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By Spencer . March 17, 2014 . 2:34am
Replaying Final Fantasy X in Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster reminded me how grand Final Fantasy games once were. While Final Fantasy X dropped the world map, Spira was a detailed world with towns to visit and even a worldwide sport. After playing so many Final Fantasy XIII games, going back to the tactical battle system from Final Fantasy X was refreshing. Yuna’s Aeons are still overpowered, but every character has a role in Final Fantasy X, even if it’s throwing Blizballs at birds.
When I first saw Final Fantasy X HD at a pre-E3 showcase, the game’s graphics were muddy. The final product looks great, however, especially when the camera pans over the environment. That having been said, while this is the most polished “HD upgrade” to date, the core is still a PS2 game and when you first see the smug Luca Goers their blocky faces look out of place with the rest of the world.
(Note that Final Fantasy X HD also has a new rearranged soundtrack, an extra effort from Square Enix that most HD remasters do not receive. Even Final Fantasy X-2 has its original score.)
Final Fantasy X-2 is a polarizing game, since it started the direct sequel trend and was tonally different from Final Fantasy X. Even if you’re not a fan of the overly saccharine pop motif, Final Fantasy fans will appreciate the battle system. Final Fantasy X-2 returns to the traditional Active Time Battle formula with Final Fantasy V’s job system, but you can change classes mid-battle.
The monster swapping system in Final Fantasy XIII-2 actually stems from Final Fantasy X-2. Both Square Enix sequels also have multiple endings and had a protagonist focused on reuniting with the protagonist from the previous game.
The bulk of what’s new for the West is from the Last Mission from Final Fantasy X-2. This is more than a tacked on extra mission. Last Mission is a roguelike where you have Dresspheres instead of weapons. Players control Yuna, Rikku or Paine as they climb up Iutycyr Tower. The game takes place from a top down perspective and each time you make a move (walk or attack) all of the enemies move.
If you die in the dungeon you’re booted back to the beginning and lose all of the loot your character is holding. There are items you can find to send loot back at the starting poin,t so one of the key strategies is leveling up Dresspheres and sending them back so you have stronger equipment on your next play through.
Final Fantasy X-2‘s Last Mission is fully localized in English with voice acting for event scenes. You don’t have to complete Final Fantasy X-2 to play it either, as it’s selectable from the main menu. However, the story in Last Mission differs to some degree depending on the ending you earn in X-2. Last Mission. Final Fantasy X-2 also has two new jobs the Festivalist and Psychic from the International version. You can also “catch” Seymour and put him in your party.
New for North America, but not for Europe, is the Eternal Calm epilogue, Dark Aeons to fight, and an extra superboss. Final Fantasy X also has an option for an Expert Sphere Grid. This puts all of the characters close to each other so you can turn Yuna into a black mage or make Auron a speedster instead of Tidus without sacrificing Sphere Levels to backtrack. Empty nodes are in different places, so it’s possible to give Yuna or Lulu a huge HP boost very early in the game if you use HP spheres on their paths. Also, you can get Steal really early in the game before Rikku officially joins you.
Brand new for the Final Fantasy X saga is a radio drama that takes place after the events of Final Fantasy X-2’s Last Mission. Final Fantasy X Will follows Chuami, the narrator and assistant to would be summoner Kuyrgum. Will touches on the lives of multiple Final Fantasy X characters post Last Mission while concept art is shown on screen. Since this is the chief new addition, I don’t want to say too much about it other than I think it will certainly spark discussion about Spira.
Food for thought:
1. One feature Square Enix and Virtuous should have added to Final Fantasy X was a cutscene skip button. Final Fantasy X is like one long movie.
2. Spira’s story spirals with its ups and downs. The world feels happier at the end of Final Fantasy X and maybe too happy during Final Fantasy X-2, and then if you look at the novel everything goes bleak again.
3. Final Fantasy X-2 was, in a way, ahead of the times, dishing out fanservice before it was common for RPGs to do so.
4. Last Mission won’t let players run to the exit like most roguelikes. Certain floors require players to defeat a number of fiends before moving on.
5. Blitzball is still a lot of fun to play and I hope future Final Fantasy games integrate a mini-game with as much depth seamlessly into the world.