I decided after getting my Japanese stimulus check that I should use it for something good, like video games.  I chose to pick up another new PSP and the games Final Fantasy: Dissidia, and another secret game that I will review at another time.  Dissidia turned out to be more than I thought it was, which was great.  The game looks beautiful, plays pretty well, has a mediocre story, and lots of extras to keep the player interested.

The Basics

Dissidia lets you control one of ten characters from the first ten Final Fantasy games.  Some are main characters and some are not.  There are a couple secret characters as well but I won’t be dropping any hints and ruining it, so if you wanna know who they are, sorry!  As you complete the game you can unlock the ability to play the bad guys that are also a big part of the game.  All in all, though, there are 22 characters to choose from, so it’s a pretty decent selection.

The story is a pretty standard affair.  Good, evil, crystals, and fighting.  There really isn’t too much to say about it, it’s really just there to keep the game rolling instead of moving constantly from fight to fight for no reason.

The Fighting

The battle system in Dissidia is very action orientated.  This is very different from the RPG games that the characters involved in the game are used to, but if you have played Kingdom Hearts or Crisis Core you will pick up on the combat really quick.  Combat can become repetitive if you just feel like winning as opposed to trying different things with your character. 

As you level up you unlock and master abilities.  You can completely change the play style of each character from how they act when you start with them, but it takes so long to get into the interesting abilities, you have already programmed you’re muscle memory to a certain play style so it may make you feel weaker to change it up a lot.

Each character has two modes in battle. One is your regular look which you will see most often.  As you beat on your opponent, though, they lose small crystal flashes or something which you collect to fill your EX gauge.  When that gauge fills, you can go into “EX mode” which is a buffed version of your character with a different outfit (which is usually a lot flashier).  Also, your special attacks get much more interesting in this mode. 

Square really thought about its fans with the EX attack.  Each character has their own cut scene-style special attack — you participate in this attack which reminds me of the limit break attacks.  You either do a combination button press, or a button mash, etc. to try and get a perfect attack.  Those of us that aren’t very good at these sorts of situations, have no fear — there is an ability the characters learn at later levels that does this automatically for you, but as another neat little thing thrown in by Square, until you master the ability, the character can screw up the limit break.

You also get the ability to equip armor and weapons on the characters along with rings that make the character stronger throughout the game.  Something I didn’t like about this was nothing changes on the character when you equip new stuff.  Something I really liked in FF7 and beyond was seeing a new weapon in the characters hands when I upgraded, not a big deal but it would have been nice to see.

The characters to me are very unbalanced.  This is honestly not a con to me.  It just means that I will have an unfair advantage against some characters and others will have an unfair advantage against me.  This may ruin the multiplayer mode for a lot of people, but really that mode isn’t the point of the game or even really focused.  It does make the story mode annoying sometimes when you get stuck on a character that you aren’t good against and they just mash you into the ground for hours at at time.

Some characters are able to easily tear through the game.  Onion Knight, for instance, has moves that really don’t require you to get near the enemy if you don’t feel like it, thus winning every match for you easily.  Characters like Squall and Cloud seem really weakened and are expected to get in rather close to fight their opponents.  Their specials are nice, but working up the combo takes a lot of work.  The characters can level up to 99 which I thought would take a very very long time. Luckily, as you level the stuff the character can do scales up so you are always gaining large amounts of experience for them.  I took Warrior of Light from level 45 to 89 in about two hours on a lazy Saturday.

Graphics, Music, and Other

The graphics are superb in this game.  Models look a little sharp and jagged but as this is a PSP game, this is to be expected.  Otherwise the game has very well done cut-scenes and character design in general is rather pretty.  The music is all songs taken from the games and some wonderful vocal tracks for important boss battles.  Honestly, though, if I have to hear that choir sing about Sephiroth one more time I’ll probably smash the game.

The main point of the game, it seems, is to play until you unlock everything.  One of the first things you do when you start the game is tell it what day you will play the most often and how often in general you will play.  This will help you get through the game faster and help you unlock more items in the catalog.

The PP catalog is where you unlock all of the goodies that come with the game after you finish the story mode.  You can unlock all the “evil” characters to play with them in quick battles, unlock items for the calendar, unlock icons to decorate your multiplayer card, etc.  There is a ton of things to unlock, and of course after you unlock a bunch of different things, you unlock the ability to unlock more stuff, so you need to play the game more to pay for the rest of the stuff.

All in all this is a really good game.  It is a bit repetitive, though.  You fight the same battles over and over for ten stories with five chapters each.  I think the average amount of fights per “chapter” is around five so that is 25 fights a story, at 10 basic stories that is 250 fights.  Those ten stories, though, aren’t the end of the game, and you have a few more modes to go through to clear all the fights.  To even begin to unlock everything, you better be ready to play well more than 1000 matches.

On the Ripten scale I give this an 8.  It’s easy to pick up and play whenever, and you get a lot of fan appreciation.  It can get boring, but it is just a fighting game, the only reason there is a story seems only to force you into taking a break every few minutes.

8