Initial Stream: 11/10/20
3:00 – Everyone had two weeks to vote on whether or not they wanted to see additional story progress or the Final Fantasy character vignettes/side quests… and I didn’t see a single vote. Turnout is terrible this year. So we held a vote on the stream, and fanboymaster and BEAT both agreed it was time to hit the Final Fantasy Intervention Quests. As a reminder, these are all “out of time” moments provided by The Girl Who Forgot Her Name, and our heroes only pitch hit for the featured Final Fantasy character during battle, and the rest of these sections are simple “slice of life” stories (that often involve giant, malevolent sea monsters). First up are Tidus and Yuna aping some Final Fantasy X plot beats.
16:00 – The “bullet points” for the Intervention Quests are going to be mostly here to let you know when a new vignette starts. At approximately the sixteen minute mark, we are discussing “politics” and/or Quistis while Squall gets a featured story about future planning.
25:00 – Discussing Tidus while Faris and Edgar discuss something other than Tidus. And then it’s time to point out how Edgar is a pedophile.
33:00 – Terra encounters a certain unpleasant octopus while another bot invades the chat.
39:00 Bartz and Rikku is the crossover event you didn’t ever know you needed. It is mostly ignored in favor of Dragonball Z discussion.
What actually happened in the plot:
All Intervention Quests are canon in World of Final Fantasy, but are (almost) all considered “sidequests”, so this is all “optional” plot. That said, here’s what happened in this update:
• Yuna and Tidus, who met for the first time as part of the main plot, bond over repelling Bismarck (not the nazi ship) from Besaid.
• Squall, unlike his fellow Final Fantasy buddies, doesn’t have future plans, which worries his bulbous little head. Squall and Shelke go on a monster hunting mission, and Shelke tricks Squall into caring and planting a garden. This somehow makes Squall smile.
• Faris’s ship is attacked by Omega Bane, and she tracks it back to a potential dimensional gateway at the center of the desert. Edgar is familiar with the area, so he banishes Omega Bane with the help of Vivi.
• Terra teams up with, and then realizes she must destroy, Ultros, the least prime octopus.
• Bartz and Rikku try to rob Ifrit’s cave, but wind up inadvertently becoming friends with the fiery summons when they team up to repel some behemoths.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
1:00 – Rikku is sailing the seven seas, and, hey, we’re actually discussing Rikku! It’s game related! It’s a game related, on-topic discussion! That hardly ever happens!
5:00 – Eiko makes a new wolf friend, so let’s talk about Justice League. The animated series, to be clear, as that is clearly the best iteration of the ol’ hero club.
10:00 – Tifa meets some zealots. How old would you be in the Final Fantasy universe? And would your hat stay on your head?
16:00 – Yuna and “The Sad Spiral” sounds like a good time. Final Fantasy characters need therapy, and so do we after discussing Fountains of Wayne.
26:00 – After some wedding discussion, here are Yuna and Rydia in a Volcano. Then BEAT gets hungry, and we fight Lady Ifrit.
32:00 – Cloud and Lightning are palling around while we discuss terrible streamers, teenage sins, and how we’re all attractive. Also, please remember the duck stream.
What actually happened in the plot:
• Rikku battles the Mimic Queen and discovers that literally all the treasures across the sea were a bunch of (now dead) mimics.
• Eiko investigates a “weird feeling” and discovers her ancestors’ “Fenrir” mirage, Elefenrir, who offers a cryptic warning.
• Tifa fights off a gigantic, robotic hand, and tells some religious fanatics that Enna Kros helps those that help themselves.
• Yuna helps Ami of Green Gables (thanks, Zef), a poor woman who wants to sacrifice herself for the good of her hometown. Valefor’s non-union equivalent, Nirvalefor, guides Yuna to help Ami by defeating Ultima Weapon. Thus, Ami no longer has to be a martyr, and she didn’t even have to lose her imaginary dream-boyfriend to do it.
