Final Fantasy X and X-2

     This was originally going to just touch on the new-to-me elements of the game. However, I found myself getting wrapped back into the world of Spira so this will be lengthier than I plotted for.

     I have been clamoring at the bit to get my hands on these titles. I have not played Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy X-2 since their original US releases on the Playstation 2. I think I was in fact late enough to that console generation that I bought them at the same time. Many of the PC re-releases of Final Fantasy titles have toted “game boosters”. These are minor boons such as fast forwarding the game to world breaking elements such as infinite money, maximum levels, and the like.

     I’ve been chided and harped on many-a-time for my use and interest in them. “This isn’t how the game was meant to be played.” “Where is the challenge?” I’ve played a lot of RPGs. And even now I still hold to a rule: “I will play a game the first time through as the designers intended. After that, it’s all for fun.” Because of this, I love New Game Plus, or any mode where all your progress from a previous play through is not lost. Square rarely does this with the mainline Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy X-2 was, to my knowledge, the first time they did this. Before that, Chrono Trigger (and later Chrono Cross) were the only other titles to do this from that company.

     RPGs, whether Eastern or Western, are about building a character or party in some way. I have built many characters from scratch. But even after one solid play through, or racking up more than a hundred hours in a single game, sometimes I want to know what god mode would be like. And if I want that original experience again? The “New Game” option is there.

     This all said, I am going to open up the game and tinker with the additions and chart my thoughts on them.

     FFX – Starting with Expert Sphere Grid and Arranged music, though I balked about the remastered soundtrack I’ll give it a shot. Plus, I can change it back at any time if it starts to bother me too much. (It probably will by the post game.) I have since switched to the Standard Sphere Grid as there are more spaces to push my parties’ evolution further.

     FFX-2 – Going as is, since there were no other options.

     At the time of this posting I am approximately 90% through the main part of FFX (airship attained, ready to build for Dark Aeons, Penance, and the Monster Arena) and about 50% completed with all the content from FFX-2.

The Game Boosters

Fast Forward

     Functioning the same in both games one can either turn up the going speed by two or by four. Cutscenes, with no exceptions I can remember, are unaltered in their rate of play. As such this will only help with traversal and battles. This limitation is more “prohibitive” in FFX because no option was added, originally or later, to skip scenes.

Super Charge

     FFX – Whenever the characters’ turn comes up, the Overdrive (strong special attacks) meter is set to full, as well as their hit points and magic points. No other statistics have been altered. This is useful, rather than purely game breaking as it pretty much acts as a buffer. You will not need to spend turns healing by and large, as long as your whole party gets their turns in before the enemies’. Attacks you make are still based on your stats, so if you haven’t developed the Sphere Grid at all they will be rather weak. In addition the turn based aspect of the game has a layer of strategy: Different moves have different penalties, which can delay your turn past where it would originally be. Later in the game some moves increase your turn alacrity, giving you the option to do more. Overdrives, while powerful, will typically incur the former penalty. So you have to be careful using them every turn or else the enemy will get a lot of free shots. And if you haven’t developed enough to have the MP pool to use moves they are locked off from you. This booster also works on Aeons, almost negating Yuna’s Grand Summon Overdrive.

     FFX-2 – This game goes back to the Active Time Battle used in later installments of the series (Final Fantasy IV-IX coming to mind). A bar will fill up and when it is full the character can select her action, or cycle to the next lady-in-waiting. Again, no stats are altered (the ATB Gauge is not always full for instance) when Super Charge is turned on. All characters receive a Regeneration to hit points, akin to the spell called Regen. For a certainty hit points are recovered overtime. I also think that hit points are restored every time a party member is attacked, but that could just be the regular rate of the booster. MP is also recovered in this fashion.

     In both of these instances, you still have to play the game in a “proper” way. If you don’t fight you won’t level up per the games’ system and you’ll be left with the barest of measures to complete the game. It is still possible to lose be knocked out. Outside of Instant Kill attacks, if enemies gang up on a single character or just hit hard enough to exceed the numerical value of HP it takes just as it would regularly. As such, even with this turned on, one has to be mindful of not fighting out of their depths.

Enemy Frequency

     Functioning the same in both games, this will adjust the random encounter rate. Rather than seeing enemies on the field, occasionally you’ll be pulled into an arena that mimics the present environment. Defeating the enemies here will give you AP and/or EXP (for battle skill growth. X uses AP exclusively while X-2 uses both), gil (currency), and other items. This rate can be set to None, Normal, or a “Frequent” rate, which occurs every few steps. On the original system people would go through challenges where they would not level at all and may run from most battles. This booster takes a lot of the busy work out of such experiences and let one get to the bigger battles more swiftly. This said, scripted battles will still have to be dealt with.

     There are abilities in both the original games to nullify random encounters. But even with these items, some places would still throw you into combat. Namely in the FFX-2 area “Via Infinito”, encounters would still occur even with a “No Encounters” accessory. The Game Booster does not override this, so such areas have maintained the challenge.

Auto Battle

     Functioning the same in both games, characters will automatically have standard attacks selected for them (if available). Once powerful enough, combining this with Fast Forward and Enemy Frequency can make grinding a breeze.

All Skills

     FFX – Gives immediate access to all skills in the game. They are still limited to MP, so in the early game the best skills can’t be spammed due to a lack of One MP gear or even raw MP pools to be honest. Based on the achievements I “earned” when I activated this, all Overdrives became available as well including all of the Blue Magic techniques used by Kihmari.

