Final verdict: B
Final playtime: 30 hours
For a long time now, video games have often included cameos or crossovers; mostly subtle winks and nudges to fans of a series or company related to the game. Over time it was inevitable that more fully-fledged appearances based on such a concept would come to fruition. For some reason sports spinoffs and fighting games are the most popular genres for such a showdown of virtual celebrities, and Dissidia sticks to this formula while also adding its own twist.
The concept is a simple one. The main character and villain from Final Fantasy’s I through X (with a guest appearance from each XI and XII) are transported to a world where the gods of Harmony and Discord are locked in a never ending struggle to determine the fate of the planet. If this all sounds familiar to you, that’s probably because you were a Marvel fan during the 1980’s – or watched Spider-Man the Animated Series – as this is basically the plot to the Secret Wars. Except everyone gets sort of new costumes and not just Spider-Man. But ultimately this back story is just an excuse to have a bunch of gaming’s most popular characters beat the snot out of each other and for Square-Enix to render a ridiculous fangasm of an opening cut scene.
I find it difficult to describe just what Dissidia is exactly. It’s not quite an action RPG like Kingdom Hearts, but it’s less restrictive than Crisis Core – albeit with a more airborne aspect, at times mirroring the gravity defiance Square-Enix has come to love since Advent Children. There isn’t really a standard punch/kick for characters like you’d expect in most fighting games, instead the square and circle buttons each launch different attacks depending on which direction you press with it, ultimately feeling like Street Fighter if every button threw a fireball.
The battle system itself is somewhat convoluted at first, with each character having an amount of Hit Points as well as a separate set of Bravery Points – this also ties into the need for two attack buttons. Successful Circle attacks increase your Bravery while decreasing your opponent’s – as you fight the Stage itself also accumulates Bravery and if your opponent reaches zero this is added to your own. Because your Bravery determines how much HP Damage you deal, the aim of each battle is to build up enough of it (at the same time preventing your opponent from doing so) to unleash the generally more difficult to land HP Attacks, while at the same time using the Dodge moves to avoid damage yourself.
To top all of this off, the usual array of Final Fantasy staples are present to maintain the obligatory RPG aspects in the form of equipment, summons and the like. Crafting items adds a metagame within this, as certain actions are required to occur within specific levels against specific foes in order to have the materials necessary to progress your character at later points in the game.
Unfortunately the game is not without its flaws. One of the biggest problems being that, while the Dodge button is probably one of the most important things to use, indoor maps can often result in the camera getting stuck behind a wall during the fixed position it uses for Chase moves. So as the game slips into slow motion to allow you time to dodge/attack each other, this sometimes becomes a near impossible feat as you can’t actually see the attack coming. A Handicap the AI controlled characters obviously do not suffer from.
Dissidia’s final boss, without giving anything away, also has a Street Fighter IV’s Seth level of cheapness to it; with the usual 3 forms of increasing difficulty that Final Fantasy end bosses are renown for, an array of nigh unblockable moves, and a Level far higher than your character will have achieved by your first attempt to best him. To add insult to injury, upon giving up for the first time, you are greeted by Selphie Tilmitt who then breaks the fourth wall to complain about just wanting beat the final boss to see the ending cut scene, and make note that she should go level up before attempting the fight again, indirectly belittling the player through no fault of their own. To further make matters worse, by this point in the game (and all of the post-story endgame) the AI has run out of ways to increase the difficulty, and resorts to just giving your opponents nigh omnipotence when it comes to dodging attacks or counter attacking with something just fast enough to beat you to the punch.
With a story mode spanning well in excess of 30 hours, and a wealth of additional content accessible afterwards, Final Fantasy: Dissidia is a pretty solid addition to the PSP’s library. It goes without saying that this is a game made for fans of Final Fantasy, and with attention given to all 12 released games in the main series, there’s going to be something for everyone. There’s even an option to play the game more like an RPG.
Ultimately the only thing likely to upset most people about Dissidia is that it’s not on PS3. And that they gave Professor Shanttoto an ass.
Final Verdict: B
Final Playtime: 30 hours (main story)