17
Apr
11

Impressions: Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy

I’ve spent a couple of hours with Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy, and I’m left wondering why more people (both at Square-Enix, and the fan base) don’t feel that well enough should be left alone. Final Fantasy was special, in part, for being a series of independent worlds. Each one represented its own set of unique characters, plot, and game system. I always felt that the experience began and ended with those discs and cartridges. Their scope was restrained and the consequences of the game held more weight with the audience. You know there wouldn’t be any cliff-hangers or loose-ends.  And without sequels, you never have knowledge of how things would turn out unless you finished the game.  There was a special sense of anticipation with these games that all the stops would be pulled out, and everything worth knowing about these worlds could be discovered by the end of the game.  So why exhume the characters from those worlds for Dissidia?

The answer is clearly to provide fan service.  This is what really leaves me scratching my head though. Dissidia feels like the uncanny valley for Final Fantasy personalities. Flaws in these characters that might be easy to overlook in their original contexts are impossible to ignore in Dissidia. The appeal of these characters really emerged from the part that they played in their larger game worlds. Seeing them transplanted into the good-vs-evil meta-story while they still try to emulate their original behaviors is weird. The world ought to be changing these characters, and seeing them running on auto-pilot breaks the illusion created by playing the original games. Much like seeing a boom mic drop into the frame, these caricatures make it difficult to suspend your disbelief in regards to Dissidia as well for the characters’ home games. In my view, the Dissidia games are the opposite of fan service, and actually do more to degrade your original experiences with Final Fantasy.

That being said, I’m probably thinking about this too hard. Dissidia isn’t that different from giving Final Fantasy characters cameos in Ehrgeiz or Kingdom Hearts.

If you strip away everything except for the ability to set up “what if” matches between characters, Dissidia can be a fun game, if not a little too serious about itself and rough around the edges. The combat system is an interesting take on fighting games, but there has to be an easier way to convey the vital information about what’s going on than this:

Am I having a stroke?

Customizing characters feels like unrewarding busy work. If you jump through the game’s hoops though, and adopt an obsessive approach to completing the game, then it can have a lot of staying power. The big question in my mind is: why should you do this? The combat system is novel, yet inferior to other fighting games and the fan service is tedious even for fans. Perhaps I’m missing something here, but I’ve not been persuaded by the game’s very positive reception that this game deserves your attention over many other superior games, even if you are a die-hard fan of the series.

Or maybe it’s just a good example of critics being afraid of “incurring the wrath of fanboys.

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1 Response to “Impressions: Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy”



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