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Pumpkin
06-13-2016, 05:06 PM
What's Wrong with Final Fantasy X?
http://i.imgur.com/Q70Fgvn.jpg


I've recently been playing the Final Fantasy X HD Remaster on the PlayStation Vita. And by “playing” I mean I've been vaguely paying attention in between save points before I go and do something else. I was much younger when I first played X and it was my third FF game total, following two games that would become two of my three favourite games ever. So could it hold up against these other Final Fantasy games that made me fall so deeply in love with them? The answer is actually yes. While I didn't love it quite as much, it's still a game I got swept up in and thoroughly enjoyed. Since then I have replayed it many times leading up to this latest playthrough. This time though, it seems the honeymoon phase is over. I still love Final Fantasy X in a familiar sort of way and I can appreciate it's good qualities, but after so many years together, it seems the negatives that I previously ignored are making themselves more apparent. Especially since I've been seeing other games from all genres, and seeing what else the world of gaming has to offer. Here are the things Final Fantasy X does that I don't remember it doing while we were dating.


(Lack of) Camera Controls


As I was playing this game once again, I at one point tried to rotate the camera to get a better look at the environment. Perhaps I would find a hidden chest or something of note. But there was a problem. The camera wouldn't rotate! What were the buttons to rotate on the Vita? Were their any? Why did they remove camera control? Then it occurred to me. They didn't. They were never there in the first place.

There are two other games I have recently played that share a lot of similarities to Final Fantasy X as far as what the broad story addresses. All three of these games came out around the same time. Heck, one of them even had a version on the same system. FFX blows them out of the water in terms of visuals. But the other two let me rotate the camera.


http://i.imgur.com/lGpoxLs.jpg


This may seem like a minor nitpick, but camera controls are a part of how I play games and not having it there interrupts my “flow” so to speak. I'm sure we all have those things in games that are important to us that we don't even realize unless it's missing. I often move my characters in games using the camera controls, and being able to look around helps give me a sense of positioning as well as helps me find chests and other hidden objects. It would sure come in handy for finding those mini Al Bhed primers for one. It's always annoying when they switch the camera angle on me and suddenly Tidus is moving in the opposite direction. Plus, as I mentioned, Final Fantasy X is quite stunning. It would be great if I could look around and take in the world in more detail.


Linearity


I'm going to be honest, while Final Fantasy X is largely linear, it never bothered me too much before. Some of the most linear areas in the game are some of my favourites; the Mi'ihen Highroad for example. But the Highroad makes sense. It's a road connecting the second largest city in Spira and massive port area to the rest of Spira. It's a highly traveled road and there are fiends, something the average citizen is not as capable of taking care of. It's a safer passage for the people. Where it starts to make less sense is areas like Macalania Forest. While I understand certain paths, like the one leading to Bevelle, I don't understand why I can't explore the forest freely. Going deeper in leads to Lake Macalania, said to be a place they don't get many travelers. Most of the travelers are summoners who are capable of taking care of fiends. Heck, having a path isn't the problem but it's a forest! I want to be able to more freely explore! Even the wide open Calm Lands are still mostly “Here's the entrance, the exit and the store. And uh that's all.” It would be nice if they had added more to explore and see.

The linearity of the world isn't the only problem, and isn't actually that big of a problem in itself. While it is fairly linear to explore, aside from those few spaces I feel could have benefited from being more open, the game paces things well enough that you hardly notice that you're mostly walking down a corridor. Another one of the more linear aspects is the Sphere Grid, at least in the version I originally played. Yes there were branching areas once in a while, but then you'd generally end up back on the same path to follow. Even when you could start moving in to other Sphere Grids, your character would usually be conveniently right next to another character making it easier to progress down that particular path. Even going down another character route generally led to following the same or at least a very similar path. Kimahri had a lot more openness in his but he tended to fall a bit behind because of it.


http://i.imgur.com/Aaolclg.jpg


It is a bit better in the remake using the International Sphere Grid, I will admit that. Even then though I recently found myself discouraged because certain characters still seem to fit one bill much more than others. I was excited to finally be able to take these characters and do something new and fresh with them, to give them whole new roles and abilities. But then I realized that Lulu's overdrive is dependent on her learning Black Magic, and, well, I didn't want her to be a Black Mage this time. So ho hum for me on that one. I would have loved to be able to customize and personalize them to a larger extent. The weapon customization was a great start, let's expand on that!


