One-hundred-and-thirty-eight hours. That was how much time I placed in playing–and completing every aspect of, including getting the Platinum Trophy–Final Fantasy X HD Remaster for the Vita. Half of that time I have clocked in to this game involved farming for the spheres needed to improve the characters, capturing ten of every monster found in almost all the dungeons, obtaining the most powerful weapons and armors (the ones that also required farming for items to customize them into uber equipment), playing Blitzball, defeating Dark Aeons, defeating the most powerful boss Penance, and defeating the most powerful boss in the Monster Arena Nemesis.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Some might not know what the heck I am even talking about. So allow me a few paragraphs to explain…and tell the story of, without spoiling anything.
Final Fantasy X HD Remaster is a very-much enhanced and (as its name suggests) high-definition remaster of the acclaimed international version of a game that first hit shelves some thirteen years ago. It tells of the story of Tidus, a star Blitzball (an underwater soccer-ish sport) player for the Zanarkand Abes who gets thrown into Spira–a place that is a thousand years into the future from where and when he was from. There, Tidus meets Yuna, a summoner who is on her journey to defeat Sin–a monstrous creature who, according to the world’s mythos, was born from the sins of the past–particularly a war that occurred prior to the game’s story–because the people of Spira made use of “machinas” (I am merely glossing over things here).
Like most–if not all–RPGs/JRPGs, Tidus is drawn to Yuna and ends up being her Guardian. Long story short, Tidus, Yuna, and the rest of their crew (which comprises of Wakka, a retired Blitzball Player, Lulu a Black Magician Guardian, Khimari a Ronzo with a broken horn who took Yuna to Besaid (the island from where the actual game starts from) and looked after her, Rikku an Al Bhed scavenger who also happens to be Yuna’s cousin, and Auron a legendary Guardian who with Tidus’ father Jecht and Yuna’s father Braska, brought forth the previous “Calm”) travel all across Spira, seeking the aid of the Fayth and Aeons (summon spirits/creatures/whatever you want to call them) to battle and defeat Sin and herald forth another Calm for Spira while searching for a way for Tidus to go back to his home, Zanarkand.
There is a lot to this game than the very quick summary I had made above. Believe me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have ended up with a hundred hours worth of gameplay.
So, what’s new with this so-called “HD Remaster”?
Well, apart from the HD aspect, the remodeled version of the characters (which some gamers are complaining about) and map models, and the aforementioned fact that this is the International version of the game–a version which wasn’t released in North America and PAL regions–FFX HD Remaster includes the Eternal Calm FMV and a bonus audio drama (which occurs sometime after FFX-2 (which begs the question why Square would include that in the FFX game)). It also includes the ability to swap saves from the PS3 release of the game and the Vita release for those who enjoy having two copies of their games (one for the console and another for their handheld).
The International Version of the game from where this remaster was based off from gave players the ability to choose which grid system they would use: Standard or Expert. The Grid System is this game’s version of leveling up your characters the way you see fit, using spheres and nodes (of which I am not going to delve into, but it is quite a hassle). It also has additional bosses which are both very powerful.
It also has improved audio and 60 remastered tracks (again, some fans are not too happy about these remastered tracks), a quick recovery feature that makes use of the touch screen to quickly heal your party (never made use of this), and, of course, the trophies.
The remastered version brings about nostalgia, especially if you have played the original PS2 release before. With the addition of the Trophies, you will also be in for a long haul if you intend to Platinum the game. Long hours await you at grinding, trying to nab that 0-second race win aboard the Chocobo, winning a Chocobo race while trying to obtain 5 treasure chests, dodging 200 lightning strikes consecutively–without encountering monsters, beating super-powered bosses, obtaining secret Aeons and items, playing Blitzball, and learning the Al Bhed language (just to name a few). Though the game is fun, some aspects of it are quite annoying/irritating to the point where I almost threw my Vita at the wall.
Maybe that’s because I was aiming for a 100% completion of the game, but there are some parts of it that shouldn’t have been required for a trophy (I am talking about you damn Chocobo trophies!). Or, since there is already a trophy for it, that the developers should have taken time to fix the clunky controls on some of the mini games (again, giving you a death glare, Chocobo trophies!) Really, after thirteen years you would’ve think they would, at least, fixed the drunken controls of those mini-games and made it enjoyable for the gamers. But, no. Sadly, the poor controls were left in.
That’s really my only rant about this game. The poor controls they have on the mini-games. I mean, if you’re developing a mini-game for a videogame, the best thing to do is to ensure it has proper controls and that the gamers would enjoy it. Otherwise, it would simply be a chore and the people playing the game would not bother with it…worst is if there is some “unlockable” found within the mini-game, or if the mini-game is forced, and the gamer ends up simply giving up on the game itself.
Other than the controls, I really could say nothing bad about this game. It is quite enjoyable, and the story one of my favorites (certainly beats out the convoluted storyline of Final Fantasy 13). Beating the game and obtaining its Platinum Trophy is even made sweeter by the fact that I wasn’t able to beat it back when I was a kid and it was first released. The HD Remaster gave me a chance to go at it again and complete the game to the core.
As far as remakes go, is Final Fantasy X (even X-2) the Final Fantasy game that needed remaking/remastering? I wouldn’t go so far as putting it at the top of my list. That spot is highly reserved for Final Fantasy 7. If or when Final Fantasy 7 will get the remaster that it deserves and Square finally listens to the pleas of the fans…perhaps we will never know.