• Yuna and Rydia enter a volcano to find Ifreeta, Ifrit’s cousin who has been possessing humans to be a general nuisance in the world. The two summoners banish the fire cat girl.
• Cloud and Lightning investigate a mirage (Iron Muscles) menacing a local village, but apparently Sephiroth has been in the area repelling the mirage. Cloud ventures off on his own to hunt his mortal enemy, but Terra convinces Cloud to go back and help Lightning. Cloud and Lightning destroy Iron Muscles, and Sephiroth is never seen.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
0:30 – Vivi and Golems accompany a brief description of quests that have gone before. Long story short: when boiled down to their base archetypes, nearly every male Final Fantasy protagonist becomes Zidane. It’s weird!
13:30 – Discussing Fire Emblem/Lucina /Gachas while Quistis and Squall hang out in Garden.
16:00 – Ample Vigour arrives, and then leaves us wanting as Einhänder shows up again.
20:00 – Penguin time means we have to repeat a whole dungeon. There’s crying underwater from that stupid queen and yours truly, as this Intervention Quest contains an entire “level” that we already completed once. And it wasn’t that good the first time! Regardless, this appears to be the only Intervention Quest that is so intensive, so it’s at least noteworthy.
28:00 – “We’re going all in on this fried bread thing.”
41:00 – And the moral of the story is we’re never going to stop talking about that mysterious liquor lady.
What actually happened in the plot:
• Vivi stops a golem uprising and decides to live another day, confident he is not a mere golem (which makes sense, as golems in this game are basically just Pokémon).
• Celes tries to cheer up the still-recovering-from-vampirey folks of Tome Town by performing an opera, but Ultros arrives, and messes it all up. Ultros is repelled, but, sorry, Celes won’t be singing in this one.
• It is confirmed that Balamb Garden is apparently a mirage, Eden, even if stuff discovered there, like the Gunblade, could be Cogna related.
• Shantotto attempts to open a secret vault by killing the Quacho Queen, but Lann and Reynn convince the Quacho Queen to open the door without bloodshed. Unfortunately, there’s a monster in the vault that could potentially explode and crack the continent in half… but Shantotto uses a spell to disarm the volatile kraken. The day is saved, and our heroes loot the vault.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
00:00 – There is some interesting discussion regarding the production of Marvel vs. Capcom/Howard the Duck opposite Bartz and Gigglemesh saving a town. Eventually, there is discussion of Spider-Man arcade, a game near and dear to my videogame preserving heart.
8:00 – Additional discussion of Marvel vs. Capcom and what could have happened to Street Fighter 3 while Snow and Celes do… nothing.
14:30 – Moonboy and Devil Dinosaur are not Edgar and Vivi, but they’re not Primal, either.
19:00 – There’s no battle in this vignette, just cutscenes. This is weird, and prompts a discussion regarding Mr. Bucket, and how he wants you to put your balls in his mouth.
21:00 – Faris, Ifrit, and we’re apparently not worshipping Satan.
25:00 – Refia and Sherlotta venture into the snow while we discuss children’s cartoons and fetishes and let’s not talk about Totally Spies.
30:00 – We are done talking about Goodfeathers and how much we hate aspects of Animaniacs just in time to watch the ongoing adventures of Undead Princess.
34:00 Goblin Princess and the immortal question: is high school worse than working in The Simpsons writing room?
What actually happened in the plot:
• Gigglemesh and Bartz are more or less tricked by Bahamutian Soldiers, but team up to recover a victory.
• Snow and Celes fight Gigglemesh over absolutely nothing. Typical crossover fight, I suppose.
• Edgar and Vivi win over the support of the Figaro guard ostensibly through Vivi being annoying.
• Faris sponsors “Underdog Day”, a day when her crew can challenge the captain for control of the ship. An overeager moogle accidently summons Ifrit, whom Faris has to knock off the plank.
• Refia and Sherlotta battle Undead Princess (another refugee from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time), and then hire her to promote the Inn. Then Sherlotta and Undead Princess work together to stop some Metalliskulls that are haunting the area.
