These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternate Character Interpretation: After fighting with Terra in Shade Impulse, Kefka claims that "destruction is what makes life worth living", which prompts Terra to think that he tried to fill his "broken heart" with it. Contrast his original game, in which after ruling the world for a year (coupled, possibly, with the knowledge in the back of his mind that, despite his power, he was still a mortal man) convinced him of life's ultimate futility, followed by the heroes' self-help book speech and complete refusal to accept his nihilist stance prompted Kefka to try to destroy everything in order to prove his point. He more or less went from destroying everything because he didn't see the point of life, to destroying everything because he thinks that's the point of life.
Anti-Climax Boss: The five final bosses of the 012 storyline in Dissidia 012 are not that much different from any other opponent you've faced. The first four are proportionally as strong compared to your party as they were the first time you fought each of them, possibly weaker depending on your level grinding, and just have larger movesets and more HP. They have custom boosters that do afford them genuinely dangerous abilities, but two of them only get those effects after 90 seconds pass in the fight, and you can kill them long before that, while the other two have their effects trigger depending on their distance from you, but the AI isn't smart enough to recognize it should stay away from/keep close to you to get the benefits from those boosters. The fifth opponent could be genuinely difficult, as he's Level 39 and you're probably no higher than 30, which would hypothetically give him much higher stats all-around. However, he has no weapon, a shield that lowers his defense, and only Level 1 armor, and thus in comparison to the first four opponents the only stat advantage he has on you is his higher Bravery, the other stat advantages he could potentially have are deliberately handicapped. All in all, the handful of Elite and Expert Battle Pieces in the gateways (including the Level 35 one just before the final gateway) throughout the 012 stories will probably provide more challenge.
Author's Saving Throw: Kuja's entire story arc was rewritten from the original game to bring his personality more in-line with his Final Fantasy IX incarnation. He's initially bored with the cycle and plans to betray Chaos and help Zidane take him down, and he's on good terms with Zidane too. Then Kefka got wind of what he was plotting, ruined his schemes, and played with his memories to tweak his personality and make him into Zidane's Arch-Enemy again.
Cloud and Sephiroth's conflict in the original game was fairly shallow, Sephiroth seemingly manipulating Cloud only to prove he can and Cloud being disinterested in fighting without good reason. The prequel explains that Sephiroth makes a point to track down and fight Tifa and Cloud so he can get his memories back, and Cloud has been through several cycles and retains his memories of them, so he knows that the war is pointless. His reluctance to fight is a leftover trait of that, even if he lost his memories after the 12th cycle, and Sephiroth remembers Cloud has no interest in the war and manipulates him so he can get the battle he's looking for.
While Terra is a much weaker character in the 12th cycle compared to Dissidia, in the 13th cycle she's far stronger, having more of a mutual companionship with the Onion Knight instead of having to be protected by him, and toughening up her resolve sooner, resulting in a character arc with a lower starting point but a higher ending point. They didn't change any of the voiced cutscenes for Duodecim, but the text-based cutscenes in Terra's storyline were changed to fit this new interpretation.
Badass Decay: Chaos is a much less dangerous foe in Dissidia 012 than in Dissidia, ironically through no fault of his own; he's the same boss he was in Dissidia, just a couple levels lower and thus having minor stat losses. However, the player now has Assists, EX Revenge, attacks are mastered quicker so it's more likely they have HP links, and most decaying of all, the final battle is treated as a party system. As a result, the player gets five party members to fight Chaos, and when one falls, the next one steps in; in Dissidia, you had to fight all three forms with one character, and if they died, that was it, you lose.
Broken Base: Some fans were outraged at the "psycho clown" approach taken to Kefka in Dissidia (which is ironic, given the fact that one of his fan nicknames is the psycho clown), while others believe he was portrayed perfectly. Of course, opinions on how faithful Kefka's characterization is dependent on how you think he was in the original game.
Catharsis Factor: The entire concept of the game lends itself well to this, given that it lets you beat up on your most hated Final Fantasy characters with your favourite characters. Game mods and model hacks only increase the possibilities, especially since it's possible to pose certain character models in other models' animations. This picture◊, using the Aerith model with Tifa's animations, epitomizes the potential.
Heck, the ability to use Aerith as an Assist in general. Admit it, you've gone looking for a video of Sephiroth dying to Holy, assuming you didn't try it yourself that is. Bonus points if he tries to use Hell's Gate on her and you manage to stop him somehow (even more bonus points if you do so with Cloud). And let's not get into the fact this game has all three members of the Final Fantasy VII Love Triangle, plus Sephiroth and whatever crossover pairing you like, waiting to fight each other in any combination you wish.
