After your done reading this read my follow up post:
Anyone who has been on my blog for more than ten minutes knows that I love, Love, LOVE Final Fantasy. There’s just something about the series as a whole that I can’t get enough of. With fantastic story lines, great characters and innovative systems of gameplay, it has been my favorite series of ANYTHING since the first time I played it, all the way back in 1987.
Over the years Final Fantasy has taken on a number of different forms besides the typical RPG format. Chocobo Racing injected FF series characters into the Mario Kart format. Dirge of Cerebus fused FF7 with the first person shooter genre. Theaterhythm even took the series into the rhythm game genre! Dissidia, however, placed the game firmly in the fighting game genre and ho boy, what a place to be! Though it was released AFTER Dissidia Final Fantasy, Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy (what a name!) is actually the prequel to Dissidia.
Dissidia is important for a couple of reasons but mainly because it places previous FF universes into an FF multiverse, meaning that, though they are separate stories, all the stories in all the games tie in to one massive story. In this case its the never ending battle between the gods Cosmos and Chaos.
Supposedly ‘duodecim’ translates as: Twelfth Conflict. Makes sense, as this game refers to the 12th cycle. Even so, it makes for a really long name for a game. Especially when ‘012’ is already in the name.
Developer: SquareEnix; Release date: 2011; System: PlayStation Portable (PSP)
The gods Cosmos and Chaos are locked in eternal struggle for supremacy. Each cycle a great battle takes place between the chosen warriors of the gods to determine who will have dominance until the next cycle. This game focuses on the twelfth battle in the cycle, with the warriors of light preparing to battle the warriors of Chaos.
The Warriors of Cosmos
Selected by the goddess, the warriors of Cosmos are: The Warrior of Light (FF1), Firion (FF3), Onion Knight (FF2), Cecil Harvey (FF4), Kain Highwind (FF4), Bartz Klauser (FF5), Tifa Lockhart (FF7), Squall Leonhart (FF8), Laguna Loire (FF8), Zidane Tribal (FF9), Jecht (FF10), Yuna (FF10), Shantotto (FF11), Vaan (FF12) and Lightning (FF13). Together these warriors must gather the Crystals for Cosmos in order to defeat Chaos.
The Warriors of Chaos
Selected by the dark god himself, the warriors of Chaos are: Garland (FF1), The Emperor (FF2), Cloud of Darkness (FF3), Golbez (FF4), Exdeath (FF5), Kefka Palazzo (FF6), Terra Branford (FF6), Sephiroth (FF7), Cloud Strife (FF7), Ultimecia (FF8), Kuja (FF9), Tidus (FF10) and judge Gabranth (FF12).
A few special, playable characters are available: Prishe (FF11), Gilgamesh (FF series) and Feral Chaos (Dissidia)
The game also features tons of cameo appearances by series favorites and staples, though most of them show up in 8 or 16 bit game form as advisors.
Interestingly, because this game is a prequel to the original Dissidia (which would the the 13th cycle) you get access to the original game once you finish this one (and therefore access to the 13th cycle battles).
Dissidia 012 is a game of skill and is much more in-depth than your average fighter. Though some of the mechanics are easily recognizable, others not so much. The game, however, plays unlike any other fighting game that I know of:
- You can play the game in Action or RPG mode. Action mode plays just like a normal fighter, while RPG mode plays like a pseudo-RPG in which your character is controlled by the AI and you select combat options whenever you are in combat range. I think it’s there to allow younger kids to successfully play the game.
- Attacks are simple with one button performing Brave attacks and another performing HP attacks. Each button has three different simple attacks: Analog stick center, Analog stick up and Analog stick down. Despite its simple system gameplay can be very deep and intricate. Attacks range from close distance to ranged, physical and magickal.
- Players begin with base levels of Hit Points (HP) and Brave Points (BP).
- You use Brave attacks to drain BP from your opponent and add to your own. Reducing their BP to zero results in a Break status.
- You use Hit Point attacks to reduce your opponents HP, but the amount of HP damage you do is directly tied into how much BP you have. The higher your Brave the greater the damage! Reducing HP to zero ends the match.
- While combat ensues the actual combat stage itself gains BP and causing your opponent to go into Break will add the stage BP to your BP.
