No. 5 – Final Fantasy X

After the announcement by Square Enix that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was to be renamed Final Fantasy XV, I’ve been thinking for a while it would be a good idea to go through my favourite Final Fantasy games so far – although I am going from the main, number titles – not sequels, spin-offs or other games at this point. They might come later. So, for this “top five” I’m starting with, yup, you guessed it – Final Fantasy X.

The story

I enjoyed FFX’s story a lot but it was pretty basic. There wasn’t much mystery – other than what really happened to Zanarkand and the truth about the Final Summoning. I think I figured out what was going to happen around the Guadosalam area.
The game was very linear, in that you had to go in a straight line for most of it. Sure, there are times you can turn back and revisit some places but there’s always a limit until you get much further in the game. That is kind of true of a lot of them, but there’s an option for free-roaming in many of these titles and I enjoy that option, so this detracted a little of the fun for me.
Tidus did annoy me overall, and Yuna, while strong in battle, was portrayed as weak and under-confident through much of the game and that annoyed me too. They were supposed to balance out but I never really felt it got that balance. Lulu and Wakka, that was balance!

Combat and the sphere grid

Of all the Final Fantasy games I’ve played, this is the easiest. If you save regularly and spend enough time growing stronger, there’s nothing that can stop you. For more of a challenge, the monsters you fight can have an active ATB, which means they will attack on a clock rather than waiting for a specific turn. If this is turned off, it becomes a simple matter of planning each move and having the supplies and skills to survive.
The sphere grid, while daunting at first, is surprisingly easy to master. The easier setting sets it up for you, allowing each character to master particular skills and fight certain enemies well, but you can do this on the advanced setting just as well, and it changes how you approach the game. This is interesting but it is very easy to make mistakes early on, especially for inexperienced players – although I’ve made a fair few mistakes myself along the way!

Blitzball

One of my favourite mini-games around is Blitzball and most of my time on any FFX save was actually spent on this. It didn’t matter to me you could unlock everything right away, and that you needed to do certain things first – it was a decent game that, with more work, probably could have stood on its own.
What did get to me was the stop-start nature, which is designed to let players make the best decisions but removes some of the pressure, and again, like the rest of FFX, makes it a bit too easy. If I could see one thing changed in this HD remake, it’d be to make Blitzball played in real-time and make it more difficult and fun.

Summary

I enjoyed FFX – I really did – but more at the time of its release. I was a bit younger and a bit more taken in by the improved graphics (and voices). As I get older, it has lost a bit of appeal to me but it’s still a good game, with a solid story and one of the best mini-games I’ve found in many games, not just Final Fantasy. My biggest problem with it is that it’s too easy, especially as you can make monsters wait before they attack you. Why even have a pause button? Still, with the HD remake on the way, I’ll be playing it again very soon.
Oh, and in case anyone HASN’T done it, collect the Al Bhed primers and play the game again so you can understand the chatter early on and throughout. It’s nothing huge, but you get the nice sense of achievement for doing so.
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