If you have been on my blog for any period of time or even recently (as I participated in a rather large group project celebrating 30 years of Final Fantasy) then you know I am a huge, HUGE fan of Dissidia Final Fantasy and its prequel-sequel Dissidia 012 [duodecim]. The first true fighter of the Final Fantasy series, its an RPG gamers fighter, and a crucially important game to the series. Recently Square Enix released Dissidia NT, the official successor to the original game. How does it stand up to the original? What’s old? What’s new? Let’s find out past the break!
Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy (2011 PSP)
So apparently duodecim translates as “twelfth conflict” and in relation to the game it made perfect sense. The original Dissidia told the story of the thirteenth iteration of an endless conflict between the two gods Cosmos and Chaos in which each gods chosen warriors would battle it out for control over the next ‘cycle’. At the end of the cycle the warriors would once again be drawn back into immortal combat, but the losers would have no memory of their past selves. Dissidia [duodecim] tells the story of the preceding twelfth cycle and integrated characters into the game that had actually been introduced into Final Fantasy canon AFTER the original Dissidia as well as some other from previous games that hadn’t been included the first time around. The game was a breakthrough in both the RPG and fighting genres, seamless combining the best of both worlds into one great package. Released on Sony’s PSP system, players would meet opponents on the field of battle in fast and furious real time combat a la Street Fighter while still being able to level up their chosen heroes just like in a classical roleplaying game. Heroes would learn new abilities as they gained strength, equipment could be purchased using the FF series recently made standard money, gil, and heroes could equip increasingly powerful weapons and armor making them literal powerhouses. The cast included some of the most well known characters not only in the series, but in the video game world. Cloud, Cecil, Terra, Yuna, Tidus, Gilgamesh. Each with signature moves from their respective games that would be instantly recognizable. Any fan of the series could find someone to latch on to and love.
The combat system itself was a gem of innovation. With simple controls combat ditched the complex motions of Street Fighter and other games, replacing them with timed button presses and simple stick direction. Players could equip different ability load outs, meaning if your opponent was playing the same character as you they could actually be playing with a different ability set than your own. Players could also equip powerful summons that would have a direct effect on your opponents ability to cause damage, but could affect you as well.
Overall it was an incredible game. I still think it’s the deepest and most incredible fighter ever created. In all I have said I have merely scratched the surface. You can get a better idea of the scope of the game by reading my two previous Dissidia articles HERE and HERE.
Dissidia NT (2018 PS4)
Seven years later Square Enix has released Dissidia NT for the Sony PS4, but the game is not technically a “new” title. Prior to being released on the home game system it spent at least a year or two as an arcade only title in the still teeming arcades of Japan, while us Westerners simply got to sit by and watch it from a distance. Boasting new graphics and promising some new characters from recent games in the Final Fantasy series, it was always planned or home release, the arcade controllers fashioned after a split PS4 Dualshock controller. One thing that caught everyone’s interest, however, was the button on the arcades control panel. Shaped like a large crystal, it was used by players to summon one of the series iconic monsters into battle. Eventually SE would release information on the home release of the game, and, to much fanfare, it has finally arrived.
Dissidia NT seems to pick up where the last conflict left off with the Goddess of Harmony (Cosmos) and the God of Discord (Chaos) having both been defeated. In their place are two new gods, Materia (Harmony) and Spiritus (Discord). Summoned, once again, are the familiar heroes of both darkness and light along with some new faces (Such as Y’shtola from Final Fantasy 11). Ignorant of why they have once again been summoned if the eternal cycle has been broken, our heroes will battle for dominance over their opponents.
I will be up front in saying that this game has been both exciting and a disappointment to me.
Graphics: Dissidia NT looks BEAUTIFUL. When I originally played the open beta I mistook the introduction scenes, which play before each battle, as pre-rendered cut scenes, but I was wrong. They are real time rendered scenes and they are gorgeous! Indeed the entire game is gorgeous both in it’s rendering of the heroes and the locales, which hail from several different games in the Final Fantasy multiverse.
