“Final Fantasy” Faithful Treated with Nostalgic “Dissidia”

Final FantasySince 1987 the “Final Fantasy” series has flourished with twelve best-selling games and a myriad of spinoffs to keep even the biggest Chocobo-riding, Firaga-casting fans busy endlessly leveling up their characters. As a thank-you to the loyal gamers these past two decades, Square-Enix released “Dissidia” for the PSP– a culmination that pays tribute to the Final Fantasy series through sweet nostalgia and surprisingly decent gameplay.

“Dissida” pits heroes and villains of the 12 main “Final Fantasy” games against each other in a battle royale. The fighting roster is predictable with two characters from each game (only one from 11 and 12) including Cloud, Sephiroth, Terra, Kefka, Zidane, and Kuja. But if your favorite didn’t make the cut, chances are high they’ll pop up in some sort of cameo throughout the game’s instructional modes or the museum.

Gameplay is eye-catching and fulfilling with a battle system far superior to Square’s last attempt at a fighting game, Ehrgeiz. Characters have two gauges and two types of attacks: bravery and health. When a character lands a bravery attack it increases their bravery while lowering the opponent’s bravery. When a health attack hits, a character inflicts damage equal to their bravery gauge. It’s intimidating and complex at first, but it proves to be an exciting battle system.

Characters can also enter into an EX mode during battle, becoming more powerful and able to perform a devastating special attack. Most are signature moves that fans are sure to remember, like Cloud’s Omnislash Limit Break. Seeing your favorite Final Fantasy character fly through the air and kick so much ass is reason enough to enjoy “Dissidia”; the graphics and animations stunning for a game on the PSP.

Game modes options are robust in “Dissida,” providing gamers with more choices than a sphere grid.

The Story Mode is decent for a fighting game. Gamers move character tokens on a board, battling other pieces to reach the goal and progress to the next level. It’s true this gets stale after a while, but Square does its best to mix things up with surprises on the board throughout. You can’t really expect much; it’s a fighting game, after all.

Some things are so frustratingly hard in the Story Mode you’ll have to come back later with a higher level or stronger equipment to beat them. Having taken time out to level up my character and being a good ten levels higher than the final boss, I was still presented with a half-hour ass-whooping fest before I could best him.

Aside from the Story Mode, the Duel Colosseum is fun and rewarding. Characters fight against a never-ending line-up of fighters, gaining new equipment and experience along the way. You can also select special cards to boost your abilities inside and out of battle, trying to give yourself whatever edge you can gain against an infinite army.

There’s certainly a love-hate relationship with the audio. The music is easily one of “Dissidia”’s high points, with remixes of composer Nobuo Uematsu’s finest works. However, the voice-overs are horrendously done. Voices are lack-luster, creating a cringe-worthy performance worthy of earning its place in a stuffed animal’s voice-box. Sadly, I found myself popping on my iTunes and missing out on some of the spectacular music because of this.

Ultimately, “Dissidia” provides a thrilling and rewarding experience that any “Final Fantasy” fan will happily add to their collection. Heck, it’s the best PSP game to come out in a long while–my poor black buddy had been collecting dust since I beat “Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.”

“Dissida” for the PSP gets a 4 out of 5.

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