2019 in review: FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster and FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

April 2019 featured a double dose of classic FINAL FANTASY. We look back at the games, and some of the things we’ve written about it
By Duncan Heaney
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As 2019 winds down, we’ve been taking a long, loving look at the year that was. Previously we looked at the launch of FINAL FANTASY VII and FINAL FANTASY IX on Switch and Xbox One.

Today, we cast our minds back to the far away time of… erm… around seven months ago, when two more classic FINAL FANTASY games made the leap to new platforms: FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster and FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE.

One’s the timeless tale of a chronologically-confused sports star and a spirited Summoner, and the other a dramatic journey through the iconic world of Ivalice. And this year, a whole new audience got to experience them - potentially for the first time!

Now that I’ve Tidus up, let’s peer back in time and share some of our personal recollections about each release…

On April 16, 2019, FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster launched for Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

As the name implies, the release features two games - FINAL FANTASY X and its sequel FINAL FANTASY X-2 - both remastered with improved HD visuals, newly recorded music and even some extra content.

It also marked the first time that either game has been available on consoles other than PlayStation (the bundle was previously only available on PS3, PS4 and Steam) - and it’s great that more people can now experience the games, because they hold up exceptionally well.

FINAL FANTASY X in particular is a fan favorite… and with good reason.

FINAL FANTASY X

FINAL FANTASY X tells a melancholy and thematically-rich story about love and duty. Also underwater sports.

It’s set in Spira - a world ravaged by a terrifying aquatic antagonist called Sin. After an attack by the moist menace, a Blitzball Tidus is stranded in an unfamiliar world. He encounters a young Summoner Yuna, and decides to accompany her on a pilgrimage to defeat Sin.

I’ve played this game numerous times over the years, but this time around, I was struck by how fresh it still feels.

During a FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE presentation earlier this year, Producer Yoshinori Kitase told us that one of the key pillars for the FINAL FANTASY series is that it should innovate, and do something new. That experimental spirit is on full display in FINAL FANTASY X - this is a game of firsts.

For example, it was the first entry in the series to include voice acting. It was the first to be fully 3D. It introduced innovative and influential new ideas like the Sphere Grid - an experience system that gives you a lot of control over how you develop your party… the list goes on.

FINAL FANTASY X-2

The collection also includes FINAL FANTASY X-2 - the first direct sequel in the series.

This entry follows Yuna, Rikku and a new character: Paine - collectively a group of treasure hunters called the Gullwings. Together, they travel Spira, hunting for priceless spheres and other such treasures.

FINAL FANTASY X-2 is a very different beast to the original FINAL FANTASY X, and that’s always made it one of the more divisive entries for fans. But playing through it again this year led me to a realization… I think it’s rather brilliant.

There’s an infectious sense of fun to the whole endeavor - a dramatic contrast to the deep-set sadness of FINAL FANTASY X. From the pop-tastic opening cinematic, to the rewarding conclusion, it just wants to leave a big, silly smile on your face.

For me, at least, it did. And you know what - I think it might have one of my favorite battle systems in the whole series too. It adds a layer of timing and strategy to the classic ATB system and it makes the fights feel wonderfully frantic and exciting.

FINAL FANTASY X and FINAL FANTASY X-2 on the Square Enix Blog

FINAL FANTASY X and FINAL FANTASY X-2 have appeared on the Blog quite a few times this year (hmm… it’s almost as if we really like it!)

On release, we dived deep into each game to look at some of the reasons fans still love them today. You can check that out here:

There was lots more to talk about though. Here are some of the highlights:

Yuna and Tidus sitting in a tree…

For Valentine’s Day, we shared some of our favorite FINAL FANTASY love stories. Of course Yuna and Tidus made the list - I mean, how could they not?

Side note: when we shared the article on the FINAL FANTASY Facebook page, some clever fans suggested that the greatest valentine in the series is… Vincent Valentine.

10 months later, I’m still infuriated that I missed that joke.


The making of FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster

In this entry in our ‘Inside’ documentary series, the creators of FINAL FANTASY X and FINAL FANTASY X-2 share their first-hand memories of making the game. Their insights cover everything from how the battle system was developed to how to properly pronounce the name Tidus!

Operation Mi’ihen - a standout moment

Over the course of the year, we’ve run a series called Best Bits, where we call out some of the most memorable moments from Square Enix games. FINAL FANTASY X is full of ‘em, but Operation Mi’ihen stood out for me when I played it.

It’s a moment where story, themes and gameplay work together in perfect harmony - you can read more here:


Other articles

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

On April 30, 2019, FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE was released for Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

It’s set in the war-ravaged world of Ivalice. When the kingdom of Dalmasca is occupied by the powerful Archadian Empire, a group of heroes including street urchins Vaan and Penelo, deposed princess Ashe and debonair sky pirate Balthier find themselves on an adventure to save the kingdom… and maybe the world too.

FINAL FANTASY XII marked perhaps the most dramatic departure from series tradition yet. It offered a more open world, seamless transitions between exploration and combat and a host of new gameplay mechanics.

Chief among them was the now legendary Gambit system, which allows you to define the behaviors of your party to an absurdly precise degree, allowing them to act automatically in battle.

THE ZODIAC AGE edition of the game is definitely the best way to play the game. It adds some welcome tweaks and additions to the adventure, that make it more convenient and satisfying to play - such as the ability to accelerate time, and a more specialized job system.

The Switch and Xbox One versions took this one step further and made further tweaks. For example, you can now have up to three sets of gambits and switch between them quickly, thus reducing time in the menus. You can also reset jobs assigned to your party, allowing for greater experimentation in how you set them up.

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on the blog

FINAL FANTASY XII is one of those games I find myself returning to time and time again. I feel that it’s a game with a very unique identity - It’s in the depth of the Gambit System, the seamlessness of the combat and traversal, the unique style of the world and its inhabitants.

We wrote about all this in a post earlier this year, where we discussed some of the elements that make it stand out:


The Making of FINAL FANTASY XII

This edition of our ‘Inside’ documentary series looked at the creation of FINAL FANTASY XII, with first-hand thoughts from some of the key creative figures involved in the development. It offers a unique insight into how the game came to be - take a look:

Moogle Watch!

You may well remember Moogle Watch. Back in 2018, we held a very special livestream where we brought FINAL FANTASY XII’s moogles to life. You could watch our fuzzy friends live their day to day lives, interact with other moogles and…

…okay look, cards on the table: this was all a thinly-veiled excuse to share videos of adorable bunnies doing adorable bunny things.

I have zero regrets.

Some of our top FINAL FANTASY weapons

We looked at some of our favorite weapons in the FINAL FANTASY series. Our pick from FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE isn’t the best looking weapon… because it doesn’t look like anything at all!


So that’s three classic games in two great packages - and as of 2019 anyone with a PC or console can play them! But what about the future of FINAL FANTASY? To be the first to find out, make sure you follow on social media:

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