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APFFRT 4 Round 1: (9) Final Fantasy IX vs. (24) Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Dissidia is the game that rekindled my love for the Final Fantasy series, but I never got into its sequel. FFIX did a bit of the same, albeit to a lesser extent, returning the series to more fantasy roots after a few pseudo-modern entries. They don't have much else in common, so it will be interesting to see how they match up.

Game 1: Visuals
Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy, officially abbreviated DDFF, is a pretty game. It doesn't really go over and above the call of duty - i.e., rendering a ton of FF characters in something like the original Amano style - but it gets the job done nicely. The environments are nice, although they suffer from an over-reliance on glowy crap. The one complaint I do have is that the UI is super busy. If the Dissidia games have a weakness, it's that way too much shit is going on. But they still look good.

Playstation-era games' graphics rarely hold up, and FF9 is not an exception. However, my problem with FF9's visuals is not the quality, but the Disneyland-ness of its cast. There are a ton of anthropomorphic animals around for no particular reason, and even the human characters are stylized to a degree I really just don't like. The visual style is my least favorite part of the game.

I can't help but give this one to DDFF, simply because I don't dislike the art style. Being generally prettier helps, too.
Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy leads 1-0

Game 2: Audio
I have to take issue with DDFF's choice of voice actor for Kain - he is (predictably) way too badass-sounding. Sorry guys, Kain isn't that cool. Laguna seems pretty spot-on, and I don't have a problem with Tifa. The other speaking characters appear to use their original voice actors. The music is just a best-of selection from the Final Fantasy series, but there isn't much of particular note early on. The battle dialogue is a nice touch, but there needs to be a wider variety - particularly as far as opening lines. I get a bit sick of Lightning always saying the same lame thing.

FF9's music is very hit-or-miss, but there are plenty of hits in the first 30 minutes. I'm not sure if it's Garnet/Dagger's Theme, Zidane's Theme, or both, but that track still gives me chills. The sound design of the game is also fantastic - Steiner's clanking armor in particular is great, as are the squelches of the oglops. Sure, I can't really tell what they are due to it being PS1-era 3D, but they're definitely gross just based on the sound. The lack of voice acting is somewhat jarring, but you can't have everything.

It would be hard to give DDFF credit for voice acting when the dialogue in FF9 is just so much better. It's not voiced, sure, but still. Fortunately, the music and sounds are enough to give FF9 the clear win in the audio category.
Series tied 1-1

Game 3: Combat
Combat is the name of the game in DDFF, and it doesn't disappoint. I was given the choice between Action and RPG mode, and given the nature of this competition, I chose the latter. It boils combat down perhaps a bit too far, but the strategy is intact, and the bravery/HP system is as brilliant as it ever was. Lightning's Paradigm Shift is of little use in easy battles, especially in RPG mode, but just the basic attack/defend/finisher sequence is pretty fun.

I didn't take part in a single real fight (unless you count Steiner, and you shouldn't), but the game still managed to have a wide variety of combat. The little touches are particularly great: while your characters are fighting as part of a play they're putting on, they all have visually interesting "SFX" abilities that deal no damage. As far as I know, there's no in-game incentive to use them, it just makes sense in context. You also get a black mage and a white mage to play with, all without much stress.

This is a very tough call. FF9's combat is about as good as one can expect from the first half-hour of an RPG, but DDFF isn't an RPG, it's an action game. Both are very good, but it's hard to justify anything but a win for DDFF here.
Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy leads 2-1

Game 4: Advancement
DDFF has so many types of points, I don't even know. After a battle I got PP, KP, and something-else P, and I was wondering which was EXP - it turns out I get that too. I still have no idea what the other points are for. However, I did get some gear, and the gear system is pretty nice because it primarily plays into extremely basic stats, like HP and damage. Getting esoteric is not a good strategy for an action game. I only gained new abilities at the end of the session, but I'm a big fan of systems that give you a lot of ability choices and let you mix and match.

I don't believe I gained a level, and I certainly found no new gear, in the first half-hour of FF9. The game was a bit too busy with storyline stuff to deal with actual RPG mechanics. It doesn't hurt the game as a whole, but it hurts it in this category.

DDFF wins by default here, putting it on the brink of what might be considered an upset. I wish I had kept statistics on how many times a 3-1 deficit has been overcome in an APFFRT, so I could quote them here, but alas - I have not.
Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy leads 3-1

Game 5: Characters
DDFF starts off starring the new characters: Tifa, Yuna, Vaan, Laguna, Kain, and Lightning. None of them are my particular favorites, but they did at least make Tifa and Laguna more likeable than I thought they originally were. Kain is too cool (and not in a good way), and Lightning is the same dour personality she was in FFXIII. They're all a bit one-note this early on, with Vaan repeating the same bored animation, Laguna being a scatterbrained dummy, and so on. Having a ton of characters doesn't help make any of them particularly interesting.

