TGS 2008: Dissidia: Final Fantasy Hands-On

Who would win in a fight: Squall or Tidus? We finally answer this lingering question.

TOKYO--The Tokyo Game Show floor is a busy place, and the mobs surrounding the Square Enix theater are intimidating. Nonetheless, we pushed through and spent some solid time with this upcoming nontraditional fighting game--after watching a lengthy trailer for the game within the publisher's Mega Theater, of course. Thankfully, all the flash and vibrant color present in the impressive trailer was present in the gameplay proper. And that alone should keep Dissidia flying high on the radar for most Final Fantasy fans.

You don't have to save the world this time--you just have to save yourself.

The trailer itself was a name check featuring a number of popular characters and archetypes from the series. Characters we glimpsed included the Cloud of Darkness; Cloud Strife (no relation); Golbez (called Golbeza here, as he was in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy IV); Jecht; Tidus; Sephiroth; Exdeath; Bartz (aka Butz) Klauser; Terra (aka Tina) Branford; Kefka Palazzo; and many others. In our playable version, we had access to a small number of characters: Tidus, Zidane, Squall, Cloud of Darkness, Onion Knight, and Frionel (known more commonly as Firion). In our first play-through, we chose Tidus, the Blitzball phenom that starred in Final Fantasy X. Fans of game music should note that while the main menu theme was the rising and falling arpeggios we've long associated with the game, it had a symphonic, slightly new age sheen added to it, which matched the first fighting arena, a shimmering sea from which glacial crystals rose.

Because the written instructions provided were in Japanese, it was tough to get a handle on the move set at first. The circle button initiated standard attacks, called sub-attacks, while the X button allowed us to jump. The first thing we noted was just how floaty--in a good way--the action felt. You'll be landing a lot of blows in midair, so keeping distance between you and your opponent is one of the best defensive maneuvers available to you. Pressing square initiates a special attack; in Tidus' case, it is a blitzball that whooshes toward the enemy at super speed. The goal is to diminish your opponent's brave points by using sub-attacks; doing so makes your own attacks stronger and your foe's weaker, thereby allowing the special attack to do a great deal of damage. Once you land the stronger attack, your brave points reset and the tug of war begins anew.

You aren't just limited to these moves, however; you will also initiate quicktime button events. If you aren't a big fan of this overused gameplay mechanic, don't worry: They aren't too frequent and only consist of a single button press. Just be on your toes: The window of opportunity is tiny. If you manage it, though, you'll initiate a slow-motion attack, and your enemy will temporarily freeze, allowing you to rush forward to land a blow. If you time the first hit just right, you'll be greeted with another quicktime event, letting you to string attacks together without fearing a counterattack. The fight lasted longer than we expected, but it wasn't long before Squall was down for the count, temporarily answering that all-important question over which spiky-headed teen was the superior brawler.

It certainly wasn't Frionel either. We fought him in a dilapidated temple where broken columns littered the floor. Clouds slowly moved across the foreboding purple sky, and Frionel zoomed toward us. This fight didn't last nearly as long because we'd probably gotten used to the airborne controls and special attacks. The EX gauge on the left filled as we landed blows; once it was full, holding R while pressing square initiated a powerful attack that slayed Frionel in a single strike. The next fight--against Zidane--was just as easy. The battle began in a circular dais rising into the sky, but eventually, the brawl took us to the ground below, where an irregular stone walkway meandered through a lavalike substance. Combat was still floaty, but Tidus couldn't fly, and this fight forced us to be a lot more conscious of the arena than before because it was easy to fall into the lava.

It's amazing what a little mousse can accomplish.