Same Ol' Same Ol'


RPG's are generally massive games compared to many other genres. You aren't investing 12 hours, you're investing 40, sometimes even more (or less). It's a big undertaking, they will eat up your time. What's great about a lot of RPG's is that they realize that this is a huge time investment, and they give the players some incentives to replay. What if you choose this instead of that? What if you customize your character this way instead? How about a ton of hidden goods to find when you're more savvy with the game the next time around? They can provide the same story, characters, and gameplay you love, but with a few extra new things to discover the next time you play. A few different scenes, new areas, different dialogue options, etc. Final Fantasy X is sorely lacking in this department. They have the optional snowmobile scene, choosing to hit on Lulu or not, transferring over your Al Bhed primers so you can understand more dialogue.


http://i.imgur.com/iX3pCMM.jpg


It's relatively minor stuff. When I play the game, I know pretty much exactly what's going to happen and when. There's no surprises, no discoveries. It's the same thing time and time again. For the mega fans, the game being what it is is more than likely enough to keep them playing time and again without getting bored. For me, I would like a bit more variance, a bit more reason to replay it again and again when at this point I have the game committed to memory. We need some spice back in this marriage!


Predictable Fights


I like characters that specialize. I like knowing that x character does x thing. It gives me incentive to use them and makes them more vital to the team. Ideally I like to customize them in to roles I like, but games where they have pre-established roles can be pretty fun too. I enjoy this aspect of X. Auron hits the armoured monsters, Lulu hits the flans, Wakka hits the flyers, etc. My issue with this is that it's so... rigid. I essentially just explained battles to you right there in that sentence. That's pretty much every fight. You'll sometimes get an enemy that challenges this, and you have the bosses too, but the battles become so routine that it's dull. I try to use every character in every fight (for the points, of course), but I already know who my finishing party is going to be. I know who is coming out and when. I know who is using which attack or skill or magic. Almost every single time. It's not exciting, it's not even something worth paying attention to anymore. Maybe sometimes I'll get sneaky and cast blizzard on that wasp just to bring some excitement back in to my life. That's not a good sign that taking my characters off of their predestined battle paths is the most exciting thing in regular encounters.


http://i.imgur.com/CkZmQUM.png



Extra Character Bonding Scenes


It's no secret that I like characters. Often times they are the gateway in to the world, the lore, the story for me. Giving me characters I care about makes me care about the rest of the game. It makes things more personal and exciting to me. Because of that, I would have loved to see more optional character bonding scenes. Sure we get a few, maybe you tell Lulu she's more your type, maybe you and Kimahri get chummy on that snowmobile ride. That's about where it ends though. I would love if they added things like the Tales of skits. You can get them by progressing the story, doing certain things in battle, doing certain sidequests. Not just with Tidus or Yuna, but between everyone. It would be great to see the friendship between Lulu and Rikku progress. Maybe between Wakka and Auron, or Auron and Kimahri. Just little bonding scenes to find and see to help build the relationships between characters. Maybe something like the ATE's in Final Fantasy IX, or the Heart Events in Xenoblade where building your relationships via sidequests and battles allows you to experience various interactive scenes between them. FFX has a strong cast, let's see them fleshed out more.


http://i.imgur.com/NM5UlaP.jpg



Lack of Sidequests


Speaking of sidequests, there's a pretty big lack of them. You've got a few mini-games to play, some primers to find, summon battles. I suppose finding the summons themselves would be one. There aren't as many as I would like though. It would be awesome if you could accept some sidequests from random Spirans (Spirians?) as you progress. A lost child in Luca, and item needed in Guadosalem, healing supplies after the Mushroom Rock Road tragedy. Interview people in Luca before the tournament or deliver some fabric to Besaid. Help restore Home or solve a couple's quarrel; There's so much potential there for more stuff to do when you need a break from the story and don't enjoy Blitzball. It would also help to get more invested in the areas you visit and care more about the people you meet. X-2 was much better about this. While some of its sequels sidequests were dumb, they were fun as heck. And at the end of the day, I play video games to have fun.

http://i.imgur.com/MIQF1ii.jpg


These are the things I think are wrong with Final Fantasy X. This is obviously my personal opinion and not an objective look at what the game does wrong. Despite its faults, Final Fantasy X and I are still on good terms and I think we can work it out. After all, true love comes from accepting the others faults and staying with them anyway. What do you think Final Fantasy X could have improved on?

