Saturday, January 11, 2003

Final Fantasy X

Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation 2
Credits: 2001-2002 Squaresoft. Screenshots and images courtesy of Amazon.Com.

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Everything Final Fantasy (Editorial) Product Description:
Final Fantasy X is the first title in this landmark RPG series to be released for the PlayStation2. The main characters are Tidus, a star of blitzball (a hugely popular sport in the Final Fantasy universe), and Yuna, who has learned the art of summoning and controlling aeons, powerful spirits of yore. These two people of different backgrounds must work together as they journey through the world of Spira. This installment of Final Fantasy has a distinctly Asian influence, bringing a fresh feel to the characters, music, settings, and story.

Features include voice-overs for the first time in the series (utilizing the Facial Motion System), high-polygon, motion-captured player characters designed by Tetsuya Nomura, and a camera that automatically adjusts its perspective to correspond with the movements of the characters--a feature now possible because the game is largely polygonal.

PREVIEW >>> by firesenshi (Mid 2001)

I know, I know! You can't wait for Final Fantasy X. So can't I! It already came out in Japan, July 2001 which is this year. But where is the English version? Well, if you are like me who didn't get an import in Japanese because of the PS2's exclusivity (and her Nihongo still being "dekiru kedo ... mada heta desu" -_-;;;), nothing beats but being totemo impatient. (Excuse the Japlish. -_^) They say it's going to be released early next year. The month I hear is February.

But that doesn't stop me from delivering to you a preview of this lovely lovely game anyway! The news is real. The same developers who did Final Fantasy VIII did develop the battle system. As with renowned surrealist artist Yoshitaka Amano doing character illustrations as per FF tradition, Tetsuya Nomura of FFVII and FFVIII is doing the character design. Is this bad news for those "old-school" gamers? Well, you can treat it that way. Or if you still prefer games doing the old-school way, there's no stopping you from digging your SNES. I certainly won't dig up mine or get an emulator in case I can't dig it up under other buried treasures.

I think though, that from the reviews and and outstanding game sales rivaling previous FF games like FFVII and FFVIII (sorry folks, FFIX did not sell as much), good response must mean good game. And good game came along with good reviews. I've certainly read some from those who have played it.

Expect an alternative battle system here. I'm not sure if there's still room for MP, but the things for certain is that the good ol' ATB meter is gone. They've replaced it with a system where you have a series of turns -- things which upon reading only in magazines, I can't picture yet. Character classes are back, unlike in FFVII and FFVIII where your characters have pretty random magic differentiated only by limit breaks. In Final Fantasy X, you have a swordsman, a summoner, a black magic user and a thief. There are two other characters I can't classify.

But here is the list of characters I've translated straight from Playonline's Japanese version. (I've translated it for all you who don't speak Japanese. But all of this information is all by Playonline and NOT by me or Disc13.)

Enjoy the information! And next time, once you play FF X, we'll want to know what you think about it! ^_^

(firesenshi's note: They keep mentioning osamu everywhere! Maybe that's what Yuna's summoner tribe is called. So don't be surprised if you see brass mosquito because that's how it is literally translated. ^_^)

Tidus chara translate
Protagonist. A very cheerful 17 year-old youth. As for character, he's vigorous being optimistic and unyielding. Immediately, he is the type who takes on any condition but as for the motor nerve considerable ones. Underwater grapple ball game ' Bu Ritzu ball ' (blitzball) ace player. (Blitzball is also one of the mini-games that is said to be incorporated in FF X)

Yuna chara translate
Her father and the "brass mosquito" (unsure, may be the name of her Summoner tribe) are the great summons loyal retainer along with the “ Shin. ” Deciding she is prepared and being pushed down, she goes on a journey. (Yuna is part of a tribe that are Summoners. So in this game, she is the only one who can summon. In the trailer, I hear her say that to defeat "Shin," she must find the ultimate summon. So begins the quest of Final Fantasy X)

Kimari chara translate
Youth of Ronzo family. He protected the "brass mosquito" and was an orphan over 10 years. Being taciturn, almost you should not question him, there is no strong will but to protect Yuna is concealed in heart.

Seymour chara translate
He was born between sub- race Guato family and a human. He is the old age teacher of those succeeded the Ebon.

Lulu chara translate
22 year old woman. She is the guard who protects Yuna like an older sister and watches over her kindly. She can have this excessive feeling. Harsh speech and behavior shows
her to be cool most of the time, but that is because she doesn't seem very optimistic.

Auron chara translate
35 year old man. Has calm composure and is a strict swordsman. At one time he fought together as a guard of Yuna's father, the large summons loyal retainer (summoner tribe).

Rikku chara translate
15 year old woman. Girl of Albedo family. Very bright, vigorous and lively. (Oh no, another Yuffie? -_-;;;) But a gentle character. Doubt is felt in being caught to the rule of the Ebon. Worries about Yuna and would like to protect her.

