The Five: Dissidia: Final Fantasy
The Skinny: Square Enix has tried many different ways to branch out Final Fantasy. It's turned the franchise into a terrible shooter (Dirge of Cerberus), some crazy multiplayer bucket-toting love (Crystal Chronicles), Chocobo titles, girl-dressing galleries, you name it -- it's run the gamut. Well, almost. Introducing Dissidia: Final Fantasy, a PlayStation Portable fighting game that unites many fan-favorite characters from different chapters of Final Fantasy. And you know what? It's actually kind of cool.
1. While we hope the roster is massive, the demo featured Warrior of Light (Final Fantasy), Frioniel (FFII), Onion Knight (FFIII), Squall (FFVIII), Zidane (FFIX) and Tidus (FFX). The heroes from each FF title will play through various stages and ultimately confront a main villain from their respective series. Facing off against Jecht with Tidus was very satisfying. Of course, FFVII stud Cloud will be in the game, so you know there's going to be a Sephiroth battle, as well.
2. This isn't a hardcore fighting game by any means, so those looking for Soulcalibur or Virtua Fighter in the Final Fantasy universe should look elsewhere. Battles play out in large arenas, like a much larger, one-on-one Power Stone. Even with light and strong attacks both on the ground and in the air, as well as context-sensitive specials, the game is still essentially a button-masher. The enemy artificial intelligence is cheap, and keeping enemies close and blasting the buttons will generally earn you a win.
3. Just as in a full-fledged Final Fantasy title, you'll level your characters, utilize a battle map, and earn new equipment and alternate costumes. However, from what we've played, the game feels extremely RPG-light. It seems the focus of Dissidia is on the fighting.
4. Dissidia joins a group of new PSP titles that will be available in either UMD format or as a download from the PlayStation Store. We're digging this trend, since it allows us to carry less crap around. It won't be hard to import this game (no U.S. release date has been set) when it releases in Japan in December, either -- just create a Japanese PlayStation Network account and get a PlayStation Network card.
5. From the character designs to the cinematics and music, if you're a Final Fantasy fan, Dissidia has been built from the ground up with the Square Enix polish. It looks and sounds excellent, and even if the mash-up of characters is a bit silly, the overall presentation is commendable.
The Big Question: How can Square Enix explain why this plethora of Final Fantasy characters is getting together? Fan service, for sure! But the ultimate evil controlling the whole deal is the god of disorder, Chaos (also the final boss of Final Fantasy), while the god of harmony -- Cosmos -- has brought in the numerous Final Fantasy heroes to even the score. Sure. Did I mention fan service?
This preview is based on hands-on gameplay at Tokyo Game Show 2008.