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Jiro
04-02-2014, 10:46 AM
Today I purchased Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster. Instead of musing aloud, I decided to muse aloud and make notes. These notes will then inform my updates here as I play through the game. I considered merely jotting these down in a Word document for use later, but I figure it might create some discussion and I might use it to write things for EoFF so why not make a thread. Plus, alliteration is awesome.

So, let us begin!


The introductory screen is nice. Cool to see that I have other things to try for the first time! Of course, I will start at the top and work my way down, because that is the natural progression and I do not wish to ruin this narrative by placing it out of order. I catch myself thinking, "okay, Square Enix do remakes okay," until I remember Final Fantasy VI for Android. "Remake bundles," I amend, highlighting the start screen of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix in my mind. Also, they are terrible with names.

The opening cut scene plays. Rikku's hair looks like crap. So does Kimahri's. Wakka and Lulu's looks alright from this distance though, so that's a plus. I can definitely see graphical improvements, and the music is nice. "Why is Kimahri's ponytail thing so... trout, though?" I wonder. Alayna points out that it happens in anime too; hair is gravity defying.

"YES BUT," I say, "his little hair band thing that makes his hair shoot out is great, but the end would drop. It would still be 'pointy' but this is just pointlessly incorrect." I know too much about having long hair, I realise. Maybe I should get a hair cut.

Yuna and Tidus also have strange hair. It is probably nicer, but the crisper detail on the rest of the body makes the hair look awkward and plastic. I like Tidus's face, and then he does that weird half-open mouth thing that I remember from one of the trailer videos and I tell him to close his stupid mouth. His eyes are amazingly blue though, which makes him significantly more attractive. This is good. The title card comes up and it is nice, then it is joined by the HD Remaster crap and it is severely less nice.

Sakaguchi gets his Executive Producer credit and I cannot help but smile. Even when he is gone, Square Enix are still using him to turn a profit. Or, at least, try not to go insolvent. I don't think he would complain; he loved the work he created and no doubt feels something inexplicable towards the company as a concept.

Suddenly I am faced with a choice between New Game, Load Game, and Data Transfer. Data Transfer? I try it, but nothing. Maybe I need one of those wacky things to suck my PS2 save file out of the memory card, or whatever. I don't care either which way so I go back and hit new game. I get more loading screens.

Have I mentioned those yet? I have not. The loading screens are gross. I hate them. Why? Mostly the blue. Mostly the text. The language of Spira is not decipherable that easily. It's not English. Loading is written in some weird amalgam of Spiran and English. That is gross. Also the blue is kind of gross. Otherwise, I don't mind it. Have a black screen with spinning Jecht symbol, that is fine. Get rid of the rest.

Then the second intro plays. Not second as in "it has another," but rather, it plays again. I just saw this. I was forced to watch this before I could choose to play the game at all. Why would you do this? Pressing start only pauses it, prolonging my despair. Ugh.

It takes a while. I wonder why Tidus, Yuna, and Wakka would put their weapons in some kind of weird monument shape. Maybe it is explained later. Maybe it is for marketing. Probably the latter. When Tidus stands, I noticed the hood on his shoddy (shirt/hoodie crossover) moves. Now that is cool.

I remark "shouldn't you be speaking" approximately half a second before he starts. Okay, so I was almost right. The title card comes up again and I realise the font is not quite the same, but I dig it anyway. There is a weird juxtaposition between the kind of traditional setting they are in at this opening shot and the futuristic, clean, sans-serif font though. Slightly unnerving, but not likely to bother a normal person.

And then we start listening to Tidus's story. Hoo boy, here we goooooo!

Miss Mae
04-02-2014, 10:53 AM
If my witty remarks are going to be included throughout this journey, I'm going to have to make sure I make more of them and that they are about more interesting things than gravity-defying anime hair.

Ayen
04-02-2014, 10:56 AM
I hate games that show you the opening scene when you boot it up and then the same exact opening scene when you start a new game. What's the point in that? Ninja Gaiden is the worst offender of this I've seen so far. Not only does it have the opening scene before the title screen and then start a new game, but it has all of that written down in the instruction manual! Why!? Why?! Then again you can at least skip it both times.

I will join you on this journey. If hair is already a problem then I cannot WAIT when you get to Seymour. I seriously can't.

Sephex
04-02-2014, 11:00 AM
My reaction when I first saw Seymour: "HE HAS BAD GUY HAIR! HE'S A BAD GUY! HE'S A BAD GUY!!!"

Miss Mae
04-02-2014, 11:02 AM
-sees comments about this Seymour character-
-Googles him to see pictures of his hair-
-dies-

Ayen
04-02-2014, 11:07 AM
-sees comments about this Seymour character-
-Googles him to see pictures of his hair-
-dies-

You haven't played X?

Let me tell you a story about the Shoopuf...

Miss Mae
04-02-2014, 11:10 AM
I owned it. I played it. I never finished it. I have next to no recollections of anything about it. Potentially because I was about eight or nine at the time?

Jiro
04-02-2014, 11:13 AM
Zanarkand

The music is... dodgy. It is a strange, slightly off-kilter beepy boopy that I expect from the 90s. I suppose the Final Fantasy X Project logo that I was forced to sit through a loading screen for earlier did say 1999-2002, but surely the music comes toward the end of the project, not several years before it begins. The fashion, too, is horrendous; hipsters wouldn't even wear it. I have no doubt it is very "in" somewhere though. I would check the character designer, but I suspect Nomura anyway.

After Tidus appears again, I wonder: is this a commentary on the concept of celebrity? Here Tidus is, in the sanctuary of his own home, and some of his biggest fans crowd the only exit; they know exactly where he lives. How claustrophobic. But then, I wonder, is it actually a subversion? After all, Tidus - star player of the Zanarkand Abes and son of the greatest Blitzballer ever - lives on a shitty house boat. Okay, the inside is plush, but look at Zanarkand. Look at it. It is built up, so high up that you can't see shit from their highways. How low would Tidus even have to live in order to live on a house boat? If Star Wars and Coruscant taught us anything, it's that the rich, famous, and powerful live at the top, while the death stick dealers live at the bottom.

I gain control of Tidus and try to go back in his house. "No, you're not going," I say. "You're grounded. This game is not happening. We're staying in." But of course, the door is locked; can't have rabid fans going in, and he is the most important player tonight. Jecht Memorial Cup, right? Wait, I'm not supposed to know that yet. Shoot.

The running animation is smooth. Real smooth. As an athlete myself (I refuse to say former :colbert:), I am always curious to see the running animation in games. JRPGs are a source of interest, because they often have three speeds: running, jogging, and walking. However, because the player is not limited by realism, the characters often sprint everywhere, and despite that being unrealistic anyway, their running technique is usually poor and unlikely to be conducive to either speed or stamina. So, Tidus "jogs" in a natural kind of way, which I can imagine being maintained over long distances, not even just because he is an athlete. I am going to write my PhD thesis on running in video games, btw.

Of course, all of this is moot once I start tapping Circle. Tidus stumbles as he goes, looking like a complete moron. Wonderful.

He reaches the crowd of fans and I notice that the NPC head tracking is insane. They must be very dedicated fans because their necks whip back and forth even more fiercely than Willow Smith. Tidus, being the attractive self-absorbed sports star that he is, talks the ladies first. And then has much regret, for their voices are like grating your actual ears with an actual cheese grater. Clearly, they did not redo any of these voices. I want to silence these women as quickly as possible.

On the plus side, the name entry screen is nice. I like it. Nice colours, crisp. Tidus's portrait may be different; if so, it is an improvement. If not, well, I'm a bit of an idiot, aren't I? :greenie:

Tidus promises to do... this! if he scores. Okay, he's a superstar and these chicks want to fuck him. Probably at the same time. He should probably be less awkward. There is already some inconsistency forming between Tidus the "I got it together I'm so cool and famous" and Tidus the "helly do sad wee" but we'll touch on this again later.

Tidus then talks to random NPCs because why not. Two of them are voiced. The chick has, uh, really good voice acting. Which is weird because she has like three lines of dialogue. But, far out, that is impressive and the dialogue fits perfectly. I think I found the best line of dialogue in the game and it is pointless throwaway garbage in the first 10 minutes of gameplay. Gonna be a long trip.

Bahamut Kid (shh we don't know this yet) has a line but it's stupid and Tidus doesn't respond. Like, way to be a weirdo, both of you.

Okay, then Tidus talks to the kids. Finally. He has to be a role model, right? He signs the blitzballs for the kids one by one and the last kid says "Me too!" and Tidus flips out with a "Take it easy!" but little does he realise that the kid fucking waited his turn so don't be a prick Tidus.

Then it hits cutscene again and the middle kid suddenly has the voice of a sixteen year old girl with nasal congestion, starts on "two" like he/she/it/they are some kind of fucking band conductor, and then the three of them say "Teach us how to blitz." Okay, fine, kids want their hero to teach them to be just as good as him. Fine with me, I get hero worship, I've been there. Then Tidus is all like "I got a game, duh" and they're like "then after!" and he considers it. Um, dude. Couple things wrong with this: they're kids so they'll probably be asleep after the game, and um hello you're Zanarkands biggest name are you kidding me? You're not going to wrap up your match and then go teach 3 kids how to be star blitzball players. Get out of here.