• Princess Sarah was kidnapped by Princess Goblin, who apparently has a crush on Warrior of Light. Warrior of Light lets Princess Goblin down easy, and rescues Princess Sarah.
Additional note that seems to explain a lot: In game, there is a running encyclopedia for characters encountered in World of Final Fantasy. The entry for Undead Princess reads:
Hey, Wait a Second…
You may be wondering why so many characters from the CRYSTAL CHRONICLES series have been popping up in Grymoire. Well, take a look at the person doing character design, and you may have your answer.
So that solves at least one unsolved mystery of World of Final Fantasy.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
00:00 – Refia tries to build a bridge while we discuss how to own people on the internet. Or maybe we’re just looking at Dril tweets again. Or Spider-Man?
6:00 – Time for (what I’m pretty sure is) the DLC event. It is not a Gundam.
9:30 – Kishi joins us. Kishi is not a Gundam.
22:00 – We finally win as Omega God bonks over.
“He” is now Ted Woo, author of Shadow Mad.
31:00 – Kishi requests a repeat performance, so we’re watching the Faris bit again. Let’s consider this an example of how you can repeat these quests unlimited times.
36:00 – In an effort to torture fanboymaster, we close this stream out by taking a look at the World of Final Fantasy pokédex.
What actually happened in the plot:
• Refia tries to build an ice bridge, so she recruits Sherlotta to additionally recruit Shiva. The bridge is built, but doesn’t last long.
• Enna Kros has a conversation with Alexander, the gigantic mirage currently serving as a motionless bridge. Apparently they fought “for the throne” at one point. Eden of Balamb Garden, Lute of Ragnarok in Cornera, and Midgardian Ormr (presumably) of Midgar are all mirages, too. Alexander had Omega God hanging out on it in a pocket dimension (or something), so Enna Kros summoned Lann and Reynn to fight him off. Omega God is defeated and captured, and now, having completed all available Intervention Quests, Lann and Reynn are free to journey on to the endgame.
Next time on World of Final Fantasy: This stream was the same week I got married, so BEAT is responsible for the Bad End.
Chapter 15: Mako Reacting
Initial Stream: 10/14/20
BEAT is missing, so guest commentator Abby Denton has joined us for the night as we raid a Mako Reactor.
2:30 – Spoilers: This game may or may not eventually tie into the one and only Xenogears in the exact same way that Xenosaga tied into the one and only Xenogears. Or maybe it won’t. It is a mystery.
12:00 – Apparently there is a Lupin III Sega Saturn game. It’s not Fighter’s Megamix, though, so that is a point against it.
21:00 – This dungeon is mostly a throwback to Final Fantasy 7’s initial “bombing run” level. That said, if you were expecting it to end with a FF7 cameo, or something from its extended universe (Shelke is apparently still here), you’d be disappointed, as the finale features the Black Mages. Er… to be clear, that is the black mages of Final Fantasy 9, not the musical group.
26:00 – More anime that is weirdly CG-based, while we discuss Plumed Knight during one of the few chapters where she doesn’t appear.
29:00 – BEAT steps in to point out Funko Pop sex is terrible (and so is this game)
What actually happened in the plot: After regaining their powers thanks to irrelevant Dirge of Cerberus Guest Character Shelke, the twins venture through a Mako Reactor (which, incidentally, is later named by Edgar as a discovered, unknown technological area called “Midgar”). Apparently the reactor is being protected by a group of black mages led by Vivi. After attempting to capture Vivi in a pokéball, Vivi “awakens”, and then leads his black mage buddies to destroy the reactor. This frees Figaro, which leads to King Edgar offering his thanks and an apology for the whole “tossing everyone in a dungeon” thing. Vivi was also apparently holding onto the Earth Key, so now we’ve got half the necessary elemental macguffins in this world. We’re told the next key should be past the Big Bridge, so we head off there after Bahamut makes an ominous, split-second appearance.
