Fighting Games Friday: Dissidia NT Warriors

From the moment release details for the arcade version of Dissidia Final Fantasy were revealed, anyone who followed fighting games could have told you it would take a while to arrive on home consoles. The PSP versions were released with a slew of characters available right off the bat, which included around one hero and villain from every numbered Final Fantasy installment (outside XI and XII, which only included a hero and villain, respectively).

But the arcade version started with a small selection available at launch, and more were released at a steady pace as time passed. The initial cast was smaller than even the original Dissidia Final Fantasy on PSP from 2009, likely due to the increased development and resource costs that come with HD development. It seemed this would take as long as the recently released Tekken 7 to release on consoles, meaning over two years.

Those possible development hurdles occurred despite this game being mostly outsourced, a contrast to the PSP games’ entirely internal development. Team Ninja, the Koei Tecmo subsidiary who previously handled the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, did a good deal of the work.

That’s not to classify their efforts as lazy. In addition to the characters, they also had to focus on creating new arenas that were far larger than their PSP counterparts. The older games featured one-on-one battles, but the arcade game features three-on-three fights, and far more space was needed for six characters to maneuver through the ground and air. Because of the larger focus, only the Dissidia heroes of the Cosmos side were available at launch. One was available each numbered game, with Y’shtola from Final Fantasy XIV initially being the sole new face. Additional characters were added through downloadable game updates, including many of the villains. But heroes were also added, like Kain from Final Fantasy IV, and brand-new characters like Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics and Ace from Final Fantasy Type-0.

For those of us watching matches at home, Square Enix now feels the game has received enough characters that they’re confident in letting us play it. The game will arrive under the form of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT on PlayStation 4. As expected, the home version will include every character currently available in the arcade game, and will add a new hero: Noctis from the recently-released Final Fantasy XV, one who was surprisingly not added to the arcade version around the time that game released last November. The arcade version will also receive more characters between now and the home version’s arrival, all of whom should be immediately available in the PS4 version. The press release says there will be over 20 characters to choose from, but expect it to have closer to 30 considering 23 are available in the arcade iteration now.

The core combat hasn’t changed much from previous games. Each character can use normal and Bravery attacks; the former are traditional damaging techniques, while the latter will weaken the other character’s Bravery meter to make them more susceptible to those attacks. To balance matches out, normal attacks tend to be more difficult to land than Bravery attacks. Characters will also have access to summons common to most mainline FF installments, including Ifrit and Shiva. Each character can also obtain XP and potential items and weapons from battles, depending on the conditions set. In other words, Square Enix is doing what many Dissidia fans wanted for years and is bringing the handheld experience to a home platform in a more polished and far more intense form.

Well, almost. One area where the PS4 version could falter compared to its predecessors is the story, at least according to the hints the developers have provided thus far. They claimed on a Japanese stream that it won’t have a dedicated Story Mode, but it will have a story with event scenes not featured in the arcade version. It hints at how it may not be as robust as the tales presented in the PSP titles. While those admittedly suffered subpar writing, they were fun experiences, and it will be a shame if that’s mostly absent from this version.

Unless their words are misleading, this version is laser-targeting everyone who lamented how they could only fight the AI in the PSP games and couldn’t find local competition. This selling point and the FF name could be enough for it to perform to Square Enix’s expectations, but the audience that wants a story mode won’t be silent.

Square Enix plans on releasing Dissidia NT sometime early next year worldwide, meaning the aforementioned estimate for the console version’s wait was bang-on. The trailer contains some quick glimpses at gameplay, but there are plenty of match videos from the arcade version throughout YouTube, though their video quality pales in comparison. It will be playable at E3 next week, so we might get the opportunity to compare its visuals and performance with the arcade version — if they’re generous enough to allow direct-feed footage.

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