As it gets closer and closer to release I find myself getting more excited to play the HD Remaster versions of Final Fantasy X and X-2. I suppose it has something to do with the major nostalgia factor that Final Fantasy X has for people around my age. Sure I had played Final Fantasy VII through IX on the PSone but when FFX hit the PS2 in Europe in 2002, (almost a year after its release in Japan!) I was 15 and at just the right age to really understand the key themes and thrust of the story in a way I had not with the previous games.
Tidus’ journey into adulthood with the innocence of his youth being stripped away as the hours of gameplay went by reflected certain aspects of my life at the time. It also helped that Tidus as a somewhat annoying character (but not as annoying a Squall that mopey bastard) was surrounded by one of the best casts of characters in a Final Fantasy game. (Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below!) The world of Spira was a setting that mixed the post-cyberpunk/neo-gothic stylings of FFVII and VIII with a traditional fantasy setting to deliver a unique world which has not been touched or replicated since X-2. It very much stands apart from the other Final Fantasy games because of this. It does not quite fit into the classic Nintendo or PSone eras of the franchise or into the modern cross-media hit and miss of the PS3/Xbox 360 titles. Hell it does not really fit in with the other PS2 era Final Fantasy games which both went for very traditional settings. X and X-2 are unique to the Final Fantasy franchise and I find it really odd that SquareEnix have not gone back to that particular well to plunder it for more spin-offs and new games. Such as my idea for a Blitzball Manager game for iOS. (Think about it. How awesome would that be?)
Also it helped that at the time of its initial release the game was one of the best looking games ever made, had an awesome combat system and non-linear character progression that was way ahead of its time. But hey I liked the world and the characters. A lot. It is also the only Final Fantasy game that whenever it is brought up in the eternal argument of which is the best Final Fantasy (hint: It is NOT Final Fantasy VII) that causes everyone to pause for a second and ponder before returning to their original and most likely, incorrect pick. (FYI the actual best Final Fantasy game is close tie between IX and XII)
As welcome as the graphical improvements, gameplay enhancements and trophies are. I am just simply really looking forward to playing through the story of FFX again and then ironically enjoying X-2. (The hipster approach is the only way you can appreciated X-2, dubbed by a friend of mine as J-Pop: The Video Game) All the extra content is also very cool and it will be fun to see the one or two things not included in the initial PAL releases for X and X-2. It will be interesting to see if the games still hold up after all this time or if this is indeed a case of looking at things through rose tinted glasses. (Which FYI is what everyone who says VII is the best FF game does! Don’t be like those losers!) Part of me doubts that though due to the amount of time I sunk into the PS2 versions of both games over multiple playthroughs almost a decade a go. Man, writing that makes me feel old!
The other major change is that I will be playing them both on the PS Vita. This is mainly because I am not made of money and can only afford the PS Vita or the PS3 version and not both. Also it is because I love playing games on my PS Vita and FFX/X-2 seem like a perfect fit alongside all the PS Classics versions of the older games I have installed on there. So I will be keeping a close eye on the PS Vita optimisation for the game while I gleefully play it in bed and on the go.
More than anything though it will be an interesting experience to revisit the game that truly cemented my love of RPGs and also had one of the biggest impacts on my game design ideas and methodology. It is a game with simple surface layer of letting the player just plod their way through from A to B and grinding the Sphere Grid when they get stuck. With its complexity coming from the nuances in the combat system and all the hidden and extra content to hunt down and find. (Apart from dodging lightning bolts for Lulu’s ultimate weapon, that’s just the designer pushing the player to the point of breaking them then smacking them in the face with a large trout)
Roll on March 21st!
Oh one last thing, this is actually a really good scene which features some good voice acting: