Review: Final Fantasy X HD Remaster (Switch)

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Well, it is time for another game review. Today, I will be reviewing a remaster of an old game that I didn’t have a chance to play when it first released. Since I was (and still am) a Nintendo gamer, I missed out on Final Fantasy X the first time around. As such, I get to play this game with fresh eyes, but also with a modern sense of game design, as this game is nearly two decades old. Does Final Fantasy X still hold up? Let’s find out!

Incidentally, I did get quite a few spoilers about Final Fantasy X from a good friend who had the game, so some of the game isn’t new to me. This is my first time actually playing it, though, so the gameplay is still reasonably new to me. So let’s take a look at how the game starts.

Final Fantasy X begins with the main character Tidus playing a futuristic game called blitzball, only to witness his home city get attacked by a giant monster called Sin. He then gets transported to a world called Spira that is tormented by this creature. He meets a summoner by the name of Yuna, and along with her guardians, they set off on a pilgrimage to defeat Sin.

FFXscene
An early scene from Final Fantasy X.

Right off the bat, you are treated with one long cutscene after another, and the graphics hold up mostly well. You do get some breaks of gameplay early on, so that you don’t get too bored. Yes Tidus is a little whiny, and some of the direction of the voice acting is slightly off by today’s standards, but this is one of the earlier games to feature a lot of voice acting, in fact, most spoken dialogue is fully voiced. This was impressive by 2001 standards, and most games that do this well today tend to have a bigger impact on me while I play them. Final Fantasy X is full of audio visual style, and that is a good thing.

FFXbattle
The battle screen from Final Fantasy X. Notice the turn order indication on the top right.

Like many Final Fantasy games before it, this is a turn based RPG. Unlike all previous entries, this game is fully turn based. In earlier games, enemies could attack while you thought about your actions. In Final Fantasies I-III, the game was turn based, but you had to decide what actions the whole party does at the beginning of each turn, then watch them act in somewhat random order. In this Final Fantasy, you have all the time in the world to decide how to act, and you do so on the character’s turn. You are also granted a preview of turn order too, which helps you decide what to do.

FFXgrid
The sphere grid system powers up your characters using a board game-like map.

Also unique to Final Fantasy X is the Sphere Grid leveling system. When your character gains a “sphere level”, you can move their icon on the board game-like sphere grid, and use a sphere item to activate the nearby “nodes” to get higher stats or a new action. The sphere grid is quite large, so it takes longer to get stronger than in other RPGs.

That being said, I found that most fights were balanced so that those who understood the system, myself included, were usually strong enough to win the challenges, provided that I played halfway decently. It should be noted that each character has to take at least one action in the battle to gain AP, which leads to getting a sphere level.

Thankfully, there are a fair number of enemies that are easier to defeat with a specific character, so this continuous switching is encouraged by the way the game is designed, and I didn’t fall behind in power till near the end of the game. The switching around only ended up being a minor nuisance in easy fights in the long run.

There are also special actions that a character can only use after a meter fills up called overdrives. These are neat little bonuses for playing for a while, and can make battles easier from time to time. I always liked these types of systems in RPGs, and although there are some timing based mini-games connected to doing them properly, this overdrive feature is one of the better versions of this type of game mechanic I’ve seen in most RPGs that have them.

If there is a slight complaint I have with this game, it is that cutscenes are quite long and frequent in this game. It felt like one third to one half of my time playing were cutscenes, and while their presentation was done well, it felt like I wasn’t playing the game at the time. It would have been better if they were shorter, but they decided to make a mini movie out of the game instead.

Also of note were the temple sections of the game. These portions had some simple puzzles that generally lacked variety. It mostly involved moving a sphere from one place to another, with a temple specific gimmick that gets in your way. Many have better puzzles than this game does, especially since these portions lacked battles to keep it interesting.

Earlier in this review, I mentioned that this game mostly looks good. The only part of the graphics that looks off is the facial features of NPCs. They appear to be flat, despite the fact that important characters have more detailed faces. A little more care in crafting their features would have gone a long way, but this game was released in 2001, so keep this in mind when you are playing.

Lastly, some tough boss enemies require specific strategies in order to win. Often, the major foes are playing with a set of rules that makes them tough if you don’t know what they are doing. This is most noticeable (and difficult) near the end of the game, but it happens in most major battles.

Final Fantasy X is an excellent game, with a lot of ambition, especially for its time. Some of the ambition gets in its own way, but in the end this stylish game is well worth it due to the things it does well, especially for RPG fans. Give it a look when you get the chance.

Recommendations:

  • Pay attention to the many tutorials this game gives you, as it will help you get through the game.
  • I recommend the standard sphere grid for your first time playing, although you can try the expert grid in a second playthrough.
  • When using the sphere grid to power up characters, be sure to activate each node as you move along the board. You don’t need to activate the whole grid to beat the game, but you shouldn’t skip any spots when you get the chance.
  • Switch characters in and out of as many battles as possible, to ensure everyone gets AP, and so no characters get left behind.
  • Use the steal action to get items often in battle. You’ll need them to customize your characters to the best of their ability.
  • Do some of the side quests found late in the game to become strong enough to finish the game.
  • That being said, if you just want to beat the game, don’t do all of them, just do enough to feel confident that you can reach the ending.
  • You may want to try the side quests fully after you beat the game.

Pros:

  • Good graphics
  • Great music
  • Good story and visual style
  • Solid gameplay
  • Lots of optional content

Cons:

  • Some voice acting is a little off (not all of it, it is still quite impressive).
  • Some graphic aged (just NPC faces).
  • Temple puzzles are bland busywork.
  • Character switching to level up can be a chore (possible con based on personal tolerance).
  • Sphere grid leveling system could be easily messed up by new players (not everyone will have this problem).
  • Lengthy cutscenes (but they are still high quality)
  • Some side quests are a pain to complete, but thankfully aren’t mandatory.

Verdict:

9.1/10 An excellent experience

Final Fantasy X was an ambitious game for its time. While there are some faults, its style and good qualities do shine through. Some players might not feel too good about some of the game, so the game could be a 8.6-9.2. Those who don’t like turn-based games might not like this game at all, but that is true for most RPGs.


So what did you make of Final Fantasy X? What is your favorite part? Least favorite feature? What did you make of the characters or story? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button, and share on social media. You can also subscribe via email or WordPress to keep up with That’s All Games. Until next time, have fun gaming!

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