No doubt you have seen, on this very blog, several posts espousing the glory that is Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy. What I perhaps have not conveyed properly is the true scope of awesomeness that is this game, and why, in my mind, it is the greatest fighting game ever made. “Wait a minute, SnapperTrx, how in the world can you say that? You sound like a loon!”, you may say, but allow me to elaborate!
First of all understand that I lived through, and played through, the golden age of arcade fighters. I remember playing the original Street Fighter, the one with only two massive buttons. I remember the rise of Street Fighter II, the SNK clone King of Fighters, the incredible Samurai Shodown and the vastly superior Samurai Shodown 2. I remember the clunkers who’s horrible gameplay and graphics are stuck in my mind, yet they were so awful I cannot remember their names (“Fighters History”, “Time Killers”, I think…). I recall the rise of one Mortal Kombat and the much touted Killer Instinct. I paid my dues at the Marvel vs. Capcom machine, and paid even more at the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 machine! I have owned many console fighters and, for many, many years, would NEVER touch a fighting game on a console that did not have a fighter stick attached to it. My credentials are good.
So here are the reasons, in no particular order!
1. The Moves!
When I first started playing Street Fighter II it took me forever to learn how to do Ryu’s Shoryuken punch. Though it’s second nature to me now, back then the concept of the controller motions needed for special moves was something totally new! Though finally learning how to pull of the move without a thought was satisfying, the road there was sometimes frustrating.
The moves in Dissidia are based more on timing and not so much controller motion. Simple to learn, your move list consists of leaving the analog stick in the neutral position or pushing it up or down in combination with the button for BRAVE or HP attack – that’s it! Despite it’s simplicity the moves lists themselves are deep! Each character can equip a set of attacks for ground and air combat. The moves themselves can have varying effects, mostly dependent on timing and simple controller position. For example: Cloud’s Slashing Blow attack, delivered in the air, consists of two strikes, while the third can send your opponent flying either upward toward the walls or downward toward the floor by simply pushing the analog stick up or down during the third hit. Easy as pie! All the moves in the game either require good timing on additional button presses or simple analog stick movements, which are typically UP or DOWN or TOWARD or AWAY from your opponent!
Speaking of the moves – each character has a list of moves that any fan of the Final Fantasy series will recognize! Cloud’s Climhazzard? Check! Blizzaga, Firaga and Aeroga? Check! Each character gets a large set of moves that can be selected from, allowing you to customize each character to your liking. This means that your version of Cloud may be very different from your friends version of Cloud! Perhaps you like using the slower, but stronger hitting moves while your buddy prefers faster, less powerful attacks! In addition to that you can also create several SETS for each character which you can quickly select from! So you may throw together a fast moving, dashing and dodging version of Cloud with an emphasis on ranged attacks, but also throw together a slower, heavier hitting version of Cloud with an emphasis on powerful strikes and a massive amount of HP. Customization galore!
Oh, and each move has a small instruction sheet you can look at that will tell you what it does and whether or not it has any variations (such as Clouds Slashing Blow). Icons with special meanings give additional information.
2. The Chase!
Certain attacks in the game will send your opponents flying across the battlefield, prompting you to hit the ‘X’ button (remember, this was a Sony PSP game). The prompt doesn’t last long, so you have to be quick! Hitting it before it disappears causes you to chase after them for a quasi-bullet-time mid-air duel! As the attacker you have the choice of making a BRAVE or HP attack against your opponent, but watch out, a well timed dodge will allow them to counter attack! Using the analog stick you can choose to knock your opponent either up, down or straight back (which can be useful if you want to smash them into the wall or onto the floor), but they have the option of dodging to the left or to the right (setting them up to counter YOU into a wall or the floor). Successfully landing a BRAVE attack can lead to additional chases, and you can string three or four in a row if your opponents timing is just off. This is a fantastic mechanic and something that really sets the game apart from others. It seems simple, but it can be nerve-wracking if you go a whole round where you just cannot seem to get your timing down. Bad chase timing can lose a match pretty quickly.
3. The Summons!
Summons have been a staple in the FF series for quite a long time, and in Dissidia they are glorious! Summons deal directly with BRAVE and come in two different varieties: Auto and Manual. Both have the same effect as one another, but Auto Summons do not require user input and are noticeably weaker than their manual counterparts. Series fans will recognize that Summons have effects very similar to what they actually do in the games they are pulled from, while others just have really cool and unique effects:
- Odin: Has a chance to cleave your opponents BRAVE, instantly causing them BREAK status!
