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 games 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 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.
To me Dissidia is one of the more important games in the Final Fantasy series, despite it not being a ‘big budget’ title from Square Enix. See, since the beginning every FF game has had shared similarities, without really tying into one another. In fact, until Final Fantasy 10 no Final Fantasy game had a proper sequel, though FF7 did have a few spinoff games that tied into it. However you would note (with pleasure) that the games shared many commonalties in elements like monsters, summons, magic and weapons. What FF game would be complete without a chocobo somewhere in the game, if even just in the background somewhere? Or how would we feel if we went though an entire game without seeing a single summon? Each FF game has had their own version of these elements, yet still it is never really explained as to why. Dissidia is the linchpin that ties every game in the Final Fantasy series into one FF multiverse! This means that, though they are each separate stories, each Final Fantasy game is tied into one another by one grand struggle 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 (goddess of harmony) and Chaos (god of discord) have been locked in eternal struggle for supremacy, each hoping to tip the balance of darkness and light in their favor. 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. Along they way they will face thousands of mindless Manikin, duplicates of themselves and their allies, along with antagonists of the opposing god. Expect plenty of Final Fantasy style drama, betrayal, introspection and humor, as each character in the game has their own specific storyline that combines RPG elements with a rich, robust and deep fighting game.
Again, it is important to remember that Dissidia 012 is a prequel to Dissidia, even though Dissidia was released before 012. Though not official, it appears that this was done to include new characters into the game without having to rewrite the entire story. In fact, when you finish Dissidia 012 the full Dissidia storyline is included on the UMD.
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.
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 3D fighter, while RPG mode plays like a pseudo-RPG in which you select options whenever you are in combat range that look similar to a standard RPG. 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, and you can equip characters with different move sets for when they are on the ground or airborne.
- Players begin with base levels of Hit Points (HP) and Brave Points (BP).
- You use Brave attacks to drain Brave from your opponent and add to your own. Reducing their Brave 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 Brave you have. The higher your Brave the greater the damage! Reducing HP to zero defeats your opponent, typically ending the match.
- While combat ensues the actual combat stage itself gains Brave and causing your opponent to go into Break will add the stage Brave to your Brave.
- Connecting with an HP attack will drop your Brave to zero, leaving you vulnerable to being broken yourself, so be careful! Also, until you recover your base Brave, 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 eventually double jump.
- You can quick 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 Brave attacks. A successful block can leave your opponent reeling, which leaves them open to attack. HP attacks, however, are unblockable and will cause you go suffer Guard Crush, crumpling your defenses!
- Quick actions near structures allow you to run up or along walls, perform super jumps between structures or grind rails around the battlefield giving you an unprecedented level of movement for a fighting game! Dash toward your opponent then change course by grinding on a mana rail only to super-jump to another platform then head up the wall! It can get kind of hectic, but Quick actions can be life savers in a pinch!
- You can target lock your opponent or other objects on the battlefield such as EX Cores.
- Dashing allows you to zip toward and away from your opponent, and you can dash in the air. Some attacks can be blocked by dashing into them, leaving your opponent open to attack!
- Wall Rush attacks can slam opponents into objects or the edges of the battlefield doing additional damage after an attack which can seriously devastate their Brave or HP.
- 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 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 granting them to special abilities and allowing them to perform Limit break attacks! While active your EX-Gauge drains, so you only have a limited time to use it to your advantage.
- EX Burst: While in EX mode you can use a devastating EX Burst attack! These attacks, require some controller input for maximum effect. Each one delivers a number of small attacks that build up a base of Brave 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/Swap: Players can call on an assist character to deliver a flurry of attacks by filling their Assist gauge. The attack can damage your opponents Brave or HP, and even drains their EX Gauge if successful! If you are a more defensive player you can use your assist character to save you in a bind by letting them take a hit for you and moving you out of combat range. Be careful, though, your opponent can prevent you from using your assist character for a short time if they can manage to hit them!
- EX Revenge: Players can consume their EX Gauge to slow down time, leaving their opponent open to attack for a short period. When a massive pool of stage Brave is on the line, this can turn the tide of combat in an instant!
- 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 Brave and HP values! Give yourself a momentary +1000 Brave boost in the hopes that you can nail your opponent with an HP attack. Damage your opponents Brave 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 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 and certain types of equipment can only be equipped by specific job classes.
- Character levels: Despite not being an official RPG game you can level up each character by gaining experience through fighting battles. Leveling up increase stats just like an RPG, so the more you play a particular character the greater their attack, defense, base HP/Brave. They also learn new skills and abilities, as well as equip more powerful weapons and armor!
- 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 manikin challenges throughout, which you must approach and select to engage. 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. Engaging in a battle while standing next to another challenge can initiate a battle chain that can multiply your rewards, including KP, a highly coveted currency that can be used to purchase items from moogle shops. 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! Though this is great for playing while alone the computer tends to get very, VERY good right around level 20, and often times you will end up screaming, pulling your hair or throwing your PSP/controller in aggravation (No? Just me? Okay…)
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.
Multiplayer mode comes in two flavors: 1 on 1 with assist characters or a 4 player all out battle with no assist characters.
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 incredible! The style has been faithfully recreated in the game and is a beauty to behold.
NOTE: All my screen shots and videos were taking through an emulator and are much higher texture 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 from FF games past and present (as of FF13).
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 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. All this in addition to an actual collection of original tracks specifically created for Dissidia!
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 award or whatever would the equivalent for voice acting should be, as he delivers the characters lines with despicable glee.
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.