One popular mod is to use Aerith's model on Terra or Yuna with her original dress, her Crisis Core dress, or her Amano design. This results in a playable Aerith kicking Sephiroth's ass, Cloud's and Jecht's.
Character Tiers: Yes, the debate on which character matchups put who in what tier are still raging — but actually, the tiers for assists are actually pretty clear and well-accepted. Kuja and (maybe) Sephiroth are generally considered best, with Jecht trailing as third. Sometimes Gilgamesh and Cecil make appearances in more unusual builds, as well. Everyone else is generally considered good only for diversion, not serious play.
As in his original game, Kefka. He once again takes control of Terra's mind, this time making her fight the other Warriors of Cosmos, taunts and mocks her reluctance to fight and her amnesia when she cannot remember doing these things, and when she resists his control he tortures her into submission via electrocution. With Kuja, he rewrites Kuja's memories to make him into a more willing tool of evil after he overhears Kuja wants to change sides, and it's heavily implied he's corrupted his memories before. He also pulls a You Have Failed Me on the Cloud of Darkness, killing her at the end of the 12th cycle for telling Laguna where the Manikins come from, and manipulates Cloud and Sephiroth into conflict to motivate Cloud's Heel-Face Turn as a result of learning Cloud is tired of the war and disinterested in fighting. Through all of these acts, he retains his original incarnation's glee at causing destruction and chaos and finds it fun when he gets to fight other characters and cause them pain.
In Dissidia 012, Shinryu is revealed as this when the full storyline is revealed. He aids Cosmos, Chaos, Cid and Garland in creating the cycles of war, which cause countless amounts of pain and violence among the summoned warriors, solely because the four have offered him power if he helps them. When Cid intervenes at the end of the cycles, Shinryu punishes him for not being neutral as was agreed, a petty act because the cycles were over whether Cid intervened or not, he just wanted to save the heroes. Shinryu's punishment is to trap him in a nightmare world where Chaos becomes Ax-Crazy and kills everyone, forcing Cid in the nightmare world to seal himself and Cosmos away for protection. This illusion throws all of Cid's goals and hopes into his face and twists them into mockeries of his desires, and he would have been trapped there forever if warriors hadn't entered the dream world to free him. Finally, at any time he may simply decide that when a warrior dies, he won't revive them in the next cycle, as he gets strength and memories from their battles and won't revive them if he thinks the power he'll gain from further fights involving them isn't worth the effort to bring them back.
Contested Sequel: Dissidia 012. On the one hand, the story arc is stronger, the gameplay more complex, and there's more characters, with many returning ones being buffed to be more formidable. On the other hand, the game is largely an Expansion Pack Sequel with little originality compared to the first one in all areas, the Assist system makes many characters overpowered by virtue of being able to charge their Assist quicker than others, and most Charged Attacks (and characters that would otherwise rely on them) are now an invitation to get an Assist in the face while you're defenseless, and the numerous gameplay nerfs perhaps go too far.
Crazy Awesome: Gilgamesh. His attacks include spinning in place to create a cyclone, whipping out a giant cartoon missile from Hammerspace, firing a pair of giant boxing gloves as a Rocket Punch, and leaping into the air to deliver a diving headbutt straight down. He's without question the wackiest character, and he makes it work.
To top it off; Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy IX, the games more popular with people who aren't into Final Fantasy VII, don't get any new characters added to the roster in the sequel, while VII, VIII, X, XI, and XII do. VI and IXdo at least get new stages, which IV, V, VII, VIII, and X don't because they get new characters.
Lightning is getting similar treatment from the developers, to the extent that people are claiming that she stole Warrior of Light's role as the de-facto leader of Team Cosmos, despite not interacting with most of them and only appearing in 12th Cycle storyline.
Firion in the first game due to him and his "dream" being brought up in just about every other story in Destiny Oddyssey.
Vaan in Dissidia 012 combines Americans Hate Tingle with Germans Love David Hasselhoff. He takes the role of protector to Terra by fighting, defeating, and helping her escape from Kefka, two characters that Western audiences love. This also has the effect of lowering the value of the Onion Knight's friendship with Terra in the next cycle (if viewed the wrong way, which is understandably easy to do), making him seem a substitute for Vaan to many.
His treatment of Onion Knight isn't very impressive either. The Onion Knight prefers to be treated as an equal by the other warriors, and he is, to everyone except Vaan who talks down to him, encourages him to not work as hard as the "adults", and either ignores or doesn't notice the Onion Knight's paper-thin requests that he knock it off.
Kain gets this too. Nomura also showed great desire to put this character in the sequel and he spends half of his screentime (DLC included) backstabbing his comrades just to be Easily Forgiven.
The trailer music for Dissidia 012 MUST be mentioned!
