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Cloud nine - Mitsunori Takahashi on Dissidia 012

Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy's director spoke from Japan on bringing the RPG-fighter to home consoles, plans for PSP2 and plenty more.

Even with the PSP phone and PSP2 to worry about, Square Enix seems more interested in pushing the original than holding off. Joining yet another year filled with sequels, Dissidia is back. This time with an even longer title - Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy.

We sat down with Mitsunori Takahashi, director of Dissidia 012, at Square Enix’s Winter PSP Showcase in Tokyo to chat about future plans for the series, PSP2, taking Dissidia to consoles and arguments in the workplace.

"There is no reason why we shouldn’t make it available to home consoles in the future; we’re just waiting on the feedback from the players."

VG247: Dissidia 012 looks absolutely stunning; do you feel you've pushed the PSP hardware to its limit?

Mitsunori Takahashi: We obviously had set out for a very high standard with visuals, but on the other hand, the most important thing is the battle system we smoothed out in this game.

Our development was really to strike against the issues of loading and dealing with the limits of the polygon levels and such. It was quite painstaking to battle against these issues but we feel like we beat them.

Are you excited for PSP2, to take the Dissidia franchise further?

We have no actual plans for the PSP2 console at the moment. We decided to create Dissidia 012 on the PSP because we wanted to create a high quality game in a short space of time. So considering that, we thought PSP, a console we are familiar with already, was the most appropriate console.

What was the reasoning behind not bringing Dissidia to home consoles?

There are no particular reasons as to why we shouldn’t make it available to home consoles. When we were developing the last Dissidia, we decided that the PSP would be the best platform for this particular type of game. As the developing environment has been set up, we wanted to make the most of it. There is no reason why we won’t do it in the future; we’re just waiting on the feedback from the players. If there is a voice for Dissidia on home consoles then we’ll consider it.

The latest trailer, released today.

PSP has flourished in Japan and therefore has more avenues for people to get together and play ad-hoc. Obviously, in Europe the same facilities are not available. How will the multiplayer in Dissidia 012 combat that, and what is new this time around?

In the last Dissidia, we made use of ad-hoc and we found it was quite a limited multiplayer with one-on-one battles. This time round, we had this concept of my party which basically allows each player to form up to five characters into a team, making it five-versus-five. If you can round up enough people, you can have five players against five other players.

Of course, we understand that it is hard to come by that amount of players so we do have some networking ideas coming, but we can’t really talk about that right now.

Obviously, balancing is a very important feature in fighting games, with Dissidia being about speed and precision. How did you find balancing that speed with each character and balancing the game as a whole?

With the last Dissidia, we had two standard characters: the Warrior of Light from Final Fantasy and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. So it was the other characters that were tuned up so they were not too strong, weak, fast or slow in comparison.

In Dissidia 012, we incorporated as much as we could the characters from the last game including a lot of feedback from the players. We wanted to make sure that all the characters were equally as quick and strong as the others.

To make it more complicated, we introduced a new system to Dissidia called the Assist system. This system pushes players to think of a combination of different characters rather than just their own. We thought that combinations can make some player’s teams too quick or too strong or have a weak defence, so we had to keep playing versus matches over and over until we found the right partners for each character.

The two modes, RPG and Action, are polar opposites in play style. What do you do to break players in from the easier and automated style of RPG to the fast-paced, button-bashing style of Action mode?

For someone who wants to go in at a medium speed then there are two options; you say that RPG mode can be a little bit slow, but the more you progress in the mode you will encounter more powerful enemies and you will have to engage more with the game than you did originally. You’ll unlock an ability that allows you to insert commands more immediately, which in turn depends on the player a lot more frequently.

With Action mode, the one-on-one mode allows you to pre-set the difficulty and characteristics of the fight. This allows players to learn the system with ease.

"We have no actual plans for the PSP2 console at the moment."

You have a large cast of characters to choose from. How long do the story modes typically last with each character?

You will see six new characters in the game. There is about 15 hours of gameplay to be had as each character’s level can take one or two hours to complete, and then at the end of scenarios characters join together with two others to finish the story to add even more story on top.

The Final Fantasy franchise is filled with many iconic characters. How many arguments were had in the board room when deciding who will be added to the roster?

[Laughs] Each member of staff has their own recommendations and the core gamers have been sending plenty of their demands too. This was what we were expecting, but we found that memory was getting quite tight near the end. We wanted to try incorporating as many playable characters as possible.

Basically, we can’t avoid having arguments as we all have different opinions, voices and favourites, but in the end we had to choose the characters that were very popular and characters that add new dimensions to that action style of the game.

Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy releases in Japan on March 3, in North America on March 22 and in Europe on March 25.

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