Not long ago, I wrote about my first real “Final Fantasy” game, “FFX”. This was an absolutely fantastic game. It had great characters and a complex, interesting story. It was epic and emotional, and I just loved it. It was a masterpiece, and I was happy to have finally seen how amazing the “Final Fantasy” series could be. And then I played “Final Fantasy X-2”.
Let’s see, how to describe “FFX-2”. This game was…different. It followed Yuna’s story two years after the events of “FFX”. She has become a sphere hunter, along with Rikku (from the first game) and a new character named Paine. Spheres are these objects that can play videos, and when Yuna watched a sphere that showed her images of a person that looked like Tidus (also from “FFX”), she decided to try to find more spheres to see if they gave her anymore clues about him. While I did end up having a lot of fun playing the game, there were many aspects of it that I thought were a let-down.
For one thing, the game tries to appeal to female gamers, which is fine, but they didn’t do it well. Like, I just can’t stand the cutesiness. Why am I playing a mini-game where I make Yuna dance? Why am I watching a cut scene of Yuna singing? Seriously, why has Yuna even become a pop singer?! She was this sweet, innocent, serious, humble young woman from the first game who went on a dangerous Pilgrimage to try to stop Sin from ravaging Spira. Now she’s dressing in much less clothing and singing on a stage. And she has guns. Guns. No longer a sweet girl who does nothing but heal her team members or feebly thwack enemies with a staff. Now she’ll shoot you in the face. I can’t comprehend how Yuna could go from the person I respected and cared about in the first game to what we see in this one.
And another problem with this game was the clothes. Yes, the clothes. This game is supposed to be for female gamers, but the women dress in very revealing clothes. (Rikku goes around in a bra and a very short skirt. My goodness, I wear more than that to go swimming. Oh, but at least her arms are covered. We can see every bit of her legs and stomach, but not her elbows. Goodness, no, not her elbows.) So they think that women like looking at other women with nearly nothing on then? I would assume they’d do that to appeal to guys. But, then there are all these other parts of the game that is clearly not directed towards guys. Like how the characters change outfits in mid-battle. That’s right. The real-world equivalent would be, “Hey, honey, should I wear the black dress or the red one?” “Um, shouldn’t you have decided before we sat down in this crowded restaurant?”
Ahem, now that the not-so-dramatic reenactment is done, I assume you’ll want me to expand on that a bit more. “What do you mean, very adorable little duck? Surely the characters don’t actually change clothes while they’re fighting.” Oh, but they do. First, let me tell you that this game has a much different battle system from that of “FFX”. It is turn-based, but real-time, like “FFVII”, so enemies are attacking you while you’re making decisions. Also, characters can choose between these different roles, each role giving them a limited set of moves. The Warrior fights with a sword, the White Mage uses healing spells, the Thief can steal items. (There’s also the, shudder, Songstress that causes the character to dance to inflict enemies with status ailments.) You get the point.
But, whenever characters change roles, they change clothes (thus, each role is called a dressphere). It just seems silly to see your characters changing outfits right in the middle of battle. And it can take too long to change sometimes, too. You get this little tiny cut scene each time, and I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t care less about watching my character change into a new costume. Hey, I’m in the middle of a stressful battle, and I’m trying to switch to a White Mage to bring Rikku back to life. I’m not really in the mood to have the battle interrupted by Yuna being cutesy. Yes, you’re adorable or something, Yuna, but focus. Your friends are dropping dead around you. That’s the last thing I want to see when I’m being massacred.
But, these dresspheres are not all bad. I like the different categories of moves, and I suppose it can be fun changing strategies and switching to a different dressphere to see if that works any better. I also like that all characters can use every dressphere, so it’s easier than “FFX” to have multiple characters with healing spells and whatnot, and the more a character uses a certain dressphere, the more moves they learn. It’s not like leveling up (which you also do), which takes longer the higher the level you are, and you must fight stronger enemies for more experience. It doesn’t matter how strong the enemies are or how much experience you have. Just use the White Mage 20 or 40 or 60 times, and you’ll learn a new thing. Sometimes, I have all three characters be White Mages, and they just use Pray over and over in battle so they can learn stronger spells faster. This encourages me to try out each dressphere a bit to see what I can learn.