Formalhaut
06-13-2016, 05:37 PM
You know what? I pretty much agree with everything you said. I would also add 'annoying end-game content' which basically meant:

1) max out sphere grid
2) to achieve step 1, grind at the monster arena forever, farming spheres
3) once done, defeat the dark aeons. Maybe defeat Penance if you really want

That's it. I don't mind doing a bit of the monster arena stuff, but ugh you have to do it for so damn long.

Fynn
06-13-2016, 05:39 PM
I'd add painfully cliched characters, forced drama and lack of basic understanding of the human psyche and emotional spectrum, but hey, I'm weird like that XD

Silent Warrior
06-13-2016, 06:26 PM
The localisation isn't spot-on, either. I personally am not too bothered by the lack of sidequests - if there is a story to focus on, more focus on story is a good thing in my book - but I can concede that you have a point. That bloody lightning dodging, though...

Fynn
06-13-2016, 06:28 PM
Oh yeah, ok that note, poor Hedy Buress had no idea how to deal with the lip flaps

Formalhaut
06-13-2016, 07:37 PM
Yeah, honestly Pumpkin you could've expanded on the side-quests section by saying that those that were there were just terrible and boring. Lightning dodging, chocobo dodging, butterfly catching... UGH. I wouldn't mind if they were optional. You need to best them to get the ultimate weapons!

Forsaken Lover
06-13-2016, 08:05 PM
Character bonding happens in battles with the little and natural dialogue that happens between certain party members depending on the point of the story you are playing. It helps both the characters and plot rather meaningfully in that it immerses you in them both in a way a simple cutscne does not.

Night Fury
06-14-2016, 01:37 AM
I don't mind not being shown everything with the character bonding. I have my own little headcanons.

Forsaken Lover
06-14-2016, 02:06 AM
I don't mind not being shown everything with the character bonding. I have my own little headcanons.

Tidus has a ball of yarn he throws at Kimahri every now and then.

Fynn
06-14-2016, 06:49 AM
Kimahri and Wakka have a hot steamy affair behind the scenes

Forsaken Lover
06-14-2016, 01:46 PM
Kimahri and Wakka have a hot steamy affair behind the scenes

"KIMAHRI NOT SMALL RONSO."

Formalhaut
06-14-2016, 01:52 PM
I always wondered what Biran and Yenke were mocking when it came to Kimahri. Now the 'small horn' jokes makes sense!

Fynn
06-14-2016, 02:10 PM
I'm sure Ronso small is still big for human standards. Think how great Wakka must be for Kimahri's self- esteem!

Forsaken Lover
06-14-2016, 03:23 PM
Unfortunately the phallus metaphor would also include the Ronso's vow to make a Yuna statue with a big penis on her head.

Fynn
06-14-2016, 03:27 PM
That actually makes it better

Formalhaut
06-14-2016, 04:20 PM
Unfortunately the phallus metaphor would also include the Ronso's vow to make a Yuna statue with a big penis on her head.

:lol: Brilliant.

Ayen
07-01-2016, 09:43 AM
I like how you underline the title with a picture of Tidus. Well done.

I'm going to go over each section and offer an alternative viewpoint.

Camera Controls

This is an interesting observation. I find FFX has a lot in common with the PSX games in this respect. VII, VIII, and IX don't have camera controls for the towns, either. They're on equal footing, and the comparisons can be explained due to FFX being an early game in the PS2's life cycle so the possibilities of the hardware haven't been fully realized yet. But what's the contrast? Why does the criticism stem heavier on FFX?

The lack of world map.

