Dissidia Final Fantasy, released way back in genuinely-almost-ten-years-ago 2008, was a tough sell for most people. Pitting an entire roster of Final Fantasy characters against each other sure sounds like a good idea on paper, but integrating RPG elements into what clearly aspired to be a brawler was no easy task. It certainly seemed at the time that Dissidia fell between the cracks of ‘not RPG enough’ for FF fans and ‘not brawly enough’ for fight fans. Not to mention the fact that it was a PSP exclusive, which limited its player base to approximately 7 people.
If that sounds very western-centric, that’s probably because it is. Dissidia was actually a pretty big hit in Japan. Enough so to spawn another PSP entry and, more recently, for Square-Enix to see it as their gateway into the ultra-hip world of eSports.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, in keeping with the Squenix tradition of arbitrarily retarded game titles, hit Japanese arcade machines back in 2015, and a PS4 port was announced earlier this year. As a die-hard FF fan, and someone who owned both PSP Dissidia games, I was eager to check it out.
Dissidia NT‘s character roster is pretty impressive, boasting every main character from every main entry in the series, and also including some villains and lesser known characters too. For my first match, I chose Zidane Tribal (FFIX) and while waiting in the match lobby, could taunt my opponents with some, particularly effeminate, voice lines. I later played as Tidus, you’ll be happy to hear I couldn’t make him laugh. After choosing my character, I was asked to choose a summon – naturally made up of FF‘s famous summon roster. The third guy on our team was too busy taking selfies to confirm his selections, but 30 seconds, some evil glares and a tap on the shoulder later, we were ready to fight.
The gameplay is mostly unchanged from previous iterations. Traverse the map, close in on your opponent and hammer at them with various attacks until they ‘break’ and you can finish them off.
Each character has a mix of close and far range abilities, but certain characters obviously suit one style more than the other. Where it did get surprising, was when someone on the opposing team decided to pull out a summon. Ramuh, FF‘s lightning god, came out of literally nowhere, took up the entire screen for a few seconds and then vanished having done exactly nothing at all. Or so it seemed. For the next few seconds, every attempt to get close to our opponents was blocked by walls of lightning and all we could do was watch helplessly as we were rag-dolled by range attack after range attack from inside that invisible thunder dome. Summons in Dissidia NT, provide environmental changes that assist you or hinder your enemies, which is a nice touch that I was not expecting.
Another surprise was that Dissidia NT looks god damn great on PS4, easily as smooth and sharp as its arcade version. Even in its more chaotic moments the frame rate holds up and everything is smooth and fluid. Unfortunately, those chaotic moments were few and far between, which points to a minor flaw in the game, but a major flaw for Squenix’s aspirations to push it into eSports.
I’m not sure if it’s because the characters are too small or move too slowly, or if its because the maps are just too big, but I spent a substantial amount of my 10 minutes with the game trying to get close enough to my opponents to start fighting. As a ranged fighter like Kuja, this wasn’t such a big problem, but playing as Zidane was at times a tedious affair. Holding R1 allows your character to kind of float around the map and is the primary method of movement you’ll be using. Even that wasn’t enough to keep up with Jecht. He ran around the map like a headless fucking chicken and trying to get near enough for Zidane’s little midget daggers to do anything useful was like chasing a dog chasing a cat chasing a laser pointer.
The result is that a lot of Dissidia fights have protracted periods of time where nothing much happens as characters just kind of figure skate around the map. As a home experience, it’s a minor gripe. As an eSports experience, it’s kind of shitty.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with Dissdia NT. It looks great and watching anyone and everyone beat the shit out of Tidus is just as much fun as it was before. When it releases in January next year, I have a feeling it will do very good things for Square-Enix. I just don’t know if it will do what they really want it to.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT releases on PS4 in Japan on January 11 2018 and worldwide on January 30 2018.