Demonic Spiders: The world map in "Confessions of the Creator" is populated with strong Manikins like Golbez, Garland, and Kuja. The attacks they use to initiate battle are hard to predict and dodge, so you'll need to be quick to get first strike on them. And then in battle they're Level 123 and thus will have several thousand Bravery, over 10,000 HP, top-grade equipment and accessories, and they're fond of the Ultima Weapon and Omega summons, either of which can completely ruin any game-winning final blow you're preparing. The saving grace of these battles is that you can use your entire party to fight them in turn and will be fully healed afterwards since you're fighting on the overworld. But it gets worse — in the actual gateways, they're just as powerful, and you don't get the luxury of a first strike or being able to use your entire party without consequence.
Designated Hero: Warrior of Light and Kain in Dissidia 012 keep backstabbing most of their allies so that they wouldn't fight the mannekins. The two are Easily Forgiven even though Lightning and the other survivors don't approve their methods and never receive karmic backlash.
Unless you count Kain basically dying before the 12th cycle is finished, and the Warrior nearly dying himself (he would have if Cosmos hadn't interfered), Karma perhaps?
Ensemble Dark Horse: In general, most characters are this, due to every game having its fans. Duodecim takes it even further, as due to the main heroes and villains being already in, most of the newcomers are fan-favourites. However, one character is notable for being primarily popular because of Dissidia...
Exdeath, thanks to particularly hilarious writing, his hammy speeches about THE VOID!, and (more or less) the fact that you're brutalizing the most famous faces of Final Fantasy history with a tree, Exdeath has amassed a fanbase rivaling Sephiroth and Kefka. For a formerly-unmemorable villain from a not-so famous title in the series, that is amazing.
Epileptic Trees: Exactly howDissidia fits into the continuity of the main series is anyone's guess. The game's bonus storylines expand on Dissidia's universe while Dissidia 012 makes it clear that the heroes are all the same characters as the originals called from their worlds to fight, but there's still unanswered questions.
Evil Is Sexy: Cloud of Darkness and Ultimecia for the guys, Sephiroth and Jecht for the girls.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Warrior of Light x Cosmos, Emperor x Ultimecia, Exdeath x Cloud of Darkness, Cloud x Terra, and Firion x Lightning.
Fashion-Victim Villain: The Emperor. What is he even wearing? A... four pointed cape? With a translucent pink Showgirl Skirt? Gold... is that armor? With Combat Stilettos? And the... what is that thing on the center of the cape? And the hair, and the ... horns?
Subverted by his third outfit◊ in 012, which looks a lot more befitting for one of his status. The hair still needs some work, though.
Foe Yay: The Final Fantasy series always had a thing for making the protagonist's and antagonist's relationship feel... rather personal. Therefore, since this game consists of having the ten main heroes and ten main antagonist of first ten games, it's only appropiate that this game may be the first one to get its very own article of Foe Yay!. Let's all go, yay!
Game Breaker: The infamous "Exdeath Cheat" that, with the proper summons and equipment setup, allows you to take a character from level 1 to level 100 in one fight.
To elaborate: this exploit relies on the fact that Experience Points are assigned per hit, based on the amount of damage you do. So: you go into battle against a Lv.100 enemy, let them max their BRV to 9999 by beating you up, use the Magic Pot summon to copy their BRV, and One-Hit Kill them for something like 300,000 EXP before multipliers. Technically, this works no matter who you fight, but Exdeath's peculiar play style makes his Artificial Stupidity easiest to survive.
Certain tactics are infamous for snapping the game's challenge cleanly in half: Squall Beat Fang infinites, Golbez's many possible infinite combos, and Bartz EXP -> Brave Goblin Punch spamming come to mind.
Firion's EX Mode (Blood Sword) and Bartz's EX Burst (Spellblade Dual-Wield Rapidfire) are both nods to gamebreakers in their original games.
Kain's Jump attack. It's an HP attack that lets Kain dodge attacks, has Wall Rush for extra damage, he starts out knowing it, it tracks well, and it executes fairly quickly. The Game Breaker part comes in when Kain can charge Jump for vertical and horizontal reach, thereby presenting the problem of predicting exactly when to dodge because the time between the leap and the descent changes depending on how long Kain charged the attack. Oh, and once he's up in the air, most of the time you can't see him, so don't bother waiting for a visual cue to dodge, you've got to take your best guess. Perfect your usage of it and you can win battles just by spamming Jump.
Difficult but Awesome: You have to learn to charge it, because the standard timing is predictable and very easy to dodge.
The now infamous Iai Strike build to turn your character into a Glass Cannon. Set your character's level to 1, equip them with the Smiting Soul, Level Gap > 90, remove all their equipment and set them up with Weaponless, Armorless, Gloveless, Hatless, Level 1-9, and Large Gap in BRV (to note, this is one such combination, any set of six 1.5 boosters will do). The result is a character with a 99.9% chance of instantly doing Bravery damage to the opponent equal to their current Bravery when they attack, and since you're at level one, they'll begin with 9999 Bravery, which will become yours once you connect. Even Feral Chaos can be killed in under a minute using this set-up.
