Instead of focusing on each of the games individually, we thought it best to bring our analysis and feelings of the HD remakes of Final Fantasy X and X-2 in one post, so you don’t have to wait to find our thoughts on one game or the other.
Final Fantasy X HD has been played by Aran, while Tuffcub took on Final Fantasy X-2 HD. So, without further ado, welcome back to Spira.
Final Fantasy X HD
I remember the first time I played Final Fantasy X, sitting down in front of my TV with my PS2 starting up. It was my second foray into the franchise, with FFVI breaking me into the genre, and as I watched the opening I was blown away. A journey beginning almost instantly explosively with the CGI footage showing Sin laying Zanarkand to waste while its citizens were watching main character Tidus almost take his signature shot in Blitzball.
From that part to being thrust into the first battle you could already feel something special was in front of you. If you’ve played Final Fantasy X before then you’ll be happy to know it loses none of that magic in higher defintion. Watching the opening scenes play out so crisply on my Vita’s OLED screen was just as mesmerising as when I first watched them over a decade ago. Everything feels instantly familiar, though there are some new additions such as swiping right across the screen to bring up a recovery menu outside battles to use items and magic to heal the party.
Visually, you can tell this is a game from two generations ago but the graphics have been sharpened up a bit and injected with some new life, though very rare stutters do show up. The music is as great as ever. Hearing the familiar score just gives testament to how much of a great soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. The voice acting is also good, but occasionally feels a bit stilted.
For newcomers to the game I can tell you it is very accessible and easy to pick up, with practical tutorials that show you how to control the characters, what kind of weaknesses and strengths react with each other, and the ever important Blitzball controls. There are some points where you’ll have to learn to navigate the equipment menu to work out weapon or shield does what but it’s simple enough to understand.
There may be one complaint for those used to the big sweeping open worlds that have since populated games, and that is that FFX appears linear. Not as linear as the first couple of dozen hours in FFXIII, but it feels like it as each area has a couple of things to do before you move on. Considering how well the story flows it isn’t a major issue as you want to keep pushing forward, and when FFX was first out this linearity thing wasn’t an issue. If this is your first time playing just be aware you’ll be moving forward quite quickly through areas.
There are plenty of battles to randomly run into which constantly keep you on your toes, and has the standard turn based system. Three of your party members can stay on the field but can be swapped out during fights, allowing for tactics to be adjusted if a battle isn’t going the right way. They require you to anticipate how your enemies will react and you’ll need to take out the powerful ones quick.
Sometimes a beast can prove too powerful and that’s where Yuna’s Summon ability comes in, where more powerful creatures known as Aeons can be called to help in a fight. Calling my favourite, Valefor, to fly down from the sky and unleash his power was just great to do again. In all of these fights you’ll earn the chance to upgrade characters by earning Sphere points, and various spheres to use in the Sphere Grid. This is a large grid where you can unlock abilities by unlocking paths, and again is simple to pick up. It’s a good idea to pay constant attention to this so your party gets strong quickly.
FFX HD is one of the best HD upgrades of one of my favourite games from my own childhood, and everything from its story to the way it’s executed just filled me with joy once again. I didn’t ever think I’d visit Spira again but bringing it to the modern age is something I’m glad has happened, and this time it’s a world I want to spend as much time as possible in.
Final Fantasy X-2 HD
In many ways, Final Fantasy X-2 paved the way for the Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, and it is one of a very small number of games in which the main cast is all female. It is also almost unique in that the three ladies are all quite normal. Well, as normal as fiend-hunting, spell-casting ladies can be.
Paine is the eldest and has a wonderfully dry sense of humour, Yuna is the girl the next door and whilst Rikku’s cheerful demeanour can occasional grate she is still likeable. The girls kick ass just as well as the boys and the do it without any fuss or feminist agenda.
It is not just the cast that has had an overhaul from its predecessor, turn based battles from FFX have been replaced by an enhanced version of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system and each character can swap between classes by changing clothes. Each outfit gives the wearer different abilities and attacks and you can swap your attire at any point in the game.
If this game had been created today I suspect the lady’s attire would be consist of a few bits of string and a handkerchief but thankfully there is very little flesh on display. Those after a little titillation will find the Leblanc’s gravity defying dress reveals a lot more than a lady ever should, and she is one of the main enemies you get to see quite a lot of her.
The Vita port of X-2 is almost perfect, there is a tiny amount of screen tearing and the odd judder, though the visuals just look good, but not fantastic. This is just a shiny version of a PS2 game, so lighting and animation are still rather basic and the lip syncing may make you smile. The music has also been tweaked, and sounds glorious if you are wearing headphones.
The game is well-suited to Vita, each battle rarely lasts more than a few minutes, which is perfect for bite sized gaming, and completing the title will take 30-40 hours, that’s excellent value for money.
Younger gamers may also find the lack of save points a problem, you can battle for half an hour or more between each one and if you die, that’s it, you lose all your progress. You are also going to have engage your brain, nowadays Lara Croft’s hidden tombs are helpfully signposted with a large “Hidden tomb this way” message, back in the days of PS2 and FFX-2, hidden really meant hidden and certain areas do not appear on the map.
But hey, who cares about the odd screen judder or dodgy save point, this is Final Fantasy X-2, which in my opinion is the best Final Fantasy there has ever been. It is inventive, gorgeous, heart-warming and laugh out loud funny. It is also very easy to learn, if you have never played a JRPG then this is the place to start.
At first glance, X-2 may be off putting for some gamers, while battle systems that make you swap in to a nice dress and bust some moves in a dance are hardly going to appeal to the Call of Duty fans. The game even forgoes the usual ‘massive battle’ CGI video at the start, instead opening with a gloriously upbeat J-pop concert with Yuna (or is it?) singing her heart out.
However I urge you to give the game a try, if you have a Vita this is an essential purchase which will keep you entetained for many weeks to come. Now you will have to excuse me, I need to slip in to something shimmery and fight a few demons.