Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review
And so, some 13 years after it originally hit, Final Fantasy X retains the magic that made it so good the first time round.
To Zanarkand’s piano tinkling still prompts ‘DEM FEELS’, teary emoticons and other reactions you’re more likely to associate with an emotionally-damaged teenager than fully grown adult.
The turn-based battling system is wonderfully nuanced, the ability to tag members in and out during battle adding a layer of tactics and thought as you switch up your party during combat.
The pacing is still pitch-perfect, with iconic moments dotted throughout – Sin’s attack on a small seaside village, the boss battle against Seymour, fighting Malboros on the Calm Lands, summoning Yojimbo for the first time, that kiss.
Blitzball is still the best mini-game ever to feature in a Final Fantasy game, different enough and deep enough that it could have easily been its own PSN release.
There’s still a perverse joy in squeezing every last secret out of Square-Enix’s JRPG as you can, hunting the Dark Aeons and Ultimate Weapons. And hey! There’s now a trophy for dodging 200 lightning bolts.
In short, then – Final Fantasy X is still brilliant.
Final Fantasy X HD – How Does It Hold Up?
Final Fantasy X HD is also a fantastic game for those who have never touched it before as well, thanks to how well it has aged.
JRPGs can struggle to find the balance between setting the scene and allowing players to just play in the opening hours but Final Fantasy X has a brisk pace to it that ensures it doesn’t get too bogged down in detail. There’s a lot of exposition to take in but the interesting characters and world make sure you remain engaged, so despite a few grey hairs from its advanced years, there are no pacing issues.
It also helps the HD rendition of Final Fantasy X is beautiful. Its stunning art style really shines through – it’s colourful and vibrant without ever being garish, its designs are creative, inventive and gorgeous (Seymour’s hair remains a gravity-defying thing of wonder) and the CGI cutscenes look lush on the OLED screen.
Minor point but also worth mentioning – the menus have been tidied up and they look much, much nicer than the original.
The only thing we’re not too sure on is the reconstructive face surgery Tidus has undergone in his 13-year absence, which pushes him more towards uncanny valley doll than living character, but weirdly he seems only seems to the only character affected.
Beyond that, the only area that Final Fantasy X clearly shows wrinkles is the dreadful voice-acting. It was the first time a Final Fantasy game had live-talking and even in 2001, the voice-acting was poor. By today’s standards? Ouch.
There are token nods to the Vita’s touchscreen, with some menu shortcuts accessible by swiping left or right, but that’s the only touchscreen gimmickry abound.
Yet odd faces and dreadful voice-acting aside, Final Fantasy X still sparkles as a wonderfully crafted JRPG that hits the right balance between story, puzzles, combat, exploration and difficulty.
Final Fantasy X-2 HD – Revisiting The Sequel
It’s also nice to see Final Fantasy X-2 being given a fairer chance at objective assessment. As the first direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game, it was always going to be judged to the same high standards as the main series, a lofty bar X-2 never threatened to reach.
This isn’t to say Final Fantasy X-2 is a bad game – it’s actually quite good, and perhaps a better sequel to its predecessor than XIII-2 and Lightning Returns were to Final Fantasy XIII – but it suffers from a few problems.
The jarring shift in tone from the tragic and somber atmosphere of Final Fantasy X’s global crisis to pop-star riffing remains the biggest flaw, while the inconsistent soundtrack and asinine side-quests made X-2 feel more like filler than justified sequel.
Rather than a game that existed because Square-Enix had found something new to offer players, too often Final Fantasy X-2 felt like a game that had caught Square-Enix still searching for that elusive X-factor.
But as an accompaniment to Final Fantasy X – as something that almost lurks as a bonus in the HD package rather than a standalone title – its qualities can be fairly assessed and you can see its obvious strengths.
Its structure is fun, allowing you to potter about with side-quests or charge straight on with the storyline, while the merits of the combat system was lost under the noise of the complaints about tone. Perhaps that was always going to happen with a combat system named Dresspheres but again, it’s a fun, interesting system that’s well-balanced and serves the game well.
That’s twice we’ve used that word now. Fun.
And that’s ultimately what Final Fantasy X-2 is – a fun, entirely harmless spin-off from Final Fantasy X. A game that never threatens to overshadow the main attraction but perhaps it was never meant to. At least in this package, its Final Fantasy X-lite status means its presence is a welcome bonus and plenty more hours of JRPG meat to get stuck into once you’ve come to the end of Tidus’ journey.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review
There are two groups who will be looking at buying this HD package – those who haven’t played the Final Fantasy X games before and those who have.
Square-Enix’s package serves both groups of players, simply because the original games were so strong and the HD rendition is so polished and slick.
Highly recommend for any JRPG fans, regardless of whether this is their first visit to Spira or not.
Version Tested: Vita