Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a new brawler from Square Enix and Koei Tecmo coming to PS4 on 30th January. Known in arcades across Japan as Dissidia Final Fantasy, the latest instalment of the fighting franchise features three-versus-three combat and a roster full of characters from all ages of the Final Fantasy saga. Ahead of the open beta kicking off this Friday, 12th January, we sat down with producer Ichiro Hazama to find out what makes this team-based fighting game so unique.
1. Dissidia NT was built from the ground up for PS4
“We actually designed for PS4 right from the start, when we made the arcade version. We went to Sony at the beginning of the development and asked them if we could put customised PlayStation 4 hardware in the arcade cabinets themselves. They agreed, so while the hardware the arcade version is running on is not exactly the same as the home console – it’s been a little customised for arcades — within each arcade cabinet in Japan there is actually a PS4!
“Since the game was already created for PS4, we’ve focused on different things for the home version. One of the things we really felt was important was the story. Having a roster of characters drawn from all titles of the Final Fantasy series is such a good opportunity for a great story and this is what we have put the most effort into.”
2. Dissidia isn’t just for Final Fantasy fans
“We do believe that Final Fantasy is what makes Dissidia NT so great, but we wouldn’t make a game that you can’t enjoy unless you know Final Fantasy.
“If you put aside Final Fantasy, you have this three-vs-three battle system and fun-filled matches taking quite a short amount of time — games comes to a conclusion in about 3 and a half minutes — and I don’t think there’s ever been a game before that worked on that kind of system. So, even without the Final Fantasy bits, I think that system alone will be a lot of fun for new players.”
3. Dissidia NT features characters from every era of Final Fantasy
“A very important thing for us is that the fans of the Final Fantasy series feel that the characters we’ve chosen work in Dissidia; that they truly feel like the characters from their original games. We’ve put a lot of focus into this aspect.
“With some of the earliest Final Fantasy characters — FFI to FFIII for example — the amount known about them is actually very limited and we had very little to work with.
“To overcome this and make these well-rounded characters, we’ve looked for all the clues we could from the original games – not just the graphics, the sprites and what you see externally from the game, but also the very detailed character illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano and all the little bits of info in them. From this, our creative director Tetsuya Nomura helped us flesh out the models and worked to make them a little bit more up to date.
“But of course there’s more than their appearance. For example, on one of the characters there was a little line that said “he is the master of using different weapons” which led us to a lot of internal discussion along the lines of: ‘if this guy can use all the weapons, what kind of attacks would he have?’ So we imagined it and created a character setting from there.
“This was something we started way back with Dissidia on PSP, and we’ve been adjusting with feedback from the players.”
4. Every character is different, but some can help you learn the ropes
“Of all of Dissidia’s characters, Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife is pretty much the easiest to learn. He’s great for people starting out with the game because he’s very straight-forward and his techniques are easy to understand.
“He is also a very popular character, not only because he is the main character from the first PlayStation Final Fantasy, but also because of how his moves and attacks from the original game have been translated to Dissidia.
“Then you’ve got Squall Leonheart and Sephiroth which, in the hands of very skilled players, can be absolute monsters to take down. If you’ve got a really good player with one of these two characters, they can overwhelm you in no time at all!
“Of course, one-on-one, some characters can be stronger than others but because it’s a 3-vs-3 game, we look at the balancing from a team-fight perspective. Our director Takeo Kujiraoka is the one in charge of that, and I did notice that every time we add a new character he loses some weight. By the time the game comes out, he’ll have probably lost even more! (laughs)”
5. The arenas evolve as the battle rages on
“My personal favourite arena is probably Besaid Island from Final Fantasy X. It’s a beautiful stage with the island and the sea but what I really love is how this stage recreates the scene from its original game. You can see the little inlets in the ocean, remember that specific treasure chest located right there, or simply reminisce on the ambiance of the game.
“As the battle progresses there are a lot of things and effects that will slowly transform the stage and the scenery. In Besaid Island you’ll be able to see the fireflies floating across the horizon around the middle of the battle, for example.”
6. You will fight to your favourite Final Fantasy tracks…
“The music of Final Fantasy has always been a huge part of the series success, and because of this, we’ve actually got a lot of the original tracks from the games, untouched, in Dissidia. But we’ve also asked Takeharu Ishimoto, Dissidia’s original composer, to rearrange some other Final Fantasy tracks.
“A lot of times, when you ask people to rearrange music from Final Fantasy, they respect it so much that they only change a little bit of it and it’s not very different from the original, but I made sure that he made very radical rearrangements of them so he could create something new and interesting for Dissidia.
7. …but not always the ones you expect
“Obviously Dissidia is all about battles, so most of the tracks we have chosen from Final Fantasy are battle themes or battle-related tracks. But we have also played around a little bit!
“We have added quite a few tracks that are absolutely not battle-related, just to see how they’d work during fights. We’ve got “Pa-paya theme” from Final Fantasy XIV, for example, as well as “Gold Saucer Theme” from Final Fantasy VII.
“Imagine the surprise: you have the two teams presented in this very epic way and they’re about to fight each other… Cloud is there with his massive sword… and suddenly you hear the Gold Saucer theme tune! It helps alleviate the tension right away!”