You Can’t Steal My Soul!

Dissidia 012 Q&A

I have now invested almost 60 hours into Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, otherwise known as the sequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy, Square Enix’s RPG-style fighting game involving the entire cast of main heroes and villains from the Final Fantasy series. I found a blog where someone did a thirty-day Dissidia 012 survey they created themselves, and while I really don’t think I have the patience to give complete answers to all thirty questions, nor you the patience to read them all, I will answer some of my favorite questions.

Characters

Question 1: Preferred Faction?

So, in Dissidia, you have two sides to the war: warriors of light, fighting for the Goddess Cosmos, and warriors of discord, fighting for the god Chaos. In the original Dissidia, there was a split down the middle between good and bad guys, with the two secret characters Shantoto and Gabranth being on the side of Cosmos and Chaos respectively, though both decided to flee from the battle and live in the void rather than fighting an endless war. It’s debatable to me whether Gabranth is really a villain anyway, even in Final Fantasy XII I never much considered him a bad guy, even if he DID kill the king, impersonate his brother and have him wrongfully imprisoned, directly bring about the downfall of Dalmasca due to his actions, murder his best friend Judge Drace, join the nation that destroyed his homeland and become the king’s lapdog, fight the good guys twice and stab Reks through the heart… well still, it seemed like his heart was in the right place.

At any rate, in Dissidia 012 there’s a sort of mini-faction within the warriors of Cosmos: the new characters, led by Lightning, who are seeking to find a way to destroy the manikins. And in the new game some of the roles are reversed, since this takes place before the thirteenth cycle of conflict seen in the original: Jecht is fighting for Cosmos, and Tidus, Cloud and Terra are all warriors of Chaos, though they all clearly don’t have their heart in it.

One thing that Dissidia 012 does do a great job of, though, is making the villains LIKABLE, which the first game did not. They were all pretty clear-cut evildoers who wanted to destroy the world, and while some of them still remain so (lookin’ at you Exdeath, ya bastard), most of the villains were given proper backstories and many are shown to want to end the war as much as the warriors of Cosmos. Kuja chooses to abstain from fighting and befriends Cloud, and even helps Zidane before being caught in the act by the warriors of Chaos. Golbez, even more so than in the first game, is constantly sneaking behind Chaos’ back and helping the good guys, even going so far as to come to Cosmos upon her awakening and inform her about the outcome of the previous cycle, complimenting her resolve. Golbez more than any of the other warriors of Chaos really shows that he isn’t a villain, just an emmisary of darkness who can’t quite reconcile himself to living in the light. Some characters like Jecht never really seemed evil at all and are even less so in this game, Jecht himself stating that he doesn’t care about the war, he just wants to end it so that the warriors of Cosmos (including his son) can go back to their homeworlds. Even Cloud of Darkness, a literal embodiment of dark energy that doesn’t even really have a personality or consciousness, helps the warriors of Cosmos by telling Laguna how to stop the manikins.

So as it goes, it’s difficult to choose a faction, since Cosmos herself doesn’t really seem to care too much about ruining the lives of her warriors, and does little but sit around looking sad most of the time, and Chaos is just an asshole. As it were, if I could count the outliers who choose to run away from the war as a faction (Gabranth and Shantotto), I would, but I suppose I’ll side with Cosmos… for now.

This is totally not the shot from Final Fantasy XIII where Lightning holds a floating dandelion spark thing on Pulse. Really, it's not.

This is totally not the shot from Final Fantasy XIII where Lightning holds a floating dandelion spark thing on Pulse. Really, it’s not.

Question 2: Favorite Characters/Least Favorite Characters?

There are quite a few likable characters and some personal favorites from the Final Fantasy series that show up in this game. For Dissidia 012, I’m so glad they chose Tifa Lockhart to add to the fray from the cast of Final Fantasy VII, as she’s perfect for a fighting game and has appeared in one already. As such, she is my first pick. Tifa’s personality is great, she’s as cheerful and determined as she was in her original game, and is one of the very few good guys to fight up close or to not use a sword. I really, REALLY wish her DLC outfit, “Enforcer,” was available in the US, but unfortunately you had to pre-order the game to get it, and that I know of there’s no other way of getting it. It’s based on her Amano artwork and looks totally awesome.