And then Bahamut Kid says not tonight and Tidus is like "...hmmm yeaaah". Okay look I'm not Tidus but you either go "who the fuck are you, kid?" or you take the opening and go, "oh YEAH not tonight, but tomorrow, sure kids, whatever" and then you prance off because you have a frigging game to play and you're gonna be LATE.

Please note: the kids then do the prayer in perfect synchronisation and if that's not an indication that you're a fucking dream of the fayth or at least in some kind of wack-ass Matrix then I don't know what is.

I... I guess it's time to go play blitzball now?

Ayen
04-02-2014, 11:15 AM
Sounds like me with V and VI. Only I was ten. As per EoFF tradition I implore you to replay it and will now attempt operation conversion.

Oh Jiro. You're going to be dead at the rate you're going.

Miss Mae
04-02-2014, 11:23 AM
Depending on how this goes, I'm sure I will take the reins playing for 'Jiro's Journey' occasionally anyway. Gives him a chance to scribble his notes without having to keep hitting pause. :p So don't worry, I will see all and play at least parts of this game!

Jiro
04-02-2014, 11:31 AM
As we start going through Zanarkand, I must admit, it is gorgeous. I mean, in terms of colour variation, it is abysmal; it's a brown bunch of pillars, but fucking hell some water features and that sci-fi atmosphere make it kind of brilliant. Like I mentioned earlier though, where are the boats? Everything is so high, that kind of low-lying boat area is nowhere to be seen.

Also, those roads. Wat. There is, like, one, and it is huge, and clearly not for cars so WHY SO WIDE, and the buildings don't ever touch it. How does this even work? I will pass that off as a necessary casualty of an unimportant unexplorable beginning location but Square Enix you know our relationship is rocky. (http://oi59.:bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou::bou:/sfieko.jpg) So don't mess this up, okay?

The narrator comes in. Okay, his voice is nice. I'm confused, and then I realise he is a commentator talking about the game and stuff and it makes loads more sense and I'm so on board. And then his name is Zanar and nope there is no way that anybody in this dream world named their fucking kid after what appears to be the only fucking city in the entire world. No. I bet his twin brother is Kand and I bet he died in childbirth.

Some woman on the road says, "Oh I'm sure you'll be the star player this year," and I curse Square Enix softly for not putting in a "smack dat ho" button in because I am already the star player, you fool.

While I chat to the other citizens standing on this bridge road thing for no discernible reason, I notice the same three kids from before running past me continually. How are they doubling back around so quickly? That is ridiculous. Why even do this? If you want to create the illusion of activity and movement, then have a couple different groups going so I don't notice it immediately.

Also, already I have encountered doubles and triples of character models. There are approximately 10 unique people that live in Zanarkand. That's lazy. Really, really, really lazy. And it is obvious, which is the worst thing.

Somehow, Tidus is not late yet, but somebody says, "oh, the game can't start without you!" and I slightly readjust my perceptions of what star player means: so, if he wanted to, Tidus could rock up 15 minutes, no, 30 minutes late and they would only start then? Maybe he is already "late".

That would explain why he gets mobbed when he gets to the stadium. His jogging on the spot action is stupid, but the actual act of having to push through the crowd is really quite novel. It's a pointless little inclusion, but no, it adds immersion and verisimilitude and that is important. Square Enix maybe you aren't so bad after all. Or, maybe you used to be okay...

I... don't know what the deal is with the forcefield water door. It looks like one guy follows him through? What is stopping them and how is it not stopping Tidus? I have too many questions about this city's design and technology already and we haven't even been inside the Blitzball stadium yet.

I will talk about one of my favourite things in the entirety of Final Fantasy next​.

Ayen
04-02-2014, 11:45 AM
Blitzball is the greatest mother smurfing sport in the world! Woohoo!

Jiro
04-02-2014, 12:04 PM
I have taken very detailed notes here at the beginning because I think the beginning should be heavily scrutinised. I think all of it should, really, but the beginning particularly so. I will not be doing anything quite this drastic, and if Alayna does indeed assist me, then I will be able to type and go rather than playing for an hour and typing for five hundred. If I could grow a beard, it would be grey right now.


The Otherworld song and this cinematic are cool. Really, remarkably cool. It characterises Tidus really well. It shows how calm and in his element he is prior to the Blitzball game. Despite the discrepancies out in the field, where blitz is concerned, Tidus is king and he has all the confidence in the world. He is a professional athlete. It shows how fanatical people are about Blitzball, and how much of a spectacle it is.

It sets a great tone; the music is harsh (although not as crisp as it is in the original) and metal(lic), as compared to the gentle, natural feel of the music in Besaid and so on, showing a clear difference between the technologic and technophobic. Panning out over Zanarkand gives us a better view of the city and it is, once again, gorgeous.

Blitzball is shown to be extremely athletic. It is also shown to have loads of dreadlocks, and Tidus potentially kills another athlete by ramming him out of the stadium. Worth noting is the presence of both men and women on both teams; Blitzball is not a sexist sport and that is very interesting. I may muse more on that later, actually.

Side note: Auron is also cool. Really, really cool. Why do they make him so cool? I guess it establishes his character as being a little impressive and mysterious, but a lot of this cut scene confused me for a long time and still does even after understanding it. I get that Auron "rode" Sin but how is he "calling" it? He raises his little canteen as if to signal him, and it seems really misleading. Sin knows what to do and if not should not be able to understand Auron at all.

The shattering of the statue was really cool. It's not just showing that Sin breaks stuff, it's that it completely shatters and then absorbs every part of people. Visually impressive too.

Tidus, mid-Sphere Shot (does he know this move straight away in Luca? If no, ludonarrative dissonance maybe, if yes, genius), sees Sin firing lasers (?) and manages to bail as everything crumbles around him. Uh, if he was performing the Sphere Shot, he would've had to fall somewhere. Back in, right? But if so, why is there something for him to grab? He'd smash his face on that. Anyway, he grabs hold of the ledge and we watch the stadium sink, and then he drops what has to be at least a good 50m and dies. Game over, thanks for coming.

No, of course not. Plot armour. The ludicrous nature of blitzball can be explained with some kind of jedi mind trick and a mention about water and anti gravity tech. Falling from that height onto stone or marble or concrete cannot. These minor points are a big gripe for me throughout the series, and throughout stuff generally. I get that they couldn't add in incremental ledges while maintaining the integrity of the FMV, but really now.

Tidus escapes, along with all the other invincible people, and bumps into Auron. "Oh hey, what are you doing here?" like it's only mildly a big deal. I fault Square Enix and James Arnold Taylor equally for the poor lines in this game. I don't hate Tidus, and I don't hate his voice acting, but there are a lot of really really shit lines in this game.

Tidus runs along the stupid single highway, in the opposite direction to most people, and sees the Bahamut Kid. This... is really weird. He walks up like he's going to say "hey kid, whatcha doing out here?" but it is entirely out of character; Tidus has just been wandering around looking dazed and confused, and he sees one stoic looking kid in a hood and is like "oh yeah I'm the star player of the Zanarkand Abes I should be calm."

At this point, I made another note complaining about the loading screens. Yes, this is a great point me from a little while ago. This game is remastered. Surely it does not need insufferably long (like 5-10 seconds) load screens. They're already gross; why make me look at them often!?

Tidus finds Auron again and Auron points at Sin. Sin appears to be in the direction that the other people were running. Um? I don't know if it is me or if it was Square Enix, but I am suddenly disoriented and that is an unpleasant feeling.

We find some Sinscales and... well, Auron lets Tidus swat at them for a moment. Why, I don't know. Why the Sinscales don't tear him a new one, I don't know. Then Auron pulls a sword out of his ass and hands it to Tidus, who struggles under its weight. No. Tidus is a professional athlete. Look at the muscle tone in his arms. Even if Blitzball had no arm actions, he would still be strong enough to wield that shit with two hands. Maybe he's shaken, fine, whatever. But then he breathes a little and can hold it with one hand, with theoretically no prior sword training? Bullshit, Square Enix. This is a hero-of-destiny type trope and you should be ashamed. Here was your chance to create a true hero out of his element and they didn't take it.

The combat is nice. The dings as you move onto commands and select them are new, but nice. Numbers are crisp, and I can dig that. All of the interface is neat and not very invasive or obtrusive, without blending in. I'm a huge fan of the battle system anyway, but I've mused on that elsewhere (http://www.uffsite.net/avalon/downloads/pdf/ff25_avalon_mag_db.pdf).

There's another brief section where Tidus says "Let's get out of here" to Auron as if it was a new idea and he just thought of it and wasn't freaking out about the crazy shit and the fighting and the dying and the fact that there is only one road in his city that leads where he needs to go always.

Then they blow up a building to deal with a bunch of enemies. Then Auron tells Tidus to jump on the falling building and he does so like it is no Big Deal. Then they use the building, which is randomly exploding for no good reason, as a ramp to jump elsewhere.

Auron does his talk and I didn't make notes here but I will say that they are vitally important in understanding the way Tidus acts later. Auron is the coolest dude ever, and also a psuedo mentor to Tidus. Auron tells self-absorbed superstar Tidus that this is his story; of course Tidus takes that on board, subconsciously or otherwise, and is a bit of a brat about stuff.