- Ultros: Covers both players BRAVE rating with black ink, preventing you from seeing the value until it wears off!
- Magic Pot: When your opponents BRAVE is three times greater than your own the value is copied into your BRAVE.
- Cactuar: Instantly reduces BRAVE by 1000 points!
- Typhoon: Blows away one number in your opponents BRAVE! With a BRAVE of 1049, if the number 1 gets blown away your opponent is left with 49!
It’s not only immensely cool to see your Summons activate, but they really can sway the outcome of a battle. Summonstones are acquired during the story mode from various maps while some can be purchased from the Moogles.
Players can equip a single summon at a time, and each one has a certain number of charges before it cannot be used again until it recharges completely (one charge per completed battle). You can, however, set Reserves – up to five additional Summonstones that will cycle as the previous ones recharge, so you are almost never without a summon.
4. The Assists!
Assists are were nothing new before Dissidia. The Marvel vs. Capcom series utilized an assist system that allowed you to call in another character for a special attack, while later iterations of the game would let you tag team characters in and out on the fly! Dissidia, however, makes fantastic use of the assist system!
In your custom configuration you can select any of the unlocked and available warriors as an assist. Your assist fighter has both BRAVE and HP attacks, and they vary depending on where you are and where your opponent is (are you in the air or on the ground? Is your opponent in the air or on the ground?)
During combat you will see, underneath your BRAVE and HP the ASSIST bar, which is comprised of two sections. As you fight the bar fills, but it will start to drain if you spend too much time between attacks (running around, dodging, etc.).
At any time that you have one section of the bar full (50%) you can call on your assist to:
- Deliver a BRAVE attack! Some BRAVE attacks will initiate a CHASE which, when the final hit is delivered, gives you the ability to warp over to your opponent and deliver additional attacks or a powerful HP attack!
- Perform an ASSIST CHANGE, which will warp your assist character to your current location while warping you a short distance away, sacrificing them to save you from taking excessive BRAVE damage or suffering an HP attack. Useful for getting out of a bind, but puts them into ASSIST LOCK, preventing them from being called upon for a short period of time.
At any time that you have both sections full (100%) you can call on your assist to:
- Deliver an HP attack!
- Perform an upgraded ASSIST CHANGE that, when timed right, blocks your opponents attack leaving them defenseless, while your assist character warps in attacks and warps out without getting ASSIST LOCK.
And if that isn’t already awesome enough, if your opponent goes into EX MODE your assist character can actually knock them out of it if they land a successful assist attack! Yes, its an EX BREAK! Not only do you put your opponent into BREAK status, but you get all the STAGE BRAVE currently stored and instantly drop your opponents EX BAR to zero! Shut that mess down, yo!
Unfortunately if your assist gets nailed by an opponent in EX MODE then you get hammered with ASSIST BREAK, which does the same thing, but for your opponent so as you can see, timing is critical!
5. The Music!
Fans of the series will instantly recognize series staples and favorites throughout the game. Most of the in-fight music consists of remixed versions of songs from each and every Final Fantasy in the main line series but, as an added bonus, there are also a ton of great “original” songs – songs that are unchanged from their original games meaning they are still cool 8bit or 16bit retro tunes!
Battle in the Planet Core of FF7 with”Battle on the Big Bridge” from FF5! Or duke it out in Kefka’s Lab while listening to “J-E-N-O-V-A”!
The arranged scores are top notch and, though they are very similar to the original scores they have been slightly remixed, but in a good way! Listen to the original battle theme from FF6 and then listen to the arranged remix for Dissidia – you will not be disappointed!
In addition to established music Dissidia includes a number of it’s own original songs which are typically limited to cut scenes and menus, but are great nonetheless. The title track is a bombastic, triumphant arrangement that harkens back to the coliseum fanfare that accompanied gladiators in ancient days!
6. The EX Mode!
EX mode is to Dissidia what super moves are to Street Fighter. As you battle your opponent each successful attack causes little pieces of EX power to fly out and hang around suspended in the air. As you pass by you will absorb them and fill your EX GAUGE (some accessories allow you to greatly increase your absorption range, which is very useful). On occasion all the little EX chips coalesce to form an EX CORE, which can greatly increase your gauge within seconds. Filling the gauge allows you to go into EX MODE by pressing R+Square.