Chapter 16: A Bridge Too Boring
Initial Stream: 10/14/20
1:46 – Eiko appears, and she introduces a bridge that is fairly big. It’s apparently this world’s Alexander summon all bridge-ified, so I guess we should be thankful we get a summoner that is at least marginally related to Alexander’s big Final Fantasy 9 moment.
5:40 – Some great animation here right before the second summoner in this game gets kidnapped while the heroes aren’t paying attention.
15:30 – GIG-AN-TAUR!… is at least something to brighten up this boring dungeon. It’s a straight line from toe to tip.
26:00 – Let’s talk about the Super Mario Bros movie while nothing happens and I get lost. Apparently I was supposed to trigger a cutscene somewhere up at the top of the bridge, but I missed that, and now I’m stuck wandering around like an idiot. This happens a lot this night.
34:00 – fanboymaster provides a detailed explanation of How Final Fantasy 7 hidden characters could have worked. I for one welcome a Yuffie that is impossible in every way.
38:36 – Finally back to plot. It’s Buttz and Boko!
45:00 – Abby explains that she was the person who originally named all the Pokemon. This story may or may not be accurate.
55:00 – Talking about voting opposite Gilgamesh showing up. Will we be streaming on election night? I have no earthly idea. (Spoilers from the future: nope!)
What actually happened in the plot: The Big Bridge was apparently summoned by a jiant some time ago, so that’s probably another oblique reference to the mysterious and missing mother of the twins. Eiko is keeping track of the bridge, but Plumed Knight (who has some enigmatic connection to mirages) fights and kidnaps the tiny summoner. As a result, the twins have to cross the bridge on foot, and they meet Bartz, who is searching for someone who is posing as him. Apparently it’s Gilgamesh, and he’s not so much posing as Bartz as just shouting “Bartz!” over and over again while causing mayhem. Did people think he was a Pokémon? Regardless, Gilgamesh is banished from the bridge, Bartz retires to parts unknown, and the team moves onto a dark area that hopefully holds the next key.
Chapter 17: THE TRAIN GRAVEYAR- WAIT A SECOND! YOU CAN’T BE HERE! YOU WEREN’T EVEN IN THIS VIDEO!!!!
Initial Stream: 10/14/20
As relayed by BEAT
You know, when I yelled at Gogglebob to let me do this one, I hadn’t realized that the video was an HOUR AND A HALF LONG WHAT THE FUCK GOGGLEBOB WE TALKED ABOUT THIS OH MY GOD.
00:00 – So I haven’t watched the prior two videos and only caught enough of the stream to get SUPER PISSED OFF at the idea of Funko Pops Fucking, so I’m not 100% sure on how the anime teens found a train to Halloweentown. I’m just gonna roll with it.
01:00 – Up till this point, both Anime Teens have been completely devoid of anything resembling personality, so it’s kind of equal parts refreshing and shocking when the girl completely loses her shit and swears one thousand times revenge on the Halloween train’s Cactuar Conductor.
And like, it comes out of literally fucking nowhere, and has actual effort and CRAFT put into the animation, while adding literally nothing to the plot? When was it established that her personality is ANGRY GIRL? What the fuck just happened?
06:00 – The murder attempt aborted, The anime teens and their horrible mascot ride the train to some Parthenon looking building called… TOMETOWN OF THE ANCIENTS. Anyways some vampires threaten them, but then some dork who uses too much hairspray (Editor’s Note: it Cloud) shows up and saves them I guess whatever.
10:30 – Cloud takes the kids to Celes, who’s wearing what APPEARS to be the Funko pop version of Cammy’s outfit from street fighter. Also a CID, but it’s not the Cid who likes rockets and swear words, so it’s the WRONG CID. Anime boy is racist against robots. Anime girl has interesting ideas about English syntax.
19:50 – So I seriously thought it was gonna be a LIBRARY DUNGEON, but instead the official dungeon for this area is some kinda train graveyard. I genuinely like the visual design, with the misty blue backdrop of rusted, decaying train cars in stacks hundreds of feet into the sky. as far as places to wander around and accumulate XP go.
