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Final Fantasy X-2

Final Fantasy X-2
Developer(s) Square Enix
Publisher(s) Square Co., Ltd. (Japanese version)
Square Enix
Release date(s)
March 13, 2003 (Japan)
November 18, 2003 (North America)
February 19, 2004 (International Version)
February 20, 2004 (Europe)
Genre(s) Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) CERO: 12+
ESRB: T (Teen)
PEGI: 12+
OFLC: M15+
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Media 1 DVD

Final Fantasy X-2 (ファイナルファンタジーX-2 Fainaru Fantajī X-2, read: "ten-two") is a role-playing game in the Final Fantasy series, and the first true sequel to a Final Fantasy game, the best-selling Final Fantasy X released in 2001. The game won the prestigious Seventh Annual AIAS award in 2004 for Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance for the character Rikku and has sold almost 4 million copies as of 2004. [1]

Gameplay

The battle system from the previous game (Conditional Turn-Based) was dropped in favor of a fast-paced variation on the traditional Active Time Battle system. Instead of waiting for enemies to attack, it is now possible to interrupt an enemy while they are preparing their attack, or chain the characters' attacks together for special bonuses. Of course, the same strategy can be used against the player's party.

Because the party never grows beyond three characters, the ability to switch out characters in battle was invalidated; instead, Garment Grids and Dresspheres are introduced. [1] A Garment Grid is a geometric shape with nodes on it; the nodes are slots that can be filled with "Dresspheres", which are similar to Jobs from Final Fantasy V. The Grid-Sphere system allows characters to change from one character class to another during battle, and allows the player to decide which jobs any given character will have. Each Dressphere has a smaller list of abilities than the characters and classes of most role-playing games, meaning that job-switching is often advantageous or necessary in battles. Furthermore, each Garment Grid adds bonuses, for instance allowing the character wearing it to cast Firaga, or triggering combat bonuses when the character moves between two specific nodes. Finally, each character has a unique Dressphere that can only be used if the she changes between all her Jobs in one battle.

The field system has been upgraded, and Yuna now has the ability to jump and climb, and, in the words of Ken Berry (the Square Enix Product Supervisor), Yuna can also "do heaps of other cool stuff". The field is still totally 3D.

Players are able to visit almost every location from the (near) beginning of the game, via an airship—another major departure from normal Final Fantasy fare, in which the most powerful airship is never obtained until late in the game. These two changes allow for a less linear storyline. Unlike Final Fantasy X, in which the player's course through the game's world, and story, was largely linear, Final Fantasy X-2 is entirely freeform. The game contains many locations and five chapters, and each location has one "event" per chapter. Put together, the five "events" in one locale form a subplot "Episode". Only a few events per chapter are important to the game's main plot, and these are marked on the world map as "Hotspots" ("Active Links" in the Japanese version). By accessing Hotspots only, the player can speed through the story in approximately ten to fifteen hours. However, the game keeps track of percent completed, and the completion of more events builds up a higher percentage for a more conclusive ending. In addition to this, the game also features a fork in the plot, allowing the player to make choices that change what scenes and percentage points they see. It is not actually possible to see all of the game's content on a single playthrough, though it is possible to achieve 100% completion. When the game is completed for the first time, it unlocks a New Game Plus option that allows the player to start the game over with all of the gear, Garment Grids, Dresspheres, and percentage achieved previously.

Job classes / Dresspheres

Final Fantasy X-2 sees a reintroduction of the Final Fantasy Job system. Each playable character (Yuna, Rikku, and Paine) is allowed to equip one Dressphere at a time each of which differentiate the character's available abilities and function in combat. Each character can equip up to 5 Dresspheres at a time, depending on the Garment Grid they are using. The Garment Grid lets characters change Dressphere at any time during battle, provided it is their turn to act and the Dressphere is equipped on their grid. Like weapons and accessories, Garment Grids can also arm characters with different powers such as auto-haste, auto-shielding, spell casting ability and more. Following is a list of all of the available Dresspheres as well as their basic functions:

