Apr 022014

I’m not going to write a review of Final Fantasy X because I suspect most of the things I would say about it are going to be contained in the two posts I recently put up and the two other ones I’m working on. I understand why many JRPG purists don’t like the game, and whether it is actually any fun to play is as always a matter of taste (I happen to really enjoy it). However, in terms of a game design that helps tell a story and a story that’s worth designing a game around, I don’t think there are many persuasive arguments against FFX. I think there is more of an argument to be had against the HD reissue.

Again, this is a matter of taste, and the remaster does most things right. The world of Spira looks absolutely fantastic on the PS3, and the cutscenes look even more fantastic than I remember, although the HD makes Wakka dopier than ever. That’s valuable because FFX contains a lot of the cutscenes that make cutscenes seem like a good idea. A few character models looked a little fuzzy (Cid’s sadface in particular) or low-poly, but there was nowhere near as much of the jarring SD stuff that made parts of the Kingdom Hearts remaster such eyesores. The music too has been remastered and in some cases exchanged outright for different versions. I appreciated that as well not only because score is great, but also because it compares favorably against the Tales of Symphonia remaster I’ve been playing recently, which often sounds tinny and sad.

What I don’t care for is the relatively straight port of the International version. The Dark Aeon bosses are okay, if you’re into the mega-grinding necessary to take them on, but the in the international version, it’s difficult to say they’re truly “optional”. Besaid can only be revisited by defeating Dark Valefor, for instance, which was a major pain because I had forgotten to do the Destruction Sphere quest there and hadn’t yet retrieved that Jecht Sphere. Blocking the town off with that Dark Aeon is kind of a dick move, and I ran into others of the Dark Aeons by accident as well (and thank Yevon I’d remembered to do the destruction sphere in Macalania Temple the first time or I still wouldn’t have Anima). Adjusting this to make them truly optional bosses wouldn’t have been that hard or cost the game any sort of artistic integrity. Poorly designed stuff from the original game was also ported straight–things like the awful “Catcher Chocobo” and legendarily stupid “lightning dodge” quest. Minor annoyances that are even less justified, like the absurdly low encounter rates for Simurgh, are still there too. I think there’s something to be said for a slavish port of an original, but there’s also something to be said for admitting that certain choices were mistakes.

That’s a matter of taste, of course, and for anyone who has a PS3 I still would say that Final Fantasy X HD is worth getting (not to mention the bonus of getting X-2 as well). For anyone who has a PS3 and a PS4… well, that’s tougher. If the Gaikai thing materializes FFX is undoubtedly going to be one of the games available on it, and while it benefits handsomely from the HD upgrade the original doesn’t look bad. And your PS3 is not exactly hurting for new JRPGs to play right now (or at least mine isn’t). Final Fantasy X HD is great, but that’s almost entirely because the original is great, and it seems very likely to me that it will end up on a streaming service sooner rather than later. For that reason, although I wholeheartedly recommend playing this game, I can’t say I feel the same about this remaster.

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