After almost 13 years since its initial release, Final Fantasy X and its sequel have been re-released on the PlayStation 3 and Vita for your RPG pleasure. Both games have been remastered in full HD for both systems with cross-save (but no cross-buy) functionality, allowing you to play the game on your big screen or on the go. Besides the fresh coat of paint, this is the International Version of the game, previously only available in Europe and Japan. Other new features include a brand new cinematic ending that takes place after the events of the first game, as well as other nifty little features that hardcore Final Fantasy fans will appreciate. The bottom line is that regardless of your familiarity with the franchise, this HD Remaster is the absolute best way to experience Final Fantasy X.
Final Fantasy X begins with Tidus, lead protagonist and star Blitzball player, getting ready for the biggest game of the year. However, things quickly divulge into typical Japanese craziness and soon Tidus find himself in an unknown land. The story revolves around Tidus trying to find his way back home, all the while attempting to vanquish the evil entity, Sin, that transported him there in the first place. X’s story is definitely not the typical Final Fantasy plot and that is really where the game shines the most, especially as the game goes on. While the voice acting is unfortunately the same as the original game, the characters are written so well that it becomes easy to overlook the mostly terrible acting. The thing that drove me the most to complete the game was characters and wishing to see their journey through to its end.
My love for the plot unfortunately can’t be said for the combat and overall gameplay, though. It is clear that with a new console, Square Enix decided to branch out and risk some new things. This resulted in the infamous Sphere Grid system, in which there is no typical RPG leveling and progression system. Instead, players gain Sphere points that are used for moving around the grid, as well as various types of spheres that are used for unlocking new abilities and upgrades. While it is useful, the downfall is that it does not completely replace a traditional levelling system. Therefore, there were many times that I found myself either way overpowered or way underpowered in boss fights. The difficulty never caused the game to be grind-heavy, but by the end of the game it felt like not much had really changed in my characters’ stats and abilities. Also, the customization wasn’t as open as other games in the series, causing me to only use a few of the party members.
The actual combat itself is very traditional, only adding a few noteworthy features. These features include a list on the right side that gives the order in which everyone will attack, the ability to switch between party members at a moment’s notice, and the Overdrive system that replaces Limit Breaks from the other games. Outside of combat, exploration takes place in a fixed camera position, which only complicated things. There were times where I couldn’t even tell which way I just came from and often the camera would move so that my character was hidden from my own from sight. Despite this being only a remaster and not a full remake, it is still annoying to have to deal with these more outdated mechanics.
However, one thing stands out as a masterpiece and that is the mini-game, Blitzball. Most of Blitzball is optional, but all of it is absolutely worth diving (no pun intended) into. Being an underwater version of soccer (or football, if you prefer), this is definitely one of the best mini-games Square Enix has come up with. Initially starting out as a little overwhelmingly confusing and complicated, once understood, Blitzball is something you will be going back to time and time again. While I could see why some people would very much dislike it, I personally loved it and spent hours playing through tournaments and recruiting and levelling up my teammates. Blitzball really is an entire game within a game and alone worth coming back to long after beating the main story.
Of course, along with the remaster of Final Fantasy X, is the HD version of its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2. This game is quite divisive for its emphasis on lighthearted fun, which I found myself not enjoying as much as I wish I did. However, I believe that the first game alone makes this HD package worth a purchase, be it for PS3 or Vita. Having reviewed these games on the Vita, I didn’t find any noticeable technical issues outside of the occasional clipping and terrible lip-synching. Overall, this is a well-done HD remaster of a fan favorite in the Final Fantasy series and one worth picking up, especially if you’ve never joined Tidus before on his emotional and heartwarming journey through the world of Spira.