When I was playing through Final Fantasy X the first time, my biggest issue was with the cut scenes. They were gorgeous, yes, but I couldn’t pause them. Or skip them. Or move them forward. No, when a story event was playing I was there until Tidus and his crew stopped talking. Similarly, my biggest issue with Final Fantasy X-2 was also with the cutscenes. Again, they were stunning. And you could pause them, skip them, and/or move them forward. But, in doing so, you messed up your percentage. In other words, hitting the X button would lower your percent from 100 to something like 99.8. This meant you’d have to play through the entire game again to get that percentage you missed. Both games are highly celebrated and revered, but some of their aged features would not fly today. So, my biggest hope for the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster was that those quality of life issues with the cut scenes would be addressed. They weren’t. This is why I don’t recommend this collection to folks that already played both games. However, if you haven’t played either, then this HD version is a great way to get acquainted with them.
Final Fantasy X starts in the sprawling city of Zanarkand before a blitzball tournament. Blitzball is a popular sport that takes place in giant, underwater domes. A promising blitzball player named Tidus is in the middle of a game when a massive entity starts wreaking havoc upon the city. Tidus learns that this entity is called Sin. He ends up getting transported to the world of Spira. With no idea where he is or how to get home, Tidus has a lot on his plate. But, he doesn’t let it show. Tidus remains cheerful and upbeat throughout the majority of this adventure. He meets some interesting faces as he journeys through Spira. The most important is Yuna, the heroine of the story and my favorite of the cast. Her and Tidus develop a wonderful bond during the journey. Yuna also happens to be the star of Final Fantasy X-2; the first direct sequel to a Final Fantasy title. Her story takes place a few years after the events of Final Fantasy X. I won’t get into spoiler territory; just know that Yuna’s quest is more lighthearted and has her globetrotting while righting the wrongs in Spira.
The two games received upgraded, HD looks for modern consoles. Character models are smoother. The environments have more crispness. When they were first released, both games were lauded for their looks. They’ve always looked good. Now, everything just looks cleaner. The music is still the same. That is to say, it’s still wonderful. There are so many great tunes; now they’re both together on one disc or cartridge. A neat addition is a bonus movie called “After the Calm” that ties the two together. This is yet another enjoyable, stunning FMV that shows off what Square does best.
The two games have similar looks and similar sounds. The settings and tones differ slightly. Gameplay, however, is where the two games differ the most. Final Fantasy X is as linear as it gets. You hop from story event to story event while on a set path. It’s not until the very end of the game in which you can return to previous areas. Final Fantasy X-2 is the opposite; after the initial events you have free-reign to travel all over Spira. Final Fantasy X features classic, turn-based combat where you can take your time to select your actions. Final Fantasy X-2’s combat keeps you on your toes with its active, turn-based battles. Final Fantasy X utilizes the Sphere Grid to slowly but surely develop your team on their own set paths. Final Fantasy X-2 features Garment Grids and Dress Spheres; a unique take on Final Fantasy’s Job System. You’re able to change to and from a variety of unique jobs mid-combat. All told, both games are still fun…however, those biggest qualms I mentioned earlier in the introduction are STILL in full swing. Want to skip a cutscene before a boss battle because you lost? Well, you can’t if you’re playing Final Fantasy X. Want to keep things pumping because you read what Wakka said faster than he got it out? Well, you’re missing out on percentage in Final Fantasy X-2. They sound like little issues, but on a grand scale they’re very irritating.
New features can be enjoyed for those that only have experience with the originals on PlayStation 2. On a surface level, there are new cut scenes and boss battles. Final Fantasy X allows you to select either the Standard Sphere Grid or the Expert Sphere Grid when you start a new game. The Expert Sphere Grid’s debut adds new development options for Tidus and his friends. Here, everyone starts around the same node. You’re able to direct where they go and how the develop from the start. It’s important to know that the game is balanced under the assumption that you’re using the Standard Sphere Grid. So, proceed with caution. Final Fantasy X-2 has new Dress Spheres and Garment Grids, an arena where you can put monsters you raise against others, as well as a post-game called Last Mission. With all of this content, it’s easy to play and replay both games until the gameplay time reaches hundreds of hours.
If you haven’t played either Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy X-2, then you should find enjoyment from both if you’re an RPG fan. Chances are you’ve already been through both backwards and forwards if you’re already a Final Fantasy fan. The content that’s new for Western audiences does offer a bit of variety, but otherwise, both games are the exact same outside of an HD upgrade. Gamers that go the Sony route will be in for a long journey if they decide to go for all of the trophies. Personally, once through both games on the PlayStation 2 was nice. When I learned that there would be re-releases I was hopeful that some of the issues I had would be addressed. That’s not the case. It’s the biggest reason why I don’t recommend it to gamers that thought the games weren’t anything epic.
Overall, 7/10: There’s no denying that Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy X-2 are solid games. It’s just bizarre that they didn’t get modern gameplay touches to go along with their new, modern look.