Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT – The “NT” stands for “No Thanks.”

The Dissidia spinoff series was a surprise hit on the PlayStation Portable. Who knew that a fighting game based on Final Fantasy would be a hit (kupo) or that it took so long to make one. The interesting fighting mechanics made it unique enough that players needed to think strategically during each fight. While both games on the PSP had enough features and content packed onto the UMD (kupo), players dreamed of what a home console version of the game could do. The dream of playing with friends either locally or over the internet on the big screen with a HD look was real. It would be seven years before Square would make this dream come true, and leave it to Square to make it an uneasy night’s sleep (kupo).

Prologue – From the cabinet to your couch

I will start with some background (kupo). Dissidia NT was originally an arcade game before converted into a console game. The game focuses on three vs. three battles with an emphasis on teamwork. You and your team work to knockout three opponents, one each or one unlucky person three times, to win the game. You do so by utilizing bravery and HP attacks. You use bravery attack to reduce an opponents bravery points to zero while growing yours. This is important, as HP attacks deal damage equivalent to your bravery points. An opponent is considered KO’ed when you reduce their HP to zero. You can grow your bravery points high enough to deal a one hit KO, or spam HP attack to dwindle an opponent’s HP down.

And that is the premise of the arcade game (kupo). The console version had to add a little more substance in order to justify the $60 price tag at launch. The console version still focuses on three v. three battles, but the developers added a story mode (kupo) and offline gauntlet battles for single player content. On top of that, the console version includes customization items that can be obtain in the form of drops, treasure (loot boxes), or buying items with in game currency or mom’s credit card (yeah it is one of those situations). And that is it (kupo). At the time, the content did not match the price tag, but you should always value a game from what you get out of it. Right?

Photo credit to Around Akiba
These controls look easier to understand

Starting somewhere…

Sadly, I did not get a whole lot out of this game. I will start with what I liked since that is the easiest (kupo).

The game looks gorgeous! Seeing some of your favorite Final Fantasy characters like this in HD for the first time is a treat. The amount of detail that you get from the characters and environment is something that Square has been really good at doing as of late. When characters get hurt, you see the damage to their armor and dirt all over them. Not a thing you would notice during gameplay, but it is good to see which of your teammates got beat up the most and who was hanging out on the sidelines (kupo). Each character feels unique and has moves represented by their move set in-game (like you would expect). Each character is grouped into different roles this time around to add some team composition strategy to the game. You have Vanguards who are heavy hitters, Assassins who move quickly, Marksmen who fight from a range, and Specialist who do their own thing. This type of variety can ensure an easy victory as long as your group works together (I will get back to this point later kupo).

Another interesting addition in this game are summon battles. You are able to go up against the six summons that you can use in battle and it turns the game into a new challenging beast. Summon battles play out different from regular battles as all you have to do is reduce the summon’s HP to zero once. This can be challenging depending on which characters you select. The problem is that you can only fight them offline and have to rely on the AI characters to help you out (which for me they hardly did kupo). The summons can also be very aggressive with them spamming their HP attacks and never letting up. The good thing is that you only lose if you are the one that gets knocked out three times (if CPUs counted then they would be almost impossible kupo).

There’s something there somewhere

And that is all the good things that I can say about this game. There are a few things that make the game fall short (kupo). If the developers changed up some of the options and controls, then the game would be more enjoyable.

Let’s start with the story mode (kupo). The story mode is short and felt uninspired. The story is not interesting at all and fells their to just give some backstory of why everyone is fighting. Unlike in previous Dissidia titles, their is no grid base board that you move on in order to obtain treasure or fight enemies (kupo). Instead, you have to collect memories to unlock story scenes. How do you obtain memory? You get them from (per last update) the offline gauntlet battles that you either have to win or get a good enough of a score. On top of that, it is not guarantee that you will get memory from doing the fights. Like all other items in the game, memory is randomly added to your spoils at the end of the gauntlet run (kupo). So if you want to get through the story content, you have to do the gauntlet battles over and over again until the game decides to give you memory to continue. This felt like a chore when all you wanted to do was to get through the short story to say that you finished the game (kupo).

Onto gameplay (kupo). The controls for this game are confusing at times and requires you to remember what different buttons, directional inputs, and positioning do. Until you become proficient with a character a practice constantly, you will get the inputs confused (kupo). One attack can be completely different if you are standing on the ground or in the air. That makes understanding which move to do at the time crucial as you will be easily punished if you mess it up.

On top of remembering which button does what, you also have to deal with the user interface and HUD. There is so much going on on one screen for a 3D fighting game (kupo). Your screen will be taken up by everything on the HUD. You have you and your opponent’s lives on the upper left hand screen with the timer. On the upper right hand side, you have a mini map of the field, but it is useless in this game. On the bottom of each side, you have your teammate’s HP and Bravery point and your opponent’s info as well. Your Bravery and HP is located at the bottom along with your EX skills. You also have at the very bottom the chat which don’t even bother (kupo). On in the middle of the screen you have all the action. You will see blue lines to show who you are targeted to and red lines to see who is targeting you. When you target someone, their information (bravery, HP, and name) appear above them. On top of that, you get text boxes when you use an EX Skill or use an HP attack (kupo). When special abilities or particle effect happen, it blinds the screen and makes it difficult to keep up with what is going on (kupo).