Speaking of Feral Chaos, his Via Dolorosa HP attack. Spamming this attack during tournament play (if Feral Chaos is allowed in the first place) will earn you much hatred from other players.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In America, the fandom has practically deifiedJecht for the infamous "body of a bronzed god." In Japan, he's... just another character. Not unpopular, but not nearly as beloved.
Whereas in Japan, Vaan is massively popular, and everywhere else he's one of the series' least popular characters.
Good Bad Bugs: The Link Glitch, also known as the Holy Glitch, which lets characters combo attacks in ways they shouldn't be able to and continue attacks that didn't hit as if they had.
Harsher in Hindsight: Tidus telling Jecht in the first game that he was "an ungrateful, selfish old bastard" while fighting him gets somewhat disturbing when Dissidia 012 reveals that Jecht's final actions as a Warrior of Cosmos was sacrificing his life to save Tidus' after the latter was mortally wounded in taking an attack on the Emperor that was meant for Yuna.
Zidane's "What is that guy made of?" Line toward Garland in the 13th cycle? Well, his new 012 alt◊ takes off his armor... May also count as a Harsher in Hindsight depending on your point of view.
Though it may be closer to Harsher in Hindsight, Firion's suspicion of Golbez and warning Cecil he can't be trusted takes an interesting spin in Dissidia 012 when we learn Kain was the one who offed him in the previous cycle. And Kain was doing so under Golbez's advice to boot, though Firion didn't know it.
Also, Dave Wittenberg voicing Kefka Palazzo, who is also a rival of Sephiroth in terms of fanbase, is especially (and hilariously) ironic when one remembers that he also voiced Yazoo, a remnant of Sephiroth, in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Speaking of Dave Wittenberg, Kefka's interactions with Terra will become especially ironic when he voices Captain Cryptic in the English version of Final Fantasy XIII-2, where one of his quiz questions involves a steamy love affair, with one of the answers being Terra Branford, who is an actress in that game.
Lightning's intro quote to Cloud in 012 is "I know what it feels like to be a tool". Considering what's become of her original game and her many spin-off appearances, the word "tool" can be taken to have a very different context.
Ho Yay: It's what happens when you have an 4:1 male-to-female ratio in the cast.
Internet Backdraft: Almost everything about Aerith. When she was announced, there were complaints about a character being Assist-exclusive, and Final Fantasy VII getting a fourth representative while other games were still stuck at two. There's also some complaints about having to pay for Prologus and the chance to use her. Then her alt outfits were revealed, and more complaining began over them being more inspired and interesting than the outfits of some of the playable characters. And once the game was actually out and people began to use her, it was discovered she has limited uses as an Assist — Cure restores a bit of your Bravery and Seal Evil stuns the opponent to set them up for another attack, both things that a normal Assist with Wall Rush can do, while Planet Protector's invincibility has limited uses, and Holy is a Charged Attack that takes so long to charge it's Awesome, but Impractical.
The exclusion of new characters for FFVI and FFIX in Duodecim actually convinced some people not to purchase the game. Which makes it sadly unsurprising Square-Enix made no official statement or explanation about their exclusion until the game was released in Japan.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: Squall's gameplay seems to be heading this way in Duodecim, having so far only one new Brave Attack that's apparently not worth even keeping over other moves. Made more evident by no move of him at all showing up in the trailers.
Just Here for Godzilla: Many players picked up Dissidia for no other reason than the coolness factor of being able to play as their favourite FF hero in a fighting game. Other people just wanted to be able to play as Kefka, Sephiroth, et al, and were disappointed at the lack of Story Modes for the villains.
And in Japan, Firion matches them both, possibly because of his Hot-Blooded nature and lack of a sealed love interest in his original game. And following behind him there's Bartz, with curiously growing popularity.
More recently, pairing Cecil with anyone and everyone has become popular in the English-speaking fandom. The fact that he's the one canonically married hero doesn't seem to stop anyone.
And, much like Terra in the original game, Lightning's inclusion in Duodecim has helped bolster her shipping popularity.
Like You Would Really Do It: So, both Dissidia and Duodecim star some of the most iconic characters in the franchise — and in a few cases, their entire genre. When it was revealed that Duodecim was a prequel despite introducing new characters, many fans applied Fridge Logic and feared the worst. Others, though, cited the characters' iconic status, Square's general Lighter and Softer tendencies compared to other video game companies, and the games' status as Fanservice to the nth degree, to reassure people that there was no way Square would really do it. Guesswhat?Theydidit.Maybe.