  • Gunner: Allows the character to use a semi-automatic pistol in battle. Gunners rely on rapid attacks. Their special technique, Rapid Fire (Trigger Happy outside Japan), involves multiple hits, useful in building up a long combo chain to deal extra damage.
  • Thief: Allows a character to steal items, gil, and HP (among others) from enemies in battle. The Thief Dressphere also aids in quickly acting or escaping from battle.
  • Gun Mage: Grants the character access to enemy's abilities, provided the abilities are first used by the enemy. This Dressphere is similar to the Blue Mage class in other Final Fantasy games.
  • Warrior: Specializes in dealing major damage to enemies, by either focusing on the enemy's elemental weakness(es) or lowering the enemy's combat statistics.
  • Alchemist: Allows the character to combine two inventory items during combat, creating a new item that usually gives greater effects than the ingredient items. Combining rare items often produces stronger or more unusual effects.
  • Samurai: Physical class that specializes in dealing damage in various ways such as halving enemy HP, dealing successive damage, or dealing heavy damage to weakened enemies. Also has the very useful ability Dismiss which cancels any action an enemy is preparing.
  • Dark Knight: Strong physical class with the ability to inflict various status effects upon enemies while guarding the party from negative status effects. Also has a powerful attack spell, Black Sky.
  • Berserker: Mêlée combat class that inflicts large amounts of damage. Able to activate "Berserk" mode wherein the effected character automatically attacks random enemies fiercely and rapidly.
  • Songstress: Non-damaging class that focuses on either inflicting temporary negative status effects on enemies (by dancing) or making stackable improvements to the party's stats (by singing). Effects depend on the dance or song used.
  • Black Mage: Damage-dealing magical class that inflicts major elemental damage on enemies.
  • White Mage: Magical support class that cures the party's HP, revives fallen party members, and removes negative status effects from the party.
  • Lady Luck: Quirky class that relies on random slot machines to inflict various effects to either the enemies or the party.
  • Trainer: Allows the character to control a unique pet that has access to various abilities from damage-dealing spells to curative spells to stealing items. Unlike most other classes, each character has access to different abilities while using the Trainer Dressphere.
  • Mascot: Allows the character to dress as a unique Final Fantasy mascot (each is a recurring creature in the Final Fantasy series; Yuna becomes a Moogle, Rikku becomes Cait Sith, and Paine becomes a Tonberry). When in this form, the character has a large range of varying abilities, from dealing damage to inflicting or removing status effects. Unlike most other classes, each character has access to different abilities while using the Mascot Dressphere.
  • Special Dresspheres: Transforms the character into an intricate three-part "ultimate form" of herself. While in this form, the remaining two party members are removed from battle, so using these Special Dresspheres is still like fighting with three party members. Each character has different forms (Yuna has Floral Fallal, Rikku has Machina Maw, and Paine has Full Throttle) and a wide, varying range of abilities.
  • In the International version of the game, two additional Dressphere were added. The first transforms the user into Omatsurishi (Festival-Goer) (Yuna in kimono, Paine as a taiko drummer, and Rikku as a gold-fisher) and allows the character to inflict elemental damage. The second Dressphere is called Psychicer, transforming the girls into school-girl outfits that come with a variety of useful abilities such as absorption of elemental damage, temporary time stop and temporary invincibility.

Storyline

Taking place two years after the events of Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 follows the reconstruction of Spira, for better or worse. The story revolves around three young women: the returning characters Yuna of Besaid Island, Rikku the Al Bhed, and a new character named Paine.

A twelve-minute prequel (sometimes referred to by its working title of Final Fantasy X: Another Story) video to this game (presented as a bonus ending on Final Fantasy X: International + Last Mission, and also released on a PlayStation Magazine demo disc, and on a bonus disc included with Unlimited Saga) was written by Kazushige Nojima and Daisuke Watanabe, and directed by Motomu Toriyama and Kazuyuki Ikumori. The sequence depicts Yuna's attempts to deal with the aftermath of Sin's defeat. The factions flowering in the Eternal Calm all want her support of their ideologies, and she is rudderless now that she has fulfilled her purpose for living and lost her beloved, Tidus. Rikku arrives with a memory sphere found by Kimahri Ronso showing someone very like Tidus in a dark place, being punished. She convinces Yuna that she's done her duty to the world and deserves to follow her heart.