AND THIS! YES YOU MOG (kupo)! He will just not shut up during the entire match! Mog is your commentator of what is going on, but there are already so many sounds going on that he just adds to the annoyance. AND THERE IS NO WAY TO MAKE HIM STOP UNLESS YOU MUTE YOUR TV!!! There is already so many things that you have to keep track of and Mog does not help at all. If there was an option to customize your HUD or turn commentary off, then at least you could take your time to learn the game proper, but there is so much going on that you feel rushed at some points.

Summons also add to the annoyance of one screen clutter. During the match, a crystal will appear that you need to break in order to build up your summon gauge. When you summon, a cutscene plays out that stops you from doing what you are doing, breaking concentration of what you we focused on doing. Summons also alter the field with their attacks. Their effects affect the entire screen and if you have to avoid them it becomes a nightmare of trying to evade it and your opponents. There is a lot of spectacular effects going on, but it becomes bothersome in a fighting game versus an RPG.

Conclusion – I have a migraine

I will say that my time with Dissidia NT wasn’t all just frustration. I discovered that I am really good with Y’shtola and I unlocked her online achievement. Speaking of achievements, if you plan on platinum this game, you will have to become a master at the game. Each character (minus DLC characters) has an achievement attached to them to obtain three A++ rankings online. Doesn’t sound too hard, but if you are unfamiliar with a character or playing with random people online, it can take some time to achieve this. Throw in the fact when you play with random people, the game will not put you in a balance team all the time, and you will have to work with your teammates to work it out.

As a fan of Final Fantasy and the Dissidia series, I can tell a lot of love went into the development of this game. Some ideas from the original games were kept and refined, but some additions and lack of offline content really makes it hard to pick up and play for a while. If you are interested in trying the game, Square did release last year a free edition that allows you to play online and carry your stats over to the full game. I highly recommend giving the free version a try first before buying the full version, unless you find it on sale. For what it is worth, Dissidia NT is not a bad game. It has a lot of elements that hold it back from being a fun enjoyable game.

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT

Developer:
Team Ninja

Publisher:
Square Enix

Genre:
Fighting

Systems:
PS4

Difficulty:
Varies (Depending on personal skill level)

What I liked:
+ Nostalgia fan service
+ Detailed graphics

What I Disliked:
– Confusing controls
– lack of content outside online battles
– short story mode
– Different game from the originals
– MOG FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS PLEASE JUST BE QUIET KUPO!!!!!!

Personal Rating: C-

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 24: Dragon Quest (any one of them)

There is something special about Dragon Quest’s opening. All of them share the same classic opening theme that makes them instantly recognizable. Most of the openings just have a title screen, but sometimes you can not help but to just pause and hum along with it. For something so simple it feels grandiose and you know to expect a remarkable journey to follow. Out of all eleven mainline games, there are two in particular that I really enjoy.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Credit to Playstation’s YouTube Channel

The recent entry to the mainline games, Dragon Quest XI has a lot of impressive elements going for it. Along with the new HD look, the opening had to match the beauty of the world. What better way to do that then feature a recording of the main theme performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The last time the orchestra recorded the opening was for the eight game in the series. Since then, I believe that this is the best version of it yet since you get a full orchestral sound instead of a horn feature (coming from someone who enjoys powerful brass sounds). The orchestra complements the visuals soundly and adds that extra layer of depth to the movie.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Credit to IntroVault’s YouTube Channel

What this intro lacks in a live orchestra soundtrack, it makes up for what it shows. Nine’s intro was the first time that showed more than just a title logo. It showed off what the game is about; questing, fighting monsters, and sharing your stories with companions. It felt like for the first time, Square Enix wanted to introduce the series to newcomers and show them what the series was all about. Though the DS was underpowered at the time, it was a smart move to bring this series to this platform since everyone has a DS at the time. I see a lot of recognition for this game even though it was not on a home console and I believe this opening was a great way to greet new players into an astonishing game.

Tune in tomorrow for our last day, Day 25!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 22: Final Fantasy XII

Credit to JRPGgamer’s YouTube Channel

Originally I was going to go with “Zephyr Memories” from the DS and PC version of Final Fantasy III. It is such a beautiful song and sets the mood for the adventure that is about to unfold. Then I remembered Final Fantasy XII existed and my mind completely changes. Sonova chocobo does the music in this game kick ass. What is essentially Final Fantasy: Star Wars, the opening does a great job in letting you know that this is Final Fantasy, but gets straight to the point of what is going on.

The opening starts with the traditional prelude to the Final Fantasy series. An excellent thing to do in my opinion since it gets players familiar with the idea that this is a Final Fantasy. In an earlier entry, I mentioned how familiar themes are good to have in an opening to reassure fans this is what they are expecting and not something completely foreign. You see the world and it looks like a fantasy world with some futuristic elements represented. The visuals look astonishing especially if you are playing the Zodiac Age on PS4 or Xbox. The inviting feel of the world speaks grand adventure exploring this beautiful world on both land and air.