Then of course there’s Lightning. Final Fantasy XIII is still an interesting and divisive experience for most Final Fantasy players, but of all the characters in the game, Lightning really shines as a genuine hero. She was supposedly designed to be like a “female Cloud,” but she’s really nothing like him, and I’m pretty thankful for that. Apparently Cloud’s personality outside of his original game has been a sniffling emo kid who just whines about how useless he is, and Lightning is exactly the opposite of that. She’s extremely determined and never waits to take action. Whenever she doesn’t have an answer, she kicks some ass until she finds one. She is the perfect leading character and I’m not surprised to see her take on a similar role in this game to the one she held in her original Final Fantasy title: defying her fate and seeking to stop an endless cycle of misery, to save herself and her friends.

Onion Knight

Next, there’s my little pal, the Onion Knight. The first time I played Dissidia, I thought he was okay but didn’t pay him much thought after I’d completed his story. After playing the sequel however, I’ve discovered just how powerful he is. A lot of his attacks are either long range magic shots or a close-up barrage of small, weak swordswipes, but as he grows, every single one of his attacks gains extra abilities, and they can all be turned into easy damage dealers that are extremely difficult to dodge and make him one of the quickest characters in the game to plow through tough enemies and get out of nasty situations with. As a character, he’s a charming little kid who is a little bit full of himself, but is extremely intelligent and brave. In the twelfth cycle he is treated like a little brother by Vaan, which he doesn’t entirely like but I suspect gives him some amount of comfort, and in the thirteenth cycle he makes himself Terra’s noble defender, promising to stay by her always, and continuing to journey with her after she turns on him under the control of Chaos’ forces.

There are some characters who I really like that I hardly ever play as, like Kuja, who is my favorite Final Fantasy villain. He’s just as arrogant, self-absorbed, and fabulous as he was in his original game, though as I’ve mentioned he displays a desire to end the war and to help the good guys every now and then, but though I like his character, he’s very difficult to play as. When the computer is controlling him, he kicks my ass with an endless barrage of magic attacks that sling an opponent around the stage, but when I play as Kuja I have a hard time getting a hit in edgewise and have difficulty trying to control his magic attacks. Another character I love is Shantotto, who I’d never seen before this game because I’ve never played Final Fantasy XI, but who is hilarious and speaks mostly in rhyme, laughing and taunting all of the other fighters from both sides about how inferior she is to them, but I find her difficult to play as, as the line between her bravery attacks and HP attacks seems to be very blurred. Gabranth was one of my favorite characters in the first game just because he represented Final Fantasy XII in some way, but in both games he’s annoying to play as, capable of delivering HP attacks only when he’s in Ex Mode, which means you will have to end every single battle with his Ex Burst, and it gets a little old to not have any real options of how to fight. He’s also extremely slow in his normal form and his bravery attacks in that form are pretty underwhelimg and uninteresting. I still love him though, hound of hell that he is.

In an interesting twist, I have always kind of disliked Warrior of Light for some reason, I don’t know if it was his outfit, the fact that he never really existed before this game, or his goody-two-shoes attitude of “Light will prevail!” but I just recently discovered that I kind of like him. I think his new alternate outfit that dresses him up in the classic warrior attire from the first Final Fantasy, complete with short red hair, made me warm up to him a little because he looked like less of a blameless hero. It turns out he’s actually extremely balanced and easy to play as, so he just may make it into my final party for Scenario 000.

Warrior of Light vs. Garland

As for my least favorite characters, there are a few. I dislike most of the classic Final Fantasy villains, as they’re pretty one-dimensional and boring. Garland is just an angry Chaos pawn who runs around wrecking people’s shit, the Emperor is a scheming bastard bent on ruling all of existance who is constantly stabbing his fellow back-stabbers in their already stabbed backs, Ultimecia is similar to the Emperor in that she’s mainly interested in usurping Chaos, and toying with the warriors while trying to kill them. Then there’s Exdeath, the single most one-dimensional villain ever. I don’t know if he has a single line that doesn’t include the words, “The Void.” Kefka is a maniac who you can tell the designers really wanted to be funny but who just comes across as mostly crude and silly, but not exactly hilarious. There are some heroes I’m not crazy about either: Firion is a character I didn’t know of before Dissidia, and he left basically no lasting impression on me other than his love of wild roses, which I expect would make much more sense to me if I’d beaten Final Fantasy II, but beaten it I have not.

