I’ve had my first full week with Final Fantasy X now, and I continue to be surprised with how engaging it is. I’m actively spending more time with it each evening, and seem to be making pretty great progress so far. The Sphere Grid hasn’t yet driven me up the wall, and I’m learning new bits and bobs all the time. It’s going much better than I anticipated, but having said all that, it’s still not perfect.
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My first main gripe is with our leading lad, Tidus. To be frank, he’s just kind of an obnoxious git. He knows nothing of this strange time period he’s been transported too, and that’s not his fault, but his ignorance doesn’t come off charming or lovable at all. In his Zanarkand, Tidus is a star Blitzball player and typical cocky jock, which is even worse than the oblivious fool you see for the remainder of the game (to this point, at least). His mannerisms are awkward, he rudely butts into conversations all the time, and I just generally don’t care for him. The one saving grace he’s got going for him is that narrator Tidus, who’s telling this whole story, seems to have been through a lot and grown from it. At this point I’m just waiting for his tale to come to a head and for the gameplay to catch up to present-day Tidus. Maybe I’ll be a bit more fond of him.
Final Fantasy X tries desperately to force interest in Tidus by shoehorning him into a relationship with Yuna, as well as making the big bad enemy, Sin, his alcoholic and neglectful father Jecht. First of all, the constant flirting with Yuna feels horribly forced; I daresay more-so than even Squall and Rinoa’s relationship in Final Fantasy VIII. At least Rinoa had some time to be around Squall before falling for him. Tidus shows up out of nowhere, and suddenly Yuna wants him to stick around and become her guardian. It truly makes no sense.
Then there’s that whole “Sin is Jecht” thing. Now I’m going to try not to rag on this point too much right now, because that is one of the mysteries in the game that I’m trying to unravel and figure out. Tidus is from 1000 years in the past, but Auron and Jecht traveled together 10 years ago, and Yuna met Jecht through her father, Braska. But then Sin was around 10 years ago too, wasn’t he? How could Sin and Jecht co-exist if they are one and the same? Then how could Jecht have fathered Tidus 1000 years back but then travel to Spira 990 years after that? The plot is extremely convoluted and bizarre, and currently makes very little sense. So yeah, I’m playing the waiting game until I know more. Perhaps I’ll be able to discuss that more next week.
At least I can take solace knowing for sure that Seymour is a bad guy, because I just don’t know if I could support a protagonist that looks like this:
I mean, I’ve watched plenty of anime and played plenty of video games that feature crazy hair, but this is bar-none the worst, strangest, and most awkward hairdo I’ve seen out of them all. Terrible.
It wasn’t all bad this week though. For one thing, the remastered cinematics continue to thoroughly impress. They are truly awesome to behold, and this is on a PlayStation 3; old tech by 2015’s standards. The beauty of these scenes only makes me more excited for the likes of Final Fantasy XV and the Final Fantasy VII Remake. I re-watched FFVII: Advent Children recently and even it looks great for being nearly ten years old. I can’t wait to see what adding a decade of technological advancements to that will look like.
One bit relating to the story that I’m quite enjoying is seeing Wakka’s character move forward. Wakka in general is possibly the most interesting character in the game, to be honest. His brother Chappu died fighting Sin, then Tidus shows up and looks a lot like him. Chappu was in a committed and serious relationship with Lulu, which makes Wakka and Lulu’s relationship quite interesting as they both start off still grieving Chappu’s passing, then slowly grow closer. Having played Final Fantasy X-2 before I know they get together eventually and have a kid, but it’s really neat seeing that process happen gradually. Their relationship certainly feels more genuine and honest than Tidus and Yuna’s, that’s for sure.
Aside from all the romance though, Wakka doesn’t get along with everyone. He’s prejudiced against the Al Bhed and their constant use of the forbidden machina technology, which is the equivalent of going against his religion. Everyone else lets the Al Bhed do their own thing, claiming that they want to stop Sin just like everyone else; if their using machina aids that cause, they’re willing to overlook the transgression. Wakka, stubborn as a goat, sticks to his guns and refuses to trust Al Bhed.
But here’s the funny part: Rikku joins the party and Wakka doesn’t know she’s Al Bhed, and he never seems to have a problem with her. Tidus even makes a note of that during his narration. It’s a really neat and interesting look at how silly mankind can be when it comes to preconceived prejudices and hatred toward a certain people. I’m quite keen to see what happens when (I could say if, but I feel like it’s a given that it will happen in time) Wakka learns not only that Rikku is Al Bhed, but also that Yuna, his beloved summoner, is half Al Bhed. Should be interesting, to say the least.
Oh, one more note on Wakka – he is voiced by John DiMaggio, who also voices Bender in Futurama. Most of the time Wakka’s Jamaican/islander-inspired voice sounds very much like his own person but occasionally, like when he laughs, the Bender inside comes out and it is unexpectedly hilarious. And speaking of voice actors, Tara Strong is here playing Rikku, but all I can hear is a blend of Timmy Turner, Bubbles, and Juliet Starling. It is a bizarre, but oddly fitting combination.
So that’s where I’m at now in Final Fantasy X. The plot is pitiful, Tidus is a twat, Wakka is worth watching, and Sin is Jecht. Allegedly.
Remember that if you want to follow my day-to-day progress you can catch me on Twitter @zacharyplyons, and watch the hashtag #RoadtoXVin15. I’m closing in on the final few games, and there are only a handful of months left to 2015. This marathon will be over before you know it!