Then we get a white loading screen and I love it. This is nice. Let's have this all the time.

Then we get existential bullshit. This detracts from the pacing so fucking much. The next time we control Tidus should not be in a weird but familiar place; it should be in a completely unknown place to really capture the feeling of confusion. It's also stupid because Tidus swims like he is treading water despite being submerged in ~spirits~ or whatever the hell is going on here.

Okay now we're at the Sunken Temple and I've stopped playing for now so THERE

Scotty_ffgamer
04-02-2014, 12:45 PM
Just to explain the Data Transfer thing, it's for if you own both the Vita and PS3 versions of the game. You can transfer your saves between the two through that. There is no transferring of the PS2 save even if you could hook your PS2 memory card into the system.

I never thought Auron was trying to signal to Sin in that one scene. I just always thought of it as just trying to continue to make him look cool. He's just raising his glass to Sin to get himself prepared, I think. I could be wrong.

Playing the intro at the beginning before you select new game/load/whatever sucks. I don't know why they do that. You could skip it by playing start, but I think most people's reactions when just loading up the game for the first time is to want to take everything, including watching that opening thing. It also sucks that once in the game, you can't ever skip cutscenes.

Not really related, but I just feel like sharing. I've given Tidus the name of "Boy" for my playthrough. I think it's a good name for him.

Bubba
04-02-2014, 12:51 PM
This thread pleases me greatly.

Ayen
04-02-2014, 01:03 PM
The beginning is... poor. No arguments here. I'm not sure how much of the nitpicks are genuine or just joking, but I think most of the stuff you go on about the city is overkill. The game might have been upgraded to HD but it's still working off PS2 mechanics, and they didn't have the technology back then to really let the vastness of Zanarkand sink in the way they could today. The recycled character models is a fair complaint but I can also see why they'd do it. Save on time and resources. I'm not going to defend the voice acting, though. Voice acting is not Square's strong suit and I think the direction, dubbing and voice actors themselves all contribute, at least in X's case.

I don't think Auron was trying to call Sin either. I think he was just like, "I'm cool and a badass so I'm going to ride Sin because I can." I never took anything more from that scene than that. The whole thing with the sword is legit and such an easy fix if they just had him able to hold it with both hands in the beginning because he's already athletic like you said. It's not going to make much difference later anyway since he's able to wield it like a pro by the time he gets to Spira. I love your analysis of Blitzball and I sadly can't remember much of the fall off the ledge so no comment. Final Fantasy utilizes anime logic a lot around this time if it wasn't obvious already since VII. I'm enjoying this playthrough immensely so far.

Look at me, managing to make a post longer than a line.

Jiro
04-02-2014, 01:54 PM
A lot of my critiques are going to seem petty because I am still critiquing this as if they basically made it from scratch. That might seem unfair, but I think that you need to do more than give something a new lick of paint to justify a re-release. The single highway is, in my opinion, rubbish, but to actually create a believable network of roads and then have to block them off creatively would only have attracted ire from people back in 2002 or whenever it was initially released. I am going to be highly critical because I love Final Fantasy X and can justify many of my critiques. But I can't do that if I don't point them out :monster:

Ayen
04-02-2014, 02:18 PM
You're close. 2001 was its original release date which would put it early into the PS2's life and a lot of games that came out around this time didn't get to fully capitalize on the console's power since we were still making the transition from the PS1. I agree with you on the justification for re-release, that's why I don't get the sudden trend of making a HD port of everything if all you're doing is touching up the graphics. Besides from the obvious cashing in on a previous success without having to put in as much work as you did before and I think that's a terrible reason for re-releasing something.

I get being hard on games you love, too. I was the same way when I reviewed the first Mass Effect.

Jinx
04-02-2014, 02:45 PM
Echoing Scotty, I always just assumed Auron was "raising his glass" as it were. More of a toast, bottoms up, etc. He knows all hell is about to break loose, so it's just sort of a salute.

Loving this thread, Jiro! Can't wait to keep reading it. :)

Psychotic
04-02-2014, 05:15 PM
I hate the god damn double intro thing. The last two FFXIII games got me with those. :irked:

Kalevala
04-02-2014, 05:17 PM
I hate games that show you the opening scene when you boot it up and then the same exact opening scene when you start a new game. What's the point in that? Ninja Gaiden is the worst offender of this I've seen so far. Not only does it have the opening scene before the title screen and then start a new game, but it has all of that written down in the instruction manual! Why!? Why?! Then again you can at least skip it both times.

I find this especially frustrating because I often wait and watch the entirety of whatever scene is shown upon boot up, just in case it's something different. THEN I start the game and have to sit through the exact same scene (usually) without the option to skip it. I've been falling for this ever since FFVI.

Pumpkin
04-02-2014, 06:02 PM
I was gonna say what Scotty said about Auron :P

I don't think he was as cool as I used to. Now the aspect I appreciate about him most and am most interested in is his change from his pilgrimage with Braska to how he is now. Because let's face it, he changed a good bit.

Karifean
04-02-2014, 06:16 PM
You can skip the second intro with the Select button though.

Pete for President
04-02-2014, 08:16 PM
I love how things in videogames do not have to be realistic.

Ayen
04-03-2014, 09:33 AM
I hate games that show you the opening scene when you boot it up and then the same exact opening scene when you start a new game. What's the point in that? Ninja Gaiden is the worst offender of this I've seen so far. Not only does it have the opening scene before the title screen and then start a new game, but it has all of that written down in the instruction manual! Why!? Why?! Then again you can at least skip it both times.

I find this especially frustrating because I often wait and watch the entirety of whatever scene is shown upon boot up, just in case it's something different. THEN I start the game and have to sit through the exact same scene (usually) without the option to skip it. I've been falling for this ever since FFVI.

Final Fantasy VI did this?


I love how things in videogames do not have to be realistic.

Nobody said that. I find the inclusion of anime logic in some of the FF games that came out in the late 90's and early 00's to be disheartening but I'm not going to act surprise that they're there given the time frame and it was never bad enough IMO to hinder my enjoyment of the games overall. But some games take the realism aspect too far, the introduction of the stamina meter in wrestling games is one such example I can think of where it was realism in sacrifice of just having fun.

Kalevala
04-03-2014, 12:44 PM
FFVI did back on the SNES I believe. I think it does the same thing on the GBA version. If you don't press anything it will play the opening scene between Wedge, Biggs, and Terra and then the opening credits as they march on Narshe.

Jiro
04-09-2014, 06:33 AM
Sunken Temple (aka Baaj Temple right?)

We wake up on a rock and Tidus freaks out, as you would. This is a really great location because it draws an immediate contrast between Zanarkand and Spira. Zanarkand was impressive and built up; this location is trout and crumbling and underwater. It also serves as a sort of progression as well as a contrast: Zanarkand was built up but now that Sin has arrived it will likely look like this.

One thing I hadn't mentioned yet is the mini map. In previous Final Fantasy games, whatever mini map you have takes the shape of a traditional map. They're old, sort of medieval inspired, in stark contrast to the modern or futuristic radar map that FFX has. It's interesting when you consider that this was in some ways the "modernisation" of Final Fantasy. I admit bias here; for those older than me, Final Fantasy VII might have served this role with the shift to 3D.

This opening area instils a great sense of dread. I already do not like deep dark expanses of water, and now I know there are probably things out there trying to eat me. Of course, I explore anyway, because RPGs are about exploration. It is cool to find the Al Bhed note, as it hints at something to be revisited. The Al Bhed sphere, though, completely deletes the sense of isolation. Here is some random technology that, instead of being mysterious, tells you what it is about. In simple terms, it's a spoiler. I want to say the word anachronistic here so I will. Anachronistic.

As an aside, I find it strange that Tidus has a shield. I recognise that it makes sense given his weapon choice, but everybody else's equipment seems to make sense. Tidus, however, has a shield for no reason. It would not make sense in Blitzball, unlike Wakka's armguard, and he did not receive it from Auron. Strange.

Tidus gets knocked around a bit by that sea monster whose name I have forgotten. He then manages to stabilise himself, despite being underwater. I am reminded of Dragon Ball Z, where the characters are able to "slide" in the air, as if there is something offering resistance. It is less obvious here, and less problematic, given that water obviously does have resistance, but still.



Here is an intermission.

Jiro
04-09-2014, 06:44 AM
Final Fantasy X has a very gentle introduction to its combat. While the bulk of the tutorials are yet to come, it is worth noting that the only place you can die up until the point Rikku shows up is when you have the swarm of Sinscales. Every boss only damages you for half current health, and there are not enough non-attack functions available to not kill the enemies before they can kill you. I mean, it would take a special kind of determination to die before this point.

After "defeating" Geosgaeno a cut scene plays. I mentioned the running animation earlier, and in this cut scene, Tidus demonstrates an unbelievable and unrealistic swimming animation. Generally, his movement is fine, but in this instance, he seems to defy the nature of water. But the fact that he swims in boots etc is already crazy enough, so let's pass over this.

"Out of the frying pan... and into the freezer" is a really clever play on a cliché. The writing is hit and miss the whole way through, but there are certainly some examples of clever writing. Contrast this with a lot of other JRPGs that are almost entirely full of clichés.