I also really, really dislike Kain. I have no idea why. He actually seems pretty cool: he’s a dragoon and it’s apparently mandatory for Final Fantasy fans to like dragoons so alright I really don’t have a problem with that, he has some cool attacks, he whips his helmet off to reveal his beautiful flowing Pantene Pro-V hair and painted Amano lips in his Ex Mode, and he’s even voiced by the guy who later voiced Cauius Ballad in Final Fantasy XIII-2 (which lead to some very strange moments for me watching him interact with lightning). However I really disliked him. He is going around betraying the warriors of light, knocking them out and carrying them away to some secret hiding place, and though his reasons are explained later on, he just remains kind of unlikable to me. I’m glad they made him an assist character during the final chapter of Main Scenario 012, because I really didn’t want to play with him very much in the first place.

So as it goes, I love me some Final Fantasy heroes, especially obnoxious little guys like Onion Knight and Shantotto, and free-spirited characters like Zidane and Bartz, but all in all if I really have to choose a favorite from amongst the entire cast, I think I’m going to go with Golbez. As I mentioned before, he’s constantly playing both sides to try and help his brother and the rest of the warriors escape from the cycle of war, and though he serves Chaos, he really doesn’t align himself with either side for most of the game. He never genuinely turns to Cosmos’ side, but without his help, the warriors of Cosmos might never have stood a chance in the first place. As for least favorite character, I almost handed the title over to the Emperor. I find him annoying. He looks pretty and all, and may be representing the shall we say not-so-heterosexual side of Final Fantasy villainy, but I just don’t like him. But then I remembered that Exdeath exists and had to hand the title over to him, because not only is he so one-dimensional he makes President Shinra look like a complicated and complex villain, but he’s annoying to fight, even more annoying to play as, and he literally walks so slow that good luck if you ever try to control him on the world map.

Pandemonium: Top Floor

Question 3: Favorite Stage/Least Favorite Stage?

There are a few new stages in this game, and while some of them do get old rather quickly (I’m so tired of playing in Order’s Sanctuary, it seems to be the default location for every friggin’ battle in this game), many of the old stages still retain their charm and the new stages add some variety and fun. The Lunar Subterrane stage from the first Dissidia is still one of my favorite’s because it’s so huge and has so much room to roam around in, not to mention all the fun breakable rocks. I like The Rift for similar reasons, with lots of space to roam around in and crazy jumps from platform to platform. Planet’s Core isn’t much to speak of on it’s own, but it’s Omega version is much more fun, with shit flying around everywhere. As for the new stages, I am happy to finally see Final Fantasy XII represented, with the Sky Fortress Bahamut stage, that I at first thought was the bridge of the Palamecia from Final Fantasy XIII. They even included a stage that is so literally closed in that it’s just one small train car that you can’t burst out of (as far I can tell anyway…). All in all though, I think my favorite stage is probably Final Fantasy XI’s Empyreal Paradox, and it’s just a simple, open area with a giant crystal in the center, and that’s pretty much it. It’s fun to throw people around in and doesn’t really have any gimmicks (lookin’ at you Ultimecia’s castle, with your frickin’ broken floors and your clock tower gears). Another favorite is Orphan’s Cradle, as it’s just so much fun to be in an enviroment from a super HD game on a handheld console with the graphical power of a PS2, it’s like Final Fantasy XIII got a reverse graphical makeover that I really enjoy, and looks like it belongs with the rest of the games instead of out in it’s own freaky Paradigm-shifting universe.

And speaking of that, my least favorite stages, there are a few. I’ve already mentioned Order’s Sanctuary, which is so vanilla that it isn’t great but isn’t terrible either, and Ultimecia’s Castle, where every move you make knocks you into a gear, a wall, or a banish trap (they’re on the ceiling for God sakes), so I won’t bring those up anymore, but there are some others. Pandemonium is pretty, but very difficult to fight in, and the spikes on the floor in the Omega version make it even more difficult. Dream’s End is a cool place to be just because of it’s significance in Final Fantasy X, but unfortunately I get stuck under the main platform a lot and have a hard time finding my way back out of the FIERY PIT OF DEATH below. Speaking of getting stuck under the stage, this happens quite a bit in stages with high or floating platforms, but I tend to have the most trouble in Kefka’s Tower. Now, I do appreciate the variation in these stages and I’m glad they’re not all flat planes, so I wouldn’t want them to be gone from the game, but they can tend to be a bit difficult to play in.

Tifa's Enforcer Costume

Question 4: Favorite Alternate Costume?

