Understanding Final Fantasy's Next Fighting Game, Just A Little Better

Let's start with the name: Dissidia 012[Duodecim]. You don't say the "12. "That's the first thing I recently learned about the new Final Fantasy fighting game.

You don't say the 12 because "Duodecim" means "12." My high school Latin teacher told me that long ago and a Square Enix representative reminded me when she showed me the game in New York.

You read it right. Square Enix is applying logic to their game titles. What's the name mean? The 12 refers to the game's 12 chapters of story, which will apparently explain why Final Fantasy's all-stars are fighting these battles.

Duodecim was revealed to the public last month as a return engagement to Dissidia, the Final Fantasy fighting game mash-up that has been a hit on the PSP in America and Japan over the last couple of years.

Understanding Final Fantasy's Next Fighting Game, Just A Little Better

The new game uses a similar combat system to the last one, I was shown. Battles continue to be in real time rather than waged with traditional Final Fantasy turn-taking. Real-time better suits the fighting genre. New in the sequel are additional characters, plucked from FF series past. The sequel also has a new assist mode that allows a tag team partner selected from the main roster to join the tussle. A player can have one assist character per match.

Square showed me two new characters. Kain appears from Final Fantasy IV. Lighting arrives from Final Fantasy XIII. Each brings with them combat styles drawn from their game. Kain's specialty is a grand jump attack that is meant to resemble a signature attack he had in FFIV. Lightning can Paradigm Shift, a reference to one of the combat mechanics in FFXIII that allowed a character to be placed in of a few modes. She has three styles of combat in Duodecim.

Duodecim plays fast and flashy, as the previous one did. Non-Final-Fantasy experts like me can't keep up with the action at first glance and sift out the small things. I was nevertheless intrigued by the idea of being able to match novel pairs of lead and assist Final Fantasy fighters. I don't know if the game will reward unusual duos, but it will, I was told, reward players who combine characters from the same series. Cecil and Kain, for example, are a more powerful combined Final Fantasy IV fighting force.

The Dissidia games appear to be intense fan service, a kaleidoscopic combination of Final Fantasy favorites. For one of the non-faithful it can be confusing, but the energy in the game is obvious. Hopefully we'll get more time with this game in the coming months as its 2011 release on the PSP nears.