Did you hear yet? Square Enix has just released the latest Final Fantasy game for PSP, titled Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Now, I don’t want to sound too excited here, but considering that I played through FFVII Crisis Core no less than three times, I was pretty FREAKIN STOKED when I heard Dissidia was coming out. However, as I’ve always been a fan of the traditional Final Fantasy RPG, I wasn’t without a little doubt as to whether Dissidia would work out - after all, previews and trailers of the game show that it is - get this - a fighting game. That said, it still looked freakin cool, and Square Enix’s previous offerings on the PSP haven’t really been turn based either (Crisis Core, Star Ocean), opting for a shorter, faster paced battle system most likely to remain consistent with the portable on-the-go nature of the console. I’m no stickler for any particular genre - if it’s a good game, I’ll play it!
So how is it? In short, it’s good. Really good. So good, in fact, that Japan’s de facto gaming magazine Famitsu gave it a 36/40, one higher than Crisis Core and tying it for second highest PSP score of all time. It’s everything we’ve come to respect and expect from Final Fantasy - all the technical aspects are nailed perfectly - among the best in-game graphics seen on a PSP, incredible CG sequences, a dazzling soundtrack, and most importantly, seamless gameplay. And a story that’s epic yet not overly convoluted at the same time - just enough to keep us interested without bogging down on the details. Let’s check out some of the finer points:
The basic idea is that two gods - Cosmos and Chaos - are in some “clash of the titans” war with each other. On each side are the heroes - conveniently divided into the good and bad characters of past Final Fantasy games:
|Game||Heroes of Cosmos||Heroes of Chaos|
|Final Fantasy||Warrior of Light||Garland|
|Final Fantasy II||Firion||Emperor|
|Final Fantasy III||Onion Knight||Cloud of Darkness|
|Final Fantasy IV||Cecil Harvey||Golbez|
|Final Fantasy V||Bartz Klauser||Exdeath|
|Final Fantasy VI||Terra Branford||Kefka Palazzo|
|Final Fantasy VII||Cloud Strife||Sephiroth|
|Final Fantasy VIII||Squall Leonhart||Ultimecia|
|Final Fantasy IX||Zidane Tribal||Kuja|
|Final Fantasy X||Tidus||Jecht|
|Final Fantasy XI / XII||Shantotto (XI)||Gabranth (XII)|
Oh yea, they’re all fully rendered in 3D and have their own voice actors to go with them - Zidane just happens to be voiced by Paku Romi, the same girl who did Ed in FMA. The Cosmos heroes are playable from the start in the “Quick Battle” mode; the Chaos ones have to be unlocked through accumulating points, which are acquired by doing a lot of quick battles, or in the “Story Mode”. There’s something really satisfying about watching chronic loners Squall and Cloud stare each other down (no tumbleweeds in Zanarkand), or having itty bitty Onion Knight say he’s gonna protect Terra from all the nasties coming their way. And Zidane still looks like a total wimp.
Story mode progresses on a board, similar to what you would see in the FFXII license board, or the FFX sphere grid - Dissidia’s story is divided into chapters, with each chapter having its own unique board, complete with enemies, items, and other landmarks. This is essentially Dissidia’s “world map”, where players can choose how to progress.
The battle system is the main selling point of Dissidia - after seeing the crazy fight scenes in Advent Children and Crisis Core, players now have the ability to wage their own frantic battles with characters of their choice. The purpose is to bring the opponent’s HP down to 0, but besides the health bar, there’s also a “Brave” stat - an attack power, of sorts. Players can attack brave points or HP directly, but the higher the brave, the more powerful the attack. The controls are relatively simple and quite intuitive - the learning curve is figuring out how to react to certain situations and keeping a balance between Brave attacks and HP attacks. There’s an EX mode that can be obtained with certain situations or items, and that unlocks the limit breaks - each player has their own unique attacks that we’ve all come to be familiar with!
And don’t forget about the multiplayer - there’s a full-featured ad-hoc mode, where you can battle a friend on another PSP. Before the battle, you can exchange friend cards, which include name, quote, stats, avatar, etc. There’s also some special passive “surechigai” mode where your PSP will automatically exchange friend cards with nearby PSPs and download ghost files so you can fight against supercharged AI opponents. I just spent the last hour playing ad-hoc with my roommate - smacked up his Warrior of Light with a Zidane limit break, a Tidus aerial combo, and a Terra ranged magic attack XD.
The Complete Package:
This is where my Japanese skills are put to the test - quite simply, it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s going on, which I’m sure will be just fine when the English version hits. Dissidia allows for vast customization, item collection, unique leveling, and there’s a damn Chocobo that keeps warking at me (am I supposed to feed it?). Perhaps most importantly, however, is the sense of completeness of the Dissidia world - it’s not just a Marvel vs Capcom mishmash of characters - each Final Fantasy character brings their own unique persona and back story into the Dissidia world, and their personalities really shine through. As Advent Children and Crisis core revealed more about each FFVII character, we learn more about all the other FF characters in Dissidia as the story progresses.
The music deserves a special mention: in addition to the amazing piano theme of Dissidia (I’ll start practicing it as soon as I can find sheets!), each character’s story mode has Dissidia-updated music from the particular game he or she is from - for example, Squall’s story grid has a reworked version of the FFVIII overworld theme - a very cool touch!
Famitsu puts the game time for story mode at around 40 hours, and another 60 on top of that to unlock everything. That is, if you understand Japanese! If not - well, just like we waited for the English version of Crisis Core, we’ll have to wait a few months for this one. There’s currently no release date, but I would tab it at about late summer to early fall of 2009.
No reactions to display.