21:00 – Fanboy takes the very reasonable stance that the Train Graveyard in FF7 isn’t in his top 10 locations from the game. Abby calls his bluff, which was a mistake because Fanboy never bluffs.
34:20 – I zoned out for awhile during my listening session, so I’m honestly not sure why the commentary crew is suddenly talking about public urination. I’m willing to concede that the commentary crew is probably right on the basic point that you could learn a lot about someone by how they react to uh.. that. But also, what the fuck no stop.
45:00 – I’m learning a lot about a Magical Gay Vampire Queen? And her cotton candy girlfriend? Good for them.
1:04:20 – The following exchange has been preserved with only minimal editing.
PAST GOGGLEBOB, IN THE VIDEO: I could make a political Joke right now…
PRESENT BEAT, LISTENING TO THE VIDEO: Don’t you fucking dare.
PAST GOGGLEBOB: …but it would be way too obvious.
PRESENT BEAT SIGHS AND THEATRICALLY WIPES HIS BROW IN RELIEF.
PAST FANBOYMASTER: So let’s not.
PRESENT BEAT: Thank you Fanboy I knew you were my realest friend for a reason.
PAST ABBY: We’re all gonna die, go for it.
PRESENT BEAT: What the fuck Abby, I trusted you!
PAST GOGGLEBOB: "The democratic party…"
PRESENT BEAT: NO! NOOOOO!!!!!
PAST GOGGLEBOB: "…is hoarding its Elixirs"
PRESENT BEAT ASCENDS TO HIGHER LEVEL OF RAGE, SCREAMING FIE AND DAMNATION, SWEARING VENGENCE.
1:04:54 – Gimmie Gimmie!
1:07:45 – This game’s cutscenes keep getting ALMOST good and its FRUSTRATING.
Like I keep going "WAIT SHIT IS THIS GAME… GOOD?" and the answer is always "NO" and it’s starting to get on my nerves.
1:10:00 – Time to kill a vampire I guess.
1:13:20 – For like a good 3 minutes I really thought they were just gonna say "Hahah good thing we killed the vampire before you had a chance to turn since we established that killing him would restore everyone he turned 3 cutscenes ago." That would have almost been clever. Instead they had her turn in the post fight cutscene, and then the vampire is stabbed immediately afterwards, and she turns back. I have NO IDEA why that whole runaround was in the game at all.
1:19:00 – Tometown is much more visually appealing when its not full of vampires.
1:26:10 – "LOVE YOURSELF, BITCH!"
What actually happened in the plot: The anime Teens ride the Halloween train to Library Land, meet the MOST POPULAR FINAL FANTASY CHARACTER EVER (And Celes (And a fake Cid)) and conclude that it’s time to hunt a vampire. After like an hour or so of dungeon wandering, the sister gets kidnapped, and turned into a vampire for exactly 30 seconds. Then they kill the vampire and she’s fine. Then they go back to library land and get the exposition. Editor’s Addition: And they also obtain the Key of Darkness, bringing the total magical key count up to three out of four.
Next time in World of Final Fantasy: You gonna get wet.
