Bards gained the ability to play actual music in Final Fantasy XIV near the end of 2017 and have been annoying bar-goers with their covers of “All Star” and “One Winged Angel” ever since (or just beeping loudly like fire alarms). One talented bard had reimagined Final Fantasy XIV as a rhythm game, and I can’t stop watching their performances.
Nicorzea Game Music is a YouTube performer who covers Final Fantasy XIV’s fantastic soundtrack using in-game bard instruments. Composer Masayoshi Soken’s criminally underrated score makes for some tricky performances from up-tempo boss fight themes to moody environmental tunes. Nicorzea goes the extra effort to spruce up their performances—which are played on a controller and not handled by macros—and imagines them as a rhythm game. And damn, I’d love to play this hypothetical game.
Recent covers have focused on the game’s latest expansion “Shadowbringers” and its boss fight music. Soken’s score for the expansion is faster and has a variety of genres, most of which are a challenge to perform by hand. The scattershot “What Angel Wakes Me” or the industrial-edged boss theme “Insatiable” have different tones but are both memorable tunes that Nicorzea nails. They leave just enough of the original music underneath to really give a sense of how faithful the performance is.
Of course, if you’ve spent some time in big cities like Ul’dah, you might hear some less skillful performances of these tunes. Nicorzea’s dead-on pace and imaginative presentation really up the experience and leave me with a lingering question: If we have jump puzzles and Valentine’s Day mazes, maybe Square Enix will give us some better rhythm games than what that strange choir mini-game was from the Starlight Festival? Please?