Final Fantasy X is, for many fans, the last of the golden age of Final Fantasy games, with future games taking a direction that many series purists felt wasn’t what got them into the games in the first place. Final Fantasy X-2 was slightly controversial, and a bizarre direction for the franchise to take, but a good game, nonetheless. For a long time, these games only ever graced the PlayStation platforms, and now they’ve finally hit Nintendo and Xbox. Thankfully, they’re what you’d expect.
Final Fantasy X follows Tidus as he teams up with a summoner named Yuna to take down a malevolent entity known as Sin. It’s a more serious story than its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, which takes place about two years and follows a more carefree Yuna as she tried to reunite with lost friends. While a tad cliché, I’ve always enjoyed the world of Final Fantasy X and its themes of science vs. religion, even if a little bit on-the-nose.
Though the combat is still turn-based, both Final Fantasy X and X-2 still are a joy to play. Final Fantasy X plays just like the best of them – allowing players to input battle commands and watch them play out in turns. Final Fantasy X-2 does the same but runs at a much quicker pace, requiring much more active participation in battle than previous games. I’d argue this means Final Fantasy X-2 holds up a tad better than Final Fantasy X as it just flows quicker, but both games are still very playable today regardless.
Where the games differ, is in how you build and develop your teams. Final Fantasy X still has the sphere grid, which plays like a board game of sorts that rewards players with new skills and stats as they move their way around the grid. There are branching paths, meaning there’s an element of choice in how you develop your characters and the Expert option included in this remaster means you can turn any character into any role you want, giving you a lot more freedom in how you develop your party.
Final Fantasy X-2, on the other hand, harkens back to the more traditional “job” based progression of older Final Fantasy games. Each of the three playable characters can equip a Dressphere, which is a costume that grants unique abilities depending on which one is fitted. You can take six of these into battle and switch between them on-the-fly, allowing for a higher level of flexibility, especially during fierce battles. Switching between your dresspheres in a particular order can also grant various buffs and debuffs, encouraging experimentation between them rather than just sticking to one or two.
Obviously, when you’re not battling, there is still heaps to do in Spira. Beyond the main quest, there’s side-quests and mini-games that players can partake in to extend the experience. This translates to around forty to fifty hours per game, with completionists squeezing more than a hundred hours out of the full package. It’s hard to not see the value here, though if you’ve played it all before there’s admittedly not a lot new here on the Switch or Xbox One.
Thankfully I feel like these two games complement each other well and despite how much content is on offer here they never get too dull. Final Fantasy X feels like a big but traditional Final Fantasy game (and some would argue the last best game also), but Final Fantasy X-2 feels like a suitable palate cleanser to follow with, featuring a more focused, mission-based structure and mostly more light-hearted tone.
As this is a remaster, the game has been touched up since it first debuted in standard definition on the PlayStation 2. The bright and colourful locales you’ll visit in Spira have been touched up to look as good as you remember, without changing the looks of them drastically. Obviously, the visuals look fabulous no matter where you’re playing – but no Xbox One X enhancements is a little bit of a missed opportunity. Switch owners will be pleased to know the game looks excellent whether docked or in handheld, and looks on par with the PS4 version of the remaster that released four years ago.
A more personal issue that remains with this remaster is that the models have been redone from their original appearance on the PlayStation 2, but the result is something that feels weirdly over stylised. The characters themselves, particularly their faces, feature larger eyes and fewer points of articulation than before, which gives the characters a creepy, lifeless look on their faces that’s jarring during more dramatic moments.
The soundtrack is also a bit more controversial amongst fans, with a newly arranged soundtrack and the original offered up for selection. The arranged soundtrack doesn’t quite capture the feel of the original, but it does feel crisper and much more modern. For purists, it’s nice that the original soundtrack is selectable too, though, so fans from both sides of the fence should be able to enjoy both games regardless of their preference.
As this is the first time the games have appeared on Xbox and a Nintendo platform, the X/X-2 Remaster package feels more than comprehensive. Not only are both games included but bridging audio drama that fills the gap between X and X-2 called “Eternal Calm” is included as well. Final Fantasy X includes all the improvements made through its numerous re-releases, while Final Fantasy X-2 also brings with it the Last Mission roguelike expansion. Finally, there’s a thirty-minute audio drama titled -Will- that wraps up the story of Tidus, Yuna, and Spira. This is a complete package with no omissions.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH AND XBOX ONE VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER ON XBOX ONE. A PHYSICAL COPY OF THE GAME WAS PURCHASED BY THE AUTHOR ON NINTENDO SWITCH.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster features two fantastic games with a heap of compelling content but is ultimately marred by questionable attempts to improve its presentation. The new soundtrack is good but fails to pay tribute to its predecessor, while the new character models look clean but lifeless. Despite these visual issues, it’s hard to deny that these games are some of the best Final Fantasy games and worth your time whether on Xbox or Switch.