Back in the day the crème de la crème of Final Fantasy artwork was drawn by legendary artist Yoshitaka Amano. His work is instantly recognizable as he has his own distinct and lovely art style. Dissidia NT has captured his artwork in 3d form in a way that is awesome to behold. If you look at someone like Garland or Exdeath or Firion: The complexity and splendor of their armor and trappings are a sight to behold. Similar to the original versions of the game heroes can be outfitted with several different costumes hailing from their respective titles. Unlike the original game the characters weapon models can be changed also. In the original Dissidia titles their weapons only changed with certain costumes, but here you change them to any weapon you own for that character.
Battle arenas: The battle arenas are large, and they need to be. Lush forests, weird inter-dimensional landscapes, floating islands, town squares, FF7’s Midgar: all have sufficient levels of detail without being distracting or bogging the system down. Though the arenas are important you wont find yourself with much time to gawk at their splendor as your too busy engaging in glorious combat!
Multiplayer: The original Dissidia title pitted single player against single player or against a single computer opponent (called a Manikin). Dissidia 012 upped the ante by offering combat with a sidekick who could be called in when your Assist meter reached 50 or 100%. Dissidia NT goes all out in a 3×3 battle royale against either 3 computer opponents with 2 computer party members or online with 6 real life, flesh and blood players total. The result is a fast paced if not hectic battle in which at any moment you could be being ignored or be being targeted by everyone on the opposing team. Indication lines will give you some quick information as to who is targeting you and from where, and you can switch your own targeting between any of the three opponents.
Control setup: The control scheme has been somewhat simplified in that you still use the left analog stick to run around while three of the four face buttons are used for Jump, Brave attack and HP attack. Dashing with the R shoulder button has been made more efficient in that if you have an opponent target locked you dash toward them by leaving the left analog stick in a neutral position and holding the Dash button down. Moving the analog stick while dashing lets you free dash in any direction with the exception of up or down, but all characters can jump multiple times in the air, which fixes that problem. The left shoulder button works much the same way, activating the Block mechanic if you press it while leaving the left analog stick neutral, while dodging if you press it in combination with any direction.
Status Effects: Status effects, or, Debuffs, are present in the game with several abilities causing you to become bound, making you unable to move from the spot you stand in for a short time, blind (Causes a ton of garbage on the screen and can make it very difficult to see) to being unable to change your targeted opponent! I like the addition but often times you wont even notice you’re debuffed until you try to do something only to find your player unresponsive! Pay attention!
The Cast: Boasting a large cast of characters from every significant numbered game in the series, from 1 to 15, there are plenty of playable characters to choose from. Add into that mix a number of characters from a couple of offshoot games (FF Tactics and FF Type Zero, to be exact) and you have a fulfilling roster of combatants! At the time of this article at least one other character has been confirmed (From FF12) with at least five more unrevealed characters to be released over the next several months. Rumor has it that by the end they hope to have up to 50 selectable characters.
THE BAD (AND IT AIN’T GOOD)
System Downgrade: Overall the game is fun but it is a huge step DOWN from the PSP versions! So may things have been removed its not even funny:
No Character Development: You can still level up your characters, but it means practically nothing. You do not gain any new abilities with the exception of a handful of HP attacks and new EX moves, but support moves and new Bravery attacks have been removed.
No ability development: Your characters no longer learn new and improved support moves nor new Brave attacks. Instead you can learn up to four HP attacks, of which only ONE can be assigned, and additional EX moves. Which leads to the next issue….
Locked Move set: With the exception of two EX moves and your HP attack you cannot create a move sets for the characters. In the original version of the game your character would learn new and improve support actions, new HP attacks and new Brave attacks as they leveled up. You could then assign those actions to your character and semi-customize them. This option has been removed and replaced with a locked set of Brave attacks, a single HP attack from a selection of 4 available and two customizable EX moves from a list of learned EX moves. This is a travesty.