In 012, we have Laguna's EX Burst declaration "The greatest attack ever!" Thought not as famous, Lightning's "Thun-DAGA!" and Prishe's "Gimme a bite of spicy hot tacos!" have also become popular.
Leading up to 012's release, the Emperor's new HP attack was known as "Melancholy Prison" from translations, then English footage revealed its name in the English version was "Dreary Cell". Fans decided this name was lame compared to the fan translation and the attack was re-dubbed "Sad Box".
The very first English footage of Kefka was a battle between him and Squall. And what was the first line in English people heard the famous Monster Clown say? "I see a poser!" It's since died down, but at the time, the line was quite popular and videos and posters for it can still be found.
Kuja's nobleman outfit and Vaan's pirate gear have gone memetic. Though not as widespread, Terra's blue dress, Squall's jacket-less outfit, and Zidane's Black Cloak are also popular. Cloud's Kingdom Hearts cape, Tifa's cowgirl outfit, and Bartz's Dancer outfit were memetic to begin with and were included for that very reason.
In a more overall fashion, the two games have codified the appearances of a lot of characters that were previously subject to inconsistent depictions or were underexposed to the larger fanbase. These days, if you see fanart or cosplay of The Warrior of Light, Firion, Terra, Zidane, etc, odds are it's based on their Dissidia appearance.
Mis-blamed: The vocal performances of many characters in the first game was the subject of criticism, Kuja, Ultimecia, Zidane and Terra being the common targets, especially Kuja. But, in a discussion on YouTube, voice of Kuja JD Cullum revealed that that the voice direction he got was subpar, being instructed to imitate the Japanese voice and sound "breathy and feminine". If this is how all the VAs were "directed", it's not surprising that some of them were hit or miss.
Mondegreen: "GET THE FRUIT". And from the Japanese version: "Tasty Arrow!"
Exdeath also apparently likes to read the "Naive Weekly" when inside the "Almagest" sphere.
Said fruit wouldn't be Sephiroth's "dis pear", would it?
The Emperor's EX Burst quote sounds like "Blow me, worm."
In short, just about every character has some potentially hilarious mondegreens, owing to the fact that the voice actors often speed up, slow down, or pause unnaturally to match the timing of the Japanese lines, and the called attacks are often obscured by sound effects or other characters' attacks.
A good number of examples have been compiled here for your enjoyment. Bon appetit.
A notable Duodecim example comes from Vaan. During his perfect Quickening EX Burst, he does a backwardsBadass Arm-Fold as the opponent is trapped between Luminescence's rune symbols and blasted by light energy. His actual line is "Stings, huh?", but Vaan's posture makes it look like he's farting out Luminescence, leading many a fan to twist this into "Stinks, huh?".
Motive Decay/Villain Decay: Sephiroth's desire to become a god was greatly toned down in the first game, and pretty much removed entirely from Dissidia 012. Thus he mostly spends his time fighting Cloud and Tifa, or trying to fight them, so he can recover his lost memories, and in-between brawls ponders the nature of the cycles of war and why his memories were taken. Almost edges into Designated Villain because he doesn't care about who actually wins the war, his only priority is to regain his memories.
Narm: A good portion of the storyline revolves around Firion's wild rose, the people who come across it, and his dream to see a world full of blooming roses. Yes, it's a metaphor for a world of freedom and peace. Doesn't help the fact that Cloud and Terra are staring off into space discussing flowers like it's Serious Business.
This one line is... interesting:
Tidus: [thinking] Suddenly, I felt the urge to yell. [suddenly starts running past Firion]: "GRAAAAAAAAAHHH!" Firion: [no reaction at all]
Exdeath's Mirror Match quote simply doesn't make any sense! He says "Even nothingness is powerless before the Void!" To put it another way, he's basically saying "I am powerless before my own power." What.
The Narrator, when he starts trying to release a Hurricane of Puns or waxes melodramatic.
"The boy is known by the legendary title of... Onion Knight."
"Destiny's burden weighs heavy on Cloud's giant sword."
The cutscenes can be awkward to watch since the characters very often recycle the same movement animations several timesnote Terra raising a hand to her chest, the Emperor raising his staff, Ultimecia crossing her arms, and more, occasionally several times in the same scene, and dialogue animations seem to involve an odd head-bobbing as they speak. Most cutscenes to boot, aside from the pre-Final Boss ones at the end of each storyline, are usually just the characters standing in place and talking while occasionally making one of the mentioned recycled movement animations. Dissidia 012's new cutscenes are a little more dynamic and fluid and the characters have a larger range of movement, but these problems are still very apparent.
A rare lampshaded narm is the description for the Iifa Tree: "One whole Iifa tree. It's amazingly heavy... obviously."