Also, each character has a special dressphere. Unfortunately, you must switch to every sphere on your Garment Grid before using it, which can take a while if you’re using a grid with a lot of spaces. Once you can use it, your character fights on their own, but they still have three things to use for fighting. Like Rikku fights with this machina that, I must admit, is kind of cool (and she totally looks like she’s dressed like Zero Suit Samus), and the main machine can do strong attacks, and then it has two other parts that can heal or use different moves. Yuna becomes this big flower thing, which is kind of silly, but she can use moves to make her immune to any magic or physical damage, which is pretty awesome. I still haven’t found Paine’s.
Okay, so the battle system has some good and bad aspects. As for the characters, well, I really wasn’t a big fan of them. Like I said, Yuna is not the same person anymore. Rikku also seems much more loud and annoying. I used to like her, but she just bugs me now. And Paine is kind of cool, but she’s also just not interesting at all. Brother is a mix of creepy and annoying, and sometimes funny. Nothing to say about Buddy. He’s fine. (And the smart kid, Shinra, creeps me out. What is with all the children in the full-body suits and face masks in this game? No adults have been wearing that. Why would they think that is a proper clothing design for kids? And they look so frumpy. Frumpy , badly-dressed children.) And don’t even get me started on Leblanc, another sphere hunter and the leader of a group of criminals. One of the worst outfits I’ve ever seen in anything ever (it is even more objectionable than the nearly naked Rikku), and she’s just… Okay, I said I wasn’t going to get started on her. I just really dislike her. She’s just obnoxious and horrible. Her two main cronies bother me, too, but compared to her, they’re not even quite as horrendous. At least they get to wear clothes. Because they are men.
And the story. It was originally about Yuna looking for Tidus, which could have been something, maybe. It ends up turning into something else about these two people I care nothing for and a pretty scary looking machina (and believe it or not, her Songstress dressphere actually manages to play a role in the story somewhat), and I guess the story was okay in the end, but it didn’t really keep my interest. The story took forever to get to anything early on, and then it finally did, and then there were long sequences of nothing, and I lost interest. And it’s just nothing compared to the beautiful story of “FFX”.
Also, the game has mainly the same exact locations as the previous game. That makes sense, but I wish there were a bit more unique locations. There are some new places, but they are often boring, brown or grey tunnels like what you find in the Thunder Plains and on Besaid. The most interesting places are those you’re revisiting from the first game.
To make up for a lot of the issues, though, the game does have a lot to do. There seems to be quite a good number of little missions you can do in various locations, which may or may not change as a person gets farther into the game (the game is divided into five chapters). The only problem here is, if you don’t do things during the correct chapter, you never can.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know this at first, so I decided I’d play through the story first and get myself close to the end of the game. Then, I’d go back and do all the extras. Sometimes, that’s how I do things. And it’s usually okay, but in this game, it’s not. I found that many missions that I planned on doing are no longer available. I come back later, and there’s no sign of it. Or I return to a place, and a small cut scene plays concerning something I had no idea had even occurred, and then it tells me the mission is over. What mission? I also see that I am missing nearly half of the dresspheres, including Paine’s special one, with no hope of getting most of them at this point. And I beat the game with 53%. Apparently, I missed half! I just don’t think it’s fair when people can’t go back and get things they missed. I guess I know for next time.
Another thing that really bothers me is that the game also tries too hard to be cool. The airship now looks like this big…motorcycle…thing. The music is much more modern and much less beautiful. Whenever I get an item, I “scored” it. I didn’t obtain phoenix down. I didn’t get phoenix down. No, I didn’t even receive or procure phoenix down. I “scored” phoenix down. I guess I’m just going to start wearing leather jackets now. Perhaps even leather pants. May as well. Doesn’t matter if it looks completely out of place on me. This game doesn’t care. Why should I? Why should I care about anything anymore?
So while the game can be fun, there’s a lot of it that disappoints me. I can’t expect it to be the same as “FFX”, but I wish it compared in some ways to its wonderful predecessor. This game is much less serious, and there is too much emphasis on singing and changing clothes. They may use locations and characters from the previous game, but that is where the similarities end. Yuna has changed so much. She’s not the same person I used to really care about. It’s a shame.
So as a sequel to “Final Fantasy X”, I think this game is just not super good. If you forget that it came after a really beautiful game, it’s not as bad. I did have a lot of fun playing it, even if I found it to be silly, and I didn’t care much for the story or the characters. (And what kind of name is Nooj?) And there was quite a lot to do. Well, there would have been, if they let me do it. No matter what, though, you can’t deny that it was a rather odd game.