Thanks to Kotaku for the inspiration!
Remember the first Dissidia on the PlayStation Portable? Fans loved the fanservice of pitting their favorites against each other. The only problem was the story mode. People were unimpressed with the motionless characters on a game board. Sure, it fit the theme of Cosmo’s warriors as pawns…as albeit an uninteresting setting.
Then, for the 20th Anniversary, Square Enix released Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. It was the same game, but with vast improvements. Besides the new characters and story mode, they added a world map. Now the game didn’t seem so linear. Before, it was gameboard, battle, cutscene. Now, we could explore the barren world. Even though we couldn’t do much besides find, it felt like Final Fantasy – only with all of the flagship titles.
But the addition Square Enix took away from this title must have been the online factor. With a Friend Card, you battle players online. That’s fun, even if you do have to go online. Who wouldn’t want to play against their friends? Some people had problems with the online component, but it wasn’t too much of a problem. If you couldn’t figure it out, you always had the single player option. That’s why most Final Fantasy fans bought the original titles.
A decade later, fans anticipated Final Fantasy Dissidia NT for Square Enix’s 30th anniversary. The anniversary was a flop, but the game looked promising. Final Fantasy Dissidia NT was originally an arcade game (which are still big in Japan), and it shows. The HUD was massive. On arcade screens, I’m sure it wouldn’t matter much. But numbers and characters flying everywhere with a HUD to monitor is exhausting. Not to mention, arcades aren’t exactly big around the rest of the world.
The more we heard though, we were very excited. I’m sure we expected an update of Dissidia Final Fantasy, with a new story and better graphics. That’s what we surmised from Ichirou Hazama, the game’s producer:
“Many users are expecting a story for the console version, which we are of course preparing. However, the battles are the game’s focus and that has not changed. We will further enhance other elements as well, which will take a little bit more time.”
Very promising. But if you played Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, you know what we really got. Cutscenes you had to unlocked through battles. To view one of the cutscenes, you had to battle online. Already, those interested in the single-player mode had to find others to help them unlock the story. OK, so why? According to Takeo Kujiraoka, the director
“If we can export it to the world as a high-proficiency, competitive fighting tool, while also an enjoyable team battle Final Fantasy, it might even rise up as an e-Sports event. If that happens, then next will be a global tournament, right? I can’t say too much, but I want to use these sorts of ambitions to make Dissidia Final Fantasy an even better game.”
And that’s what I think they tried to achieve. I say tried because eSports don’t quite work like this. Final Fantasy XIV is a fairly popular mainstream MMORPG. Final Fantasy Dissidia is a bit more niche. And the bare bones structure of Final Fantasy didn’t really excite even fans.
But most importantly, the game has to be good. Others were a good game that became competitive eSports. Final Fantasy Dissidia NT didn’t have a game list. Most fighting games had this, including the original Dissidia games. So it’s baffling why we don’t see it here. It seems like Square Enix pushed online options before anything else. They took the backward route, which is why it never took off as an eSport.
Why does anyone play Final Fantasy? Maybe the battle system. Maybe the fantasy setting. But it’s the story that drives us. Not including this for fans, your main audience, is probably the biggest sin.