Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review

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Originally released back in 2001 and 2003 respectively, Final Fantasy X and its sequel Final Fantasy X-2 are classic JRPGs that continue to have a strong following to this day. Originally released for the PlayStation 2, the gameplay has largely aged well over the years. What hasn’t fared as well are the graphics, with both titles being games released fairly early in the PS2’s lifespan. Although they were considered gorgeous at the time, it’s only natural that the games are looking quite dated now. Fortunately, Square-Enix have stepped in to give both Final Fantasy X and X-2 a fresh coat of paint in the form of the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster.

For those unfamiliar with the original version, Final Fantasy X is set in a world called Spira and follows the story of Tidus, a young sports star who suddenly finds himself transported 1,000 years into Spira’s future after a giant monster attacks and destroys his home city. Feeling completely lost, and finding himself in a hostile world swarming with monsters, he has no choice by to pick up a sword and fight for survival. What makes Final Fantasy X’s story stand out compared to other Final Fantasy games is that Tidus is a reluctant hero, one who finds himself ripped from the world he knows. He’s far from the kind of confident, trained warrior that we were used to seeing as the protagonist. He’s just an average human, trying to make the best of the crazy situation he’s found himself in. He makes mistakes, and he’s a bit childish, and he has no idea what he’s doing at first. Seeing his development over the course of the game is interesting, and this is helped by the addition of a colourful cast of supporting characters. The most prominent of these is Yuna, a priestess on a journey to harness the power of the mighty Aeon creatures. Acquiring them all will allow her to summon the final Aeon and save the world from Sin, the massive monster that has been tormenting Spira for generations.

As for Final Fantasy X-2, it’s a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X. This was the very first time that a Final Fantasy game had received a direct sequel, and it was the last until the release of Final Fantasy XIII-2 in 2012, almost 10 years later. Final Fantasy X-2 features Yuna as a protagonist this time, and she’s joined by a mix of old and new faces as she goes on a new journey. The game proved to be somewhat divisive among fans due to its all female cast of party members and lighter tone compared to the first game, along with the re-use of assets from Final Fantasy X. This is understandable though. The game is set in the exact same world and locations, just a little further on in the timeline, and had a short development period of less than two years. The focus on strong female characters actually proves to be refreshing, especially since a lot of female characters at the time were still the type who needed to be rescued. Seeing Yuna and her friends really take charge and kick some butt made for an interesting shift from FFX’s more traditional storytelling.

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Both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 feature a classic turn based battle system, something that was typical in the Final Fantasy series at the time. Both games use an ATB gauge to determine the turn order during battle, with faster characters having their gauge fill more quickly. Final Fantasy X’s version of the battle system is fairly vanilla, featuring a typical set of elemental attacks that need to be used against enemies that are weak to them. However, there are two things that make the combat more interesting. The first one is Overdrive attacks, flashy, powerful moves that can used once the Overdrive gauge is filled from characters dealing and taking damage. They look great, and are also interactive, with certain button prompts needing to be pressed in order to pull them off successfully. The second one is the Sphere Grid system. The Sphere Grid is a massive skills tree that all of the characters share. Each character has their own starting area on the Grid, with skills in that area being well suited to them. Each skill or stat increase is represented by a node. Rather than having a traditional levelling up system, characters instead gain AP at the end of each battle. When enough AP is gained, a character will be rewarded with a Sphere Level. These Sphere Levels are used to unlock nodes on the Sphere Grid and build your characters. The great thing about this system is that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to which direction you want characters to go in. After some time, you can choose to ignore the path that the game has set out, and have your characters learn other characters’ skills as well. For example, Yuna starts out as a white mage, and she can stay that way for the whole game if you follow the set path. If you decide to head off to the side a bit though, she can quickly learn some black magic from another character’s part of the Grid as well. This will consume valuable Sphere Levels though, so how far you want to go, and which skills you choose is important.

Final Fantasy X-2 keeps the elemental strength and weakness system from the original game, but completely overhauls everything else. The game uses a traditional levelling up system, however learning new skills is handled in a unique way. Each of the party members can freely choose their class from the available choices, and at the end of each battle, they earn AP for that class. AP is then used to unlock skills for that class, with each class having many useful unique skills. There’s a large number of classes on offer, and the battle system ties into this. Characters can change class at any time during battle as the situation demands, and it’s essential to master this in order to succeed. Since any character can be any class at any time, there’s a lot of flexibility in how you want to build you party. As a bonus, if a character switches between a certain number of classes during a single battle, they can transform into their ultimate class. These large, impressive looking forms are extremely powerful, and can really turn the tide of battle. They also come with beautiful transformation sequences as an extra treat. New to this version of the game are two extra classes that were originally only available in a Japan only re-release of the game, making this the definitive version of Final Fantasy X-2.

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Graphically, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster looks great. Unlike some remasters on the market, Square-Enix have really gone the extra mile here. In addition to the usual improvements to texture resolution and quality, many high quality new character models have also been created. The games almost feel more like remakes than remasters, they look that much better now. It’s a beautiful sight for both fans of the original versions and newcomers alike. The colourful world of Spira has never looked better, and all sorts of small details have been added. In addition, both games run very smoothly on modern consoles, Square-Enix have done a good job of bringing them over.

It’s not just the graphics that have received an overhaul though. Both games have also had their soundtracks partially remade, and they sound better than ever. Final Fantasy X in particular features many songs that are now considered iconic by fans, and they’ve been lovingly recreated and/or improved for the remaster. Both games have strong soundtracks, featuring a large number of tracks that really captured the feel of the games’ world and characters incredibly well. There are only a few tracks that feature vocals, but these are used strategically and carefully to really have a big impact during some major parts of the games’ plots. There’s some really emotional scenes in both games, and the music complements them perfectly, taking them to greater heights. There’s a good reason why people are still listening to the soundtracks today.

Overall, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is an excellent example of what a HD remaster should be. Square-Enix know how well loved these two games are, and so they really went above and beyond to make this the definitive version of them. A lot of time and effort has clearly been put into overhauling both the visuals and music, and the result is a new version of the games that really does them justice. Short of a full remake, it’s hard to imagine the games looking and playing any better than this. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is a set of JRPGs that simply shouldn’t be missed by fans of the genre, and may even impress those who wouldn’t usually play these types of games. Highly recommended.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Review
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  • Graphics - 10/10
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  • Sound - 10/10
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  • Replay Value - 10/10
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Summary

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is an excellent example of what a HD remaster should be.