I remember playing through Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 when they first came out on PlayStation 2. I remember falling in love with FFX as a young teenager and then being confused when FFX-2 wasn’t exactly what I expected. However, as the years went by I learned to love them both for different reasons, but it wasn’t until the HD Remastered version on PlayStation 3 when I returned to the adventures at an older age to find much more to appreciate about them that I missed as a child.
Now, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster comes to Nintendo Switch and Xbox One and I had the opportunity to look at both versions of the game. Although they don’t differ graphically, the Switch version offers the definitive way to bring this adventure on the go with you. However, there were some features missing that we wish were included.
Final Fantasy X opens with a group of tired travelers looking glum, when Tidus, an all-star Blitz player, begins to tell the story of how they ended up there. One thousand years before, Tidus’ fate led him to be sucked into an alternate universe after an anomaly known as Sin destroyed his home city, Zanarkand, and found him one thousand years in the future. Following these events, Tidus encounters a group of people known as Guardians who are traveling with a Summoner named Yuna. Their quest is to travel around the world of Spira and acquire summons to fight against Sin, which will bring what is known as the Calm. However, this period of time only lasts ten years. Tidus decides to join them in hopes that he can find a way back to his time and home.
The game’s story plays out similar to a western drama where characters fall in love, evil emerges, and friendships are put to the test. Although there are low points, the game tells a fairly linear story full of character development and hard to swallow situations. It’s a game that makes you feel like you’ve only played an hour, but then you look at the clock and 8 hours have gone by. There are no natural stopping points because I was always left went wanting to see what would come next. Every time you think things are going well for the party, something is introduced that holds them back from their goal.
It’s tough to gauge what is absolutely wrong storywise with FFX because of how safe it plays it in terms of not really trying something new. Well, not until the end that is, but everything leading up to the conclusion is so easy to digest that it’s tough to get confused or feel lost. With that said, exploring around and spending time talking to NPCs or going on side missions will easily lead you down a path of deep lore and history of Spira and Sin, which might require some further investigating on the player’s part.
The battle system is turn-based and has a wait system where players can see how their activities affect the flow of battle. Battle themselves are fought by using different characters depending on the enemy. Wakka is great against flying while Tidus can take down beasts. It’s important to learn which characters work better against which enemies to win. I actually like this battle system as it includes a layer of understanding and strategy to it. I also appreciated how players can switch out characters without wasted a turn which helps the flow of battles.
Additionally, players can use Yuna to summon Aeons, which are giant creatures she gathers while on her pilgrimage. Interestingly, these Aeons have their own HP and level, which can improve over time. There skills and abilities are necessary for defeating bosses and are each unique in terms of elemental damage, strengths, and weaknesses.
Leveling up characters is also pretty unique in FFX and has players use Spheres to travel across a grid and attach spheres into empty nodes in order to improve their characters. This is an interesting system because it allows players to customize their characters how they see fit. Making Tidus excel in magic is possible or having Lulu learn some high attack skills is also an option. With that said, it does require some time battling and grinding and isn’t the most intuitive leveling system given that it’s actually easy to forget about until you find yourself getting beaten down by grunt enemies.
Final Fantasy X-2, on the hand, shares assets and similar character to FFX, but it differs in many ways. Instead of being mostly linear, like its predecessor, FFX-2 allows players to travel the world of Spira and take on various missions as they hunt for spheres. Yuna is now a more capable adventurer and with the help of Rikku and newcomer Paine, the trio of girls set out to figure out more about a strange sphere that they found which resembled our old pale Tidus.
Jumping straight into FFX-2 from FFX is tough given that their tone is completely different. Where FFX feels like a western drama, FFX-2 resembles a Japanese idol group adventure. FFX-2 enjoys having fun in the world of Spire, but with a focus on a very serious search for their friend. The game serves as a reunion of sorts to check in on companions and find out what they’ve been up to since the conclusion of FFX, but it definitely does more to show how Yuna has grown since her debut in FFX.
Missions revolve around collecting spheres that could either be sold or contain more information about Tidus. The battle system isn’t as straight forward this time around and plays off of the playfulness of the titles. Characters equip items known as Dress Spheres which not only change their appearance but also their skills and abilities. During battles, characters will learn new skills for the respective dress sphere which opens the door for a variety of battle formations and unique characters.
The battle system itself is definitely the best part about FFX-2 and really shows a step forward in terms of a more action focus flow of battle. Characters execute attacks as soon as they’re inputted and then charge up for another action. It speeds up the overall flow of battles and looks really good seeing so much going on on the screen at once. It also can’t be ignored how cute the girls look in these costumes, which is always a nice incentive to collect them all.
Aside from the main story, FFX-2 offers many side quests and optional boss battles that can be encountered while exploring. Spira seems to be always changing and offers new people to talk to and new things to do each time I visited an area. Even though the game is a little more playful than FFX, nothing beats getting to see the ending after 100% completion of the game.
In terms of extra content, players can enjoy some extra story moments that aims to bridge the events between FFX and FFX-2. Additionally, western players who have only played the original FFX will see an updated sphere grid with additional nodes and systems. There’s also a monster capturing mini-game where monsters can be captured in the hunting grounds and train them in the Colosseum.
Sadly, nothing different from the PlayStation 4 version of the game. This means that there aren’t any options to speed up time or eliminate encounters. Strangely, the PC version is the only version that has these options and with all the time Square Enix had between releases, an update to add the features to the console version would have been nice. Especially to those who have played the game several times before.
Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 are both great games in there own unique ways. I found things to love about each of them and appreciated the additional story content that the HD Remaster version provided fans to tell the full story of Tidus and Yuna. Final Fantasy X feels like a statement from Square Enix to present a movielike quality RPG as their first Final Fantasy title with voiced audio. Through all the quirky and over-dramatic moments, you can’t help but be immersed in this love story.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is best experienced on Nintendo Switch and on the go. Sadly, it’s not the best game to play in short bursts because it’s just so hard to put down. Every time you think something everything is going well, something else emerges to hinder the progress of these character’s quest to save the world for Sin. Although I would have liked the option to skip cutscenes or speed up time, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster held my attention for another time through and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. If you’ve been loyal to Xbox or Nintendo platforms, then do yourself a favor and pick up the most accessible and beautiful JRPG of all time.