Tidus enters the next room by pushing over rubble from gigantic stone pillars. Unless this is styrofoam, there is no way he would be able to do this. It seems like a ridiculous inclusion just to get the visual they want. Convenient rubble blocking off exits doesn't faze me, but plot convenient superhuman strength is stupid. Consistency!

Tidus spends a lot of time talking to himself early on, but rarely does it feel unrealistic. Those are situations where I could imagine myself doing the same. It's a nice way to characterise Tidus without having him just narrate everything.

The flower-flint-fire puzzle is pretty cool, because it's extremely understated. You don't get told what to do. You just have to explore and figure it out. Understated is excellent.

I got sick of the loading screens again :monster: This happens a lot. The white ones are far nicer.



On that note, let's have another intermission. It's hard to look at my own text in such large blocks.

Jiro
04-09-2014, 06:54 AM
Another important point of note is the camera position. I love that the camera is not static. Later, in Besaid, the camera pans with you to show gorgeous landscapes. But sometimes the camera moves around in a strange way, which results in Tidus running into stupid walls unless you stop moving and recalibrate your stick position. It's a minor issue, but one that crops up regularly and that is really quite frustrating.

Flashbacks and dreams are used a lot to further Tidus's progression. Some of them are... weird. It's interesting though. I take issue with this one though: why is the Bahamut Fayth seen? Tidus apparently sees him, but shows no sign of recognition. It does establish the mentor-mentee relationship between Auron and Tidus though, which is good. (It does bring up questions about Auron's ability to travel between Spira and Zanarkand though.)

Rikku's introduction is strange. First, the door explodes (cool) and the pieces of what seemed to be rock but are apparently metal fly towards the screen (cool) but it just feels really awkward in the way it all moves. Then the other Al Bhed dudes rock up, and there's a flash of light and Rikku appears in front of them, despite not being visible in any shot prior to that. Ridiculous. There are better ways to introduce a character than a flash of light.

Obviously, from a gameplay perspective, it makes sense that only Rikku joins your party for the fight. But it still seems very odd that you have four other armed Al Bhed just standing there watching this monster thrash their boss.

Following the battle, the fanfare theme plays and I feel invigorated and inspired. It really has to be one of my favourite versions.

The camera angles in the next cut scene cling to Rikku's curves. Given that she's jailbait for most of the world, that's really a bit strange. I mean, I'm okay with this, and it probably fits in with Tidus's personality, but it can feel a little detached and ecchi. Those Japanese sure love their gratuitous angles.

Jiro
04-09-2014, 07:00 AM
The cut scene with the Al Bhed is stupid. I find a lot of the interaction with the Al Bhed to be stupid. Rikku does not engage directly with Tidus. One of the dudes wonders if he is a fiend; not an unsent, but a fiend. This is stupid and undermines any sort of intelligence the group as a whole has. Why would they have not stepped in earlier if they thought he was a threat? Why would Rikku have helped if she was concerned? Even if Rikku is not the head of the operation, is she not the commander at this point for this little group? Take him back without knocking him out. Why take him back at all if they thought he was a fiend? There are so many inconsistencies in this section.

The intent, clearly, was to have Tidus wake up somewhere thanks to a mysterious group. That way, SE doesn't have to show how he got there or reference it at all. Instead of achieving their goal, they have created huge we-were-all-from-the-same-orphanage sized inconsistencies. As you can see, I have a huge problem with this scene which doesn't measure up to a lot of the clever scenes throughout the rest of the game, and indeed, leading up to this point. :(

I'm going to actually take a break now and then I can dive into the Al Bhed ship part. I hope to be up to Besaid by this evening but we'll see how it goes.


EDIT: PS there is no way Rikku could have incapacitated Tidus from that distance, surely.

Jiro
04-09-2014, 07:39 AM
Al Bhed Salvage Ship

Let me start this section by once again ripping the Al Bhed a new one. I love them as a race and how they function throughout the game, but for this first section (and indeed, up until post-Luca) they are shown to be inexplicably dickish. Final Fantasy X wants you to feel like the Al Bhed are misunderstood, and perhaps they are, but if people grab me by the hair, threaten to cut my throat, smash me in the head with the butt of their gun and then aim it at me, I'm probably not going to listen to their motives.

The way Brother interacts with Tidus is conflicting. On the one hand, I am really happy to see the Al Bhed legitimately trying to communicate with Tidus. Brother knows he doesn't understand a word he's saying, so he tries to sign it. On the other hand, it still gives me the same vibe as if he were simply speaking louder and slower like people do for foreign tourists. It's a little condescending, and it still doesn't explain why Rikku doesn't just talk to him. Indeed, both Brother and Rikku can speak english (spiran?) so they should be trying this. Instead of seeming mysterious or different, the Al Bhed just seem like malicious morons.

The voice acting for Al Bhed is interesting though. I hesitate to say "good", but when you're speaking a fictional language based on a cipher, it must be really tough.

"Alright, alright, you don't have to shout!" Tidus shouts. You moron. :greenie:

The first achievement/trophy I encounter is the one for finding the Al Bhed Primer onboard the ship. I don't know if I missed anything prior to this, but I do like the absence of "you started the game!" or "you won the first (tutorial) battle!" crap. Final Fantasy VII's achievements are stupid and it is good to see SE somewhat learned from that.

The sphere grid tutorial is a pain in the ass - tedious, one might say :hahaha: - but it is comprehensive and easy to follow. Visual demonstrations certainly help this. Of course, understanding how it works doesn't mean you will be any good at it. I wholeheartedly expect to fail at using the expert sphere grid right up until I cry and quit the game again :) But this is far better at explaining it to you than, say, the Junction system was (from memory, anyway).

Sephex
04-09-2014, 08:45 AM
Stop being so hard on the Al Bhed, Jiro. They were only following the script, damn it!

EtcherSketcher
04-09-2014, 09:25 AM
Enjoying reading your rambles :) I'm pretty sure, at this point Brother hasn't started to try to learn English yet.

Jiro
04-09-2014, 09:40 AM
Enjoying reading your rambles :) I'm pretty sure, at this point Brother hasn't started to try to learn English yet.

Ah, that's right! I had forgotten; during FFX his English sucks. He was always a bit weird in the sequel, but I didn't remember that he was a bit slow on the uptake :monster:

Jiro
04-09-2014, 10:14 AM
Underwater Ruins

First thing to note is how confusing it is moving in three dimensions. The shifting camera really messes with me. On the plus side, I really like that Final Fantasy X hadn't yet caught onto the map-marker phenomenon as seen in Skyrim and Deus Ex: Human Revolution where your HUD is covered in quest markers. Final Fantasy X has its red arrow in the radar, but to figure out where you are going in this section, you use your head and clever map design: follow the chain, dummy!

Oh, I didn't mention that Tidus is strangely out of character when it comes time to start work. He's so uninterested in it previously - "Alright, alright, I'll work." - and then seems suddenly really enthused, diving in first. I don't understand why he seems so happy to help people who do nothing but talk to and about him in a foreign language and then smash him in the face, but maybe the brain damage is an excuse.

Anyway, it's cool to see the party members moving around on the screen. Obviously they stop doing this once they join the party properly, but for the moment, it's nice to see them independently. It gives the game a more organic feel, rather than the awkward everybody lives inside me stuff we get with other titles. Having 6 party members strolling around behind you would, however, be strange and probably difficult to do around 2001 though. It does help direct you when you get lost though, which would be great in place of a traditional mini map.

It's very strange that Rikku hasn't directly introduced herself to Tidus yet. In Baaj, it makes sense; they're there for a purpose, and there isn't any down time, but they had ample opportunity to talk back on the ship. It makes more sense to delay the introduction until after this point - in terms of exposition at least - but it simply makes no sense otherwise and feels sloppy.

Its nice to be involved with the airship discovery. When it appears later in the game, there's a sense of "oh! that's what we found earlier."

Tidus demonstrates his skills as a handy man and bashes stuff with his hands until it is fixed. Worth noting is how similar the energy source here looks to mako energy; I don't like the idea of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII being connected, but this could be the first (chronological) sign that the connection was intended. Food for thought.

We get to a boss fight with a 7-legged octopus. Septopus? Nope, apparently it's Tros. Oh well. The cool thing about this boss fight is that it introduces trigger commands. These have to be one of the coolest additions to the battle system. Trigger commands are context sensitive boss battle commands that change the battle landscape from being a simple us vs them to having some depth. Even more interesting is that some commands are limited to certain people, which means your battle party must reflect this if you want to make use of them. I might go into a bit more detail once other examples come up, but I really think this was underused and added a lot of depth to an already excellent system.

Not really a comment, more a note, but Tidus shakes himself dry like a dog. I'm sure there's something deeper to this, some reflection on his personality, but I cannot be assed finding it. Then the Al Bhed go back to bullying Tidus, leaving him out in the cold while damp.

Tidus, having been hungry before, is still hungry, and would therefore be close to dead if we are to believe the amount of exerting himself he's done.

"Right on" is a really strange way to react to getting food while starving. Show some more emotion, not some casual positive thumbs up. His reactions to a lot of events are strange, and again it's a combination of script and delivery that cause this. The fact that he dives into his food is good, as it gives us a pay off: Tidus was starving and here he is acting like it.