And finally, we took on Jecht, who pummeled us with one fire attack after another. We slowly depleted his brave points until he was vulnerable. Once that happened, we triggered our EX attack, and in one fell swoop, the son had offed his own father. The success screen told us that Tidus had leveled up, and the demo ended--in just enough time to play again, but this time, as Squall. And who was our first opponent? Tidus. Squall obviously had a different set of moves and a different feel. He didn't seem as nimble in the air or as quick on his feet, but he could string a number of sword attacks together, ending with a flurry of swings and a dramatic flourish. From a distance, the standard attack button initiated a carpet of lightning that sped toward our opponents. Squall's special was a circular swing of his sword that sent a flurry of red energy flying at his opponent. So down Tidus went, which means that the final word on whether Squall or Tidus is the ultimate teenaged attack machine must be left for another day.

Unfortunately, the Cloud of Darkness ended our winning streak. In the temple arena, the floor broke away and we fell to the bottom. There, our foe's constant stream of purple spheres and electrical attacks became tough to defend against. And like that, our time with Dissidia: Final Fantasy came to end. It's hard to say just how the final product will turn out, but we can at least say that it looks and sounds quite beautiful, as well as dramatic. We also had fun during our short play session. We'll bring you more on this interesting game as news becomes available.

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GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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217 comments
drummer131
drummer131

People, it's a FF-themed FIGHTING game. It's not going to play like an RPG. And because it's a FIGHTING game, perhaps the graphics aren't as shiny simply because if they were, the game would slow down from having to keep it all shiny at all times.

noobsfolife
noobsfolife

crisis core was undeniably my favorite psp game. All of the elements of it were perfect. although I am overjoyed another ff will be hitting the system, I am concerned about how different it is than cc. It seems bubbly and the plot appears to be weak, I hope i'm wrong

jokerman_28
jokerman_28

awesome gameplay and graphics. a good roster too. im getting this.

Liquid_Essence
Liquid_Essence

Looks pretty cool. The moves look stunning. This game is a must

ShazAce
ShazAce

Looks pathetic, And im a huge fan of FF, the gameplay will suck its not like any other FF game. Crisis Core was the best

sush_2
sush_2

im sorry but it dosent look that GREAT TO ME

Blitzcrisis274
Blitzcrisis274

I must have this game it will be like the best final fantasy ever need it real bad.

Gammet25
Gammet25

I cant wait for this game to come out. So right abuabed, it's gonna be hectic. finally another final fantasy game will come out on the psp

abuabed
abuabed

This is gonna be EPIC.

Zain-Midori
Zain-Midori

nope zack isnt he come in part 2 i beat dissidia alreafy awesome game little hairy here and there but other then that game is pure gold

tekken220
tekken220

hope zack is in this game! crisis core was my first ff game lol (and ff4 ds was the second ff game that i played which was why i was happy to see a pic of cecil)

khoofia_pika
khoofia_pika

seems to be great...,. though i wonder if there's a story mode in the game.

StevenHawking
StevenHawking

Square Enix making a fighter??? I have my fingers crossed on this one. It's not really that hard to make a good fighting game, but if they're mixing in that RPG element, like Soulcalibur or something, the game should be really fun to play! *crosses fingers and waits*

ThunderbirdX
ThunderbirdX

O M G this game is a CRAZY FUN mix im still getting a handle on the jap menus items ect but alot of the game has english bits in it the music is awesome and the appearance of some chars is nutsoid albeit yes Jecht Tidus Gabranth and other ps2 chars dont look as nice all the characters are a trip and the intro ALONE is mesmerizing :)

hanschua
hanschua

It's already released here in Asia (wuhoo!), but it's in Japanese and I can't understand the menu (let alone what they're saying during battles) It feels like playing Crisis Core but you only have one opponent and tons of special moves. The stages are not limited to one land mass but instead you can hop (more of floating) from one place to another. It may be repetitive in some way but at least it's a different way of playing Final Fantasy series.

Sunrie
Sunrie

Hmm...sounds very shallow and repetitive, but fun. I'm glad they brought in Kefka.

ansem1986
ansem1986

let's hope it's not another Ehrgeiz...