The game is punctuated by Yuna addressing Tidus (as if retelling the story directly or writing a letter) with her thoughts and memories of the places they pass through and their own relationship (much like Tidus' narration in Final Fantasy X), as she searches for a place in the new world. The main storyline of the game follows the clash of philosophical factions as their struggles uncover some nasty legacies from Spira's ancient history.

The main plot of Final Fantasy X-2 begins with the life—or, more accurately, the death—of its main antagonist, Shuyin. One thousand years before Tidus and Yuna's time, Shuyin was a famous blitzball player in the highly advanced city of Zanarkand. He was the lover of a popular songstress named Lenne, who was also very talented in the arts of the summoner. Unfortunately, they lived during the time when Zanarkand was at war with the powerful city of Bevelle. During the course of the war, Zanarkand ordered all summoners to the front lines, separating the couple. Eventually, Lenne was captured and held prisoner in Bevelle. Shuyin believed that the only way to save Lenne was to activate Vegnagun, an enormous machina weapon buried beneath Bevelle that is said to be unable to distinguish friend from foe once online. He believed he could use Vegnagun to end the war and bring Lenne back to him. When Shuyin first reached the massive machina, he was caught and jailed. Determined to use Vegnagun, Shuyin escaped and ventured out again to activate it. However, wishing against the loss of so much life for her sake, Lenne went after Shuyin. When Shuyin arrived at Vegnagun the second time around, he rose to play the organ atop the giant machina, the device needed to activate its cannon. Vegnagun began to stir and its massive cannon protruded from its mouth. It was at this time that Lenne called to Shuyin to stop, and he did so. Tragically, a group of Bevelle's soldiers arrived a moment later and aimed their rifles at the young couple and fired. Their bodies fatally injured, they fell to the floor beside one another, a tear trickling from Lenne’s eye as she attempted to tell him she loved him before they died. Sadly, Shuyin never heard her words.

One thousand years later, when Yuna falls into the Farplane during the course of Final Fantasy X-2, Shuyin mistakes her for Lenne and is relieved at being "reunited." He describes how he awoke after they died, and how he was alone. Upset and angered at any war and at any reason for war, Shuyin had developed a plan to use the old yet still functional Vegnagun to destroy all of Spira, thus ending the source of all wars and allowing him to finally be able to "fade away" with his beloved Lenne.

A significant portion of the game is unnecessary for completion of the main storyline, but much of the depth of the game is in the optional content, which generally follows how each part of Spira is healing since the passing of Sin, along with Yuna's search for Tidus. The themes of the game include searching for identity and acceptance of that identity, as well as coming to terms with loss, change, and the limits of personal responsibility. Like other second-time saviors, Yuna comes to reject the notion that sacrifice is the only way to solve problems.

 

Characters

The playable characters in Final Fantasy X-2 are "YRP": Yuna, Rikku and Paine, the former two reprising their roles from Final Fantasy X and the third being an entirely new character. Several other major and supporting characters from Final Fantasy X also appear in the game.

Geography and culture

The world of Spira is essentially unchanged: most of the locations from Final Fantasy X return, though some have changed (the player was never able to visit Bevelle outside the main storyline, for instance, and Kilika is no longer in a state of ruin) and others have been added.

The population's culture has changed little since Final Fantasy X, except for the dismantling of the Yevon Church, resulting in each individual in Spira to needing to adjust to a world without the church. The defeat of Sin in the previous game has meant that the populaton has become more fun-loving and carefree, with many now pursuing leisures such as the sport of blitzball, attending concerts (starring the former summoner Yuna), as well as a recent coin-collecting fad called Sphere Break.