He laughs awkwardly and stretches, apparently no longer hungry. And then responds completely unrealistically when Rikku tries to talk to him. Sans that, this scene is actually pretty great. There's character movement; they are not simply standing there, looking at each other, and delivering their lines. Tidus is sometimes odd, turning his back or laughing randomly, but those are his awkward tendencies and we'll gloss over them.

Apart from the fact that he demonstrates rugby movements, Tidus's cocky attitude as soon as the subject turns to his domain is really masterful. There are a couple of awkward lines, and that stupid action aside, the rest of this scene is pretty solid. The voice acting, even, is pretty great.

The best part of this is probably the way Rikku moves while she's thinking.

Tidus then kicks the ship in anger and it is the most awkward kick. Then he rolls ass over head backwards thanks to Sin and that is also super awkward, like something out of Looney Tunes. Two Al Bhed come out and do the same. Convenient, but stupid.

And then Tidus gets sucked into a whirlpool. For no reason other than he needs to wash up near Besaid. Again, not an elegant solution, but it's probably more believable an event than Al Bhed beating the shit out of him and then carrying him to the ship.

Besaid is next and ugh this is gonna take me a while!

Jinx
04-09-2014, 01:10 PM
I always thought the Al Bhed thinking he's a fiend is dumb. Does any other fiend look like him? No! He's a human, you dips! And they act all surprised he can't understand Al Bhed. Most of the people in Spira don't...

Also, I love that they just assume that he's really good at holding his breath. Not everyone in Spira can. That could've been very...embarrassing. :p

Karifean
04-09-2014, 10:05 PM
Love the Expert Sphere Grid. I didn't even do anything too fancy, I just put Wakka on Auron's grid, Auron on Tidus' grid and Tidus on Wakka's grid, and had Yuna and Lulu swap periodically (their paths intersect quite a few times). Wakka ended up being hilariously powerful, Attack Reels almost one-shotted every storyline boss. It was quite fun, overall.

Jiro
04-10-2014, 12:13 AM
Also, I love that they just assume that he's really good at holding his breath. Not everyone in Spira can. That could've been very...embarrassing. :p

Excellent point. Can you imagine if he had drowned, hoo boy xD

Sephex
04-10-2014, 12:39 AM
New theory to why Tidus is good at holding his breath: He cried about his dad so much that all the sharp inhaling over the years conditioned his lungs, thus training him to be a Blitzball player. In fact, Jecht was deliberately being an asshole towards Tidus for the sole purpose of turning him into a star player using that technique. His ploy worked, and it gave him an excuse to excessively drink, which is always a plus.

Jiro
04-20-2014, 10:20 AM
Besaid

Upon waking up off the shore of Besaid, Tidus finds a Blitzball belonging to the Aurochs. This is a neat way to tie Tidus to an area; he might be entirely foreign to this place, but there is something, an important element of his past that he can cling to, and something innocuous which subtly progresses the plot.The water is beautiful. Australians are constantly bombarded with images of beautiful beaches, but Besaid truly looks like a tropical paradise. Those are the kinds of shores you would be happy to drown in.

Building on the running animation discussion from earlier, Tidus and his swimming motion are pretty solid. He's not going out there like an Olympic champion, but neither is he sloppy as hell. Tidus swims like a Blitzballer who doesn't quite know how long he'll be in the water or how far he has to go, but is happy to go at a leisurely, sustainable pace. I find this to be incredibly helpful in maintaining verisimilitude. Of course, them wearing clothes undermines that quite considerably. Their outfits are not aquadynamic at all.

Worth noting is the discrepancy in skin tones between in-game and cut scene. Wakka seems considerably more tanned in both than he appeared in the original, though my memory of this may be slightly off. But even with the touch ups, the FMVs are still running on a dull palette and so most of the characters seem far more tanned than they do while running around using the game engine. Surprisingly, it's probably the cut scenes that best represent what skin tone these people should have. For the most part, they live tropical lives. Both Yuna and Lulu seem entirely out of place with pale-white skin tones, whereas Wakka fits that pseudo Polynesian box well. Even Auron seems more tanned and he's smurfing dead.

Many people complain about Wakka's voice acting. I'm sure it's annoying for some people. As someone who lives in a region where his archetype can be commonly found, I think John DiMaggio did a decent job of it. Like every character and every voice actor in this game, though, a lot of lines are delivered strangely, but I think Wakka cops an unfair rap for his dialect and accent.

Something which I haven't mentioned too much yet is music. My musical knowledge is fairly limited, so I try to avoid criticising it unless it is obviously bad, or praising it unless it is used effectively and is subtle enough that some people might miss it but not so subtle that I miss it :greenie: Regardless, I want to praise the audio team for their work. When Tidus mentions that he plays for the Zanarkand Abes, the incredibly uplifting Besaid jam fades into total silence, accentuating how out of place his words are.

A telling sign of Final Fantasy X's age is that the mouth animations are by and large terrible. Frequently the mouth isn't even moving when dialogue is being spoken, or vice versa. Obviously this would be a huge undertaking to fix, but as it stands I am yet to find a worthwhile reason to have re-released this. Insofar as a 2001 game, though, Final Fantasy X is a decent enough first foray into the realms of voice acting for the series.

There are some problems which can be attributed to audio mess ups or simply character stupidity: Wakka knocks Tidus into the water and then dives in after him. When Tidus surfaces and looks around, he asks "What's the big idea?" knowing full well that Wakka is underwater and cannot hear him. Unless Blitzballers are able to speak and hear underwater. Can they do that?

Jiro
04-20-2014, 10:22 AM
After fighting some battles in the lake while searching for treasure, I realise how quiet it is. Later in the game, Final Fantasy X's characters have some quips to add during and after battle. But these are quite rare compared to the number of battles fought throughout. This is another minor element that I think has massive impact on how entertaining a game can be. In Tales of Xillia, for instance, nearly every battle has commentary during and after from the characters. This helps build the appearance of an actual party unit, as opposed to the old style of a group of people wander around silently until they reach a new town and are best buddies. Tales benefits largely from its skits, also, but battle comments should not be too difficult to manage.

A criticism on Wakka's character development, for a moment. Wakka takes Tidus under his wing immediately, which is understandable because Wakka is a friendly guy. He's grown up with the Aurochs, so he has that mentor-friend relationship down to a fine art. We also know that Wakka's brother Chappu -- who looks like Tidus -- was raised by Wakka and later killed. There's a lot of stuff here that I might touch on again later. So it is completely believable that Wakka and Tidus would become fast friends.

What is hard to believe, though, is that Wakka wouldn't show signs of confusion that Tidus looks eerily similar to his dead brother, and that he would instantly assume that kind of aggressive-friendship. Wakka pushes and punches Tidus, and puts him in headlocks, and there is literally nothing between them at this point. It is very lazy and feels unnatural to have Wakka jump straight into this kind of two-dimensional character archetype, even if Square Enix undoes this by having Wakka undertake really quite excellent character development over the rest of the game.

There's also a nice contrast shortly before they enter Besaid proper, where Tidus and Wakka are talking about the tournament. Wakka -- who is from Spira, from Besaid, is helping Tidus, and has numerous other qualities that give him an "edge" over Tidus -- is dislodged from his superiority seat by Tidus who suddenly finds himself in his element again: "When you play in a Blitzball tournament, you play to win."

Tidus and Wakka bump into Luzzu and Gatta on the way into Besaid. They have information about Tidus that they can't possibly have known. Obviously, Square Enix wanted to introduce them here with some natural conversation, but it fails dismally. They cannot possibly know that Tidus encountered Sin. Tidus then fails to understand the word "Crusaders"; while there are plenty on English speakers who don't know specific words in English, this just characterises Tidus as a complete fool -- which he is not -- and demonstrates a lack of listening skills. Based on what even exists in Zanarkand, there have already been a hundred or so words that Tidus is unlikely to have encountered. It is easy to render confusion without resorting to making your character a complete moron.

Once we reach Besaid village, we see the traditional shortage of houses when compared to NPCs. This is particularly prominent throughout Final Fantasy X, where housing locations are extremely limited. I think Besaid actually has the best ratio, especially when you consider the number of people staying in the Crusader's lodge (and that perhaps some people live in the temple). Why they couldn't have some viable living locations in the background of certain areas confuses me. Later, when the party reaches Luca, there are a metric smurfton of people, but this is no way they would even fit in two or three times the number of houses you see on the pilgrimage.

Jiro
04-20-2014, 10:45 AM
Now, the prayer. This has to be one of the most confusing plot holes. Tidus, who isn't religious, doesn't know the Yevonite's prayer, obviously. But when Wakka performs the action, Tidus recognises it -- any blitzball player worth his salt knows that as the sign for victory -- yet he fucking fails to execute it himself without showing an uncharacteristic lack of coordination.

If Tidus knew this, he should have performed it well. He might also have asked or mentioned that it was familiar to him; attribute it to Sin's toxin, and have Wakka go "aha! you do remember some things, ya?" But the continual characterisation of Tidus as both mentally and physically inept is creating paradoxes in his character and utterly erasing the value and benefit of Tidus as a conduit for the player. Tidus is, at the end of things, if you aren't too critical, a fucking fantastic lead character. But if you weigh all these elements as you would when examining a novel, he is an inconsistent half-assed moron. And that's not fair.