It is somehow even worse when you guess who that moogle actually is. He is probably Cid of the Lufaine, the one who ultimately set the whole thing in motion. Is he maybe toying with you?
Just wait until you see Feral Chaos'EX Burst. Holy crap.
After Kefka accidentally captured Bartz instead of Zidane due to Bartz reaching the fake crystal trap first, Kefka, when noticing that Zidane ("the monkey") is still around, says "Well, whatever... This should still be interesting, at least." Right when he says this, Kefka gives off a rather creepy expression where his face has his eyes in an almost ecstatic expression and grinning.
Older Than They Think: The reveal of Kefka's Dissidia design got some flak early on for resembling The Joker, especially since the game had the coincidence of being made around the same time trailers for The Dark Knight were coming out. But as his Amano art that the design is based on shows, the white make-up and lipstick to emphasize his smile have been around since the beginning, they just didn't come across well on Super NES graphics.
Similarly, people who complain about Firion, Cecil, and Bartz being turned into PrettyBoys by Nomura should really look up Yoshitaka Amano's drawings of them from the time their games were released.
Pandering to the Base: Actually intentional of the devs parts. The added roster is 012 are all fan favorites from the various Final Fantasy games, though in the case of Yuna, Vaan, and Lightning, it's fan favorites in their home land.
Player Punch: Part of the manual hints Square has decided it's canon that Celes was unable to save Cid in Final Fantasy VI. And they do it to set up a joke.
In Dissidia 012's bonus storyline "Confessions of the Creator", you can occasionally find some of the other player characters on the world map wandering aimlessly. Talking to them will reveal they've all crossed the Despair Event Horizon big time, and will recount their own personal tale of sorrow, failure, and regret. And then occasionally after speaking to them, they'll disappear... Dead All Along?
Likewise for Vaan due to his flashy and impressive fighting style.
And due to his weapons, looking exactly the same as they did in Final Fantasy XII, not to mention he has a lot of them to his disposal.
Many weren't pleased with Prishe's addition, with common complaints being she should have been left out in favor of a villain for Final Fantasy XI, or otherwise replaced with someone from another game like VI or IX. And, since she was from XI, she was seen as a little-known and obscure character. However, once gameplay footage began to come out and she demonstrated fighting skills on-par with Jecht and Tifa, people have begun to warm up to her more. Her dialogue and voice clips don't hurt, either.
The same can be said for Shantotto (also from XI, interestingly) in some ways. Her brief characterization in the original game played up her evil side and she came off fairly disagreeable. Then Duodecim arrives, and her lines were rewritten to include more humor and better Rhymes on a Dime, and redemption was achieved.
Squall. In the early 2000's, he was ridiculed as being the Poster-child of Wangst. In this game he was, surprisingly enough, treated as one of the highlights of the main heroes. This could also be due to him being Comically Serious to Zidane and Bartz.
To a lesser extent than the above, Tidus. Some of the major reasons for hating on Tidus in his game were his obnoxious voice acting, obnoxious daddy issues, and obnoxious insistence that FFX is "his story" when the truth is a touch more complicated. In Dissidia, he drops the "this is my story" mantra except for one line where it actually makes sense. His "daddy issues" are handled simply but elegantly and he's much tougher about facing Jecht (contrast crying at him in FFX with healing him with a potion so he can fight Jecht full-strength in Dissidia). His voice acting has improved and is much less squeaky, he's a good comic foil for the upstanding Cecil and somewhat ditzy Firion, and his dodge-attacks and super-speed EX mode are really, really fun. Only gets better in Duodecim, because he's suddenly shirtless and evil.
Scrappy Mechanic: The suction effect that wind-based attacks have. Fine in the first game, but the range and strength of the suction were massively increased in the sequel. If you're anywhere near one, you have to concentrate solely on running away.
Tear Jerker: The original Dissidia tugged on some heartstrings, but Duodecim just pulls out absolutely all the stops.
The entirety of the Epilogue: An Undocumented Battle chapter in the "Treachery Of The Gods" scenario. Your party of newcomers is well aware that they're marching to their death, and their dialogue reflects this, each talking about regrets, trying to comfort and reassure the others, and putting on an obvious brave face.
The ending of the 012 scenario. Just — all of it. Absolutely every last detail.
In the revised 013 scenario (i.e., that remastery of the original Dissidia in Duodecim), pretty much any time one of the characters does something that might hint they remember the 012 characters in some way will pull some heartstrings — like Cloud apparently recognizing manikins of Tifa and calling it a "sick joke."
In "Confessions of the Creator", you can find Yuna, Prishe, Lightning, and Terra on the world map, each of them having crossed the Despair Event Horizon and lamenting their failures. However, Terra's, her being The Woobie of the four, is downright depressing — she says she can't remember anything each time she awakens, her head is in constant pain, and she wishes she could go back to being a mindless puppet so she wouldn't have to deal with the reality anymore.