EX MODE is a glorious thing. Each fighter does something different in EX MODE and some of the changes are both familiar and fantastic:
- Cloud: Equip Ultima weapon (sword changes to Ultima)
- Tifa: Equip Premium heart (fists equipped with Premium heart weapon)
- Terra: Trance (turns into Esper form)
- Bartz: Job Mastered (reference to job system in FF5)
- Shantotto: 2hr Ability (reference to 2 hour job ability in FF11)
While in EX MODE fighters benefit from a number of different bonuses and status improvements! Every fighter typically gets REGEN and CRITICAL BOOST, but some fighters enjoy special bonuses or attacks exclusive only to them!
- Shantotto: Manafont (references an ability from FF11, doesn’t lose BRAVE after successfully delivering an HP attack. In FF11 allowed black mages to cast without using MP for a short period of time)
- Warrior of Light: Lights Blessing (summons additional swords to attack opponent when delivering BRAVE attacks.)
- Bartz: Goblin punch (does unblockable HP damage, if Bartz and opponent are the same level damage is multiplied by 8 – just like in FF5!)
- Sephiroth: Heartless Angel (a long winded ability that, if you can pull it off, reduces opponents BRAVE to 1!)
- Onion Knight: Sage’s Wisdom and Dual Wield (increases spell power when using spell attacks/wields two weapons and allows for increased physical attack damage)
These abilities make for a cast of very unique fighters and can really turn the tide of a battle, but because EX MODE drains quickly once activated and the threat of suffering an EX BREAK, once activated it becomes a hurried rushed to deliver as many soul crushing BRAVE attacks as possible before delivering that final HP attack and activating…..
EX BURST! Delivering an HP attack while in EX MODE prompts you to press the SQUARE button to initiate an EX BURST. These powerful attacks and quickly end the battle altogether, and each fighters is unique and tied directly into their original game!
- Cloud: Omnislash (final Limit Break in FF7)
- Sephiroth: Super Nova (ultimate attack in FF7)
- Kefka: Warring Triad (references the Warring Triad deities in FF6, attacks with Light of Judgement)
- Ultimecia: Time Compression (reference to FF8 and her control of time)
- Tidus: Blitz Ace (ultimate Overdrive attack from FF10)
Each EX BURST attack can be augmented by following on screen cues indicating button presses or directional inputs that deliver BRAVE attacks before delivering the final blow!
Interestingly enough EX BURST’s don’t guarantee a win. If you happen to start one at the wrong time, like when you have very low BRAVE and your opponent is recovering from BREAK status your burst can do very little damage. Again, timing is key, and delivering the attack at the right time can cause some serious hurt!
7. The Stages!
Battles have to take place somewhere, right? Dissidia doesn’t let you down with it’s selection of familiar locations in which to beat each other down. Again, people familiar with the series will happily recognize the expanded locations from older titles, while enjoying some of the settings they are already familiar with from the 3d generation of games:
- Old Chaos Shrine (FF1): The original “Temple of Fiends” where the four warriors of light battled the wayward knight, Garland!
- The Phantom Train (FF6): Unfortunately you cannot Suplex this location, but battling inside the tight space of a train car can make this very hectic.
- Lunar Subterrane (FF4): Somewhat misnamed, this is actually the surface of the moon, which is where our heroes end up towards the end of their adventure. Keep an eye out for the whale ship in the background!
- Planet’s Core (FF7): The core of Gaia, where the Lifestream flows.
- Dream’s End (FF10): The ruined Zanarkand Blitzball stadium from the game.
Stages themselves have BRAVE that increases when certain conditions are met, and causing an opponent to BREAK will not only garner you your opponents BRAVE but the STAGE BRAVE as well!
To add something extra stages also have ‘Omega’ modes that include added dangers and added ways for the stage to gain BRAVE while you fight.
- Kefka’s Laboratory (FF6): Getting thrown against the wall causes explosions which bounce you around, sometimes multiple times. Damage goes towards stage BRAVE.
- Empyreal Paradox (FF11): The Mother Crystal in the middle of the stage will drain your BRAVE the closer you get to it. Drained points go to stage BRAVE.
- The World of Darkness (FF3): The stage will shift into one of two different layouts during battle, depending on how far about opponents are. Stage BRAVE increases depending on how far apart opponents are from one another.
