Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Nintendo Switch Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: RPG
 
Rating: M
 
Release Date: 16/04/2019
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4/5


 

Positives


- Differing battle systems are still interesting today
- Graphics have been touched up nicely
- Soundtrack is still as great as ever
- Heaps of content for the price

Negatives


- Missing quality of life features compared to other recent Final Fantasy ports
- Writing falls a bit flat at points


Posted May 6, 2019 by

 
Full Article
 
 

For over a decade the Final Fantasy brand was synonymous with Sony and PlayStation consoles. After starting as a Nintendo exclusive franchise, the series made the jump to PlayStation and for two whole console generations all new mainline games were exclusive to the brand. Finally, after more than 20 years since that trend began with Final Fantasy VII, we’re seeing those historic PlayStation exclusives come to other consoles. Final Fantasy X opened the PlayStation 2 generation for the franchise, Final Fantasy X-2 was the first direct sequel in the franchise, and now both are out on Nintendo Switch in the form of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster – a remaster that improves the original games, but misses many of the quality of life features from other recent Final Fantasy remasters and ports.

After a string of games using the Active Time Battle system, Final Fantasy X was somewhat of a return to the series’ roots, bringing back the turn-based battle system of the original three games with a twist. Instead of selecting your entire team’s attacks and then initiating the turn, the game surfaced the turn order into the game’s UI, allowing you to strategise your turn and see how your command selections would alter the turn order. It was a welcome change at the time, giving you massive amounts of control over battles, while removing the time constraints inherent to the ATB system. 18 years on and the system still makes you feel like you’re in complete control during battle. Final Fantasy X-2 takes a different tact, going back the ATB system of most modern games in the series, but with another small twist. Instead of all characters having an ATB gauge of the same length, the length is determined by the last attack used, but without any view to how it will be affected until after the attack is selected. It’s an easier to understand representation of your character’s speed, and the change between the games helps keep combat fresh when you move between them.

Both games have completely different methods of character progression as well. With Final Fantasy X came the Sphere Grid, a board game-esque representation of a character’s progression and growth. Instead of traditional levels, you effectively gained movements that you could spend to progress along the grid, gaining stat increases and new abilities as you progressed. Each character had a relatively linear initial path to follow, geared towards the traditional archetype they represented. However, all of the paths are linked together within the colossal Sphere Grid, allowing you to break off your initial path and progress into other characters’ abilities later in the game. It’s a system that is still fantastic today, giving you a novel way to progress while also allowing you the freedom to customise your characters. Final Fantasy X-2 went in a different direction, returning to traditional levels and a twist on the job systems of earlier games – Dress Spheres. Dress Spheres allow you to change character archetypes, such as moving from a Gunner to a Dancer, letting you choose the makeup of your team and change it up during battle. Unfortunately, the balance is a bit off with the Dress Spheres and by the end of the game you’ll end up sticking to a select few that allow you to rip through your enemies and remove any challenge the game has.

The differences don’t stop there however, as the two games have major differences in the tone and content of their stories. Final Fantasy X is a standard mainline Final Fantasy game, filled with a massive world-ending threat, a ragtag group of people out to end the threat and save the world, and all the drama you’d expect from a Japanese RPG developed in the late 90s/early 2000s. The writing doesn’t always hold up and there are some scenes that’ll make you cringe, but the story is largely of high quality and tells a relatively personal story against the dramatic backdrop. Final Fantasy X-2 does away with almost all of that, focusing in on a much happier, energetic and adventurous tone. Much of seriousness of its prequel is gone, replaced by the adventures of a group of friends exploring the world and growing together. It’s a completely different style to most other Final Fantasy games, and while it falls a bit flat at times, it’s nice to have something refreshingly different from the series.

Unlike the Final Fantasy IX port that recently released with blurry backgrounds due to a seeming lack of high-quality versions, Final Fantasy X/X-2’s backgrounds have benefited much more from their conversion to modern consoles. The pre-rendered backgrounds still look great today thanks to a lack of out-dated looking 3D elements, while both game’s character models have been touched up and don’t look out of place on the Switch. The soundtrack in both games still holds up as well, with Final Fantasy X’s filled with fantastic tracks in particular. Because of this, it’s not entirely surprising that X’s soundtrack is the only one that got a newly recorded arrangement (the original soundtrack is also available at all times), but it would have been nice to see both games receive the same treatment.

The only real disappointment to Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is the lack of features introduced in other series’ ports and remasters. We see the return of unskippable cutscenes, something changed for the re-releases of VII and IX. You can’t speed the game up, like in Final Fantasy XII – The Zodiac Age, meaning that the game’s slower moments stay slow. Liked the ability to enable cheats or aids in Final Fantasy VII and IX that made replays of the games significantly easier? Well, you don’t get any of those either. While it’s true that the original Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster was developed before those other ports, it’s been five years since that original release, and the changes made in the latest ports of Final Fantasy XII – The Zodiac Age show that Square Enix is open to adding features and changing things between ports.

Final Fantasy X and X-2 were both landmark releases in their time – for different reasons – and both games hold up well today. They’re extremely different games, keeping things fresh as you move between them, and both still look and sound great. A few extra quality of life features would have gone a long way to improving the overall package, but Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is an excellent package that any RPG or Final Fantasy fan should pick up.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.