EX Burst Removed: Yes, you read that right. In the original version of the game you could acquire EX fragments during combat and eventually fill up your EX gauge. Once full you had a couple of options with what you wanted to do with it. You could activate an EX Counter move that would slow down time allowing you to attack your opponent relentlessly for a short period of time. Alternatively you could active your own characters EX Mode, powering them up and allowing them to use latent abilities only active during EX Mode. These abilities would often increase your Bravery damage output and could help you recover from a possible loss. Hitting your opponent with an HP attack while in EX Mode would activate EX Burst: A powerful attack that could be powered up through controller inputs, and countered by your opponent by jamming on a button.
Instead a dumpy EX system has been put in its place. Each character is given three EX moves, activated by the left control stick direction (up, down, neutral) and the Triangle button. One ability is a locked, character specific ability such as Squalls “Draw and Junction”, Clouds “Limit Break” or Cecils DRK/PLD swap, while the other two can be customized from a selection of predetermined abilities like Poisonga, Share Brave or Strength Up. Even the character specific EX moves are so innocuous and boring that you may find you never use them. Serious, serious disappointment.
Reduced Modes: You are getting less and less from this game than from previous versions. Gone is the Labyrinth mode of the original, which allowed you to traverse a “dungeon” of battles in which you would be presented with a choice of whom you wanted to do battle with, with a risk/reward system built in. In addition you could find party members to act as assist characters or as your main, and you could even find special equipment or items which you couldn’t find in the normal game mode, within the dungeon!
The classical RPG style story mode of the original has been removed and replaced by a mostly cut scene with an occasional battle tossed in system. You cannot progress the story unless you unlock special memory items from versus battles!
Reduced Movement: Though you can still run up walls the additional quick-moves of the previous game have been removed including rail grinding and short jumps.
Reduced and dumbed down summons: In the original game the summons were many and awesome! Every summon in the game would affect the Brave value of yourself or your opponent, and they did it in style:
- Odin: Could POSSIBLY cleave your opponents Brave, causing instant Break status!
- Ifrit: Caused your Brave to increase by a substantial amount after a short period of time.
- Chocobo: Would mix up the numbers in your and your opponents Brave values. 219 could be shuffled into 912 or 192!
- Ultros: Covered you and your opponents Brave values with black ink for a short time, meaning you couldn’t see the value.
And the list went on and on! There were many, many summons: Leviathan, Magic Pot, Alexander, Tonberry, Typhoon, Ultros, Chocobo, Ifrit, Shiva, Odin and more!
The system in NT has been replaced by a group Summon selection from a short list of 8, maybe 10 summoned monsters. Out of the three players on a team, majority rules for the team summon. As you battle you can gain Summon from bashing on summon crystals that appear here and there from time to time. Once the teams summon gauge is full you can hold down on the summon button (the touch pad on the PS4 controller) to call forth your selected eidolon. The more team members that hold the summon button at once the faster the summon comes forth.
Once summoned the beast will wreak havoc on the battlefield, adding more noise (audio and visual) to an already hectic battle. Its not a horrible system, and the summons look great, but gone is the innovative use of the summons unique abilities to befuddle your opponents Brave, replaced with simple brute force damage. There’s no tactic to summoning anymore beyond “Fill your gauge first”.
I could probably go on, but I am remiss to do so. I will continue to play the game because it is fun in its own right, but as a successor to the original Dissidia it is, in my eyes, a mere shell of what it could have been.
SE could have given us a masterpiece! Dissidia was already a fighting game unlike any other, and truly, in my eyes, probably the greatest and most in-depth fighter ever made. Instead of delivering a mind-blowing, next-gen improvement it seems like SE gutted the golden goose and just dumped us the carcass.
I recommend buying the game if you are like me, an SE fanatic, or you really, really like online fighting games. Otherwise find and emulate Final Fantasy Dissidia 012 (duodecim).
Ultimate sadness, but still kind of cool….