- Ultimecia’s Castle (FF8): Time Compression warps the stage and stage BRAVE randomly changes during combat. Also the gears on the stage will now damage opponents who touch them!
Add to this the fact that every stage has QUICK MOVE obstacles that allow you to grind rails, run up walls and jump from location to location and we’re talking crazy, anime inspired combat scenes!
8. The Equipment!
Like any good RPG Dissidia is chock full of weapons and armor. Each fighter can equip a weapon to their main hand as well as a shield or secondary weapon in their off hand. In addition each can equip a helmet and body armor. And, as in any other RPG only certain job classes can equip certain weapons and armor and consist of swords, daggers, katanas, spears, rods, staves, grappling, instruments, guns, poles, machines – even exclusive equipment that only certain characters can equip (typically something directly referencing their home game)!
Now, your character appearance doesn’t change when you equip gear, but the effects can be drastic. Most of the time equipment will change your basic stats up or down (base BRAVE, base HP, defense, attack, etc.), but some will include special effects such as:
- Increased EX intake range
- Increased ASSIST GAUGE duration
- Increased WALL RUSH defense
- Initial BRAVE +(X)%
- Physical damage +(X)%
- Magic damage +(X)%
- BRAVE boost on block
- Regen +(X)%
- Magic counter strength +(X)%
- BRAVE recovery +(X)%
As you can see your characters equipment can have a big effect on how much damage you can dish out and take, and a bad equipment load can mean failure.
To add icing to the cake there are also special sets of equipment you can put on that, when all the pieces are equipped, have additional special effects! These pieces of equipment can be difficult to come by, but the extra work it takes to gather them can be well worth it!
- Mystic Mythril: Equip several pieces of mythril equipment. +30% EX MODE duration!
- Glorious Gold: Equip several pieces of gold equipment. +50% Gil earned from battle!
- Dazzling Diamond: Equip several pieces of diamond equipment. +100% AP earned from battle!
- Soul of Yamato: Equip several pieces of Genji equipment. Increases luck, +Regen, Copies HP to BRAVE and increases appearance of EX COREs!
- Pride of the Titans: Equip several pieces of Giants equipment. +750 HP, +100 BRAVE.
Equipment can be purchased from the shop with Gil, though some of the more powerful equipment requires trade items as well. Trade items are sometimes found in treasure chests during the story mode or acquired through BATTLEGEN, a system that gives you created items depending on who you are battling and when certain conditions are met.
As I stated before you also have the option of building several equipment SETS that you can switch between with the press of a button. Want to buff up on magic defense, no sweat. Need to swap gear to do more damage, easy as pie! Take advantage of this feature, it will be very, very helpful.
9. The Characters!
Naturally the main draw of the game is the inclusion of beloved series characters outside of the respective Final Fantasy games. As I have said before, Dissidia is important to the FF multiverse in that it ties all of the universes together in some way. Though the game juggles so many characters at once you still come away with feeling like you have gotten to know them a little better than you may have before (Lightning is still a….well, witch).
No matter what game you thought was ‘best’ or ‘worst’ in the series you will find yourself attached to someone, be it because you liked them in their original game, because they have a rockin’ move set or you just think they look cool.
- As stated before each character has their own special abilities when they are in EX MODE.
- Each character has a number of different HP and BRAVE attacks you can assign them, meaning you can somewhat custom build your fighter. There are also a number of other abilities that all fighters share (ie: FREE DASH, AUTO ASSIST TARGET, etc.).
- Each character has a number of different outfits you can pick from, and some of them are glorious! Warrior of Light can be dressed up to look like the 8bit, red-haired fighter from FF1; Onion Knight can be dressed to look like Luneth, his original character; Cloud can wear his Kingdom Hearts costume, as can Sephiroth! And these aren’t simple reskinned models either, some of them are drastically different from the default look!
- Voice acting on all characters is very well done, and you get a good sense of each characters attitude and personality through their conversations. The Emperor is arrogant and vindictive; Cloud and Squall are as brooding and emo as ever; Warrior of Light, Kain and Cecil are all men driven by honor and duty; Jehct is gruff and tough on his kid, while Tidus is still boisterous and lively turning everything into a challenge; Kefka is simply psychotic, but it’s soooo delicious; Gilgamesh is…..