Another example is if you run as Laguna solo (and you have to do so solo, or else he doesn't appear), Squall shows up and asks him why.
That One Boss: Possessed Terra in Onion Knight's story, who is practically in perpetual EX mode for the duration of the fight, and just loves to spam Tornado to keep you away.
Also, Jecht in Tidus' story and Golbez in Shade Impulse.
When the game decides to give Sephiroth some decent AI, you will die. Painfully.
Either of the two occasions when you have to fight the Emperor in Pandaemonium, which, as noted below, is perfect for him.
And in the Duel Colosseum, there's two varieties: the first type is any "Boss" enemy who is your character's natural enemy (that is, the other guy from their game). They pretty much always are the max level for that particular course (which really sucks if you just want to level or collect the Chaos Reports), Maximum CPU strength, and have Double Judgement rules on (fighters get frozen if they don't attack for a time, critical rate goes up after roughly 2 minutes, a fighter gets their summon back when their opponent gets enough for a one-hit kill via Break, and one gets full EX mode when put into critical HP). Oh, and their card never vanishes from the lineup unless you fight them or find a Samurai card. Secondly, the Blackjack course has... pretty much any enemy that hovers around levels 130-150. Can you say overkill?
Firion vs Ultimecia. She's level 20, and you must adjust your level to 8 or loweror the game actively punishes you. Her accessories cause her attacks to skyrocket when she's far away, and she loves staying away from you in the air. The only feasible way to damage her is to use air attacks, except Firion's air attacks suck balls!
In Confessions of the Creator, the Level 95 Feral Chaos. The Level 130 version is the Bonus Boss, this guy is supposed to be the warm-up. The reason he's actually just as difficult if not more is that you don't have access to the northern gateways, so you can't farm the Lufenian equipment or top-level trade accessories (thus your equipment probably sucks), he has a unique Booster that gives him a 90x multiplier after 60 seconds, boosting his Attack and Defense by 450%, and unlike the Level 130 Feral Chaos who uses Level 1 equipment, the Level 95 one uses Level 90 equipment, including the Ogrenix and the Maxmillian for further boosts to his Attack and Defense. While the Level 130 Feral Chaos likes Vicious and Destroy for his basic Bravery attacks, the Level 95 one uses Brute Force, which executes pretty much as fast as Destroy and is as difficult to anticipate, but unlike Destroy, Brute Force can't be blocked. Even if you have equipment appropriate for the fight, you've only got 60 seconds to fight before that Booster triggers, at which point you'll be pretty much unable to damage him and he'll Break you in one hit.
That One Level: Very few people are fond of the Pandaemonium, Planet's Core, and Ultimecia's Castle stages, particularly the Omega versions:
Pandaemonium features very small corridors with narrow walls. Attacks that explode can hit through these walls unexpectedly, and the small areas can make moving around and avoiding attacks difficult. Of course, for The Emperor, this arena is just perfect.
Planet's Core is a large vertical arena with few platforms. Its Omega version, after a period of time, has no platforms at all, leaving you with an entirely vertical stage with no footholds but Lifestream grind bars. Oh, there's some platforms — that are destroyed if you dash into them, which you will since EX Cores usually spawn on top of them. This itself isn't so bad, but the AI tends to grind on the bars endlessly for no reason, turning them into a Get Back Here Boss.
Ultimecia's Castle is also a small, vertical arena. It has a Banish Trap all along the ceiling, which can disrupt a lot of attacks if you accidentally knock opponents up too high and they teleport to safety and break your combo. It also routinely spins its gears, damaging you and knocking you around.
In Dissidia 012, Sky Fortress Bahamut Omega. The place looks awesome, the airship flying at full speed through a field of glowing gold Mist, but the gimmick is that the wind constantly pushes you towards the back of the stage, and if you get up in the air, a blast of wind will quickly knock you back, draining a bit of your Bravery. Hit the back of the stage, and it's a banish trap that warps you back to the center, taking even more Bravery. The Bravery drain is irritating enough, but the stage basically makes any form of aerial combat impossible because the characters will constantly get knocked out of the other's range.
For a more standard example, the later parts of Shade Impulse Chapter 3 are punishing, especially for new players.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Some characters have "wind-up" delays in their animations before and after they attack; Squall and Cloud are the obvious ones, with Tidus an iffy example because all of his attacks start with dodges, making them hard to time but also hard to counter. Others have no delay and just drop their attacks on the spot: Onion Knight and Zidane, who have the Necessary Drawback of relying on Death of a Thousand Cuts, and... just about any Team Chaos character, who don't have that drawback at all. And, of course, the computer is adept at dodging just about anything, especially if it's telegraphed. You can see where this is going.
