Sitting down in the Penthouse Suite of the Dorchester Hotel, London, I have to admit that I felt more than a little out of place. Not only did my torn jeans and free t-shirt not exactly blend in with the up-market décor, but I also had a cold and had spilled part of a sugary snack down myself in my attempt to raid the buffet. Also, I didn’t have much of an idea about the game I was here to talk about.
To help simultaneously remedy my lack of knowledge and hide my embaressment, I picked up one of the demo units that littered the furniture and entered the game. I quickly found that Dissidia, which isn’t as widely publicised in the UK as it is in the US and Japan, wasn’t at all what I expected. It was an arena-based, multiplayer combat game that used characters from all the previous games in the Final Fantasy franchise, nothing at all like the top-down RPG I had foolishly anticipated.
I found Dissidia very confusing and wasn’t helped by the lack of English translation. After I just felt that I was starting to get to grips with the game when my name was called out and I was invited in for a quick chat with executive producer Takeshi Arakawa and Final Fantasy director Yoshinori Kitase. Here’s what the pair had to say for themselves...
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bit-techCan you start by giving us an overview of the game and why you decided to make a Final Fantasy game that was so action-based, rather than staying closer to the RPG roots of the series?
Takeshi Arakawa: Well, the idea originally came when we were making Kingdom Hearts 2, which was very much an action game. We thought it would be really interesting to make a game in which you fight in 3D arenas. It was also important as we’re close to the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, so we really wanted to create an anniversary work to celebrate.
BT:Can you give us a quick summary of the story and what the game is all about, for all the people in the UK who might not be familiar with the game yet?
TA: Umm...<pause>...Basically, Dissidia: Final Fantasy is an ordinary fighting game, but one with extra elements. The level of customisation and story makes it very similar to an RPG and we’ve tried to blend the two areas together. The Japanese version of the game is very much an action-RPG, but the overseas version is much more focused on the action than the RPG.
BT:How did the development time of Dissidia, as an action game, compare to your other titles?
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TA: It took a lot longer to develop Dissidia than our usual games, obviously because we were creating some very different rules and types of gameplay. The battle system alone took us two years and then, on top of that, we took a year to create the RPG side of the game. So, three years, all in.
BT:There’s been quite a delay between the release dates of the two versions too, hasn’t there?
TA: Yes. There are two reasons for that, the main one is obviously that it took so long to localise the game and the various story parts. The second and kind-of less direct reason is that it took so long to adjust the original Japanese version for overseas audiences by adding on the arcade mode and tweaking the battle balance. We also added extra events for the overseas version.
BT:The game has characters from pretty much every game in the Final Fantasy series. Did you find it difficult to integrate them all into the same story?
TA: It was difficult at times because, obviously, Dissidia has got a new and original story and the idea was to pick one heroic character and one villain from each of the main games. Obviously there were lots and lots of characters we would have liked to have chosen, but we had to limit ourselves to what the concept of Dissidia allowed. We just had to choose the characters that fitted in the best.