It's been about seven years since North American gamers had the opportunity to play a new Final Fantasy fighter. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a huge departure from the PSP games so let's see if this arcade adaptation is suitable for the living room.
I remember when Dissidia Final Fantasy debuted back in 2009. The concept of a fighting game with a cast of Final Fantasy characters was just awesome and the game was pretty fun, too. It saw a sequel a couple years later in the form of Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy then in 2015, Team Ninja's take on the formula released in Japanese arcades. Finally, here we have Dissidia Final Fantasy NT which is the full-fledged console version of that 2015 arcade fighter. When I booted it up, I was blown away by the absolutely gorgeous character models and environments. Seeing many of the 8 and 16-bit characters that I grew up with fully rendered in modern 3D visuals had my inner fanboy excited. Playing as classic characters such as Terra, Kain, and even Kefka while fighting newbies Noctis, Lightning, and some chap named "Ace" (yes, I know who he is) feels just incredible. Heck, even Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics is playable. How awesome is that?
After my Final Fantasy fanboy tendencies calmed down, it was time to get serious so I played through the tutorials and learned what Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is all about. Basically, two teams of three fighters duke it out in an arena until one team suffers from three incapacitations. Each character is surprisingly mobile as they can dash around, glide through the air, and ascend walls. The combat is quite basic as all you do is unleash a fury of attacks and skills. Some attacks cause damage to your opponent's bravery which weakens them and others primarily hurt their HP while skills can buff your allies or harm your foes. It's very satisfying to single out an adversary, weaken them, perhaps inflict a status ailment like poison, then land a final blow that instantly incapacitates them.
Meanwhile, you can charge a summon meter by attacking both your opponents and a crystal that emerges ever so often. Summons have pre-summoning and post-summoning effects that can turn the tide of battle. The effects depend on which summon you have equipped: Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Odin, Leviathan, Alexander, or Bahamut. Overall, the mix of intense 3-on-3 action, teamwork, and this summon system combine to make for a truly exciting battle dynamic that's even more of a blast while playing online.
Unfortunately, that excitement quickly dies down after a few hours of duking it out due to the fact that there isn't much variation in combat. No matter which character I played as, the gameplay eventually started feeling all too similar. Essentially, the only aspect that adds a bit of variety is that you can take part in Core Battles which tasks you with depleting the opposing team's core crystal instead of just focusing on attacking the other team's characters. To make the lack of gameplay variety even more difficult to deal with, there definitely isn't much content. First of all, there is no local multiplayer component and the single player content merely consists of battling through a succession of adversaries in various arcade gauntlets. Even the story mode is just a tree of non-interactive cutscenes plus the odd boss. Obviously, playing online is the most fruitful option but even that starts to feel monotonous after a dozen or so matches.
As you play, you'll acquire treasure tokens, gil, and memoria. The latter simply unlocks cutscenes in the branching story mode's tree. Redeeming tokens for treasure grants you an assortment of random items while gil lets you buy whichever items you want. These items consist of character costumes, weapons, chat messages, player icons, and music tracks. There are a lot of items to unlock and acquiring everything will take a very long time considering how slowly you expand your collection of content.
Finally, I wanted to mention one irritating issue that I regularly encountered during my time with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. When you're battling, the visuals can become extremely chaotic with loads of visual effects that frequently obscure, blur, and distort your field of vision. Whenever this happened, I couldn't help but get annoyed that I had no idea what the heck was going on. The visual effects certainly look cool but when they get in the way of the gameplay, it's just frustrating.
With a lack of modes and repetitive and unvaried gameplay, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a disappointing long-awaited follow-up to a decent duology of portable fighters. That being said, there's definitely enough Final Fantasy eye candy to satisfy diehard fans.
- + Initially exciting 3-on-3 arena battles that are especially enjoyable online
- + Gorgeous characters and environments
- + Loads of content to slowly unlock
- - Gameplay quickly becomes repetitive with very little variation
- - Visuals get indecipherably chaotic
- - Disappointing selection of modes