- Connecting with an HP attack will drop your own BP to zero, leaving you vulnerable to being broken yourself, so be careful! Also, until you recover your base BP, which takes a short period of time, you won’t do any HP damage with HP attacks.
- Though you start with a base amount of HP you can actually GAIN HP during the fight. So you may start with 2000 HP, but you could, technically, increase it into the tens or hundreds of thousands!
- Beating down your opponent cause EX fragments to fly out onto the field of battle. Collect them to fill your EX gauge or snag the occasional EX core for a big boost!
- Beating your opponent also causes your Assist gauge to fill. Use it to call on another hero to help you in your battle!
Along with this base combat system there are a plethora of additional layers:
- Naturally you can move in any direction in three dimensions (forward, backward, left, right, up and down).
- You can jump in any direction and most characters can double jump.
- You can dodge in any direction. Dodging toward an opponent involves leaping over and behind them, leaving them open to attack. You can also dodge in the air.
- You can block incoming attacks. A successful block can leave your opponent reeling, which leaves them open to attack.
- Quick actions near structures allow you to run up or along walls or grind rails around the battlefield.
- You can target lock your opponent or other objects on the battlefield such as healing items.
- The dash option allows you to dash toward and away from your opponent, and you can dash in the air.
- Wall Rush attacks can slam opponents into objects or the edges of the battlefield doing additional damage after an attack.
- Chase attacks allow you to smash an opponent and send them flying, then chase after them to deliver additional attacks! You can chain a few chase attacks in a row, and can control the direction you send your opponent flying if the attack connects (line them up to smash them into a wall!). Be careful, though, because a properly timed dodge by your opponent will leave them with an opening to counter attack and allow them to chase you across the battlefield!
Along with these more complex and advanced combat techniques (which are seamlessly woven in) there are other optional combat tactics as well:
- EX Mode: Achieved when you fill your characters EX-Gauge, this mode gives your hero a supercharge allowing them to use special abilities and allows them to perform Limit break attacks! While active your EX-Gauge drains, so you only have a limited time to use its advantage.
- Limit Break: While in EX mode you can use a devastating Limit Break attack! These attacks, much like their RPG counterparts, require some controller input for maximum effect. Each one builds up a base of BP before delivering a powerful HP attack! Land every input before the final attack and you can win the battle very quickly. However your opponent can jam on a button to try and increase their resistance to the attack, which could give them a chance of surviving!
- Assist Attacks: Players can call on an assist character to deliver a flurry of attacks by filling their Assist gauge. These attacks will cause your opponents EX-Gauge to deplete of they connect! Be careful, though, your opponent can deliver attacks that will lock out your Assist gauge for short period of time! Or swap places with your assist character if your being hit repeatedly and get out of a bind!
- EX Revenge: Players can consume their EX-Gauge to slow down time, leaving their opponent open to attack for a short period.
- Summons: Players can use staple Final Fantasy summons to call upon monsters that can greatly sway the tide of battle! Randomly rearrange the numbers in your Brave value! Swap your opponents BP and HP values! Give yourself a momentary +1000 BP boost in the hopes that you can nail your opponent with an HP attack. Damage your opponents BP directly! There are dozens of great summon effects!
- Equipment: Equip your character with popular FF related gear that can greatly affect your performance in combat. Increase your close-range attack power by double when your Brave is a prime number! Increase your ability to absorb EX fragments by 1.3 whenever your HP is an even number! There’s too many to list here! Just like in a regular RPG equipment has different level requirements.
- Character levels: Despite not being an official RPG type game you can level up each character. Leveling up increase stats just like an RPG, so the more you play a particular character the greater the attack, defense, base HP/BP. They also learn new skills and abilities!
- Customized abilities and attacks: Each character can have their attacks and abilities customized, with new attacks and abilities acquired as you gain levels. If you don’t like the way your particular build of a character works you can change up their attacks and abilities until they fit your particular play style!
I’m sure I could ramble on and on even more about the game system, as I am sure there are items I missed, but you can already see that this is a deep, Deep, DEEP fighting game!
