I wrote last week about playing through some of my favorite Final Fantasy games recently, and this week I’m continuing the topic by talking about Final Fantasy X and X-2.
Final Fantasy X and Maturing
I recall loving the love story in FFX possibly more than I loved the other aspects of the game. Granted, when it came out I was young and still thought Romeo and Juliet was incredibly romantic. I hadn’t learned my cynicism yet. Replaying it again as an adult, after I hadn’t in so many years, was a very different experience. I was thoroughly annoyed almost anytime Tidus opened his mouth, and wanted to give Yuna the Sassy Gay Friend treatment.
However, outside of being annoyed by their budding and incredibly short lived romance (doesn’t this all happen over the span of like…maybe a month?) I found myself more invested in the world being created within the game. The religion, politics, and Big Bad Guy are all incredibly fascinating, and the supporting cast of characters were more compelling than the two leads. Honestly I was rooting more for Wakka and Lulu the entire time I was playing. Story wise, I was far more intrigued this time around by the themes of self-sacrifice and manipulation, as well as the idea of glorifying these sacrifices for religious purposes. That part of the story definitely holds up to the tests of time and age (and, unsurprisingly, cynicism).
As far as gameplay goes, I still love the party system and how it allows you to build up your entire team instead of just your main crew. Switching out characters was also an amazing addition to this game. However, I’d forgotten how insanely intense the side quests all were. I honestly spent one day playing a Blitzball tournament to get just a piece to one of the ultimate weapons and looked around my living room and went…I’m an adult, I need to do the dishes and laundry instead of doing this.
I’d just reached the point in the game where you basically get free reign to do side quests before going to the final boss location, and after some half-hearted attempts to start the quests I gave up. Admittedly, I’m usually a completionist with Final Fantasy games, but I have a confession for this one. Not only did I stop doing side quests, but I watched a Youtube of the final fight/video and moved on to the next. There was no way I was going to spend a month dodging 200 lightning bolts, playing Blitzball, and playing impossibly overpowered bosses in the Arena. At this point in my life, adulting is unfortunately non-negotiable, and is slightly incompatible with such endeavors.
Final Fantasy X-2 and Blatant “Girly” Appeal
I also remember being a young girl and absolutely loving Final Fantasy X-2. At the time, I loved the battle system, the female-centric cast, the fun costumes, songs, and the fact that if you worked hard enough you could get Tidus back. It was girl heaven.
Playing it again was interesting to say the least.
I found myself simultaneously loving that it was marketed to girls and hating that it was also obviously marketed to teen boys for their titillation. Considering it was released in 2003, being seemingly marketed to girls was a big deal, since video games were mostly directed to teen boys. However, as the story goes on it becomes increasingly ridiculous and eyeroll worthy. Yuna’s entire personality has changed, and while it can be argued that she’s finally able to be free instead of a summoner who must sacrifice herself to bring the Calm, it actually seems like they really just wanted two Rikkus bouncing around in skimpy outfits. Sadly, it seems very shallow that Yuna has gone through a “metamorphosis” with her character. In FFX, Yuna is an incredibly strong-willed character, albeit misled by those in positions of power around her. FFX-2 seems to have thrown a lot of that strength out the window. The story is also flawed and full of plot holes; it continually tries to get the player invested in fighting the Big Bad of the game, but really it isn’t compelling. There’s always an awkward balance too of a very serious scene peppered with Rikku and Yuna acting unfortunately immature about everything.
As for the battle system, while it is very cool that it goes back to the idea of “jobs” in a very real way, I find myself irritated that the way they thought of doing it was through changing the characters’ clothes. While yes, they are gorgeous and yes the characters can become insanely powerful, I was still not thrilled that continually developers think the only way to get girls’ attention when it comes to video games is by offering them the chance to have pretty outfits. And yet, outside of this annoyance, there were moments in the game that made me feel like it was very “girl power” and awesome, almost feminist.
But then of course, Brother would hit on Yuna or she and Rikku would run off and make stupid choices, and I’d be over the moment. Honestly, again, I didn’t finish the game. Back when I first played it, heck probably the first few times I played it when I was younger, I played through several times and got 100% completion which gives you the Perfect Ending and Tidus comes back and hooray for love. This time through, I got into the second act and put the game down. Besides being annoyed and no longer finding it youthful and fun, I again realized I needed to be vacuuming and adulting and not playing a video game three times through in order to get the Perfect Ending.
Overall, I’d say I still mostly enjoy these two. Final Fantasy X is far more nuanced, and if I had access to infinite time I would have played it to completion again, because I was thoroughly wrapped up in the religious politics inherent in the game. But Final Fantasy X-2, unfortunately, will have to live in my adolescent memories as fun at the time.