I loved Final Fantasy X. When a direct sequel was announced, my mind was blown. This move was completely unprecedented. Final Fantasy was a unique series, offering one time, insular experiences. Being able to return to one of these worlds, especially one as beloved as Spira, was exciting. How many games let you see how the world changed once you’ve saved it? Too bad more than the world changed.
X-2 (pronounced 10-2), takes place 2 years after X. Yuna, like every repressed religious girl before her, shed her garbs, donned booty shorts and became a globe trotter. Rikku was also wearing less clothing, and some goth chic named Paine joined the group. Along with being the first mainline sequel, X-2 was the first game to feature an all female cast, and only three playable characters at that. The game has a non-linear flow, with nearly the entire world accessible from the start.
Many of the gameplay mechanics changed as well. The battle system was completely redone. Gone was the sphere grid and turn based combat. Replacing them was the familiar active time battle (ATB) and traditional leveling. Also making a return was the job class system from FFIII, FFV and Tactics, balancing out the playable character ratio. A total of 17 dresspheres were available, including a few hidden ones. On paper, this seems like a great concept, but fell flat in execution. Costumes ranged from decent to ludicrous. I felt like I was playing some weird fetus dress up game. Making it weirder was the posing, which they did, a lot.
The story was ho-hum. Civil war had broken out after Sin’s fall and Yuna needed to take sides while she was concerned with finding Tidus. Parts were interesting, but intertwined with the Charlie’s Angels nonsense I had a difficult time following, or caring. Particularly with the singing. Yuna and co. decide to quell the rising tension between factions with a concert. Yep. The game opens with a catchy J-Pop song that I did enjoy (I like J-Pop), but I wish they would have left it at that. I can’t quite articulate the general cheeky/pop-y ness of the game. Just watch a little of the opening (set to start at the 1:13 mark, hopefully). After 30 seconds, you’ll get the idea.
Here’s a fun anecdote, skip this paragraph if you’re not interested: I went to Best Buy to purchase it several days after it released. I asked the clerk where it was, he told me it wasn’t released yet. After several minutes of arguing, I proceeded to call him an idiot and that I would take my money elsewhere (this was November, 2003 so smart phones weren’t a thing yet). On my way out, I found a display case with the game. I grabbed one, taking it back to said foolish clerk to taunt him with my find. He snatched the game from my hand, yelling at me. Quickly I ran back to the case, grabbing another copy and paying before I could be stopped. I still have that copy.
There was too much different with this game for me to enjoy it. Square removed most of what worked for the sake of changed. I would ask why they didn’t create a brand new game, but considering the company’s financial straights at the time (and still), it’s obvious the cheaper answer was to reuse assets. Achieving a 100% completion rate would reward players with the best ending. I couldn’t bring myself to, and this is someone who put 200 hours into X.
The super HD collection hyper remix + is set to release in a few months. I’ll definitely look at X-2 to see the upgrades, but won’t put much time into it, though I’ll be all over X. This isn’t a horrible game, just not for everyone. This is one that hindsight has shown it’s initial praise was overdone.
Love or hate changes? Enjoy the battle system? Comment below!
I’m feeling froggy.