The one you see above, Tifa’s Enforcer outfit, which I cannot have and which makes me very angry because I cannot have it. It looks so much better than any of her other outfits, and I didn’t even have a PSP or a job when this game came out so how was I supposed to pre-order it? I’ve considering importing the European special edition which comes with a download code for this outfit, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t work in the US and also I do not have the money to be doing that. But still, I’d like to find some way to get this costume someday that doesn’t involve illegally downloading the file from the internet, which I totally have not thought about doing. Totally.

Dissidia 012 does introduce some pretty sweet new digs for the characters, including DLC costumes for a buck each for all of the heroes and some of the villains. Lightning’s second alternate outift, the conceptual Guardian Corps uniform, looks great on her and though it lacks her trademark flowing scarf, I prefer to play with her in this outfit the most. Onion Knight’s blue recolor of his initial outfit is fun because… well, because it’s blue, what more do I need to say about that? Longtime fans of Final Fantasy VIII are no doubt thrilled to finally be able to wear his SeeD uniform in battle, and I am one of them. Cloud’s Advent Children outfit looks great on him, and comes with his sword from the movie and a different Ex Mode as well. Laguna looks much better dressed up in his Galbadian soldier uniform in my opinion, and Gabranth even has an outfit in which we can clearly see his face! For the whole battle, too!

You also get to dress a couple characters up in their original outfits, rather than their Amano-inspired Dissida ones. Warrior of Light’s Classic Red costume, which I mentioned earlier, is very fun to play with, and Bartz actually gets to look like himself in this game with his new Freelancer outfit. I have both of those characters’ DLC costumes, the former is Warrior of Light with his helmet off as seen in the opening sequence of Dissidia 012, and the latter is Bartz in his dancer attire. Even though Kefka dresses like… well, a sociopathic clown murderer (meaning: murderer who is a clown, not one who murders clowns), I even like his new costume. Cloud, Squall and Sephiroth all have their Kingdom Hearts gear, but unfortunately only Sephiroth’s is available for download in the US. Seriously it’s been three years now, Square Enix, can we please have the rest of the DLC?

Apart from Tifa’s enforcer costume that I probably love so much because I covet it and yet cannot have it, I really love Ultimecia’s new outfit, called Edea’s Corpse. It’s not a reskin but a completely new character model that uses Ultimecia’s attacks, and it’s basically like having Edea as a character, which frankly I’ve already thought would be kind of a better idea than Ultimecia, even though I know Edea is not the real villain of Final Fantasy VIII.

*sighs dreamily*

*sighs dreamily*

I’m probably forgetting a few, because unlike in the last game where the designer mostly just recolored the characters’ main outfits, they actually put some thought into these new ones, and it makes playing as these characters a lot more fun. The only thing negative that I have to say about them is that they can’t be worn in story mode anymore, which I guess I understand for continuity reasons but still, I would like to have  the option. Screw continuity, this is a game about all the Final Fantasy heroes fighting the villains together! It’s basically a fanfiction wet dream with a world map and button mashing. Note that these are all good things, and are NOT critcisms, because dammit I do love fanservice, and not the bare-breasted kind. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I think I ought to mention Tidus’ warrior of Chaos outfit. It’s Tidus, in his torn up pants, with no shirt. I really cannot explain it any simpler, and as I’ve always thought Tidus was a sexy beast, I quite enjoy it. It is at least forty percent of the reason why I ever play as Tidus now.

Red Mage

Question 5: Characters You Wish Would Have Made It Into Dissida/Characters You Would Like To See In A Future Dissidia?

RAMZA. Motherfucking. BEOULVE. Seriously, Final Fantasy Tactics got no representation in either Dissidia game, and even though I get that they’re drafting characters from the main series, he really should have been included as a hidden character. He’s literally the most competent Final Fantasy hero in the entire series, he’s the only hero who doesn’t suffer some deep existential crisis, he gets shit done, saves all of Ivalice, and still manages to have personality depth and remain completely likable. And on that note, one of my friends suggested that Delita would have made an excellent warrior of Chaos, and with this I completely agree. Since all of the Final Fantasy characters’ storylines tend to revolve around the same themes that permeated their stories in their games of origin, I could completely see Delita working for both sides of the conflict in an effort to make himself king, or kidnapping Yuna or some such lovely nonsense. Agrias Oaks would have also been an excellent choice, as there are quite a few swordplayers but none that use holy sword abilities, even our sparkly heroic Warrior of Light.