Blink3r
Blink3r

OMG just 1 day away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! then i'll have to wait for like 2 or 3 more days till it arrives from japan -.-

Setzerkun
Setzerkun

ho ho ho zidane ,cloud ,squall in one game fantastic :D so much cool character in one game i think that can be great :>

Kiriyama12
Kiriyama12

hope it will be released soon here in asia

D3dr0_0
D3dr0_0

Im glad I bought a PSP slim the only games I have for it is Crisis Core and Daxter, Im definently gona buy it when it comes to U.S.

sawworm
sawworm

It's gonna be hella fun :D But we need to learn japanese Language now :|

SonicTheMonkey
SonicTheMonkey

When I first heard about this I equated it with Castelvania Judgment and immediately wrote it off. However, after seeing the amazing video of the Cloud on Sephiroth fight, I was suddenly psyched for this game. I know what my next purchase for PSP will be. As another poster on here noted, "if it's half as fun to play as it is to watch, this is going to be an amazing game."

Oozaru_Kakkarot
Oozaru_Kakkarot

Lol Final Fantasy Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 lol...Im not a big final fantasy fan..I liked 1 - 6, 9, 12 and especialy tactics the original and psp version remake not that gameboy crap...but still this game looks like it might just become my favorite psp game of all time...freakin awesome!

RoxasF
RoxasF

I wonder if they put zack in this game anyway I will get it!!!! I´M from portugal i thought it´s gonna be realise in here

Ryuk_Eden
Ryuk_Eden

I hope they release it in america Zidane no one can beat i am importing that

Saprissa9
Saprissa9

oohh man I was excited I was like yyyaaayyy december 18 (looks at the date) aaawww but in japan hahah oh well i guess i have to used the time left to finish dqiv and chrono trigger ds.

Gravaki
Gravaki

Game's coming out Dec. 18th in JAPAN. US release isn't known. Most likely 5-6 months later, like Crisis Core. Oh, this game is nothing like Ehrgeiz. Check out the gameplay videos in YouTube.

riku19
riku19

Oh yeah when is this game comin out ey?!

riku19
riku19

Squall friggin rocks! yeah!

kyodarkfire
kyodarkfire

ohhh yeah wanna play as Cecil already!!!

lucky789
lucky789

Zidane Rules, HELLZ YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Link--
Link--

Please let this really release before Christmas with no delays. It would make the ultimate gift, heh

coolguyff7
coolguyff7

am am sooo pissed at square they bring out a game that forfills most ff fans dreams with like ummmm cloud vs jecht or tides vs sephiroth but thay are keeping it to psp plz plz come out on ps2 or something as well if they put it to ps3 as well i whoulod be gob smacked but now i got to work harder for money for a psp well square you gave me a reson to work fo my money agen

AntS94
AntS94

square enix has done it again, but i'll get it after i get the kingdom hearts games

blackwinter22
blackwinter22

holy sh*t kuja vs zidane, squall vs seifer, cloud vs sephiroth, jecht vs tidus, epic :D

Dougystyle79
Dougystyle79

Thoroughly intriguing... now if we could just get a release date on the 'new' Parasite Eve, finalize the rumors on FFVII 'revisited', and reintroduce ourselves to Star Ocean, then it's official... we can put SquareSoft's creativity in the obituary...

accesdenied
accesdenied

why doesnt square soft focis on making real games lately all there stuff has been garbage i lost all my respect for square

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

fighting game!? i'll hope this game will have the balance among the characters! anyway, i wonder if this game will come to sweden. i don't even see any announcement about this game, nor do i about star ocean or kingdom heart.

mattv888
mattv888

Wow this is amazing. Still waiting for FF VII though...

syntexxx
syntexxx

Ehrgeiz was a pice of crap. This game should be better. Waiting for screens with FFVII characters.

Samimaru
Samimaru

This game is like a dream becomin' true

lilmark2fly
lilmark2fly

finally a game that can top crisis core. any way im happy i got a psp