Dissidia is the gaming world’s ultimate amalgam. It not only takes characters from ten different entries within the Final Fantasy universe, but throws them into a game that’s a combination of both the RPG and fighting genres. While that mixture may seem a bit odd, Dissidia seems to have something for everyone, and the end result is a delicious Final Fantasy gumbo that’ll have fans of either genre battling it out for months to come.
At its most basic, Dissidia is the classic tale of good versus evil. For millennia, a balance between good and evil has endured, but at the game’s outset, that balance is disrupted, and order begins to dissipate, forcing both Cosmos and Chaos (physical entities of good and evil) to call on their strongest warriors for a winner-take-all battle royale. Dissidia takes the main protagonist of each of the first ten FF games and pits them against their ten arch rivals, which in turn amounts to the ultimate wet dream for fans of the FF franchise. Everyone from Cecil (FF IV), to Tidus (FF X), to Onion Knight (FF III) is here, and each individual offers their own unique and exciting play style.
Characters aren’t the only thing being thrown together in Dissidia, as its gameplay comes in the form of an interesting fusion of the 3D fighter and RPG realms. Once you’ve selected your warrior (all of which are available from the beginning), you’ll head out to battle. Each character has their own level containing five separate stages, with each stage hosting anywhere from two to ten battles, depending on difficulty. After certain battles are cleared, you advance to the next stage, and ultimately come once step closer to defeating Chaos.
The meat of the game comes from its battle system, which is as deep as it is entertaining. Dissidia offers two types of attacks: HP and Bravery. HP attacks are handled with the square button and do exactly what you’d expect them to – drain HP, but Bravery attacks (circle button) are a bit more in-depth. A Bravery attack won’t harm your enemy, but will increase the hit points of each HP attack. A number is displayed showing how much damage you’ll deal with each HP strike, but the more Bravery attacks are used, the higher that number will climb. Therefore, those relying too heavily on their HP attack will do minimal damage, often opening them up to critical hits from their opponent. It’s a very refreshing take on the fighting genre and forces you to deal with enemies intelligently and strategically.
The RPG element of Dissidia comes after the battles. Upon victory, you’ll be rewarded with money, experience, AP, PP (grow up, kids), and other forms of compensation, all aimed at leveling up your player. Earning money will allow you to gain access to new weapons, armor, etc. AP grants the player new attacks, and PP allows the player to purchase new characters and art.
While Dissidia’s greatest strength is how well in integrates both genres into one, fluid experience, it’s also its biggest weakness. Fans of either genre should find much to love with Dissidia, but it may alienate traditionalists of the fighting genre who will, most likely, want nothing to do with the bevy of intertwining RPG elements found within. The story also becomes a bit philosophical at times, but this is a FF game, so some odd dialog and drawn-out cutscenes are to be expected.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy takes a lot of big risks, and for Square Enix those risks paid off. While the fighting engine may take a bit of getting used too, it’s just too intelligent to not be applauded, and with a bit of practice, you’ll be dealing massive damage in no time. Its deviation from the standard fighting formula will, undoubtedly, scare some off, but those people will be missing out. Dissidia delivers an innovative take on the fighting genre, and in doing so grants itself a spot in the upper echelon of PSP titles.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for fantasy violence, mild language, partial nudity.