Platform: PlayStation 3, PS Vita (reviewed)
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Hours Played: 51 hours
Favorite Part: The CTB battle system and Blitzball still hold up to this day.
The first time I played Final Fantasy X was shortly after its release in 2001. It was Christmas, and I was a colossal Final Fantasy fanboy, having just discovered the series a few years earlier through an impulse rental of Final Fantasy III (which later revealed itself to be Final Fantasy VI).
I didn’t have a memory card (my dad didn’t know the PS2 needed one), but I played anyway. I recall how dumbfounded I was by the way the foliage would sway in the background as if it were actually blowing in the wind. Seeing a next-gen Final Fantasy on the most powerful game console of the time is something I’ll never forget.
Of course, I’ll also never forget how much I hated the story, the characters, and the god-awful voice acting. I was 14 then, and I’m almost 27 now. Could 13 years change my perception of a game I’ve openly mocked since I was a teen?
Final Fantasy X is a game about a whiny Blitzball star named Tidus who is unwittingly pulled 1,000 years into the future. Eager to find his way back home, Tidus joins up with Summoner Yuna and her guardians in their attempt to save Spira from Sin, a creature of chaos who destroys entire cities without rhyme or reason.
Having hated most of the Final Fantasy X cast as a youth, I found I still gag at the voiced dialogue, which is just as dreadful as I remember. I played a good portion of the game muted, which caused me to regrettably miss out on Final Fantasy X‘s music and sound effects (more on this later). While the English voice cast is a talented group (John DiMaggio is Wakka? What?!), everything about the script and its delivery feels stilted and uncomfortable.
Likewise, many of the characters are terribly off-putting. Yuna is a shallow mess of a heroine from beginning to end, Rikku makes almost no contribution to the story other than linking you to the Al Bhed, and Kimahri is only tolerable when he’s not busy talking in an awkward Tarzan voice.
Admittedly, Auron’s character, voice actor, and backstory are fantastic. You also have Lulu, who is quite decent. Wakka’s not bad either, though his forced Caribbean accent will make you want to hang yourself.
Then you have Tidus, who is arguably the worst protagonist in Final Fantasy‘s long history. Every time he appeared on screen, it would take all of my willpower to keep me from smashing my Vita against a nearby wall. Even just thinking about it makes my teeth clench.
If you’ve played the original, you’ll either empathize with me or hate me for ripping on the characters you love. Either way, I think we can both agree that Final Fantasy X‘s biggest draw is the top-notch gameplay and well-designed battle system, which is just as true with the HD remaster.
When you enter a battle, you’ll notice that the turn order is pre-determined, contrary to other Final Fantasy titles. You’re also able to switch party members on the fly, with specific characters being stronger against certain types of enemies. Unless you’ve thoroughly leveled your entire party (which will take quite some time), you’ll be switching often. These elements make for some genuinely interesting combat that keeps you engaged and on your toes throughout the entire game.
While Final Fantasy X certainly shows its age, there are tons of hidden items, side quests, and mini-games to keep you busy including Chocobo races, secret dungeons, and a Blitzball mini-game that’s as addictive as ever.
Fans of the original will likely be interested in the new content that was formerly exclusive to Final Fantasy X: International, released only in Japan and Europe. These additions include Dark Aeons, several “super bosses,” the “Expert Sphere Grid,” and “Eternal Calm,” a short video prologue setting the stage for Final Fantasy X-2. When you play using the Expert Sphere Grid, it’s easier to access abilities, but more difficult to boost your stats, making it perfect for FFX veterans craving a new challenge.
From a graphical standpoint, Square Enix did a great job bringing Final Fantasy X to the Vita. I never noticed any serious graphical glitches, and everything looks as good as you’d hope (outside of the occasional frame rate stutter). If you were concerned about how it would run on the small screen, know that it’s a leap up from the PS2 original.
It’s a shame that Final Fantasy X‘s voice acting is so horrible, because the music and sound effects are so thoroughly good. It features one of the best soundtracks in the franchise, and the sounds you hear when you finish a foe with an Overdrive Attack or a high-level spell are immensely satisfying.
A Fine Remaster of an Apparently Beloved Classic – Buy It!
Despite my feelings about the story, characters, and voice acting, Final Fantasy X is – at its core – an incredibly solid game. While I’ve cursed it for its ridiculously challenging mini-games (“200 lightning dodges” and “0.0 seconds in a Chocobo race” are ludicrous), I’m substantially impressed by how well it’s aged.
Although my opinion about it hasn’t changed much in 13 years, I’d say that’s a good thing. My fondest memories of Final Fantasy X were the hours of exploration, the intimidating boss fights, and building my own championship Blitzball team – all of which are still as fun as ever.
If you’re a fan of the original Final Fantasy X, you need this in your collection. You can also rest easy knowing the Vita port is an excellent way to get your FFX fix while on the go.