By Gabriel Chau
Finally I got my hands on a copy of this game, Dissidia: Final Fantasy is the newest Final Fantasy game released for the Sony PlayStation Portable or PSP. I have the Japanese version and the North American version will arrive sometime mid year in 2009. Honestly I thought this game wouldn’t suit me but I was wrong, very wrong!
Story and game play
After a quite long but very enjoyable opening cinematic of the good and evil, you will pretty much get the idea of what’s going on. Cosmo, the goddess of harmony (the good) and Chaos, the god of discord (the evil) have both summoned a few of the past Final Fantasy characters to fight for his/her side. Honestly I didn’t know any of those characters prior to Final Fantasy 6 until I played this game. I was in grade 6 when Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America) came out, so can’t blame me.
Warrior of Light – Final Fantasy
Firion – Final Fantasy II
Onion Knight – Final Fantasy III
Cecil Harvey – Final Fantasy IV
Bartz Klauser – Final Fantasy V
Terra Branford – Final Fantasy VI
Cloud Strife Final – Fantasy VII
Squall Leonhart – Final Fantasy VIII
Zidane Tribal – Final Fantasy IX
Tidus – Final Fantasy X
Shantotto – Final Fantasy XI (Ahh our beloved and adorable tarutaru!)
Garland – Final Fantasy
Emperor – Final Fantasy II
Cloud of Darkness – Final Fantasy III
Golbez – Final Fantasy IV
Exdeath – Final Fantasy V
Kefka Palazzo – Final Fantasy VI
Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII
Ultimecia – Final Fantasy VIII
Kuja – Final Fantasy IX
Jecht – Final Fantasy X
Gabranth – Final Fantasy XII
Initially you have to go through the Prologue which acts like a series of tutorials for the game. I really like this game because it is a combination of board game, action and RPG all in one! The Prologue will teach you how to navigate through the board, obtain items from treasure chests, fight monsters etc. At first you might feel overwhelmed, at least I did, with all the features and options. But since the menus are so elegantly designed it was easy to get used to and which button is for what option. Unlike the Macross Ace Frontier that I reviewed about two weeks ago. This is what I expect from Square Enix from all its games and so far I have not been disappointed.
There are two main modes – the story mode and 1 on 1. The story mode will let you pick which character you want to play the story with. The 1 on 1 to me is just a way to level grind your characters.
As you fight through battles and completing stages, you will gain experience points as well as items and gils (money) which can be used to booster your character’s stats and purchase new weapons/items from the shop.
There are quite a lot of things to cover in terms of the actual game play because its separated between the board game part as well as the actual battles. I will try and cover as much as I can.
The board game part pretty much determines how many battles you will be fighting, on the board there will be treasure chests, healing item, monsters (for you to fight and gain experience and items) as well as a statue that you have to destroy in order to finish a particular stage (note you don’t necessary have to kill all enemies to finish the stage, destroying the statue is enough, at least this is what I’ve seen so far. During each stage, you will be given points called Destiny Points, its basically just points for you to navigate throughout the stage, if you manage to complete the stage without going to the negative, you earn more points after completing the stage, sometimes I find that you have to get to the negative in order to get to everything (or maybe I just suck). You can refill your DP by completing the DP Chance like defeating your enemy within 10 seconds or trigger your EX attack (the special move which I will talk about later) within 10 seconds (not all enemies have DP Chance so you have to plan the way you move throughout the board.
On the board, you don’t just move around though, you also have skills that you can use such as healing 30% of your HP or cast negative effects onto your enemy that is adjacent to where you are. Finally you can also press R to go into search mode and check on each enemy’s level as well as the the DP Chance ahead of time. I don’t find it that useful though.
That should cover the basics of the board game part now onto the actual battle!
Battles are very fast paced, the square and circle buttons are for attack, R is defend, L is toggling targeting on/off (sometimes you want to go somewhere else and not looking at your enemy all the time), triangle allows you to walk on walls or jump from one place to another (pretty handy when you fight in a stage where there is hardly anywhere for you to walk on, you will have to jump around) and cross is jump. EX attack or special move is triggered when the EX gauge is full and by pressing R+square. If you have esper equipped, you can call it out by pressing R+circle, again when the EX gauge is full. You will slowly fill up your EX gauge when you attack, being attacked or by obtaining the EX fill up item that appears randomly during battle.
Once EX attack is triggered, a sequence of buttons will be displayed to you, you will have to get them correctly to get the maximum number of hits out of it and in the end, you will hit the button that will be displayed to you for the final blow as well. I haven’t mastered this attack yet though.
Upon leveling up, your character will not only gain stats, but he/she will also gain more skills that you can map to your keys. Pressing left and circle can have a different attack than pressing right/top/down and circle! So the combination is endless, well not literally but you get my idea. That goes for the square button attack as well. You can also pick a different EX attack from the EX Mode menu. This should give you at least some ideas of what this game has to offer. I’m PRETTY sure there are more features that I have not covered, like this mini game like option that requires PP that I’m still trying to figure out what its for, all I know is that I used up 30PP to do something related to “treasure hunting in a cave”. Sorry I can’t read too much Japanese.
There is also a multiplayer mode but I haven’t had the opportunity to test it out.
Graphics and audio
The graphics are pretty impressive, and I’m not just talking about the CG intro but game play graphics as well. Character facial animations are one of the best I’ve seen on a PSP, you can really see detailed facial animations from each character. The way their eyes blink to how their mouths/lips move as they talk is so smooth its like watching an anime. This is pretty much the best feature I like about Dissidia: Final Fantasy in terms of graphics.
Also worth a mention is the special/lighting effects of the game, be it whether you are moving on the board, scrolling through menus or battling enemies as well as the destructable objects and when you or your enemy gets pushed into a wall, the wall will break too. All these really enhance the game making it more realistic.
Square Enix has been known for having some of the best music composed in the gaming industry if not the best. And Dissidia: Final Fantasy is no exception but then again the game basically uses music from all the Final Fantasy series.
If you are a Final Fantasy fan, I don’t see why you would want to miss this, of course unless you don’t have a PSP then I can’t blame you. But if you are a fan and own a PSP, I suggest you pick up the Japanese version if you can’t wait for the North American version on ebay or yesasia. The fact that this game has features from board games, action/fighting games and traditional RPG games should be more than enough to satisfy a wide range of gamers that are into different game genres. Finally, this game has so much features to offer that I think its worth more than what I’ve paid for, you don’t see a lot of games like that too often!
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