While the Final Fantasy franchise has ventured out into numerous other genres over the years, its first foray into fighting games (as guest characters in Dream Factory's Ehrgeiz) was viewed as lackluster by many; it was a pretty mediocre fighter in the first place, but the characters were also mostly just reskins of existing characters and had no presence in the storyline (not even unique endings), so it wasn't a particularly interesting new angle to see them from. Dissidia was initially intended as fighting-based offshoot of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, though it was later changed to focus exclusively on Final Fantasy characters, its cast eventually expanding to incorporate characters from every game in the franchise to that point. Rather than being a one-on-one fighter focused on execution and combos though, it was more of a blend of an RPG and an arena combat game similar to Virtual On. Players maneuver around large, open arenas, interacting with objects in the environment to move faster or trigger traps that hinder their opponents, and of course go on the offensive themselves with a plenty of flashy attacks and weapons. In addition to a health bar one also has a stat called "Brave" which determines how much damage their attacks deal; using a circle button attack steals Brave from the opponent, while a square-button attack deals damage to the opponent's health, emptying their Brave in the process if it lands, though it will quickly refill. If one is completely drained of Brave by an attack they will be at a significant disadvantage - not only can they not harm their opponent until they get some Brave back, but their opponent will get a substantial boost in Brave themselves. In addition, an EX Gauge gradually fills as the player takes or deals damage or collects items about the field, and once filled they will be able to transform and become significantly stronger. While in EX state they can to unleash a powerful "EX Attack" by landing a blow and then correctly pressing a number of quick-time inputs, while their opponent can reduce the damage they take by performing correct inputs of their own. The RPG element comes in between battles, with characters gaining stats, levels and randomized equipment to utilize in future bouts. These can also be used in two-player competitive matches, or if one wishes, they can instead play the "Arcade Mode" which strips out all the RPG elements to balance characters out as much as possible. While not a particularly deep game and the story mode layout is a little drab, Dissidia does have plenty of visual flair (especially for the PSP platform) and the story mode has plenty of service for long-time franchise fans, with a lot of familiar characters, plot points, items and music to experience. It's also the first time many of the characters depicted have been presented in 3D with full voicework, so that's also a nice touch for fans of the pre-10 Final Fantasies.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Playstation Portable