Final Fantasy X Is Still A Classic After 20 Years
Final Fantasy X is 20 years old, and it’s worth reflecting on just how good the game by Square Enix is.
Everyone has their favourite Final Fantasy game, whether it is one of the classic early entries or even the real-time action of Final Fantasy 15. Nonetheless, Final Fantasy X still stands as a highlight of the long-running series.
I first encountered Final Fantasy X through a demo disc that came with PlayStation Magazine. Immediately, the graphics had me in awe, and while my pre-teen self wasn’t enamoured with turn-based gameplay, I was intrigued by this huge cinematic world and what looked like a very difficult aquatic netball (I’d soon find out it was Blitzball).
When I returned to the game nearly 20 years later, my friend had given me the remastered version and told me to complete it because it was the ‘best Final Fantasy game‘.
Sceptically I booted the game up, and I was genuinely surprised that the cinematic scenes look so impressive given the original hardware they were made for. Not only that, but the gameplay was tight and engaging.
The graphics do return to the quality of a PlayStation 2 game during gameplay. However, the genre of the game suits lesser graphics outside of the cutscenes. Much like classic Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) Ni No Kuni or Pokémon, the game has players wandering around in less detailed areas before they encounter enemies and get pulled into a fighting scenario with some dramatic music.
The fights themselves are enthralling, and the ability to summon epic aeons with Yuna add to the scale of the battles. Equally, all the characters in the game offer unique attributes that are fun to experiment with as you progress through their sphere grids.
Not only do you want to win the battles in the game, but if you don’t you’ll be taken back to your manual save. It’s a harsh reminder that every game used to have a difficulty that only the Dark Souls franchise now seems to replicate. Nonetheless, the challenge leads to a real sense of achievement when you find that next save location.
The prevalent conflicts for the characters and plot twists make it easy to get onside with them amidst the challenge. So much so, once you become fully invested in the fantasy and the combat, it becomes an engrossing epic. While most Final Fantasy games do have rich drama, this was the first game to use voice acting, and it pays off when you notice John DiMaggio, Bender from Futurama, is also the voice of Wakka.
Of course, the game does have its faults, and there are some odd interactions while you strive to take down Sin and deal with Seymour being the absolute worst. The game couldn’t be discussed without a mention of the awkward laugh between Yuna and Tidus when she tells him about faking happiness, which has become the stuff of meme legend.
Despite the occasional pitfall, Final Fantasy X is a thrilling adventure that nails the conventions of JRPGs while offering a narrative that is still among the best found in games today. The game is a perfect play for story lovers who want a game to complete in 50 hours and JRPGs enthusiasts who want to spend hundreds of hours in Spira.
There are many parameters for what makes a good game, but the gameplay still being fun and the story being engaging is key. Twenty years later, and Final Fantasy X holds up in these areas, and may actually be a contender for the best game in the series, even if I still think Blitzball is difficult.
Playing it through, you don’t feel there needs to be a remake, and it actually seems like it would be tough to recapture the magic. With this in mind, it might be time to reboot the PlayStation 2 or grab the remaster, and remember a terrific game on its anniversary.
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