My Top 12 Games of 2015: #09 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
This one is a little bit of a surprise! A lot of you don’t know but I absolutely hated this game as a kid. When it came out it was a sign to me that Final Fantasy was dead. Sometime after its release FF11 hit and that was some “MMO” that seemed like it was just using the numbers to pad things. It made more sense to me to call that “FFO”, but they didn’t. Anyways, if not for FF12 I’d have stopped paying attention to square altogether as a kid. I’m not sure if I can consider this an old game or a new game, so as far as spoilers go. I’m just going to say right now, obviously I like the game now. If you don’t want anything ruined for you turn back now. I won’t immediately start shitting out story elements but, assuming my fingers don’t freeze off, I’m probably going to in a bit.
Perhaps with age this game has become something better. I’ve not yet Platinumed this game but if I got bored for another week I could do so. I put a lot of time into it this time around, just…holy shit. So much time. I don’t know what it was about this time compared to my first time as a kid. Maybe it has been so long since I played 7 through 9 that I’m not longer stunned by the quality drop? Perhaps it was never there to begin with. I know I can almost stomache Tidus now. He’s still one of the most insufferable bastards in the entire series but less so for me now. I still find most of the cast interesting, Wakka being my true protagonist, and this time around I even liked Kimahri. I dunno why, he’s technically awful, but he grew on me. Something about his silent charm I guess.
Final Fantasy X has probably one of the worst leveling systems I’ve ever experienced. The Sphere Grid is a giant pile of dogshit in my opinion. Lemme preface most of what I’ll be complaining about, I get it, this isn’t objectively true, but holy shit. Goddamn do I hate it. If the Sphere Grid got taken out behind a barn and shot I’d not shed a single tear. It is the single biggest blight on this game. There are charities that would decline money if it was donated by the Sphere Grid. Support Groups have risen and fallen to help guide people through the hellish bullshit that is this god forsaken system. I hate it, I hate it so much. I never have any goddamn clue which of my characters is uber or not. How hard would it have been to have a simple “total spheres unlocked” counter for each character? That would have been roughly similar to a level counter. But no, someone at Square is literally Hitler. We all thought he died but really he hid out in Japan and waited all this time to put the Sphere Grid into the game. Thanks, Hitler.
You might think that if I hate literally the foundation of character growth that I must hate the game. But surprisingly no! Somehow this game manages to keep me very happy nearly from start to finish. There is one big exception, the legendary quest that requires I get 0:00:00 on the Chocobo Race was also made by Hitler. That was his evil redemption for telling Becky in accounting that she had left her coffee in the break room. He felt filthy for doing something nice and had to absolve his guiltless conscious. That aside though, great times. The story is pretty standard as far as JRPGs go. That is until it drops the sixth sense on your ass.
While you are seeing dead people the game also takes a turn into one of the most tired cliches imaginable. “Peace can only be found through death.” Diablo 3 recently did this with the Reapers of Souls expansion and I rolled my eyes there just as I did here. It’s incredibly stupid and something I could rant about for hours. Technically its not peace if everyone is dead, its a null state of being. It is neither true nor false. But! I forgive it for the terrible premise because I get to kill all the things that made up said premise. It’s like a story introducing a terrible arc, then introducing the author of said arc, then killing them in front of you (in the story). It’s cathartic.
The combat is pretty solid. Turn based with the option to make it live (that is, the moment you or the AI gets their ATB filled they act immediately). I prefer active play with the exception of areas with bombs. Those assholes are pretty good at wiping you. On the topic of assholes, this version of FFX introduces Shadow Aion (may have had a different name, I think Dark Aion). These assholes will basically surprise you and then proceed to one shot your party at all sorts of unpredictable locations on the map. Sure hope you didn’t do what I did and zone in on the game, not saving for hours. Because when you don’t realize the DA are in the game and Ixion descends upon you…boy howdy do…is that an experience.
Yojimbo makes short work of them and he’s so damn cool to me. I love everything about Yojimbo. His design, his moves, his dog. It’s all just so yummy. The Aion in general are pretty neat.
The music is just great in this game. Nobuo Uematsu is my musical spirit animal. I’m somewhat convinced he can do no wrong and I’ll be happy to ignore information to the contrary. The music never gets too loud to hear the audio, a problem I have with XCX, and it tends to fit the moment excellently. They help capture emotion in scenes that might not have otherwise been there. A certain laughing moment notwithstanding.
The whole world looks great too. I love the aesthetic and Spira is a place that, barring the murderous leviathan scouring life from the lands, I’d like to check out if it were real. It makes you want to go sailing. Blitzball is kinda neat, but the achievements related to it are a giant pile of dog turds. It’s not an awful game but it’s not something that I can recommend many people grind either. I did it to completion on the PS2 and apparently haven’t had it in me to complete it again.
What else…Well I mean. Even not considering X-2 I’d say this is a real good game. It’s technically great because here I am coming back to it many years later and playing it when plenty of newer options were available. And I mean…I really played it.
The trophies I’m missing at this point aren’t even hard, they are just shitty grinds. There is something about this game that really just works now that I’m older. It feels right. For all the things I hate, the things I like outshine them. X-2 is like a lovely extra. That’s another game that I didn’t get as a kid, even if I liked it more than X, and now it’s even better. X-2 is a less linear experience which makes it interesting but also might hurt it.
I like the cast, I’m totally cool with the girl band story. It once again has great music, a fun cast, good combat mechanics, and and acceptable story. I’ll admit that I can’t remember the leveling system at all currently. This must mean that it is way better than the Sphere Grid. Whatever it is, good on you Square for not doing that shit twice. If you only got X or X-2 I think I’d rank this a “Good” but the fact that you get >both< makes it Great. There is just so much to offer here. It's not the best FF title ever, probably not even top 5, but that doesn't mean that it is awful. I loathe comparing games of different genres to one another. So I'll simply say that of the title that it shares a family with and supersedes on this list, technically I'd probably say that XC3D is a better title. If I could hook up my 3DS to the television and play that game on there I think these two spots would be swapped. But as it stands, in the year of 2015, it was FFX that really took me by storm. I put down every other game when it released and just played it religiously. Not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to. That's more than I can say for a lot of games and I think it speaks well to just how good this game is. Fuck the Sphere Grid.
While the Sphere Grid is literally the seed of satan, the rest of the game is good enough to make you forget about it. The world is neat, the story is silly but fun, and all the nuances you expect in a Final Fantasy game can be found here. These days you can catch it on sale pretty often and for 2 games it's an absolute steal. It's not perfect, but somehow it made me want to experience it again and it managed to chip away at the visceral hate I had for it from my childhood. Fairly surprising, frankly.