A strong positive for FFX is that NPCs are not static. Well, some are. But in Besaid, some NPCs walk in and out of buildings, adding some life to what are usually pretty but pretty dead places.

One NPC mentions that, the last time Sin attacked, the owner of a house just decided not to rebuild again. I don't know what the fuck happened to the owner; they must have died or moved away, because there's not exactly somewhere else for a person to permanently live.

When Tidus visits the Crusaders, they remark on how Sin might attack the island because it is close. Again, this is unprompted: they don't know Tidus was anywhere near Sin for sure, yet. Then Gatta is just a gigantic :bou::bou::bou::bou: because he is a self-entitled upstart who thinks that because he is a member of the Crusaders, he is somehow above others. If you know a person has been near Sin (or have some kind of psychic ability to determine it) and then the person says they don't know what the Crusaders are, you -- like Luzzu does -- assume "ah! The toxin!"; you do not act like the person is a halfwit.

Then Gatta gets up and does the little spiel about the Crusaders. He is simply parroting shit that probably belongs on the back of a recruitment brochure. I only complain because I hate Gatta way more right now than I have in previous playthroughs and I think it is because he is characterised as a dick. :)

Also worth noting that, despite being semi important NPCs, both Luzzu and Gatta have the gross flat painted on faces too. Obviously you can't spare mad amounts of resources or assets for every character, but important NPCs seem like the kinds of characters you would spend a little more time on.

Jinx
04-20-2014, 02:47 PM
You know, you bring up some good points about Wakka and Tidus. I have to say, their relationship dynamic is actually probably the best in the game; you really truly believe that they're good friends. The next best is Rikku and Tidus, then Lulu and Tidus.

Pumpkin
04-21-2014, 06:44 AM
I am enjoying this!

I agree the Tidus Blitzball sign for victory thing is very odd. It's always confused me. The best I could come up with is that he's pretending he can't do it because he associates it with the Abes, which he knows he shouldn't bring up.

Gatta is kind of a jerk, but I think its an interesting part of his character. I assumed they did it to show that he is young, naive, and cocky. He doesn't know his limitations, he joined the crusaders, he feels like a tough man. I personally felt it tied in well with his character, especially in the future scene where he gets so worked up to fight a battle that has such a low chance of success. Luzzu knows better but Gatta is just young and arrogant

Huckleberry Quin
04-21-2014, 08:46 AM
After reading through all of this and enjoying it greatly, all I can think about is how much I want to see Tidus' running technique.

Shauna
04-21-2014, 10:38 AM
I always got the impression that Tidus was doing the prayer hesitantly, because he recognises it as something else, not that he was struggling to actually do it. As if while he were doing it, slowly and carefully, he was going over the entire action in his head, comparing every move he was making to his blitzball sign of victory.

Or it could be what you said.

Jiro
04-22-2014, 02:54 AM
I always got the impression that Tidus was doing the prayer hesitantly, because he recognises it as something else, not that he was struggling to actually do it. As if while he were doing it, slowly and carefully, he was going over the entire action in his head, comparing every move he was making to his blitzball sign of victory.

Or it could be what you said.

No, you could very well be correct, it just doesn't come across clearly. And it would be simple to make it obvious: just have Tidus go "hmm" while he does it, and suddenly there's a sense of him comparing his sign with the prayer. The vagueness just makes it seem very out of place and continues to characterise him as a moron, which I will be strongly advocating against throughout this, I imagine.


You know, you bring up some good points about Wakka and Tidus. I have to say, their relationship dynamic is actually probably the best in the game; you really truly believe that they're good friends. The next best is Rikku and Tidus, then Lulu and Tidus.
Tidus has remarkably good interactions and relationships with most of the other characters, I must say. That should be a given, considering that he is the main character, but it's actually a little surprising. The Tidus-Auron relationship is weird because they have all this history -- plus the power imbalance because of the mentor-mentee basis -- and then Tidus comes to Spira and the Auron he knows has all this extra stuff surrounding him. I can't think of an exact parallel, but I imagine it would be like having an older friend that you know really well and then they become your teacher at school and you have to be "professional" in your relationships all of a sudden. It just feels weird.

Jiro
04-28-2014, 12:14 PM
I said I wouldn't talk about the music too much, and I hope not to, because I don't want to embarrass myself. But I have to make a note here, just to highlight how wonderful the soundtrack to this game is. I feel like Final Fantasy X, because it isn't in the VI, VII, and IX triumvirate, doesn't command a lot of respect and this has led to an underappreciation of the soundtrack. I don't know what tracks the three composers were responsible for, but they all deserve credit for managing to create songs such as the Besaid theme, which captures the relaxed island vibe quite successfully. This holds true, with some exceptions which I will mention as they come along.

The rapidly shifting camera angles in small, tight spaces such as Besaid village are still quite bothersome. The ability to pan and show off how gorgeous the landscapes are is a definite plus, but I sometimes wonder if a static or player-controlled camera would have been better in some cases. There are some interesting cases where Tidus can disappear off into the distance; going to the right hand-side of Besaid temple is a good example of Tidus exploring a mostly unimportant environment for the simple sake of immersion. Quite nice at times.

Tidus makes his way inside the temple and we find him instantly confused. Which is great. He should be confused by this foreign religion. He doesn't understand the practices, he doesn't understand the conventions, and he doesn't understand why. And while it may certainly be a character trait to bumble around and accidentally breach the teachings, Tidus shows a complete lack of respect for Yevon early on and throughout that I just can't attribute to his posh sports star upbringing.

The narrator-Tidus talks about how he started realising this world is very different to his own, but he displays no caution. Sin's toxin is a handy excuse, and he does remember -- awkwardly -- to use this excuse, and it helps justify to Spirans why he is stupid. But instead of simply asking the priest what a high summoner is, Tidus says it so loud that the entire temple hears him. I'm not sure why he continues to be obnoxious in some cases, but in others he asks questions quietly to somebody he knows and trusts, like Wakka. You'd think it would be the other way around. Especially because Tidus shows personality changes in other circumstances: when he is talking about Blitzball, he's confident; when he's talking about something else (I cannot remember an example off the top of my head), he acts more reserved. Not dramatic shifts -- his personality is consistent sometimes -- but enough to show that he isn't a 2D cardboard cut out.

The temples are an interesting design point. They're quite dark and mostly lit by candles placed around the outer sanctum, so it gives that kind of mystical, solemn feel. There are statues for the High Summoners, but the statues are huge and don't demonstrate much confidence in Sin being defeated often -- or, perhaps it is confidence that Sin will be defeated once and for all rather soon. In any case, despite their centrality to all of Spira, the temples are not as large on the inside as they would have seemed. It will be interesting to note any aesthetic changes that may reflect the aeons found within, but as it stands there are simply two side rooms with some books and tapestries. Not much to note, yet. The cloister is a different matter, but we'll get to that.

While Tidus naps, Wakka is paid a visit by the priest. He mentions that he "can't interfere" and I am now, upon reflection, confused. Wakka and Yuna both consider him to be a Guardian -- a part time one, perhaps, but a Guardian nonetheless. So why can't he interfere? Also, what kind of ridiculous trial forces a Summoner and their Guardians to spend over a day without food or water?

Also while napping, Tidus has a flashback/dream brought on by the priest's comments. It's a cool effect, and provides some neat exposition without feeling too dry. Jecht has gone missing, and kid Tidus whines about how he hopes his father has died. While it seems like Tidus is just a whiny brat, this is one of the first chances for Final Fantasy X to set up the themes of patricide that run throughout.

Jiro
04-28-2014, 12:31 PM
So, the Cloister of Trials. Some of my least favourite aspects of this game. I appreciate the puzzles but this is one of those ludo narrative dissonance moments. The game tells us that the Cloister is dangerous, and that it is a test for a summoner (ignore my inconsistent capitalisation) to prove their worth. But this doesn't prove true in the gameplay. Moving one orb to a socket and so on and so forth is not particularly dangerous. Indeed, the most dangerous aspect of this process is the threat of me stabbing myself or destroying things because Tidus is incapable of carrying two (or more) fucking orbs despite having, y'know, multiple hands and pockets.

Obviously, keeping non-Guardians and Summoners out of the Cloister maintains some mystery for the citizens which increases its power and appeal. That's fine. But the only trouble with managing the Cloister and praying to the fayth is that a summoner can potentially be stuck there praying until they die of starvation and thirst. Which is stupid. You see, the Cloister has a second "tier": only the summoner can enter the fayth room and pray, so I guess the guardians sit around and wait, wondering how long it should be, or if they should be concerned, or if they have time to pop over to Taco Bell for a snack. It's utterly pointless and I cannot understand how any guardians or summoners have been devout enough to uphold this.

