So I took a break from the site just to gear up for an exciting fall – and I knew as soon as I started FFX I wouldn’t be writing about any other games for awhile as it’s pretty much dominated any of my free time. But as summer begins to wind down does too my journey in the world of Spira. Here is a small retrospective on one of the greatest games ever.
Typically a nostalgia filled website like this would build up to the best game in each genre. While I wouldn’t normally opt to start the RPG genre at its absolute commercial and critical height – the good people of Instagram voted for it and thus the first First RPG and subsequently first PLATINUM award I have awarded on the site is to the near perfect Final Fantasy X.
But first let’s start with the (very few) flaws.
I try to give twenty year old games reviews with both fresh eyes and a sort of empathy for its time. I can look over certain things the system just wasn’t capable of yet. But what I can’t look over in Final Fantasy X is Blitzball. It’s just so fucking irritating. It kills the momentum of the game early on when it forces players to play through the damn game.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about let me explain.
The world that Final Fantasy X takes place in is called, Spira. Spira is ravaged by this insane, paranormal, leviathan named Sin. Where every ten years, Sin decides to return to Spira and just fucking lay to waste everything in its miserable path. Cities, towns, people. Everything dies.
Sin is believed to be punishment incarnate for the lazy machina-led lifestyle people enjoyed thousands of years ago in Spira’s history. These people built huge cities all with the aid of machines and technology and took everything for granted – thus sin was formed.
So the only real distraction from the relatively short and anxious lifespan of average Spira citizens is the popular sport, Blitzball. Which is a lot like it’s real life counterpart, Futbol. Where most of the world not named America all participate and play against one another as a distraction from war, famine and other atrocities.
So it’s really important. The whole world needs Blitz. But when the game actually makes you learn how to play and participate in the sport itself you’ll be wishing for Sin to personally come destroy your PlayStation 2.
FIFA it is not. Frustrating, difficult and it hosts a steep unforgiving learning curve. It’s just not a good time. In fact, it’s literally the only reason I dread play throughs of FFX. But moving on from the worst mini game ever created, naysayers have little else to complain about.
Some RPG purists have criticized the game for being too linear. It is not an open world game, really. Near the (very) end of the game you are granted free reign on one of the series’ iconic Airships and are free to travel around Spira. But for many this was not good enough. But the story and it’s themes are just too tight to fit a game that wasn’t on rails.
I could literally go on for days about the strengths of the game. Between it’s absolutely groundbreaking graphics at the time of its release (2002) to its revamped Conditional Turn Based system (updating the turn based strategy to rely more on character’s agility and speed than your classic turn-based formula) to the sphere grid which to this day has split the FF-Diehards into two camps (I reside in camp, “I love it”.)
But the number one reason this game is still one of the most popular series entries is it’s unique themes and locale it was based off of.
– Death and all it’s inevitable-ness
A New Locale
Final Fantasy’s worlds are almost predominantly European. Fantasy and medieval Europe just go hand in hand. Always have. Granted they toyed with a futuristic Steam Punk universe in VI and even used NYC as a prime backdrop for VII – this time around Square felt compelled to break the mold.
They had their location designers visit many areas of South East Asia for inspiration. You can see the influences of Thailand in the foliage of Besaid to the deserts of Mongolia in the Baaj Desert. Even the tiny coastal towns ravaged by sin, eerily similar to sights seen after the devastation of tsunami. The world is colorful vibrant and alive. Even Mt Gagazet – home to the Ronso race has a pulse – proudly towering like Mount Fuji overlooking the continent.
Asian and Indian culture are also found at large intertwined in the lore and story of the game. The entire game has an eastern feel; exotic, disciplined and sacred in its customs. A book read by one of the lead directors about kamikaze pilots and their families would even influence one of the major themes of the game as well.
Journey and personal growth is no stranger to any RPG. In fact it’s nearly role playing law that not only is their level and stat development but interesting character development too. But what is so clever about this journey is how it starts as one person’s story and ends as another’s.
From the beginning – Tidus (the main protagonist) is the only character that can be renamed and the only character who is never mentioned by name by the other characters. Despite Tidus being the narrator throughout the game it’s almost as if his story is not having a story.
Legacy & Family
Fathers and sons. The narrative really examines parents and their children’s relationships from both extremes. With Tidus hating his old man to Yuna wanting to follow in her father’s own sacrificial footsteps. Almost every main character also has been uprooted from where they were born or thought to have belong to only realize later that they never belonged anywhere to begin with. Finding themselves, their own roles and a new family in this final journey of outcasts.
Sacrifice & Death
Possibly the most haunting question the game poses is how much is one person’s life actually worth? A summoner’s role in the plot is to make a pilgrimage across the land to face Sin. By destroying oneself they can bring a ten year calm. Does one tragedy outweigh another? On paper one life to save thousands seems like common sense until it is your life or even worse… the life of someone you love.
If you haven’t played this game it is an absolute must for every gamer’s collection and it’s ridiculously easy to find. Aside from debuting on the PS2 it has since been remastered on the PS3/PS Vita/ Xbox 360/ PS4/ Windows and Nintendo Switch. I can’t stress this enough: play this game.
Overall: 96% (Platinum)
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Also one last note – I will be beginning to sell off some games I have run across in my travels that I have no use for (NES games, Xbox games etc) I will begin to post them on the site. If you do see a game you would be interested in purchasing or trading for please contact me either on here/email or on Instagram/Facebook. Okay that’s all. Until next time.