As for characters from the main series, I was actually quite surprised that there were no nods to the Red Mage in any way. I figured Warrior of Light would have had a Red Mage costume or something, but nothing. Because he’s such a versatile character, he could equip various weapons the way Vaan does and use all sorts of spells. All of them, in fact, since he’s a Red Mage. I’m also pretty surprised that the reboot Final Fantasy III characters got no representation, other than being the names of a couple of Onion Knight’s alternate costumes. I get that he was already an established character, but there’s no reason that it couldn’t have been revealed in Duodecim that his name was really Luneth, or even Ingus.

Dissidia seems to have a problem with characters either being up-close sword weilders or long range magic users. Now to their credit, those are the already established characters that they have to work with, and they managed to make each character’s fighting style unique from the others’, but there could have been some more out-of-the-box characters included. Nanaki would have made an interesting addition, since he could be an up-close attacker and a fire magic user, although I imagine his grinding animation would be pretty hilarious. Similarly, Kihmari would have worked well since he has such a wide variety of Blue Magic abilities, or by the same token, Quina, even though I admit Quina would be ludicrously weird, but any of the token non-human characters would have sufficed.

"I feel pretty, and witty, and..."

“I feel pretty, and witty, and…”

A villain that I’m really surprised wasn’t included is Seymour, since he was really the villain of Final Fantasy X, and he would have been a perfect character. I could see himself allying with Kuja to try and manipulate the other warriors for his own ends, and having a cool Ex Mode that involves the Mortichorus or whatever the hell that thing that sucks his life out of him in Final Fantasy X is. I have a feeling I know why they didn’t include him and chose Jecht instead though, because as I mentioned they already had quite a few magic slingers and Jecht, though technically sword-wielding, is more of an up close beat-em-up character. Also from Final Fantasy X, Auron would have made a good addition because well, he’s just badass, and his Bushido abilities would be fun to play with.

Some more long range characters like Yuffie or Wakka with their throwing weapons would have been a cool addition, as Laguna and Ultimecia are really the only genuine long-ranged fighters, and speak of long ranged fighters, Sazh Kazroy would be a fanastic addition the crew and I would love for Balthier to make an appearance in a future Dissidia game if ever such a thing will come to be. Another character I’d love to see is Balthier’s ambiguous “partner” (make of that what you will, fellow gamers), Fran, who I just adore and who I would love to see included in more Final Fantasy media. And finally, from Final Fantasy XIII, the addition of a heavy magic user like Hope or Vanille (“I have to see this through!” *INSTANT DEATH*) would have been great, or if we could have just completely swapped Kain Highwind out for the much superior Oerba Yun Fang, that would be completely fine with me, thanks.

And there is one another character that I really, REALLY think should have been included from the beginning: the random battle monster. I know that this is a fighting game, but since you spend so much time wandering around the world map or fighting your way to GET TO the villains, it would have been nice to have some enemy-only monsters with simple movesets that were easy to beat, or some superbosses like Final Fantasy XIII’s incarnation of Adamantoise, or even the almighty Omega Weapon. It seems kind of silly to pepper story mode with crystalized copies of the enemy fighters, because this concept gets pretty old and boring pretty quickly, and throwing in fewer manikins and more classic Final Fantasy monsters as enemy-only fighters would have been a great addition to the game from the very beginning. Even just using five to ten of these simple monster designs and recoloring the stronger ones like they do in every other Final Fantasy game would be a huge step up from just fighting crystalized versions of your opponents, and since a Dissidia sequel would have to be something taking place outside the conflict of Cosmos of Chaos as we have come to know it, I think it’s a simple idea that could drastically improve a future Dissidia game.

Warrior of Light

And so, those are some of my thoughts about Dissidia 012. It’s a triumph of a game, with so much content and so much to explore. I’ve invested 60 hours and I haven’t even completed half of the total storyline, and there are still a ton of unlockables for me to achieve, not to mention every single character has a level that can reach 100, and every day you get a new message from the Mognet moogles and prizes in their letters. Add this to the museum of unlockable cutscenes, the exclusive weapons and (sometimes) armor available for each character, the giant list of Battlegen items and Accomplishments, and Dissidia 012 really makes for an extremely solid RPG fighting game, perhaps truly the first of it’s kind, with an interesting story that weaves together the Final Fantasy universes and gives longtime fans a chance to experience their favorite characters in a new way. Getting this game was certainly one of my decisions as a gamer, and I genuinely recommend it to any fan of the Final Fantasy series, and I think that newcomers to the series would enjoy it too.

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