Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: March 15th, 2011
Available on: Playstation Portable
Let’s take a quick minute to talk about paid demos. There’s good ways and bad ways to do this. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero was a good way. For $5 it offered a unique playground to play in, somewhere not accessible in the main game. It told a short story that preludes the events of Dead Rising 2 while still holding up on its own. Most importantly, while its main point was to hype up Dead Rising 2, it was a perfectly fine stand alone game. Dissidia 012 Prologus Final Fantasy kind of walks a thin line between being a rip-off paid demo and an okay stand alone game.
Dissidia 012 Prologus features a very brief story mode meant to set up the events of Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy. For those curious the entire story can be summed up easily. Lighting, Kain, Jecht, and the Warrior of Light all meet each other, but don’t trust each other. You play as Lighting as she goes through four back to back battles with little rhyme or reason to them. After the fights the four decides they trust each other. The end. The biggest reason to go through this mode is that beating it will unlock Aerith as a support character for the main game. Otherwise, it doesn’t really build up the story in anyway other than establishing that those four characters are dicking around with each other, something that you don’t really need a whole side game/paid demo to tell you. The worst part of the story mode is that you don’t regain HP between matches, meaning if you fuck up too much during one match you may as well just restart the whole thing.
Outside of the story mode you can jump into an arcade mode where you can pick from one of 7 Final Fantasy characters, with an 8th unlockable character if you hit the right conditions. From here you can pick to either do five back-to-back battles as a level 20 character, or 30 as a level 50 character. Each of the playable characters has an assisting character as well, whom you can’t swap. The RPG-like mechanics have been entirely cut out for this game, so there’s no need to do anything other than focus on the fighting. The good news is that the fighting is still extremely fun. You use the circle button to use bravery attacks, which don’t actually damage the opponent but instead gives you bravery points while knocking the opponent’s points down. Once you feel like you’ve got enough bravery points you can use the square button to unleash an HP attack, which actually damages the opponent’s health equal to how much bravery points you have, spending all your points in the process. It’s a dangerous move, if you get hit while low on points then you get stunned and your opponent gets a massive boost in points. If you want to win you’re going to have to play risky though.
Of course there’s more to the combat system than just that. You can smash enemies against walls to deal extra bravery/HP damage. Knocking an enemy into the air allows you to chase after them, entering a little mini-game where you can try to hit them with attacks before they can dodge. Hitting an enemy allows you to collect EX points, which fill a gauge. Upon filling the gauge you can use your special abilities to deal extra damage, recover health, and use your special attacks. New to this game is assist characters, whom you can use in a variety of ways. By staying in combat you fill up the assist gauge, which is split into two parts. You can use half the bar to summon your assist character to do a bravery attack, or the full bar to deal an hp attack. Assist characters can also be used for defense. Find yourself stuck in a long combo? Summon an assist character. It’ll get you out of the combo at the cost of not being able to summon the character for a little while.
Dissidia 012 Prologus Final Fantasy finds itself in a tough spot. It’s tough to justify spending the money on the game unless you either really want Aerith or just really enjoy Dissidia’s admittedly well done battle system. The story is entirely ignorable and you can’t help but get the feeling that it is indeed a paid demo. I’ll admit to having fun, but it seems like it’d just be better to pick up the main game and skip over this entry.