This article contains hella spoilers for Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and a Thornton Wilder play. It happens. If you wish to experience FF7R untainted by foreknowledge, you have been warned. Now back to that play…
In 1938, Thornton Wilder released Our Town. For anyone that has not seen or read the play, it is a deliberately simple production that showcases three different stages in the lives of the residents of Grover’s Corners. It begins with a focus on “daily life”, like children going to school and milk being delivered, proceeds to “love & marriage” with a joyous and stressful wedding day, and finally ends with “death and eternity”, a supernatural visit with the spirits literally haunting the local cemetery. The whole while, the play is hosted by the Stage Manager, a character that bleats his dialogue against the fourth wall. This “manager” separates their role between being a character in Grover’s Corners, narrator, and a congenial guy (or lady) that addresses questions from the audience. The Stage Manager and the general tone of the whole production was a result of Wilder acknowledging that he didn’t like the direction “the theater” was taking at the time, and Our Town was intended to drop intricate sets and impersonal narratives for a simple setup and direct interaction with the audience. Possibly because of this, Our Town has been popular since its premiere; however, Wilder often said the play was rarely performed correctly, as, in his own words, it “should be performed without sentimentality or ponderousness–simply, dryly, and sincerely.” Good luck with that, Thorn, as the final act of Our Town contains one of the most beautiful and insightful exchanges ever directly lifted by Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
“No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”
If you’re curious about the context of such a statement: Emily, one of the stars of Our Town that has been showcased since her childhood days, has died during childbirth. She meets the other ghosts of the graveyard, and learns that, while she is unable to join the skeleton army, she can re-experience any moment from her past. She is warned not to try it, but she chooses to live out a mundane memory from her 12th birthday. Despite the fact that this is a typical, fairly boring day (children’s birthday parties in the early 20th Century rarely included enough N64 games to make them worthwhile), Emily can barely bear the weight of experiencing a time when her family was content, happy, and, most importantly, alive. Emily knows what happens to the people close to her 12 year old self, and she knows the hardships and death that await herself and others. Items as humble as sizzling bacon or a kiss from her mother are things Emily will never experience ever again, so this living memory of happier times is agonizing. Do people realize how good they have it when they have it? How every little piece of life is precious, and even something as routine as seeing a family member for breakfast can be lost in an instant? No. Of course not. The Saints and poets sometimes think about such, but you’re here reading a videogame essay, and gradually getting distracted by the fact that I mentioned bacon. Get a goddamn snack and then think about how good you have it, you frivolous living person.
So, chess, right? You know how to play chess? Let’s say you do. Do you remember when you learned how to play chess? Were you taught by a family member? A teacher? Some other kid? Some other adult? But here’s the thing: it is very unlikely you learned chess from a rulebook. Yes, you may have later read a great strategy guide to finally beat your grandpa at the game of kings (who don’t feel like standing up), but it’s downright unnatural to learn the rules of the game from a book or manual. And there’s a reason for that! Chess is a two player game, so it’s rather inevitable that player one is going to lecture player two. This is how games are learned! This is how games are passed from generation to generation. And, ultimately, this is what makes a game eternal: the drive for one generation to teach another. Because, after all, if you can’t find somebody to play with, what’s the point of playing a game at all?
Now, humble reader, I am well aware this is a videogame blog. I am blitheringly aware that “there must be a second player” is a stupid position for malcontents that haven’t picked up a controller in the last thirty years. This very blog will attest to the fact that my favorite games are predominantly single player. And, sad but true fact, I would estimate that a mere 10% of my gaming time is anything that could truly be considered “multiplayer”. But, gentle reader, you misunderstand my intentions. I’m not saying a game must include a two player option, I’m saying that videogames are your second player.
My father taught me how to play checkers. My mother taught me how to play Clue. My grandfather taught me how to play Chess. And Shigeru Miyamoto taught me how to play Super Mario Bros. Or did SMB itself teach me? The line is a little blurred there, but, if we consider videogames to be “thinking” objects (which we obviously do, because why else would we swear at them so regularly when they kill our dudes?), then a videogame’s own… videogameness is your eternal second player and teacher. After all, what fun is a game if you don’t understand the rules?
And, while we’re asking that rhetorical question: are bad games just games where “the game” misrepresents or otherwise sullies “the rules”? What is bad hit detection but a misperception of the boundaries of certain malicious pixels? When a JRPG requires excessive grinding, is it a feature, or a misunderstanding of what the player has to do between two objectives? And who likes it when the rules change right at the final moments? You’ve been playing an awesome action game, and then it turns into a shoot ‘em up? That’s a clear betrayal of the rules that Friend Videogame laid down from the start! That would be like requiring every game of Hungry Hungry Hippos to end with a test of strength! And that’s terrible! There’s no way I could overpower a kindergartener!
And then there are the games that don’t even bother with explaining the rules. They’re the worst of all.