Wakka chara translate
23 year old men. 'Bu Ritzu' (blitzball) ball team player and coach of " B side. While loving Yuna like a younger sister, he's still a managing Blitzball player (huh? o_O) and guard accompanying her in traveling. He is very open, but also quite irresolute. He seems to be a childhood friend of Yuna or Tidus. (This one I'm not sure.)

An overview of the battle system:

Answering to Yuna's prayer, the legendary summons beast appears. In addition the latest summons magic so far, this concept is different from the rest of the series. The largest point of difference is that, when one summons, the summon permanently stationed in the battlefield, but here, the Summon Beast can do a command battle in place of the party member.

Overdrive (Final Fantasy X's version of Limit Breaks)
When overdrive gauge becomes full, the character is in Overdrive state and a powerful attack becomes possible. It is possible to add an action depending upon the character to furthermore draw out powerful attack.

Here are the Overdrive Skills for the characters:

  • Tidus = Sword Skil
  • Yuna = Master Summons (I'm hoping this is not another Garnet type Eidolon useless limit break)
  • Kimari = skill petrochemical press of enemy (similar to Jump it seems to me)
  • Lulu = Temptation (something happens to her Moogle doll)
  • Auron = "Himitsu" which means The Secret. (sounds cool to me! ^_^)
  • Rikku = compound stock item (?) (it seems she can use two items at once. like two bombs at once.)


>>> Preview by Firesenshi
Reference of Characters and Battle System is lifted from Playonline's Japanese version. Simply translated here so that people who don't understand Japanese will know what to expect of the game. Disc 13 does not claim ownership to the above information.

Thirsting for my sub quests...>>> by skysenshi (01.10.2003)

First off, I would like to make it clear that what I'm about to discuss is Final Fantasy X International Version (FFXi). Firesenshi would be the one writing a review for the regular FFX game, so those who are so hooked into FFX would do well to wait for her take on it. Our experiences of the game are almost starkly different from each other, which only means that the version really matters. But first, the good parts…

Story and Characters
You basically have seven party members: Tidus, the ace blitzball player; Yuna, the summoner; Wakka, the retired blitzball player and guardian of the summoner Yuna; Lulu, the black mage; Kimahri, the hornless Ronso; Rikku, the naughty Yuffie-like Al Bhed; and Auron, Tidus' father's friend. All of which have lives that are chronicled quite well in the story. Everyone gets equal focus, with the exception of Tidus, of course, since he is the lead character.

Tidus becomes you. As Tidus, you are the star player of the Zanarkand Abes. You are great. Everyone loves you. You have everything else you can ask for in this world. But deep inside, your father's shadow looms over you ominously. He is the player that you think you will never be. With this depressing thought in mind, you get ready for your next game. Again you think of your father…just as this being known as Sin arrives and destroys your city, your fans, and your entire life right before your very eyes. Amidst all the turmoil, you are thrown 1,000 years into the future. Or was it that you were unconscious for 1,000 years and woke up in a completely changed world? You make friends, but their lives are nearly devoid of any form of enjoyment. Sin has been their greatest fear since time immemorial. Suddenly, everyone's problem—Sin—becomes your own and for every mystery you uncover with your new allies, a horrifying realization dawns. This adventure is your story. And your story might spell the end of your existence…

What can I say? The approach for the FFX storyline is quite different. There really aren't any surprises because all the facts have been laid out from the very beginning. Gawd knows how many hints have been scattered here and there that would tell you the real score. So don't expect much of twists as to who is Sin, or what's behind Auron's mysterious countenance, or should Seymour the blessed Guado be considered a highly suspicious person. I'm saying the approach is different because the writers purposely placed a dark cloud full of tragedies hanging over your head while you fight your way to the final battle. You already know that the outcome would be tragic, yet you go on. And with the stunning visuals and sound effects, you can't help but be moved. I even cried. I don't think I remember crying over any other Final Fantasies.

The most obvious of all the good things this game has to offer is of course the highly sophisticated near lifelike graphics. All the FMVs of the characters look so real that you'd be praying they'd be actual people you can have a crush on (*ahem* Lulu for the guys and Tidus for the girls). Even non-FMV CGs have improved tremendously, especially the summons. Shiva, in particular, who is a mainstay in all Final Fantasies, has evolved into a lovely goddess that suspiciously resembles supermodel Elizabeth Hurley. The only thing I find quite weird is that Yuna in the FMV looks different from her regular self. Other than that, I have no complaints in this department. In fact, I'm even happier that Square finally realized we'd want to view those FMVs again, so now you can buy these movies in one of the FFX towns.

