With the American release of Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy (the 012 is read duodecim) right around the corner, Square-Enix released Dissidia 012 Prologus: Final Fantasy on the PSN. Does Prologus come with enough stuff to justify the $2.99 price tag? I say it does for a couple of reasons…

Prologus is your first opportunity to try out the new characters Lighthing (middle) and Kain (Right). Tifa also makes an appearance as an assist character.

First and foremost,  Prologus gives fans the first opportunity to try out the gameplay of Dissidia 012. Before moving into the chanes, let’s recap the battle system from the original Dissidia. Battles are fought in open, 3D environments where characters can freely run, jump, fly, and beat the living hell out of each other. That last bit is achieved by hitting your opponent with bravery attacks. With each successful hit, the opponents total brave points go down and your points go up. When you’re ready to inflict some real damage, let loose with an HP attack. The damage dealt by an HP attack is equal to your total brave points. Now, other than some minor changes to timing, dashing, and EX modes, the battle system in Dissidia 012 is largely unchanged from Dissidia. The one biggest change is the addition of assist character. When the assist gauge is full, you can call in a teammate to attack allowing for combos, escape moves, and much more. Of course the opponent can do the same. This single addition completely changes the flow of battle. The assist gauge fills when attacking, even if you don’t land a hit, however it depletes if too much time has passed without attacking. This promotes a more offensive style of combat.

Now, there’s a few ways to experience the gameplay in Prologus: Story and Arcade modes. In the story mode, you take newcomer Lightning through a series of battles interspersed with dialogue. While this is the exclusive mode to Prologus, the little bit of story presented here really isn’t ground breaking, nor does it reveal any big secrets or anything. However, it’s still a nice touch to see developers putting some effort into their demos. The real meat of Prologus is the Arcade mode. There you can run through either normal difficulty (5 battles) or the gauntlet of hard difficulty (30 battles that increase in difficulty). In Arcade you take a preset character with armor, skills, abilities, costume, assist character, etc all locked in place. You  can test run both Lightning and Kain, the ever cool Dragoon from FFIV, in these modes. Lightning plays like three characters in one by switching paradigms between a physical Commando, a magical Ravager, and bravery recovering Medic. Kain is a master of the skies with his lance and dragoon skills. Along with these two are returning cast members Warrior of Light, Garland, Kefka, Jecht, and Sephiroth. Interestingly all of the returning cast default to their new alternate costumes. Going through both modes offers different builds for the characters attack skills.

If you play enough, you can even unlock Cloud which comes along with Tifa as an assist character, offering a sneak peak at some of her moves. All of this battling however does not go unrewarded. Prologus comes with a set of accomplishments that give you rewards for playing. Except for the Midgar Flower that you get for completing the the prologue, you can earn a total of 56 Chocobo Cologne items that can be used for leveling your characters in the full game. If the early access to arcade mode and the bonus items that transfer to the final game aren’t enticing enough, there’s one last exclusive that makes Prologus a must buy for prospective Dissidia 012 owners…

Tifa, Cloud, and Aerith are back together again in Dissidia 012...that is of course if you buy Prologus.

When you purchase Prologus, you also get a download that unlocks a special assist character in the complete Dissidia 012, that flower girl from Final Fantasy VII, Aerith Gainsborough. If nothing else, the $2.99 price tag is for a pre-release DLC character. Prologus comes with enough content to justify a purchase. I’ve already put in about 10 hours into Prologus and still have four character to run through Hard arcade. However, the arcade mode loses a bit of value once the full game comes out. The main idea behind playing Prologus is to quickly level your characters once the full game comes out, but despite that the exclusive story mode and Aerith DLC would still make it a good purchase even after Dissidia 012’s release. If you plan on getting Dissidia and to get the most out of it, get on it as soon as possible.