Now a true RPG fan!

It’s been a while since my last post.  I’ve been shoring up some of the other pages (creating an HTML version of the FFL2 FAQ in honor of SaGa2 DS and updating the Destiny of an Editor section to reflect more recent work).

I have also been playing one of the most popular RPG “classics” of our recently departed generation: Final Fantasy X.  This, no doubt, will give me the internet equivalent of street cred and my blog will now overflow with posts debating whether Sephiroth is the best villain ever.  My review follows.Let me say, first, that this game does rank pretty well in the standard of PS2 Final Fantasy games.  This is not a great metric to go by, though; FFXII was only saved from “unmitigated disaster” on the character front by Balthier, and though the plot was entertaining enough, much of the rest of the game was bland.  The license grid was fun for a while, then got boring and pointless; meanwhile the sphere grid is pointless for a while, and then gets fun.  But as fun as it is to rag on FFXII, this post is about FFX.

Once I got past the first 7 hours, Tidus went out of “whiny Blitzball player” mode and got a little less dense.  This allowed cooler characters (everyone else) to take a bit more of the stage.  Although the others are at times annoying, aside from Auron, all of them are at least unique.  This is one of FFX’s strengths, although none of the characters are compelling.  Unfortunately only Wakka shows any significant growth, and that is mostly because he goes from religious bigot to a somewhat understanding guy with a terrible accent.  Tidus and Yuna improve a bit, but Tidus remains the outwardly-confident inwardly-sensitive JRPG stereotype while Yuna maintains the strength-in-the-face-of-despair bit from start to finish.  Voice-wise, both have either poorly translated lines or shoddy delivery; I’m not sure which, and it could be both.  Auron, Rikku, Lulu, and  Kimahri are the only characters who feel well-voiced, and if they couldn’t do “awesome veteran warrior”, “stereotypical bouncy girl”, “goth girl” and “guy who never talks” right, I would not have bothered playing the game.

The world is definitely FFX’s strongest point.  Spira has all kinds of crazy stuff going on, and the landscapes seem at some times almost Seussian, others something like in Skies of Arcadia; generally, they are fascinating and fantastic.  Unfortunately, the initial wonder the player might feel at seeing something like the Thunder Plains, where a constant thunderstorm roils the landscape and specially placed lightning rods allow moderately safe passage, is almost immediately offset by annoyance.  See, the player has to dodge these lightning bolts in an incredibly annoying fashion, while dealing with the crushingly high standard encounter rate (seriously, once every 10 steps or something).  Likewise, in the somewhat-cliche-though-cool forested area, the player can do an incredibly annoying butterfly catching minigame.  Though there are areas where stupid minigames do not interfere with the dreamy, fantastic feel of Spira, they are few and far between.

Likewise, Spira’s constant assualt by Sin makes for an interesting move.  Much like the post-apocalyptic fourth world of Final Fantasy Legend, full of ruined cities destroyed by a rampaging phoenix, Spira goes through 10-year cycles at the end of which Sin reappears and begins laying waste to the landscape.  Any attempts to stop it by conventional means meet with death on a grand scale.   Sin’s nature (i.e. biology, power, etc) is never fully explored, though it is far better without explanation; all you need to know is that it has a freaking lot of bug things and laser beams it can shoot at you, and that somehow your entire party always survives every assault intact.

It is this lack of follow-through where Final Fantasy X falls apart.  Spira is consistently described as being death-filled; and perhaps it is.  But none of the characters who die have faces.  There are two minor characters – potentially three – who are even remotely likeable and die in the course of the game.  They each have perhaps four lines before their death.  What FFX really needed was for a significant character (preferably Tidus) to die a horribly violent death.  Perhaps getting crushed by Sin’s left pinky-equivalent.  Then the message of death would get through; but no, we can’t have any main characters die, because that’s too cliche.  And before anyone calls me out on a certain character, you should re-read the exact wording in the paragraph.  I know at least one person reading hasn’t played the game yet (yes, I’m sure you are the only one in the world who hasn’t now), and I try to keep this place spoiler-free.


  1. Kefka Said,

    April 14, 2009 @ 7:16 am

    Kefka was here.
    Sephiroth is a loser.

  2. niahak Said,

    April 14, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

    I concur. Sephiroth was one of the weaker points of FFVII.

    I think Marlene should have been the main villain.

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