Off the Grid: Final Fantasy X-2
For initially not wanting to cover anything with the words “Final Fantasy” in the title in this column, I sure seem to lean in that direction often. But, contrary to popular belief, not everything with those iconic words printed in colorful ink across the game case is instantly a fan favorite. I think we can agree here that the sequel to the amazing Final Fantasy X is one such title. I’m not writing about it here because it sold horribly – quite the contrary, actually. It sold very, very well. But, I’m writing to kind of hit my thoughts on some of the reasons many people seemed to not enjoy it. I don’t think a lot of gamers were too thrilled at the prospect of closing up the lose ends and rectifying the somber mood we were left with at the end of FFX, for one reason or another. Not this fanboy. To be perfectly honest, after finishing up FFX I was about ready to fly over to Square-Enix HQ and stab whoever wrote this story in the eye with a spork. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of bittersweet endings.
In case you haven’t managed to play FFX sometime in the last ten years, here’s a SPOILER WARNING. I swear this article is going somewhere, just follow it through. During the course of FFX, we find out that Tidus is, for all intents and purposes, a summoned entity and not present in the flesh. When Yuna and her companions bring Sin’s cycle of rebirth to a satisfying end, thus freeing the spirits of Spira’s fayths, Tidus disappears into pyreflies. At the very end of the game (possibly after the final credits roll, I can’t recall), we see a scene of Tidus underwater, swimming toward the surface and are left to wonder what all this means.
So, poor Yuna doesn’t get the guy at the end of the game. It’s tragic, I know. FFX-2 picks up where FFX left off and, if you make the right decisions and complete the majority of optional tasks within the game, you’re given, in my opinion, the proper ending that FFX should have had. Tidus emerges from the water on Besaid Island, approaches the shore and hooks up with Yuna. The way it should be.
Now, some people will counter that they like the “what if” ending of the original title. They like letting their imagination run away with all the possibilities of that final scene. Myself, I could care less about imagining what happens next, I want them to tell me. I want to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Tidus gets in Yuna’s pants. Or vice versa. This is a big part of why I enjoyed the sequal, going against the grain of what seems like the majority of Final Fantasy fans.
Alright, so, FFX-2 follows two girls from the original game – Yuna and Rikku – and their new friend Paine, in helping to restore Spira after Sin wrecked the place. But, Yuna has an ulterier motive, and that is to find a way to reunite with Tidus. She doesn’t know if this is possible, but being the optimistic girl that she is, she always holds out hope. You will also notice that there is a distinct lack of clothing on these girls compared to what they were wearing in FFX, Yuna mostly. Combine that with the snazzy dress-sphere, job-changing mechanic where you could play dress-up with your girls, and again people complained. “This title is too girly!” they whined, as they buried their face in their copies of FFVII, crying like a baby.
Wait, too “girly” or too “feminine”? These are JRPG fans, right? Nearly every frakking main character in every JRPG ever made ever is a girly man, especially that emo-tastic Cloud. Oops, did that just slip out of my mouth? I suppose I better get a fire extinguisher ready…oh, and a barrel to contain all the fanboy tears. These are also the same people looking forward to licking their TVs when they get to see Vanille’s midriff exposed in all its HD glory in FFXIII, let alone controlling a female protagonist the majority of the game. Give me a break. That is one lame excuse if I ever heard one.
The basic job system mechanics are nothing new to Final Fantasy afficionados and, just because they dress it up with a bunch of flashy effects and summon-like sequences doesn’t make it any different. Yuna and Rikku are rather deep characters, which people should have gathered from the first game. Look past the digital boobies and look at the story, comparing it to the first game to see how things and attitudes changed. Why did they change? How is life in Spira different now than it was? Why is Yuna on this personal quest? Put yourself in her boots – you would likely do the same.
It seems the same people who think Cloud was the best hero since the paddle in Pong are the ones who also complained that the atmosphere of FFX-2 was too light-hearted and cheerful. Go slit your wrist somewhere else and stop raining on my parade. What’s wrong with a light-hearted, fun atmosphere? Nothing, that’s what. Granted, regardless of the tone set by the story in Final Fantasy titles, they always manage to come across as humorous and cheerful at various points. Sure, FFX-2 took that to the extreme, but it’s good to have a game in the series that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s like Stargate SG-1 versus Battlestar Galactica. Both are great shows, but Stargate makes fun of itself and doesn’t take itself seriously. Battlestar Galactica, on the other hand, makes me want to go kill a kitten after every episode.
In addition, FFX-2 has a more agile battle system, but, again, it’s FUN. The dialog is great. The story from one of the greatest Final Fantasy titles of all time continues and we get to see something we are rarely given a glimpse of – a beloved Final Fantasy world after the events of the game in question. The game is most certainly not perfect, no game ever is. But, is it really as horribly wrong as many people make it out to be? I don’t think so. Oh, and there is the ultimate resolution for those apparently few of us who actually wanted to know for sure that Tidus and Yuna end up with some semblance of a “happy ever after”.