And then the music changes. We see not Darth Vader and his clones of other younglin killers to this tone that sounds like something played during a grand battle. That is a sinpet of “Flash of Steel,” one of the many great tracks in this game. You then see fleets of airships being deployed and massive armies fighting. You see airships falling out of the sky and striking the ground where more battles are taking place. The scene went from beautiful and wonderment to facing the harshness of war; grounding the player that there is a mission that needs to be done, and it won’t be an easy one. At the end, the music changes again to the classic fanfare that everyone knows; again returning to the familiarity of the series. I forgot to mention this, but until now, the prelude to Final Fantasy had not been used since Final Fantasy VI (technically it was used in XI, but only fancy people with internet back in the day could play it) and would be the last time it was used in a mainline entry (well again technically it is used in XIV, but not a mainline single player game). In the final scenes, the cast of characters are shown along with bosses and a final shot of a crystal (again we haven’t seen one of those since late game IX I guess). It felt like the developers wanted to knock this game out of the park by once again returning to their roots while also introducing some new ideas instead of changing the entire world altogether. I do not believe any other Final Fantasy game could come close to a stellar introduction than the one XII sets up (we will see what Final Fantasy XVI through C does though).

Tune in tomorrow for Day 23!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 16: Kingdom Hearts

Credit to gocalibergaming’s YouTube Channel

Oh Kingdom Hearts you magnificent confusing thing you. I never got into the Kingdom Hearts franchise until I started dating my wife. Her passion for these games finally peaked my interest and I gave the games a shot.This opening represent mine and possibly others first thoughts when playing this game.

What is going on? Why are his shoes so big? Why does the ocean hate everyone? Who are these people? Oh my those PS2 in game models! Why is this song so catchy? What the hell is going on? Why do I have a feeling one of these characters is going to be completely useless? Why does the water not ruin his spiky hair? Is drowning a thing in this world? Where’s Mickey Mouse? The game promoted Disney characters so where is Mickey? That guy with white hair is evil right? I played enough JRPGs to know white hair characters are evil. Does this kid know how to dress? Why is his belt so high? This looks nothing like Disney World! Why is Snow White at the bottom of the ocean. What even is this game anymore?

….I’m sure it will be cleared up by the end of the game!

Jokes aside, I really do like this opening for being extremely cryptic and memorable. Not only are there things hidden in the scenes, but it is accompany by “Hikari” (or “Simple and Clean”) by Utada Hikaru. This would become the main theme of the series and it fits very well with the narrative. You could play this song almost anywhere and at least one reluctant fan will jump up and start singing along. We will revisit the idea of iconic themes later on.

Just like the events of Kingdom Hearts, nothing is ever straightforward and once you get somewhere, Normura stubs his toe and gets a new idea that he shoves in the game somewhere; confusing things much further. Everything in the opening looks cryptic and tends to serve no purpose. The only explanation that I have is that Sora is trapped in the currents of an endless ocean. He is pulled by the currents to go where it tells him to go and never of his own free will. And once he is able to get out of the water, some crazy force tells him that he is not allowed on solid ground and literally drops him back into the ocean. I will say that the final shot with the stained glass of Snow White was visually impressive and it got me wondering why Snow White was featured. The only thing that I could think of is like how Snow White was the first animated Disney film, the represented the beginning of Sora’s journey to what would hopefully be a multimillion dollar franchise.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 17!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 15: Chrono Trigger

Here we go every! The final 10! While none of the entries have been placed on this list in any particular order, I find these 10 to be some of my personal favorites. Leading the charge is the a crowd favorite, Chrono Trigger!

Chrono Trigger is one of those games that you either love it, enjoyed it, or haven’t played it. It is considered a JRPG masterpiece and on many people’s top ten list, and it all begins with the opening movie. There are two different opening to this game, the original SNES opening and the animated opening used in later ports of the game. I am more familiar with the animated opening, but both have their ups and downs when describing this game. So I will try to briefly describe what each opening does well and fail.

SNES Opening

Credit to ShiryuGL’s YouTube Channel

This feels so good for what it is. This opening showcases almost everything that you need to know about the game. You get to see how battles play out and how each character can work together to pull off team attacks. You get to see specific moments in the game and it makes you anticipate when getting to that point. My only complaint about this opening is that you do not get the feel that this is a game about time travel. You do get to see specific areas that look like they belong to a certain era, but nothing that really suggest it.

Anime Opening

Credit to Genkisan’s YouTube Channel

This opening fixes my issue with that last one by showcasing the time traveling aspect. You get to see the backgrounds change as time moves and get to see that the Epoch is the instrument for time traveling. You get a little understanding of who the characters are by their facial expressions and animated actions. The downside is that you lose the game explanation of team attacks and the pivotal moments.

No matter which opening you prefer, both make you feel like an epic adventure is about to unfold. I forgot to mention that this theme is composed by Nobuo Uematsu so that automatically makes it great!

Tune in tomorrow for Day 16!

DanamesX