Battles can range from fast and furious to long, drawn out affairs as opponents trade hits, recover HP, beat each other up more, Break, re-Break, etc., etc. It really has to be experienced to fully grasp what I am trying to explain here! One second your locked in combat, the next your running up a wall then flipping over to grind a rail before dashing toward your opponent to deliver an attack, but they flip-dodge out of the way to counter, so you flip-dodge another direction and throw out a few magick missiles, but they dash back and drop to the floor (inhale! deep breath!)! It really can get that crazy!
There are a few modes of gameplay:
Story mode consists of your party of pre-selected characters traversing a world map, battling copies of other warriors called manikins. Defeating one will gain you experience and gil. You can also find treasure boxes on the world map, as well as shop with an occasional moogle. Also dotting the landscape are gates or portals that lead to game board like dungeons. These dungeons are pre-made, grid based playing fields with Manikins throughout. Some of these manikins will block your path, or block the path to treasure boxes and items, and must be defeated before you can continue. The use of items can allow you to combat multiple manikins in a series of battles, which can give you a big boost in your overall reward. As you traverse the world map and enter/defeat dungeons you will follow a story that involves all the players of Dissidia in some way or another. It should take roughly 60 hours or so to complete, according to the games designer.
Battle mode allows you some quick battle options for some instant 1-on-1 combat, a party battle of characters you select, or Arcade mode that pits you and 3-5 random characters against 3-5 random enemies. You get items and bonuses after battles are done!
Communications mode is has a number of options that should be familiar to pretty much everyone. Create an online lobby and play against friends in local multiplayer or engage in multiplayer party battles. You can also swap ‘friend cards’ and view some other item information in this mode.
Dissidia and Dissida 012 were released on the PlayStation Portable, and they look great, despite the systems small stature and small screen. Everything is textured nicely and though characters from newer games look very much like their RPG originals the characters from the older series (Pre FF7, and so, pre PlayStation) are modelled to look like their Yoshitaka Amano art styles! Amano has a FANTASTIC art style and you may have seen his work in the Sandman series of comic books (I think he also did an issue of Wolverine). He has been a series staple from the beginning and his FF artwork is absolutely to die for!
NOTE: All my screen shots and videos were taking through an emulator and are much higher quality then you would see on the PSP.
Battlefields are large and well detailed and feature some of the more prominent and well known series locales. Some stages have a lot going on with them, some are fairly quiet and serene.
The game is interspersed with classic 8 and 16 bit graphics and images of characters and monsters.
The game really shines when it comes to combat/spell effects and your screen will be constantly flashing from Firaga spells, Climhazzards, Summons, Bravery breaks, etc. It would be great to see this on the big screen but….
Wait! You CAN see this on the big screen if you have the PSP AV out cables that connect from your PSP to a TV! Though the graphics get a little stretched and blocky they still look great and it is VERY nice to be able to play with your head facing forward instead of down at the PSP screen. Though you still have to hold your PSP and use it as a controller it makes a big difference and just increases game enjoyment!
The myriad of pre-rendered movies is, of course, standard SE fare, which means they are awesome and VERY well done, even on the small PSP screen.
The games soundtrack consists of some great original songs as well as a grip of incredible arranged versions of old Final Fantasy favorites, ranging from the original FF1 all the way up to FF13! Also mixed in are a number of ‘original’ soundtrack selections from the entire library, taken directly from the games themselves, so they retain that 8bit or 16bit sound.
Though not every dialogue has a voice track, a large number of them do and they are well done. Though not stellar, they are more than sufficient with the exception of Kefka, who’s voice actor deserves an Oscar or whatever would the equivalent for voice acting should be.
Wow, this was much longer than I thought it would be, and I really didn’t cover EVERYTHING about the game that I could. Despite all that is here it is actually much, MUCH deeper than even this, as there are elements I didn’t even go over!
Overall Dissidia 012 (and Dissidia itself) is a great addition to the Final Fantasy universe, not simply as a deep, well thought out fighting game, but as a tribute to over twenty years of great characters, stories, music and mythos. I would highly recommend you pick it up if you can. If you don’t have a PSP then there is always the emulation route. Personally I use the PSP emulator PPSSPP, which is free to download, but finding the game I leave up to you.
If your a Final Fantasy fanatic like I am you will not be disappointed. If your NOT a fanatic like I am then you will, at minimum, enjoy a fighting game with the depth of a true RPG.
On the way out, check out a few of these videos I captured for a better idea of how the game looks and plays! Thanks for reading!