Uncanny Valley: In Duodecim, while Golbez, Garland, and Exdeath have reskins that show what's "under the armor," as it were, said reskins appear to have absolutely no facial animation, which winds up being quite unsettling. It is possible that said lack of animation was a deliberate choice to make the three of them seem inhuman and frightening, even without the imposing armor. It is also possible (and rather likely) that facial animation would have taken time, cost money, been potentially tricky and taken up disc space, all for a simple alternate costume, and thus Square didn't bother.
Combined with I Am Legion above, many of Cloud of Darkness' non-character-specific pre-battle and post-battle quotes emphasize the fact that she is distinctly not what she appears to be. She comes across as even less human than Exdeath, which is saying something.
Kefka being an insane clown is iffy on its own, but his frequent twitching and spasming (notice how his fingers never stay still?) puts him firmly in this territory.
Look closely at his outfit and you'll notice he happens to have a demonic set of jaws set over his crotch in his EX Mode. Guess where the enemy is positioned during his EX Burst?
Viewer Gender Confusion: Kuja is infamous for this, and after him, Zidane surprised some for having such a masculine voice coming out of his mouth. And to lesser extents, both Warrior of Light and even Squall have been subjected to this.
Villain Decay: In his original game, Kuja was an effeminate and dramatic but highly skilled mage, and not only played Zidane and his friends as Unwitting Pawns several times, but destroyed Terra with Ultima and almost destroyed Gaia as well. In Dissidia, he's instead rather like an arrogant and lonely child, throwing fits whenever things don't go according to plan, expressing jealously and loneliness towards Zidane and his friends, and being mocked by the other villains for apparently being the newest member of their team. However, this parallels Kuja's personality after his Villainous Breakdown in the original game, where he has a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum when Garland revealed to him that he was not only mortal, but due to Zidane being the true Angel of Death, Kuja's life will also end very, very soon.
Sephiroth suffered some decay in his home universe as well, focus shifting from his desire to become a god to his rivalry with Cloud. Dissidia 012, however, decays even that, revealing the only reason Sephiroth wants to fight Cloud is to get his memories back since Cloud is from the same world as him. Had, say, Vincent or Yuffie been summoned, Sephiroth probably would have fought them just as eagerly. As a result, he's more of a Punch ClockAnti-Villain, only serving Chaos and acting as a villain to regain his memories, but otherwise not doing anything really villainous.
Arguably, all the villains suffer from this to some degree, many of them being Chessmasters or Manipulative Bastards in their original games. The Emperor and Kefka, however, are in prime form as such, especially in Dissidia 012.
The Manikins, which were created for Dissidia, surprisingly invert this trope. In Dissidia, they're just Mooks that don't play much role in the story, but in Dissidia 012, they're a major focus of the plot because the portal opened up will let an endless number of them come through, and if they kill you, you stay dead. So in an inverse of Conservation of Ninjutsu, they're presented as more of a threat than the villains in the game.
Woolseyism: Quite a few, mostly to reference the ones from the older games. For example, one of the ingame manuals feature the FFVI versions of Biggs and Wedge.
Yuffie: That's the way things go, you know. Without luck, you're...Uh, okay, let's move on!
Another example is the name of Ultimecia's finishing move in her EX Burst. The Japanese name was "End of Memories" to contrast the name of Squall's finishing move, "End of Heart". Squall kept the English translation of the move "Lion Heart", while Ultimecia's was changed to "Sorceress Heart" — an entirely different name than the original Japanese, but it kept the parallel between her move and Squall's.
In the same manner, Basch's Quickenings in Final Fantasy XII were "Shockwave of Black and Darkness", "Unmistakable End" and "100 Demon Scorching Sun of Crushing Evil", which became Fulminating Darkness, Ruin Impendent, and Flame Purge in the English release. Gabranth's Quickenings were called "Impact of Shadow and Abyss", "Demise Without Fear" and "100 Demon Autumn Frost of Crushing Evil" in the Japanese version of Dissidia, and they were localized as Fulminating Oblivion, Ruin Unflinching, and Frost Purge, to properly parallel the name of Basch's Quickenings in both versions.
Also Kefka telling Zidane, in regards to Bartz' location: "I'm afraid the mouse is... SMACK!! (closeup)(Zooms back) ...dab in the middle of enemy territory!" Originally, the translation was more like "I'm afraid the mouse is in the... PAWS!! ...of the enemy!"
In a smaller example, the Japanese version had "Battle Start", "Finish!", "Win", and "Lose" for the start of the fight, the end of the fight, the victory scene, and defeat scene, respectively. They were changed to "Commencing Battle", "The final blow!", "Victory", and "Defeated" in the English version.