Discussions about which popular video game characters could beat others in a fight are widespread and stupid. These hypothetical match-ups serve only to rile up the most devoted nerds, leaving all other gamers to shake their heads in derision. For better or worse, Dissidia makes these long-imagined battles a reality, pitting heroes and villains from the entire Final Fantasy series against each other in fast-paced, addled combat.

Dissidia’s main strength is its relentless pandering. If you love Final Fantasy characters, your jaw will go slack with amazement as you watch Cloud and Sephiroth cross swords, or witness Terra’s transformation into her Esper form. Spells flying back and forth, mid-air combat, and ridiculous limit breaks come together to form an approximation of the high-octane battles that were previously relegated to the series’ cutscenes. The speed of the action and the top-notch presentation is almost enough to make you forget the game isn’t good.

For all of the emphasis on fighting, Dissidia’s basic combat mechanics are remarkably unsatisfying. The erratic camera, shallow mechanics, and unreliable commands for performing specific attacks make implementing strategy difficult. Unlocking new moves, equipment, and costumes involves grinding through the repetitive story mode – a shoddy board game framework that moves you from fight to fight. Playing the story mode in a fighting game may sound pointless, but the restriction on two-player matches leaves you with few options; multiplayer only works locally, so you are limited to squaring off against friends in your immediate vicinity who also own the game.

In a similar vein as last year’s Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Dissidia is only valuable to gamers who can look past massive flaws and appreciate being immersed in the lore of the series. The concept may delight hardcore fans, but the unrefined gameplay ensures that everyone else is left out in the cold.