Final Fantasy Dissidia NT is the long awaited sequel to Final Fantasy Dissidia Duodecim, a game that was released a whopping seven years ago. In videogame years, that is a period equal to approximately eighteen Assassin’s Creeds, or at least sixty Maddens. That is a lot of time for technology to improve, and, what’s more, the old Dissidia was a title for the PSP. Remember the PSP? Sony’s attempt to out-portable Nintendo right when mobile gaming was first making the scene? Yeah, it was an abject failure, but Square-Enix managed to release at least one good PSP game a year, so it wasn’t a total loss. And one of those excellent SE games was Dissidia, an unusual fighting game featuring the heroes and villains of the Final Fantasy franchise all duking it out for… I don’t know… I think crystals were involved? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it was fun, and it was one of the rare fighting games that was actually built for a portable system. Dissidia was part Street Fighter, but also part Pokémon, as you had to “train” your Tidus, and make sure the little dork always had the best equipment. Excuse me, it wasn’t about having the best equipment, it was about equipping the items that would fit your playstyle, so you might wind up with a different load out if you preferred to chase EX charges, or liked to just pummel your opponent into submission. You’ve got options!
But this is not to say Dissidia was a straightforward fighting game that just happened to have a little extra backend. Dissidia introduced the “Bravery System”, which, in short, means you’re supposed to hit your opponent until you have accrued enough hits to really hit your opponent. On one hand, it’s an overly complicated way to get to the “deplete HP” step that is essential to every fighting game ever, but, on the other hand, it does create a lot more drama, and a real see-saw mechanic that other fighting games have attempted to achieve for years. But, love it or hate it, you had to learn it before you could use it, so Dissidia certainly had a barrier of entry. But at least there was a tutorial right from the boot up of Dissidia, and, acknowledging that people might need such a thing, there were intensive lessons available through the game. And, what’s more, those lectures were written “by” Final Fantasy heroes from throughout the series, so if you ever thought Rydia would be an excellent summons teacher, congratulations, you’re right! Hey, if a game knows you’re going to need extra instructions, at least make those instructions interesting.
Final Fantasy Dissidia NT, unfortunately, did not learn this lesson.
FFDNT started as an arcade game. And that’s great! So did Street Fighter 2! And we all learned how to play that game just fine. Except… assuming you were playing a proper SF2 cabinet, all the fireball motions you could ever need were graphics on the cabinet, so learning the finer points of that experience was, amazingly, still teaching-based. Not so much with FFDNT. It is unlikely I’ll ever see a FFDNT cabinet, but I’m going to go ahead and assume it doesn’t have the gameplay basics written anywhere on there, as it would require a cabinet roughly the size of a convenience store. Want to know how Terra works? That’s in aisle six.
See, the problem with Final Fantasy Dissidia NT is not simply that it fails to convey meaningful lessons to the neophyte player, it’s that there is so much going on, it is impossible to accurately learn anything from the gameplay. There are two teams of three, but you only control one fighter on one team. That’s pretty normal… but what are the win conditions again? It seems like fighters revive pretty quickly after depleting their health… so is it a most kills in a minute kind of thing? No, wait, the match just ended… did someone die? Our team? Theirs? And now there are some rankings… looks like whoever exhausted the most HP gets the trophy… but aren’t there other goals during a match? Why am I supposed to attack the EX Core Crystals again? To summon? But I can summon even if I never bothered. And what does the summon do? Change the background, toss a few lasers around, and… wait, my attack stat goes up? How am I supposed to know that? And I should be using my EX skill more often? How does that become available? It poisons the opponent? But only if I choose that at the start of the match? Holy cow, how are there this many questions revolving around one three minute match!?
