X-ing out Final Fantasy X
So continuing my long trod down games that are really well known and extremely divisive that I somehow never played for one reason or another, I picked up a copy of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD ReMix (World Championship Turbo Xtreme Deluxe Gold Edition et cetera et cetera) and decided to give it whirl along with my lovely girlfriend who was quite fond of the games back in the day (She stands firm that X-2 is one of her all time favs).
I’ll be honest, I know exactly why I never played this game back in the day. His name starts with T and ends with -idus. I only played through the intro back when the game first came out and oh god, I wanted to hurt this whiny little brat of a protagonist so much. So much! In duplicate! From the get go he just feels like the kind of guy you want to punch. He whines about his situation, he blames other people for everything, and he completely ignores anything anyone tells him about the local cultures like an American tourist. In fact, with his faux tan and bleach blonde hair (yes, that’s bleached. He’s shown in flashbacks as having brown hair) I’m almost tempted to say that he’s a stereotype of an annoying Californian. The kind of jerk who lives in the lap of luxury, thinks everyone needs to eat raw foods only and if people would only like talk or something than peace is like totally easily, shaaa.
Sorry, I hate Tidus with a passion. Which is kind of sad because it initially barred me from what is honestly a fairly well polished game. The combat system is active, fun, and extremely strategy based where most enemies can be defeated easily if you counter with their weakness and turn into a grueling slog otherwise. The game quickly becomes about learning what abilities to use when and – in a unique twist on traditional Final Fantasy combat – you swap out members mid battle as you see fit to meet the challenges. The world setting is really interesting and has a great set up and backstory for it. The world is bright and… kind of linear.
Actually, speaking of linear. You know what Final Fantasy X really reminds me of? Final Fantasy XIII. Same long, straight shot corridors, an alternate leveling system, cast of characters with internal and external conflict, really confusing plot without a ton of research, etc etc. Except one is an award winning game that is considered to be one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and the other is pretty much universally despised. Which is interesting to me. Maybe it’s because of the lack of squicky love story? I dunno. But really now that I’ve played both, Final Fantasy XIII is clearly an attempt to harken back to FFX’s style of play in terms of design. Yet everyone hates that one. Maybe it’s because in the interim we’ve been introduced to the Elder Scrolls III & IV, Fallout 3, the Fable series, and a bunch of other open world RPGs. That may be it. Either way, it was an interesting comparison at least.
Most of my complaints about the game are things that have been lobbed at it ever since it first came out. I know that. But since I’ve been talking about every other Final Fantasy game I’ve been playing I said maybe I’ll just chime in with a bit. Because while I may have my problems with the game, there isn’t anything here that ruins it for me. I still am enjoying the game as I push toward the end, trying to get SOME of my celestial weapons (No, I’m not going to bother with the 200 lightning jumps. Sorry Lulu. You are plenty destructive without an Onion Knight plush.) And while I do still find Tidus to be annoying little lump of genetic discharge, his dialogue and scenes – along with his comrade in dumb, Wakka – are still enjoyable to simply point and laugh at. If I’m not enjoying for what it is, I tend to enjoy it for what quality riff material it delivers.
(Still not happy about the Macarena joke though. That crap was dated when this game was brand new.)
But how about the HD Remix? What does it add? Do the visuals hold up? Well, the one perk to this being a HD Remix of the original is that they actually took the time to go back and remodel the main characters with high def textures, so they look great. The problem really comes in when they are talking to a non-main character and you can blatantly tell which has had work done. They also didn’t really bother to update any of the animations, so even the beautiful people have rigid mouth movements that flap around like an anime nut cracker. I will say that the pre-rendered stuff looks gorgeous at any resolution, as to be expected from Square-Enix, as do the environments. So what about the Remix part? Well, sadly, most of what was added was from the International release which means stuff we probably already had. The expert sphere grid is available that starts off the characters in the center of the grid, allowing them to go in whatever direction they want but also has less spheres meaning less stat growth. It also includes the short movie, Eternal Calm, that bridges X and X-2, Last Mission which takes place after X-2 and a short audio drama dubbed in english (which is amazing because we hardly EVER get the audio dramas on this side of the pond) that details Yuna and Tidus’ break up post X-2, Auron’s secret daughter, and the impending war across Spira. Yea, looooot of people not happy about the audio drama. But hey, it’s narrated by Tidus. Listen to his story. Before I break his jaw for mentioning that it is his story again.
Is it worth it? Sure. If you can find a good deal on it. I dunno if I’d spend $50 on it. I used a gift card. But $20-30? Sure. It’s two fun games. Though you might wanna wait. I hear they’re re-doing it AGAIN for the PS4. /eyeroll