FF9's strength is in its story and characters, and they get introduced right away. The entire Tantalus troupe is great, if only because they are so well-written and do things that just make sense. When things go wrong (and they do quite a bit early on), they have reasonable responses. Zidane is pretty great, which seems hard to pull off for a weird-looking guy with a tail. Steiner is amazingly likable for such an earnest character, and Garnet is mysterious (and attractive!). Queen Brahne is set up as a great villain, and Vivi is introduced as well. The list just goes on and on. Yes, admittedly, Zorn and Thorn also appear, and they're basically just annoying, but on balance it's still a great mix.

Technically, FF9 is a bit lacking by today's standards, but it can't be beat for charm and heart. Bumbling fools, badasses, and dour angst-ridden soldiers are nothing compared to awesome actor/thief/pirate type guys and princesses who can really pull off a white mage's robe. (Pun intended!)
Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy leads 3-2

Game 6: World
DDFF's world hit me hard right in the nostalgia, because it's based on FF1's map. Given that the Big Bad is Chaos, this kind of makes sense. Revolving the FF series meta-mythology around the first game is kind of lazy, but I'm down. What's bizarre is that the world map appears to be devoid of encounters, with those being cordoned off in little chessboard-type stages. It seems kind of backwards.

FF9's characters and world go hand in hand - they just make me smile. It occurs to me that if the visual style didn't bother me, this would probably be my favorite FF from a non-technical perspective without a question. Alexandria may be populated by Disney animal characters, but it looks great. The town looks lived in, the castle is epic with that giant sword sticking out of it, and even the layouts just make sense. This world oozes charm, and I love it.

FF1 nostalgia is good, but FF9's world would give any game in the bracket a run for its money, particularly during its fantastic introductory sequence. I mean, half the time is spent on an airship that doubles as a theater and is just generally awesome. Generic FF metaworld ain't gonna beat that.
Series tied 3-3

Game 7: Storyline
DDFF centers around an eternal conflict between Chaos and Harmony (how original!), but it gets some style points for admitting right in the intro that the battle is fated to last forever, and is hopeless to the heroes/pawns of these gods. Of course that's also super depressing and doesn't really make me want to play it, so... yeah. There's not much more to it than that. I mean, the game just makes the weakest possible excuse to arrange characters from 13 games and have them fight crystal clones of one another for hours on end. I hope you're not expecting a lot of story, even from Story Mode.

As a brief recap, Tantalus is plotting to kidnap Princess Garnet for reasons unstated (but probably ransom). Their plans go awry when Garnet is already running away before they can nab her. She eventually asks to be kidnapped, which works in our protagonists' favor, and then ends up improvising a tear-jerking scene in a play complete with multiple deaths. Her cover is blown by a stray fire spell, resulting in an all-out attack on the airship/theater and a giant bomb which our heroes barely escape. And that's the first half hour.

Yeah I'm a sucker for FF9's intro, what can I say. It's the best. It may even top FF6's.
Final Fantasy 9 wins 4-3

I honestly forgot how much I loved FF9 before playing that half-hour again. (Actually it was closer to 45 minutes, since time ran out right after the start of the epic close to the intro sequence.) Like, wow. I kind of want to just stop this APFFRT thing and keep playing it. But I shall carry on! For you, the reader! You're welcome.

Next Game: (8) Final Fantasy IV vs. (25) Final Fantasy Dimensions

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
All I could think when reading this was how poorly things were looking for Kingdom Hearts when you kept saying "Disney Animals" like a curse word. Darn you Dowd!!

I guess it's not too surprising that an RPG game won against a fighting game in a tournament based around RPG conventions though Smile

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: /images/autobot.gif + 1
Really, "Disney" isn't the problem. I'm fine with Disney animals. The problem is Disney imitations. That's what FF9 feels like. Donald Duck is cool; Magilla Gorilla can go to hell.

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
I do remember you liked the original dissidia quite a bit. Based on the first 30 minutes of the sequel, how would this game stack up against the original? This is almost like a bonus lightning round, APFFRT.

Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
It's really hard to say based on the first half-hour. It seems pretty much exactly the same. The RPG controls might be new, but I don't think I'd use them long term - Dissidia was super fun because the fighting system was so nuts. I've even heard the story mode is the same story, but with the addition of the new characters that were in the intro. Story isn't the draw of Dissidia, but still.

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Ew... sounds more like it's a DLC add on than a whole new game. That's a shame.

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