Criticism

Some of the criticism of this title comes from the game's "good ending", in which Tidus (the main character of the previous game who disappeared from the world as a consequence of the party's defeat of Sin) returns to Spira. Many fans felt that this conclusion "ruined" the ending of its predecessor, considering that one of the central themes of Final Fantasy X was sacrifice. Others noted that the ending revealing Tidus' fate actually uses footage from the very end of Final Fantasy X, thus supposedly proving it was intended from the beginning. They also point to the fact that Square Enix had already announced sequels to the title after release, which they believe lends credibility to the theory that the plot point was intended to be resolved later.

Also of note was the lighthearted tone of Final Fantasy X-2 compared to the grand tragedy of its predecessor. As one reviewer put it, "Final Fantasy X opens with the destruction of an entire city, whereas Final Fantasy X-2 begins with... a pop concert." [2] This title was also the first direct sequel to appear in the Final Fantasy series as a game (unlike Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, an anime sequel to Final Fantasy V). This upset many fans who believed this went against the spirit of the franchise. The vehemence of these complaints has waned since the announcement of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII indicated Square Enix's intention of pursuing this path, but the subject nonetheless remains a point of contention.

The game's soundtrack was also poorly received by some fans, who regarded it as subpar compared to the scores from previous Final Fantasy installments. Many critics attribute this to the fact that the Final Fantasy X-2 was the first score in the series which did not have any input from veteran Square composer Nobuo Uematsu, who composed the soundtracks for almost every previous game in the series. Many fans complained that the outfits worn by the returning characters—most notably Yuna and Rikku—were too revealing and seemed to be aimed at making the game more appealing to the largely male audience of the Final Fantasy series.

The game's strong point was in the new "Active" battle system, considerably faster than the Conditional Turn-Based battle system of Final Fantasy X. The Dressphere mechanism, which provided classes of skills that a player could choose to develop at will was also considered much easier to use than the Sphere Grid mechanism of Final Fantasy X. Another significant change in Final Fantasy X-2 was the flow of the game, which is almost entirely at the player's discretion, not heavily guided like most role-playing games. The better technology, superior battle system, and easier character upgrade path mitigated some of the other complaints and managed to push Final Fantasy X-2 sales to a reasonable amount; despite the varied responses of Final Fantasy fandom, the title went on to sell almost 4 million copies, almost making it into the Top 20 games of all time and pushing the total sales for Final Fantasy X and its sequel to 10 million copies (Final Fantasy X is among the Top 20 video game best-sellers of all time). The game won the prestigious AIAS award in 2004 and entered the Greatest Hits collection, making it a clear financial success.

Musical score

Regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu was replaced by Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi (composers for The Bouncer). Among the tracks are the J-pop-style "real Emotion" and a slower-paced ballad, "1000 Words" (1000の言葉 ("Sen No Kotoba" in Japanese). The Japanese version of the songs are sung by Kumi Koda, a Japanese J-pop music artist who also did motion capture for the "Real Emotion" opening FMV and provided the voice of Lenne in the Japanese version of the game. The English versions of the songs are sung by Jade of Sweetbox. Koda Kumi also released her own English versions of the songs on her CD single "Come With Me." Kumi's versions featured similar but different lyrics from Jade's versions. Koda Kumi's single for 1,000 words spent 28 weeks in the Top 200 chart in Japan

Voice cast

English language version
  • Hedy Burress: Yuna
  • Tara Strong: Rikku
  • Gwendoline Yeo: Paine
  • Cree Summer: Lenne, Calli
  • James Arnold Taylor: Shuyin, Tidus
  • Josh Gomez: Praetor Baralai
  • Rick Gomez: Gippal
  • George Newbern: Meyvn Nooj

Final Fantasy X-2 at The Internet Movie Database

Japanese language version
  • Mayuko Aoki: Yuna
  • Marika Matsumoto: Rikku
  • Megumi Toyoguchi: Paine
  • Kumi Koda: Lenne
  • Masakazu Morita: Shuyin, Tidus
  • Suzumura Ken'ichi: Gippal
  • Sobu Kenji: Baralai

Final Fantasy X-2 at The Internet Movie Database


Different versions and merchandise

As with Final Fantasy X,an expanded international version, several action figures, books, music CDs, and a two disc DVD collection of all of the cutscenes featured in the game were released by Square Enix. The DVD release featured improved graphics over the PlayStation 2 game.