Another department worth a non-stop applause. Truly, Nobuo Uematsu has outdone himself yet again. Of course he's not alone. Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu helped create a dramatic overall feel into this piece of work. If the piano intro hasn't touched your heart yet, wait till you hear Suteki Da Ne. I would bet my love life that the FMV where this song is featured would be one of the most replayed movies in your adventure. I would like to go on and on about the wonderful soundtrack of this series, but I figure I should save that for my FFX OST review. The good news is, like the movies, you can also buy sound spheres from the same place where you buy the FMVs.

Gameplay and Battle System

What you'll definitely miss here are the abilities to explore the world map and to level up. But the sphere grid system is definitely another groundbreaking innovation brought to you by Squaresoft. This is quite difficult to explain but you have this map-like structure known as the sphere grid, which contains all the skills you can have your characters learn while you go along the way. For every battle you finish, you earn AP and these are converted into "moves" that you can use to progress in the sphere grid. The more AP you earn, the more moves you can make, the more skills you can acquire.

What I appreciate about this sphere grid is that you can actually customize your characters. Sure, it's already been established that Lulu is your black mage, Kimahri is the blue mage/dragoon, Rikku is the thief, but you have the option to mess things up and make your characters go through different paths on the grid.

Each party member has his or her own Limit Break gauge called Overdrive. This is similar to FF7 and 8's Limit Breaks and FF9's Trance. In the previous FFs, the gauges charge when an enemy hits the character. This time, however, you can set your Overdrives. You can decide whether it will charge if the character gets hit, his ally gets hit, when he hits, when it's his turn, when he heals, when he wins a battle…Actually there are about 17 Overdrive options available to the player, depending on what he's been able to activate.

One other important battle fact to note is that the summons, also called Aeons in this game, can now fight like regular party members. And, like regular characters, your Aeons also have Overdrives.

Other Features
True to Final Fantasy tradition, you still have time to enjoy yourself by playing some extra games. This time you can do blitzball, an underwater soccer game, and even participate in chocobo races to get some rare items. Unfortunately, I didn't find blitzball as exciting as FF8's card game and the chocobo race here is nowhere near as fun as FF7's. In fact, while I've always found chocobos to be cute, I couldn't help but want to shoot them here. The controls for riding them are a mess and you never really have a chance to develop your own high breed chocobo.

FFX International Extras
Well, this is where 90% of my gripes come in. See, the reason why I bought FFX International and not the regular FFX game is that I've heard that the plot closure that wasn't in the original FFX would be found here. That was all I wanted to see. I didn't really expect the FFXi extras to actually ruin my enjoyment.

True enough, FFXi is more difficult and I do understand why. The bosses in FFX are quite easy. Many of them are susceptible to status attacks. The game itself is too easy. You already have a map that tells you where to go, and auto-scan weapons that tell you your enemies' weaknesses without spending MP. So the developers up and made FFXi more challenging by placing ridiculously difficult bosses, with equally ridiculous amounts of HP, over the sub quest areas. What frustrates me is that I couldn't go through areas—that regular FFX players can just go in and out of—without running into an eternally berserk Dark Aeon.

Like for instance, I went back to this dungeon where I could get the key to Tidus' special weapon, and whoa! Dark Bahamut comes in and wipes out my party with an attack that takes out 99,999HP. He might as well have cast death over me. It would've had the same effect. I go to another area, Besaid Village, to retrieve some sub quest items and what do I find? Dark Valefor! And like Bahamut, he takes out my party with the same moves without giving me a chance to even run away. Oh yes, there's also everyone's beloved optional boss Omega—except FFX players were able to defeat him with the same stats I had. How? While Omega had a paltry 99,999HP in FFX, he had 999,999HP in FFXi. That one extra "9" made a whole lot of difference. Yes still seems easy to defeat. He had a very obvious pattern. But I don't want to spend the next few hours trying to wear him down. Truthfully, FF5's Omega was much more difficult in that his battle tactics require more thought. FFX's Omega only requires patience.

There must be a way to defeat them, you say. Yes there is. You have to get all the legendary weapons and go through the entire sphere grid to max out your stats. In short, you have to have a whole lot of leveling up and a whole load of tedious tasks to do. Maxing out your sphere grid takes the pleasure away from having customized characters because by then all your characters would have the same stats, the same skills, and the same abilities. Now where's the fun and challenge in that? Also, in my refusal to fight all these ultra beefed-up Aeons, I lost the pleasure of exploration. I've accomplished very few sub quests and my game ended too soon.

Was it worth it? I should've just played the original FFX. I never lacked buddies who were able to view the extra movie anyway. If I had done that, I would have been able to enjoy the game and just wonder about the extra clip later.

DIFFICULTY: Easy (FFX) - Difficult (FFXi)
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: N.A. (Auron with 7K+ HP; Yuna with 3K+ HP)
RATINGS: Gameplay 10; Battle 10; Story 9; Visuals 10; Characters 10; Sounds 10; Replay Value 5

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