To remaster or not to remaster Vol.1 – Final Fantasy X/X-2

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For those of you who were ‘brought’ to Spira back in 2001 (2002 if you’re from Australia or Europe) you’ll know exactly just what it means to go on the journey of a lifetime in a world with unprecedented personality, filled with characters that you watched grow and mature from the opening score all the way to the post-quest bosses. A journey that had you sweating over a near death, end-of-battle experience with the threat of just how far away your last save sphere was, to crying like the hormonal disaster you never knew you were when you were sat, glued to the TV screen, watching the final band of cut-scenes that brought you to the end of your journey… (almost)… and everything in between.

In all seriousness, Final Fantasy X was the first installment in the franchise to create an immersive and  expansive world purely in the third dimension; an ambitious, graphical and conceptual leap that lead to the irreparable downfall of so many before it. However, with a budget of over ¥4 billion and a team of passionate veterans under the guidance and expertise of Square-Enix’s Yoshinori Kitase, once again, the grandfather of console-based JRPG’s was able to raise the bar by taking their most beloved and critically acclaimed franchise from pixels, polygons and in particular, it distanced the franchised from a saturation of pre-rendered  graphics that plagued Final Fantasy VII through IX, three of the series’ most prolific titles to fully animated, mouth-watering glory that would make this game stand the test of time as being one of the most visually appealing and releases on the PlayStation 2, despite having been released within the early years of its lifespan.

As an avid but young gamer at the time of X’s release, it took more than the ever looming threat of Sin and his spawn to keep me hooked, The majesty of the Moonflow’s midnight pyrefly display didn’t even hold the required amount of emotion to stop me from ejecting the disk and going back to the “needle in a haystack” hunt for that elusive and seemingly non-existent 2000th Precursor Orb… no… this lay within the characters themselves.With Tidus, the player character being voiced by none other than James Arnold Taylor himself (the voice of everyone’s favourite Lombax, Ratchet) you know that you’re getting a good performance. (Sure… there was the awkward laughing scene in Luca… but we’re older and less satirical now…hopefully, so we can get past that, right?), but there was so much character development from the first and failed swing of Tidus’ brotherhood sword in ‘Zanarkand’ to his becoming a guardian! Yuna travels the planes of Spira, evolving from a naive teenage apprentice to the fully-fledged grand summoner like her father before her, equipped with an arsenal of five powerful aeons (eight if you count the optional quest line rewards)… and Kimahri? He eventually talks! I could never have forgiven myself if I had put the gang in limbo by not finishing this game. Sure, it took me a while due to my age… but I felt like I owed it to my artificial adopted family (based on my 400+ hours of gameplay which I’m actually proud of; and that only covers my PS2 file) to help them achieve solidarity and make Spira safe for them.

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who’d had enough of Sin’s reign of terror because Final Fantasy X stood above its predecessors as the first in the mainline set of games to have its very own sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, which was released in 2003/2004 and gave players the chance to explore Spira all over again, this time as a different protagonist, with a different combat system, new characters and a whole new threat to Spira’s very existence. Both games sold an accumulated total of 14 million copies worldwide, with developer interest in a third installation to the Spira saga should there be sufficient consumer demand.

Between the sheer popularity of these games and the ever moving concept that is time… Spira was being left behind to be enjoyed on a console that had been laid to rest with only the servers of two games being left active for an already stale online experience, thanks to the new gen at the time. Square-Enix knew it was time to revitalise their classic duo of games on a more powerful, more relevant platform.

They did just that.

The Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster collection brings nostalgia in abundance; with everything you loved about the games the first time around being enhanced with re-designed character models, a re-mastered soundtrack and bonus content in the form of a 30 minute long audio story which would never otherwise have been translated and released outside of Japan.
This is no rushed port. This game plays and feels like a real, carefully put together re-master; with a  healthy frame-rate, a consistently challenging enemy AI RNG (Artificial Intelligence Random Number Generator – Essentially, what makes enemies spawn, drop items and put up a unique battling experience every time you challenge them) and just as much charm as it had over a decade ago.
The positive reception of this re-master bundle was so positive on the PlayStation 3 that it was also released on the PlayStation Vita and, more recently, the PlayStation 4.

So, boys and girls… suns and moons, to conclude; whether you have a PlayStation 3, 4 or Vita and want to move an old favourite to a new home, were an Xbox, Nintendo or PC loyal and missed out on this classic back in the day or simply just weren’t born yet when this game first hit the shelves… this re-vamped titan of one of Square Enix’s finest creations is sure to tick all of the boxes.
With the aural and visual advancements that the re-master brings, Final Fantasy X/X-2 can go up against the most recent releases of its ilk and I know who my money’s on.

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