And Dissidia NT continues to pose questions when it should be providing answers. Why does story mode distinctly require exiting story mode to make progress? Why does this character completely change her playstyle with a button, while that character just kind of grunts? Why did I just earn a new special move if I can’t even use it? Why is changing equipment only cosmetic, but changing my EX ability dramatically impacts the battle? And, most of all, why are my party members always dying? Am I supposed to be doing something different? Should I be protecting them? Should I be more offensive? If this were a traditional Final Fantasy game (even one of the later, more AI controlled titles like FF15 or FF12), and 66% of my party was dying every other round, I’d be sure I was doing something wrong. Here? Not really. In fact, during boss matches, your allies appear to exist only to be mobile meat dummies, and their greatest contribution is distraction. But it’s not like the game effectively relays this information in any way, and you’re just left listening to Shantotto apologize for her tenth death in a row. I’m sorry, chipmunk girl, I’ll try to be better next time. I think?
And it’s not that Dissidia NT is a bad game, it’s simply that practically the entire thing… ummm… uh… Oh! A metaphor! Good games play with you like a good friend, but bad games are definitely that one smelly kid that told you exactly what you’re going to play now, and you’re going to listen to his rules, and what do you mean you don’t play it like this at your house, we’re playing it my way now, you better learn how that works, or you’re not going to have any fun. No, I’m not going to teach you, nerd, just start playing. No, not like that! Moooooom! Bobby isn’t playing the game right at all!
Okay, maybe Final Fantasy Dissidia NT is bad. Once you understand it, once you read the FAQs and strategy guides and message boards, once you get through all the auxiliary materials, FFDNT is actually pretty fun to play. But before that? Before that, it’s pure, confusing hell, and a hell that makes no effort to impart how you might find your way to its heaven. Final Fantasy Dissidia NT might have a delicious, chewy center, but it’s surrounded by rancid garbage.
And how much garbage are you willing to swallow?
FGC #395 Final Fantasy Dissidia NT
- System: Playstation 4 and Arcade. The arcade version came out three years ago? Crazy.
- Number of players: Online? Six. Locally? One. There should be a law against that.
- Other Illegalities: There are also loot boxes. And “buy a season pass now, we’ll announce the DLC characters later” sales. Dissidia is actively trying to piss me off.
- The sequel curse: So this is, ultimately, a mascot fighting game. And you know what a mascot fighting game should never do? Drop characters. I don’t care if you’re Ice Climbers or Gon, when you lose the weirdo auxiliary characters from game to game, you lose my heart. The lack of Gilgamesh, Laguna, Yuna, and Tifa in this title is keenly felt. And if even one of those dorks become extra purchases? I will burn this mother down.
- Favorite Character: Bartz is pretty awesome. He was my favorite in OG Dissidia, and he’s completely different now, but he’s still a lot of fun. And fast! And fast is really important when you have to chase some angry tree all over the arena.
- Other annoyances: You can’t just restart a battle in a single player match. This is particularly important in the boss battles, as, come on, you can permanently lose those fights in the first thirty seconds, but wait five minutes to actually die. And then you have to wait five minutes for loading screens…
- The Final Fantasy: So, considering the sheer lunacy that was the first two Dissidia titles, the story of this one is actually pretty straightforward: there’s a world fueled by battles, everyone battles, everyone realizes there’s no real reason to battle, and then they fake battle until they battle a giant lizard so they can make clones that will fight battles forever. That’s pretty much the plot to Sense and Sensibility.
- Say something nice: Terra is supposed to be “post Final Fantasy 6” Terra in this one (or something like that), and she’s actually kind of… good? Previous Dissdias made her a sort of damsel (“Oh, poor me, Kefka is always taking over my brain, what is it to be me?”), but here she’s confident, and winds up being the de facto leader of her little party. Way to get yourself together, Terra!
- Did you know? That kid from Final Fantasy Tactics is in this one! No, not Thunder God Cid, the main character. You know! What’s his name? Delita? No, that doesn’t sound right…
- Would I play again: Honestly? Probably not. Even if the upcoming DLC is amazing, there are too many good fighting games out there, and Dissidia seems to revel in wasting time. Just give me my instant gratification, Square!
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Centipede: Infestation for the Nintendo 3DS! Centipedes? In my blog? It’s more common than you think. Please look forward to it!