adventure!

We’ve crammed the game full of these little details that we hope will leave the player feeling excited and nostalgic… or just help them have a good time.

Please give this game a try, and check out the UI design while you’re at it!

THEATRHYTHM FINAL BAR LINE is out now for PS4 and Nintendo Switch. 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 to buy 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!

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