Square Enix’s Dissidia: Final Fantasy demo skipped the full motion video cutscenes, ignored the chessboard mission system, and went straight to the fighting. The demo had The Warrior of Light, Frionel, Onion Knight, Squall, Zidane, and Tidus all set at level 20. I played with half of them. Before I get to their styles I think the fighting system needs some clarification.
Every character has two kinds of attacks, brave and HP draining moves. Brave attacks are usually faster, but they don’t reduce the other characters HP. See the 1691 number in the image? That’s Squall’s current brave level. Using brave attacks boosts your brave while chipping away at your opponent’s brave meter. The brave system is a constant tug of war between the two combatants until they use an HP draining attack which draws on the brave stat to determine the amount of damage. You can get a massive brave boost by wiping out all our your opponent’s brave. This puts them in break status and the number between the two players is added to your brave. In the pictured case Squall will get an 835 point brave bonus if he can subtract 116 more brave from Tidus.
With enough stocked brave you can knockout another character in a single hit, which makes Dissidia: Final Fantasy somewhat different than a standard fighting game. However, I found it much easier to rapidly use the HP draining attack even if it did less damage and completely ignore the break system which lead to some easy wins.
Squall’s basic attack is a series of fast gun blade swipes. He, like most of the characters, needs to make use of diving in to close wide distance gaps between fighters. Squall can deal HP damage with a slower somersault sword slash and unleash a short wave of horizontal energy with his Final Fantasy VIII Blasting Zone limit break.
Tidus darts around the screen as if he was swimming in the sky. This makes him hard to hit, but it’s also difficult to predict where Tidus will end up. One of his HP draining attacks has him kick a blitzball. Charge up your brave meter enough and a blitzball to the face can be lethal.
The Onion Knight was neat to play with. His HP draining attack is a small meteor shower and his brave moves easily connected. When the EX gauge is full the Onion Knight “changes jobs” which really just powers up his existing double slash moves and widens the range of his meteor storm.
I was surprised how big the stages are in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. You aren’t on thimble sized islands like in Soulcalibur IV. Dissidia: Final Fantasy puts you in gigantic breakable arenas with multiple vertical levels. Since space is an issue players can hide or presumably hide in a corner and throw magic like the unplayable Cloud of Darkness. There was also one memorable level in which included hot lava and purple platforms to jump on. I fought Zidane with Tidus here and the agile Final Fantasy IX hero was difficult to hit with my deadly blitzball. Zidane gracefully pounced from one platform to the next occasionally leaping towards me to strike.
Square Enix is trying to differentiate Dissidia: Final Fantasy from being just another fighting game, but let’s face it Dissidia: Final Fantasy is fan service. In this sense Square Enix is doing a fantastic job. Final Fantasy fans are going to dig the quality of visuals and seeing familiar faces use their signature moves.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.