With the NGP preparing to take the PSP out behind the shed and give it the Old Yeller treatment, I thought it only fitting to do a sort of running obituary for Sony's fledgling handheld. Despite the sometimes unkind words i've shared about the PSP, it was my only handheld for years, and as such I purchased game after game, hoping to find something that would tickle my fancy. In the pursuit of this I came across the good, the bad, and the truly abyssal, but for the sake of what will soon be nostalgia, I'll be taking a look back at some games that validated the existence of my majestic ebony giant.
When Dissidia came out, some of my more cynical peers thought, "Super Smash Bros. with Final Fantasy characters... how original," insofar as it deviated from the tedious fighting game conventions in favor of a simpler, more accessible experience, while delivering blatant fan service to salivating devotees. However, it delivered a gameplay experience very much its own, using that "pick up and play" accessibility to spark the interest of those, like myself, who aren't generally enthralled with the fighting genre. The story was completely forgettable, consisting of a mishmash of largely uninteresting stories held together by a silly plot device, but anyone looking for a gripping, epic story in a fighting game has their hopes set a far too high. Nonetheless, it does give you a feeling of progression, and Dissidia's design is well suited for it. Rather than the old-timey tradition of fighting character-by-character up the ladder, Dissidia finds you going through a series of grid-based levels. In these grids you will find items, treasure chests, and often times a "boss," which is little more than one of your rival warriors. Each of these levels grades you on your progression: For instance, the number of moves and victories affects your grade. There's a bit of subtlety to it, but the system is very intuitive and, at higher difficulties, extremely challenging and not well-suited for those afflicted with any degree of OCD.
More after the jump!
The game fancies itself as a sort of RPG-fighting game hybrid, and to that end your characters do have some customization. There are new weapons, armor and accessories for the treasure hunter in all of us, and as you work through the campaigns you will find more and more unlockables. Not only does this help to keep the game fresh and exciting, it adds quite a bit to the replay value -- not that it needs much help, giving that the game is excruciatingly addictive. The battles are often fast-paced and exciting, sending you running along the walls before whizzing toward your enemy (in the spirit of Advent Children) before landing that critical blow. The battle system is unlike anything I've seen in a fighting game. You have two pools: Hit Points and Brave Points. Brave points can be gained by scoring "brave attacks" against an enemy, and at a time of your choosing, you use your brave points to go after his or her hit points with a different attack. The trick is that once you make a successful hit point attack, your brave points go down to zero and slowly start to replenish, at which point your enemy can attack you and, should your brave points fall below zero, gain your enemy a sizable brave point bonus from an ever-increasing "pool" of BP. This may seem fairly confusing at first, but it's extremely easy to pick up -- in fact, I had it mastered in a matter of minutes.
All in all, the game is just fantastic. One might wonder about the potential replay value of a fighting game, but Dissidia's features -- items, weapons, skills, etc. -- found me spending hours waging battle against the godless, soulless machine in the pursuit of that next big victory. It's preposterously addictive, and those who enjoy the grind-fest of games like Monster Hunter will find their appetite for loot thoroughly satisfied with Dissidia. If your PSP has been collecting dust on the shelf, you would be wise to give it a play. if nothing else, it will give you one last hurrah before you put the old boy out to pasture.