- Each character gets a well fleshed out storyline in the story mode. Though the twelfth cycle focuses mainly on series newcomers, once you are done the thirteenth cycle continues with the rest of the players. During the story nearly all the fighters either don’t remember their home worlds or have only faint memories. Some of the events and discussions will remind you about their home games, but overall the main goal is to end the eternal conflict (how do they know its eternal if there have only been 12 cycles?).
10. The Nostalgia!
Over all Dissidia is a great tribute to a long running and fantastic franchise. It’s chock full of reference to the source material and all manner of characters will pop up throughout, though not in full 3d form. Throughout the game you will be given BATTLE TIPS. These mini-text files are always accompanied by characters in icon form from the various final fantasy games and are a joy to see, along with being highly informative. Along with this you can purchase player icons from the PP store (points you gain after winning battles) that you can use to represent yourself on your profile card, which is displayed when battling others through local play.
All these things combined: The characters, the stages, the music, the moves, the summons, equipment, accessories – all these things add up to a unique walk down memory lane for any fan of the franchise
11. BONUS POINT! The Modes!
Dissidia 012 doesn’t limit you to a couple of paltry game modes, oh no! Though the core fighting engine is the same all throughout there are a myriad of modes for you to enjoy:
Story: live the tale of the 12th conflict between the goddess of harmony and the god of discord! What will our heroes do when they are overwhelmed by the manikin army as well as the heroes of Chaos? Once your done, continue the tale into the 13th conflict with stories for each and every available character! While your add it learn about the history of the conflict from REPORTS that give you additional cut scenes and battles!
Battle mode: There are a number of battle modes to chose from!
- Quick Battle (1-on-1): Quickly select your character, an opponent, a stage and music then go at it!
- Quick Battle (party): Same as above, but instead you get to form a ‘party’ first and experience playing several battles one after another.
- Arcade mode: Quick arcade mode lines up three random opponents and sticks you with a random fighter (who’s move set and equipment is all randomized as well). Can you survive? Standard arcade mode lets you play either with preset fighters or use your custom built fighters in an all out battle against five opponents. Victory means spoils at the end of the run! Time attack challenges you to best ten opponents as fast as you can. The faster you win the better your spoils!
- Labyrinth mode: This mode challenges you to walk a labyrinth of rooms filled with different combat challenges. The challenges are presented as CARDS and selecting one throws you into combat. You enter the labyrinth with no equipment, no summons and no assists, but as you win battles you can earn coins that will allow you to purchase equipment and summons, while you meet allies on the way that you can recruit into your party or add as assist characters. You will also run in to job cards that will change the way the labyrinth works such as expanding the number of cards you can hold in your hand, opening doors or making battles easier or harder. It’s far more in depth than I could put in this post.
Communications mode: There are a number of options in here for battling friends!
- Online lobby: Open or enter a battle room to challenge friends!
- Group battle: Open or enter a battle room to challenge friends to party battles! Use multiple fighters in multiple fights instead of one-on-one battles!
- Friend Cards: You can trade your FRIEND CARD with other Dissidia players. View there stats here or even engage in a ghost battle with the fighter associated with the card!
- Artifacts: Ha, ha! I have no idea! I’ll have to check it out! I think this is new in 012!
- Communications: Send or receive Friend Cards or Original Quests
PP Catalog: You will gain PP (I think its Player Points) after each battle. Use them here to purchase new outfits for your fighters, new music, new icons or increase the bonuses you receive on bonus days (certain days of the week will have a bonus to things like gil, PP, EXP, etc. and one day of the week is your mega bonus day where everything is multiplied). Tons of cool and retro stuff in here!
Collection: The collection mode lets you do some great stuff like view past game recordings, fighter stats, summon information and other great stuff in the MUSEUM, but the big deal is the CREATION area that lets you build custom quests for yourself and others to play! It isn’t a super spectacular engine, but it’s a great concept that’s really cool! Again, another item that is too in depth for me to go into here, but if you get the game, check it out!
That’s it! This has been one of my longest posts to date, but I think I did the game justice! Dissidia 012 is a deep and complex fighter that doesn’t play like a deep or complex fighter! Fans of Final Fantasy simply will not be disappointed until the game starts cheating like a motherf…..well, lets just say it cheats HARD. Despite that, its still the greatest fighting game you have never played! FIND IT! PLAY IT! LOVE IT!