Tidus runs into the Cloister in what is a good demonstration of Tidus breaking Yevon traditions with realistic justification; he cares about the safety of others, so he doesn't let anything stop him from trying to protect them. Then he does some stupid puzzles which have mysteriously reset from the last time people were here. This lack of consistency is another problem. Later, in Kilika Temple, Tidus must burn down doors to progress. How does this reset for the next summoner? What happens when you are, like Tidus, not expected? Would the trial reset itself immediately upon someone else entering? How do you determine if a person is with a party already inside? I assume it is impolite to attempt the Cloister of Trials alongside another summoner, but what is stopping them from racing through behind? The Cloister of Trials is an utterly broken concept that serves only to excuse puzzle mechanics in the weakest way.

I may have more comments on the cloister later when my battery isn't almost out and I can use my own keyboard.

Jessweeee♪
04-28-2014, 02:46 PM
I figure the danger comes from messing around with spheres that make explosions, big fires, electricity, huge spiky icicles and standing on moving platforms that go off the edge if you don't hit X at the right time. Of course you aren't given any opportunities to really hurt yourself with these dangerous objects :bounce:

Jiro
04-29-2014, 12:06 PM
When Wakka catches up with Tidus (what took him so long? I spent all that time putting the Destruct sphere in place. He should've beaten me there), he figures that they should just go all the way in since he's come this far. Fair enough logic from Wakka, but while that fits with his relaxed personality traits, it doesn't reconcile with his extreme passion for Yevon. He should realistically be furious; not even he-looks-like-Chappu can justify it.

The go inside to the chamber of the fayth and Lulu immediately questions Wakka about why he was there. Nobody thought to ask who the stranger was? What he was doing in the Cloister? Lulu shows unnecessary levels of antagonism towards Wakka for coming to check up on them (doing what? Waiting around. I guess it's a test of fortitude for the Guardians as they await the return of their Summoner) and then displays confusion rather than aggression when she realises Tidus is there. Talk about character inconsistency. And we only just met her!

It's also quite convenient that Yuna finishes her prayer just as Tidus and Wakka show up, but I am eternally grateful because it meant that we didn't have to sit through a day or longer of the party just standing around having awkward conversations. There's plenty of time for that later.

Yuna and friends exit the temple and it's time for show and tell. I find this extremely interesting because the summoning circle shows just how important summoners are to the culture of Spira. It may be a bigger comment on Besaid, though. It's a community event when a summoner succeeds in obtaining Valefor, and they all come out to watch Yuna summon him for the first time. I don't know if the same would be done for a non-local summoner, and I don't know whether this is done in other locations, particularly places like Djose where there aren't any super close villages, but it's quite a subtle way of showing the interconnectedness.

Then of course we see Yuna interact with Valefor and the character models are super dodgy. Criticising the graphics might seem weak but they were, after all, the primary reason for this remake, weren't they? HD Remaster it says on the box. Can't get character models to interact without it looking weird.

Narrator Tidus informs us that, after he talked with Yuna that night, everything changed. As if he had any idea what "normal" was any more. He has been, to his knowledge, cast across time and space, witnessed Sin attack him twice, met and lost friends, encountered and disobeyed a strange religion that has eerie similarities to his homeland's sporting culture, and just witnessed a monster appear out of nowhere and not eat people. Talking with a pretty lady is just about the most normal thing he's smurfing done since Auron showed up.

Jiro
04-29-2014, 12:15 PM
A quick note about Blitzball: I intend to cover this in much more detail later -- indeed, I have several feature articles in the works that may or may not appear here -- but I want to make a quick point based on the scene with Wakka, Tidus, and the Besaid Aurochs. It would make sense that, in a highly physical and contact-oriented sport like Blitzball, each team has substitutes. However, this is not seen in any team other than the Tidus-managed Aurochs that this is the case. Substitutions are entirely absent, except for the Tidus-Wakka change during the Luca Goers match, and that does not seem to be an official action -- despite time stopping for it.

So if we assume that substitutions are not endorsed by the Spiran Blitzball Association, then we must ask the question: what the hell does Wakka think he's doing letting some stranger on the team? Botta worries that he might be warming the bench, but we know that Tidus is a forward so unless Wakka plans on sitting out during his last ever tournament, it's Datto who's warming the bench indefinitely. I know he's the coach and captain, but Wakka seems like the kind of person to let the Aurochs weigh in on team decisions, and the Aurochs seem like the kind of close knit team that would decide things as a unit. Even though they were obviously impressed with the skills that Tidus has, it's still all very out of the ordinary.

Jiro
04-29-2014, 01:04 PM
Fan favourite Stay-away-from-the-Summoner Lady makes her glorious debut and I am struck by how utterly rabid these people are in their devotion. Tidus is accused of being a bad man and Yuna is warned against talking to him because... he went somewhere he wasn't supposed to go. I know it's not sacred, but I once used the women's bathroom because the men's was closed. I don't think that makes me the devil, and I hardly think Tidus has displayed any dangerous traits. Indeed, most of his portrayal so far marks him as an adorable, air-headed moron.

Yuna thanks Tidus for his help (he did nothing) and Tidus runs at the mouth with a dodgy apology. Yuna mentions that she was overconfident in a startlingly accurate piece of self reflection, and then asks if Tidus thinks she can become High Summoner. Okay, she should probably realise he has no smurfing idea what that is, let alone what it entail. Plus, this lack of confidence kind of undermines her initial point. No doubt she was overconfident -- she is Braska's daughter -- and no doubt she is unsure about whether she has what it takes to beat Sin but putting them so close together creates this weird mess. Let her talk about Sin later, when it's more of an issue.

And than that brat of a kid steals her to come and play. Which is annoying, but the worst thing is that she makes no comment about Tidus, despite being quick to smurfing insult him before. If I were Tidus, I would smack that kid across the face. Don't be a little trout, you trout.

Yuna makes some awkward, potentially innuendo filled comments about "talking"... "tomorrow"... It's a bit strange but perhaps I can attribute that to Tidus being a moron dazzled by this girl instead.

Tidus has a dream about Rikku and Yuna and I find this really interesting. Because he could have had a relationship with either of them. The fact that they are related only makes this better. But it demonstrates the fact that Tidus is utterly incompetent when it comes to dealing with women because his focus has always been Blitzball. It also shows a desire for a mother-like figure; both Rikku and Yuna encourage kid-Tidus to say that he hates Jecht. I guess Tidus craves this because his own mother kind of sidelined him once Jecht was gone, which left him with some issues. Knowing that he was going to take both women to Zanarkand and worrying about their reaction reminds me of the Aerith-Tifa Highwind debacle in Final Fantasy VII.

The cut scene between Lulu and Wakka gives us some good insights into their character. Lulu has the upper hand in their relationship, obviously. It's nice to hear why Wakka became a Guardian and all that. I don't really know how to explain the significance; it's all very straightforward and quite effective. Giving Tidus the Brotherhood sword is obviously quite a big moment too, and that's referenced a couple more times, and rightly so. The bond between Tidus and Wakka is quite strong and, even though it might have been slightly influenced by Tidus looking like Chappu, it shows that kindness that encapsulates Wakka's personality.

Also the whole thing about Yuna becoming an apprentice and then leaving as a full-fledged summoner is smurfing sweet. I just. So cute. Ridiculous that she packs so many "gifts" for the temples, and even more ridiculous that she leaves the bag sitting there and wanders off. I love that image though. Just letting it go, and then that wistful, lingering look back at the temple as she leaves Besaid. I won't say more on that now because spoilers, but Yuna's actions are really powerful and the character animation is pretty smurfing spot on in those moments.

Jinx
04-29-2014, 01:46 PM
I know I'm in the minority here, but You're-A-Bad-Man Kid is my favorite NPC in this game.

Sephex
04-30-2014, 08:30 AM
Finally caught up. I am really enjoying these posts, man. Especially since I still have the game fresh in my head from beating the HD version a couple weeks back. You make some humorous observations and bring up things that I either thought of before, which is a cool feeling, or stuff that I haven't noticed.

When I played through this last time, I video snapchatted a friend of me controlling Tidus to keep activating the "STAY AWAY FROM THE SUMMONER" lady. A few days later he did the same for me.

Pete for President
05-02-2014, 05:09 AM
I caught up too. Good stuff Jiro! I like how you point out oddities I always kinda take for granted but you also have a sharp sense for the small things that are really well done. I dig!

Jiro
05-15-2014, 03:44 AM
I like that lots of circumstantial evidence reinforces Wakka's belief in Yevon. Chappu didn't pray at the monument the day he left. He chose to use a machina weapon, instead of the sword his brother gave him. It gives Wakka ground to stand on, too. Some people may see him as the token evangelist, but I don't think Wakka is blindly following Yevon. He may or may not see the flaws and contradictions, but regardless he rejects them because he has to. Wakka believes wholeheartedly in Yevon not because he is supposed to, but because he needs to.

I don't think we learn the entirety of Wakka's backstory until FFX-2 so I will spoiler it for the moment: Wakka's parents are killed by Sin, and neither he nor Chappu has any memory of them. Wakka raises Chappu as best he can, presumably with Lulu's help as the three of them are all orphans. That is a ridiculous level of pressure to play on a young child. He watches Chappu grow into a man arguably better than he is, and then watches as Chappu turns his back on Yevon and is killed. Wakka needs to believe that Sin can be beaten, that Yevon's ban on machina is necessary, and that true faith has the potential to save people. He rejects Operation Mi'ihen because, if it works, everything he clings to for comfort is false. If it works, if Yevon is false, then his brother died for naught. The person closest to him was just taken without purpose.