The place that interconnected all the different cities. That was where you could control the camera and better explore your surroundings. FFX removed that piece of the puzzle entirely and changed the game because of it. Why? It seems like such a poor decision to remove something so vital. Could it be due to many of the places being separated by bodies of water? But there's still plenty of land for a physical world map to exist. For the water part, why not a mechanic to control a ship and sail from one place to the next to make backtracking more accessible at the beginning? And of course, once the airship is introduced why not just be able to control that like the games that came before? Maybe they were trying to experiment with new ideas, but the other games managed to give us an outside view for controlling and the inside view where we explored the interior. Removing these factors don't make sense at face value. Is there anything that could explain why they were removed?

Linearity

This is going to overlap in some of the above, but once again we can compare to past games. You mention the Macalania Forest, but what about the forest near the beginning of FFIX after the airship crashed? That wasn't much bigger. It didn't branch off into that many directions. The same with the ice cave you find later. It was limited by the technology available at the time, just like FFX. How would they be able to improve on these elements given the current limitations and what are examples of games that did it better in the same development cycle?

It's hard for me to form an opinion on the Sphere Grid at the moment without being able to compare and contrast the US version with the International. From what I understand at the moment they're night and day.

Same Ol' Same Ol'

This is going to overlap too much into my thoughts on sidequests, so I'll be skipping it.

Predictable Fights

I wonder. Is the predictability bad in and of itself, or is it due to execution? Remove the game flat out telling you how to line up each character to each monster and what happens? It becomes harder, doesn't it? We have to discover for ourselves what the best course of action is. That way when we realize how to properly utilize each character's strengths and weaknesses the game becomes more fun, and you feel like you're actively getting better. The game outright telling us what to do was the biggest mistake they could've made.

Extra Character Bonding Scenes

I'm going to stick with the ATE from FFIX you mention since that's the only one I'm familiar with. The problem becomes in how we can space these out so they don't become annoying to the player. While I enjoyed them in FFIX, some times they happened a bit too close together and it was somewhat an inconvenience seeing them pop up on the screen. True, you don't have to do them, but they're taking up space. So what would be a good way to space them out enough for the best possible execution? Or perhaps for them to take up less space? I admit I'm working on vague memory of how IX implemented them, so my thinking could be flawed.

Extra Character Bonding Scenes

I'm curious by what you mean of 'Tales of skits'. Haven't seen the phrase used before.

Lack of Sidequests

I agree on the potential, and why I think it overlaps with Same Ol' Same Ol' as it fuels the repetitive nature of the game. Let's go in even broader strokes. Given what we know about Spira, what all could have been written to add more sidequests and alternative paths to enrich the game and increase replayability? How would these ideas be implemented given the technological restrictions?

I propose that the reason you've come to the conclusion you have is because of how far games have come in the long run. We see now what is possible for them with modern technology which we wouldn't have considered back in 2001 because games like FFX was modern gaming. We had nothing to compare it to but what came before. And after that you have to ask if it compares well to what came before. This is the meaning of 'dated' and how we can assess which games hold up well over time, and which games fall to dust. Some of these problems may not have been fixed due to the technology without remaking it entirely from scratch like Square is doing with FFVII. I wonder how X would play if it was made today with the same game engine as FFXV?

Your article was an interesting read.


I'd add painfully cliched characters, forced drama and lack of basic understanding of the human psyche and emotional spectrum, but hey, I'm weird like that XD

How were the characters cliched, how was the drama forced, and what basic understanding of human psyche and emotional spectrum was absent, and how can we amend these things, if at all?


Yeah, honestly Pumpkin you could've expanded on the side-quests section by saying that those that were there were just terrible and boring. Lightning dodging, chocobo dodging, butterfly catching... UGH. I wouldn't mind if they were optional. You need to best them to get the ultimate weapons!

Is the ultimate weapon necessary to complete the game? If not, then technically, aren't they still optional? I never played much into any of those. That doesn't excuse their quality however. Do you think there were ways they could've made the minigames more enjoyable?


I always wondered what Biran and Yenke were mocking when it came to Kimahri. Now the 'small horn' jokes makes sense!

My goodness, they were challenging his masculinity. There was more psychology to that subplot than I first realized. I love it!

Let me know if you think I should spoiler these multi-quotes. I'm not sure if the rules for them from Academia apply to the other sections.