International Version / Last Mission

The international version introduces several new elements: two new Dresspheres, an additional mission at Shinra's Tower, and the ability to play with Tidus as a character. This version was never launched in the U.S. but has been available in Japan and Europe.

Ultimania series

The Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania Guides are a series of three artbooks published by Square Enix. It features original artwork from Final Fantasy X-2, expands upon various details of the game's storyline, and features interviews with many game designers. A similar series of three books were produced for Final Fantasy X.

The Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania published in Japan in 2003 provides additional details regarding the history of the world Spira, including an interview with main story writer Kazushige Nojima, in which he mentions connections between Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy VII. (link). This connection was again referred to in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega Guide, published by Square Enix. The possible connection is hotly debated among fans of both games.

Trivia

  • Whereas Final Fantasy X drew heavily upon ancient Japanese folklore, Final Fantasy X-2 incorporated a number of elements from modern Japanese pop culture. An exception is the Trainer Dressphere, which features the girls fighting alongside the three animals—a dog, a monkey, and a bird—which were befriended by the Japanese folk hero Momotaro in one traditional folk story.
  • This is the first Final Fantasy game to feature an all-female main cast of playable characters, and the first since Final Fantasy III to retain the same party in every battle throughout the entire game. (Note that this is not the case for the international version of the game.)
  • The name of the Gullwings' airship is the Celsius, so named as to be in direct juxtaposition to Cid's airship Fahrenheit in Final Fantasy X.
  • The game includes a number of side-quests and minigames, including "Gunner's Gauntlet" (a third-person shooting minigame) and Sphere Break (a coin-based minigame). It also contains the usual optional bosses and dungeons, such as the Den of Woe and the Via Infinito. The underwater sport blitzball also makes a return appearance (though it features a much different method of control than in Final Fantasy X. Chocobos reappear in the game as well, and may be captured and subsequently dispatched by the player to different regions of Spira to search for valuable items.
  • A number of references and homages to previous Final Fantasy titles are interspersed throughout the game:
    • The Dressphere system is said to have been designed by an Al Bhed technological prodigy named Shinra—a reference to the Shin-Ra corporation in Final Fantasy VII. Near the end of the game, Shinra talks about his idea to extract energy from the core of the planet in a style similar to the Mako harvesting methods utilized by the Shin-Ra corporation.
    • There is a secret boss in the game called "King VERMIN!". This is a reference to the beginning of Final Fantasy VII when Barret insults the Shin-Ra president as "the King VERMIN!".
    • One of the girls' Garment Grids, the Tetra Master, shares its name with the card-based minigame in Final Fantasy IX.
  • Yuna, Rikku, and Paine also make a guest appearance in Kingdom Hearts II as Tinkerbell-like fairies that initially work for Maleficent. They later change sides, giving Sora a Gullwing-themed Keyblade and fighting against the Heartless attacking Hollow Bastion.
  • The first boss, Boris, which appears to be a mechanical spider, might be a possible reference to The Who's song called "Boris the Spider", written by bassist John Entwhistle.
  • In her Warrior Dressphere, Yuna wields the Brotherhood, Tidus's primary weapon. As a Dark Knight, Yuna wields the Caladbolg, Tidus's celestial weapon.

Notes and References

  1. Justin Calvert (2004). Final Fantasy X-2 Sells a Million. (html) Gamespot. URL accessed on 16 March 2006.
  2. John Daquila (2003). Final Fantasy X-2 - Review. (html) The Jaded Gamer. URL accessed on 16 March 2006.
 

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