Despite his positive demeanour, I highly suspect that Wakka is still deep in the mourning process for the entirety of the game. It is why he distracts himself with Blitzball, and then why he gives up Blitzball to become a Guardian: he wants to avenge his brother so that he can find peace. It also explains why he is so staunch and struggles to see the truth of Yevon, even when the other Yevonites like Lulu and even Yuna -- a Yevonite summoner! -- are able to accept the truth.

It is strange that Tidus is given further opportunities to pray or not; player choice in these circumstances is hard to reconcile with the canonical portrayal of Tidus as completely incompetent and downright blasphemous when it comes to Yevon's teachings and practices. I have made him pray at every opportunity, because the situations are largely centred around Wakka, and I feel like the Tidus-Wakka relationship would prompt Tidus to support his (new) friend.

Jiro
05-15-2014, 04:15 AM
The battle tutorials in this game are wonderful. They are brief, interactive, and grounded in the world, rather than being disconnected. The Sphere Grid tutorial, if you remember, feels like it takes an eternity because all you are doing is reading and hitting X to continue. These battle tutorials take a format you are familiar with -- battles -- and explain strategies and mechanics with voice and actual participation. Sure, the options are restricted, but going through the motions as opposed to reading a play-by-play feels a lot more engaging.

That's really all I have to say about that. Although, the use of dialogue is really quite powerful and makes these battles feel important. Obviously forced encounters have a sense of gravity to them, but throughout the rest of the game you fight hundreds of battles that serve no purpose other than to help you level up. an argument can be made that these battles symbolise the growing bonds between Yuna and her Guardians in order to achieve the summoning of the Final Aeon. However, as I've mentioned before, adopting an approach similar to the Tales series gives each battle some more gravitas and allows it to feel like an actual part of the story rather than an intrusive gameplay element designed to slow you down or act as an arbitrary obstacle.

Now​ I'm done.

Jiro
05-15-2014, 04:40 AM
Kimahri is formally introduced to us via combat. A kickass FMV plays and then Tidus is thrust into battle with him, alone. I am uncertain as to why this happens, though. Kimahri doesn't seem to be particularly invested in Yevon's teachings; his interest extends to Yuna and what is necessary to protect and help her. Our initial introduction to Kimahri happens in the Besaid Cloister where he says nothing, and then outside the Temple where he just shakes his head at Tidus. At no point does he demonstrate any aggression towards Tidus, be it inherent or because of his breach of the teachings.

I have theories, but Kimahri's unprovoked attack seems really out of character. Perhaps this is a Ronso way of testing Tidus. Maybe he wants to see if he has what it takes to be Yuna's guardian. Maybe he is just suspicious and combat is a way to derive a person's quality. But after this event, Kimahri returns to being silent and shaking his head every time Tidus tries to talk, so it is quite strange.

Pumpkin
05-15-2014, 04:47 AM
I suspect he is trying to test him to make sure he is worthy of Yuna

Jiro
05-15-2014, 05:30 AM
Aeons are an interesting area. FFX introduces us to summons as playable battle party members, which also raises some implications about their nature. I expect to cover Aeons in far more detail later once we delve into their nature a bit more, but here are some thoughts so far.

Excluding the other party members in battle is obviously based on the fact that keeping them in would be unbalanced and completely destroy Yuna's functionality as a battle member. The narrative implication of this, though, is that Aeons are dangerous and Yuna needs concentration to focus attacks on the right enemies. This is not supported by the idea that she would summon Valefor in Besaid village though, so I'm not sure what to think.

That'll have to do for the moment as I got somewhere to be, but food for thought. If anybody has any other thoughts or suggestions, please drop them here. I'm curious to hear your ideas.

Psychotic
05-15-2014, 07:30 AM
A few posts back (but then you are multi-post spamming so it's okay if I respond to it!) on Wakka, I totally agree. The game goes to great lengths to push you against Yevon and sympathise with the Al Bhed and unfortunately Wakka holds the opposite views. However given the absolute tragedies that he has endured - he's lost everyone he loves! - is it any wonder that he feels this way? These are some deeply entrenched views and it takes a lot for him to overcome them and challenge them towards the end of the game.

Karifean
05-15-2014, 08:13 AM
The morning of the journey.

Kimahri had felt slight animosity towards the skinny, feeble-looking boy, who had broken the precepts and gotten close to Yuna. If a weakling stayed by her side, it would only get in the way of Yuna's pilgrimage. Kimahri has decided that if this young man, said to be affected by Sin's toxin, doesn't even possess fangs for fighting, then Kimahri will not let him hang around Yuna any longer.

Kimahri will come to realise before long that his prejudice is somewhat similar to the view of his tribe, which had looked down on his own small stature.

I forgot where exactly it's from, and it's freely translated by someone on GameFAQs, but there you go. Pretty sure it's official material though.

I agree with pretty much everything in your evaluation of Wakka's character. Btw, to my knowledge there were no FFX-2 spoilers in there.

Jiro
05-15-2014, 11:55 AM
The morning of the journey.

Kimahri had felt slight animosity towards the skinny, feeble-looking boy, who had broken the precepts and gotten close to Yuna. If a weakling stayed by her side, it would only get in the way of Yuna's pilgrimage. Kimahri has decided that if this young man, said to be affected by Sin's toxin, doesn't even possess fangs for fighting, then Kimahri will not let him hang around Yuna any longer.

Kimahri will come to realise before long that his prejudice is somewhat similar to the view of his tribe, which had looked down on his own small stature.

I forgot where exactly it's from, and it's freely translated by someone on GameFAQs, but there you go. Pretty sure it's official material though.

I agree with pretty much everything in your evaluation of Wakka's character. Btw, to my knowledge there were no FFX-2 spoilers in there.

I couldn't quite remember what is revealed in X-2 and what is mentioned early in FFX and what comes about later. But thank you for the info on Kimahri! Interesting characterisation. A lot of Kimahri's exposition is implicit which makes him kind of underrated as a character.


A few posts back (but then you are multi-post spamming so it's okay if I respond to it!) on Wakka, I totally agree. The game goes to great lengths to push you against Yevon and sympathise with the Al Bhed and unfortunately Wakka holds the opposite views. However given the absolute tragedies that he has endured - he's lost everyone he loves! - is it any wonder that he feels this way? These are some deeply entrenched views and it takes a lot for him to overcome them and challenge them towards the end of the game.
It's curious that Yevon, or at least the upper echelons of Yevon, are instantly vilified. Obviously there are spoilers if I discuss exactly why, but even early on there is a strong push against Yevon and Wakka seems a little backwards. I don't know if it's because Tidus is our viewpoint character or if Square Enix were lazy in creating layers and complexity and some, y'know, suspense when it comes to Yevon. I really love Wakka as a character though; he's one of those severely underrated characters like Barret (and others but I can't think of them right now :shobon:).

(also sorry for the multiposts but it's easier for me if I try to keep them shorter and focus on smaller ideas or sections)

Psychotic
05-15-2014, 12:13 PM
I think he and Barret (Maybe Steiner too? Edgar perhaps?) suffer from Early Party Syndrome whereby they form the crux of the initial party and we meet them not long after we meet our hero, our heroine, and so on, and obviously getting to know them and what their deal is inevitably takes priority over those there to make up the numbers early on.

Jinx
05-15-2014, 02:10 PM
I always giggled that later in the game (not sure what chapter) you find a sphere that Chappu made the day he left to fight with the Crusaders. He says to Wakka, "I dunno if you remember me saying I found a sphere of mom and dad...but I was totally lying, bro!" What an odd memory to make a video about so many years later. xD What a neat little bowed package as well!

Pumpkin
05-15-2014, 05:21 PM
I think he and Barret (Maybe Steiner too? Edgar perhaps?) suffer from Early Party Syndrome whereby they form the crux of the initial party and we meet them not long after we meet our hero, our heroine, and so on, and obviously getting to know them and what their deal is inevitably takes priority over those there to make up the numbers early on.

This is sometimes the case, but I think a lot of those characters get pretty solid development. Barret isn't the center of the story for very long, though, which is true, but I did enjoy his story when he had it. You also get early joiners like Vivi who consistently have story throughout, and so does Steiner in a smaller way. Steiner has one of my favorite developments in the series.

You don't always get to know them as quickly because they're overshadowed by the 2 main characters. but sometimes that's good for spreading out the story I think

Jinx
05-15-2014, 05:26 PM
I actually think that FFX does a really good job of keeping all of the characters relevant throughout the entire game. Probably the two least relevant characters are Kimahri and Lulu, and even they each have their own dungeon/area and have pretty solid ties to Yuna/the world/the story.

Sephex
05-20-2014, 09:40 AM
And caught up again. As Psychotic pointed out, I thought the write up on what drives Wakka was very well said. It was one of those aspects of the game that I was aware of, but it was more of a background thought for me until I read what Jiro wrote. I actually felt great pity and sadness thinking about Wakka's situation, and I am glad it was pointed out to me. I feel that it can also serve as a reminder to not judge peoples reactions to situations so harshly, as they might have a solid reason behind them, even if it is flawed.