Final Fantasy All-Stars!
July 09, 2009 – When you think of Final Fantasy, you probably think of epic role-playing games with characters who have awesome hair and very complex outfits. Oh, and there’s also generally a heart-wrenching story that will make you cry at some point. However, the newest title to bear the Final Fantasy franchise’s moniker won’t even resemble a traditional RPG, and it will instead take the form of a brawler. Dissidia: Final Fantasy, coming exclusively to the PSP next month, will allow you to pit your favorite Final Fantasy characters (the roster includes characters from all 12 numerical games) against each other in a large arena-style setting to duke it out the old fashioned way: button mashing.
The premise of the game is simple: fight as your favorite Final Fantasy hero or villain and prove you’re the best. The game’s plot revolves around the warring gods of Chaos and Harmony. As this celestial war begins to favor chaos, the ten “heroes” of the game, who include notable characters like Cloud Strife, Terra Branford, and Tidus, decide to fight back in order to give peace a chance. Each of the hero characters will have their own story mode to follow, and classic villains like Sephiroth, Gabranth, and Jecht will serve as the agents of chaos who seek to foil the heroes’ quest for peace.
Although the story certainly sounds very typical of the Final Fantasy universe, the battle system will be anything but. While the series has dabbled in the world of active battle systems before (most notably in Final Fantasy XII), Dissidia will be the first game bearing the Final Fantasy name to be completely focused on brawling. Although pressing random buttons really fast can certainly spell success in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, after spending some considerable time with it, we found that the battle system does have some strategic elements that make it feel a little bit different than your average fighter fare.
The combat system in Dissidia: Final Fantasy is two-pronged. The main attacks are mapped to the square button, and they generally consist of simple slashes or magic attacks that wear away at your opponents HP. While these attacks are great for slowly wearing away an enemy, if you are really looking to finish off your opponent in style, you can use Bravery attacks, which are mapped to the circle button. In addition to your character’s HP meter, they also have a small Bravery meter, which indicates their attack power. The higher this meter, the more their attacks will hurt you when landed successfully. It follows then that if you can launch several bravery attacks from a distance to quell their attack power and then move in with some HP attacks, you will be able to move in hard and fast as their attacking power will be disabled and you can attack without fear of injury. Admittedly, this isn’t the deepest strategic element, but I found that hitting opponents with waves of bravery attacks before even touching their HP was a great way to finish a battle in a hurry.
In addition to the strategy-based combat system, I also noticed that there were subtle differences between each fighter. While Cloud fights hard and fast at a close range, Sephiroth fights a little slower, but with ultra-powerful broadsword attacks. This gives the user a lot of freedom when deciding on what characters to use against different opponents. For instance, Terra, who is a ranged fighter, is very strong at a distance, so a speedy close-range fighter like Cloud would be perfect against her. This is yet another small way that Dissidia: Final Fantasy moves small (but effective) strategic elements into the brawling gameplay.
Another boon for Dissidia: Final Fantasy is that the battle system was not overly complex. Dissidia: Final Fantasy bridges the gap between two very different genres, and the strategy-based battle system is a great way to blend these two genres in a way that does not feel overwhelming for those without much brawling experience. Since each type of attack is tied to a single button, mashing together bravery and HP attacks was incredibly easy, which simplifies the combo system and gives the game even more of an approachable feel. Although I will be the first to admit that the battle system may be considered shallow to fans of the Tekken or Street Fighter franchises, it makes sense to keep the fighting simple here.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy is certainly looking like a promising title, and as the first Final Fantasy fighter, I couldn’t be more excited for it. The game’s battle system feels very natural, and there are just enough strategy elements in the mix to keep fans of the franchise engaged without overwhelming them with complicated special attacks and combos. If you are ready to play with your favorite Final Fantasy characters like never before, then keep an eye out for Dissidia: Final Fantasy when it drops next month!