     FFX-2 – Following the difference in the game, all dressphere skills became immediately accessible. And once again going off achievements, all Gun Mage Blue Bullets (Blue Magic traditionally) skills became accessible as well even though I do not yet have that dress sphere. This has a mixed blessing. You do not need to stop and grind for AP to learn everything, but you will not get the experience points from defeating those avoided foes. However, if you have played a New Game+ version of X-2 previously, just having more powerful dresspheres makes a world of difference, even at lower levels.

All (Consumable) Items

     In both games, items such as Potions and Elixirs are now a button push away. Outside of their pure use they can be sold, and outside of that these items can be used for upgrades in their respective titles.

     FFX – This takes a LOT of leg work out of post game content. Having made it through to the endgame content, I can say that this provides you with a stock of all the items that you will ever need. This has opened up a few unusual opportunities, which I will cover in the FFX: Addendum below.

     FFX-2 – Something that I had not seen is called the “Creature Creator”, and the items can be used similarly to how they were in FFX to improve monster abilities. This can make early runs of some content viable, simply because there are offensive shortcuts for every creature (Ultima+One MP Cost), and some defensive boons. In this case, if a creature has a Total Limit Break trait, you can push their HP to whatever point you would like. Having a Level 9 creature with 30K+ hit points will at least assure a stalemate in some Fiend Arena cups. That said, you can still just not be tough enough to kill them quickly.

Max Gil

     Functioning the same in both games, ticks the gil (world currency) counter up to the maximum.

     FFX – When combined with All Skills, allows for enemies to be bribed WELL ahead of time. When lending O’aka gil early on even the maximum that can be given to him is a drop in the bucket for you. The Spare Change ability becomes a viable regular attack, and working with Yojimbo is a lot less stressful.

     FFX-2 – Can be used to pay off O’aka’s debt quickly, and for buying mass amounts of accessories necessary for the Creature Creator or a personal collection. Many of the items are not needed at the point in the game I am in a traditional sense, due mainly to the Alchemist dressphere.

     I may edit this entry in the near future as I come across more hands on information. Plus, I do want to actually play the games for a bit more. They hold good memories.

Addendums

FFX

     I did not want the sections above to spill out of control. There is this odd feedback loop that has happened with using the game boosters and I wanted to expound on that a bit. The last time I played Final Fantasy X I had worked all my characters to their highest potential. I had long beaten that games’ super boss (an entity which overwhelms even the stories’ end boss in power) and was just grinding for the sake of it. My plan was to collect spheres that would let me bump up statistics even more just for the sake of it. But with these game boosters…

     …now I can do that all at the push of a button.

     …and since I can have all the items for improvement that I could ever need I don’t need gil either.

     …which was maxed out at the push of another button.

     I hadn’t realized it in an earlier section of the story because I was not at a point where customizing my loadout was necessary. Now that I am there, I can have the fun of where I was with some story left ahead of me. In addition, there are tougher super bosses in this version of the game.

     In this game the growth is not only visual, but interactive. To give you an idea if you are not familiar with this game imagine, if you will, a Chinese Checkers board. Several sections, little nodes, played with marbles and the like. The Sphere Grid of FFX looks a lot like this. Each node is either empty, or will give a character a status boost when a corresponding marble is placed in it. If you want to raise your Hit Points (health, life, etc.) you just need to get next to or onto a node that will boost HP and redeem it as it were.

     In the original version of the game there were items that could be used to fill empty nodes with an attribute of your choosing. And there were more that would let you blanch out most node types to replace it with whatever you wished. These items where hard to come by and made up a bulk of the post-game as I played it.

     With the ability to get these items infinitely I realized a bit later I could begin this process right away. It is possible to, as you go along, recreate the sphere grid as you see fit from the very beginning. I took a middle road approach and, rather than filling everything, simply upgrading existing nodes. Any single bump will give you at most +4 per stat, +40 for MP, and +300 for HP. Rather than overpowering myself obviously, I upgraded as I went along. There are plenty of empty nodes that I left, but any that were lower than the aformentioned 4, 40, or 300 got upgraded to that degree. Even though I am speeding through the story with Enemy Frequency (None), my characters are still balanced enough to play out their roles. Except Kimahri. He’s actually further along Rikku’s path than she is.

     I am finding it nice to be able to just play the game and skip the tedious hours of item gathering so I can focus more on getting to the content and trying to conquer it.

FFX-2

Creature Creator

     While I originally meant for this to be a short document about the game boosters, I put off posting it to make sure I wasn’t missing something pertainent. I got to what I call the “Post Game Point” in Final Fantasy X, which is when travel by airship becomes possible. I find it to be unique among games because, rather than needing to beat the final story boss first you can do all the extra stuff before then. To me it feels more realistic from a story setting. Sin, the millenial old force of nature you fight against, would instill enough fear and respect to prepare in every possible way. This said, outside of some super bosses, FFX didn’t offer much in the way of new-to-me content.

     Playing through Final Fantasy X-2 I completed the bulk of the first of five chapters in the game. Before venturing on to the second I chose to see what I could do with differences to the game. The Creature Creator is an odd little segment. Akin to the Monster Arena from FFX, you can capture monsters. But rather than fighting them, they fight for and with you as party members. Final Fantasy XI has a job class called “Beastmaster” and Final Fantasy XIII-2 had a third party member system of monsters that would fight with you, so I am not wholly unfamiliar with the concept in this series.

     But the Creature Creator has seized me. One thing I appreciated in Final Fantasy X was an explanation for the monsters that would attack you, and that you would kill pretty much without question. Not only did it tie into one of the games’ themes, but it was explained that all the monsters in the world were souls of people that had died. The “fiends” were often envious of the living and attacked them. One of the ways for fiends to be negated was for a Sending to be performed in a relatively close proximety to the deceased. This would guide their spirits to the Farplane, FFX’s territory of afterlife.

     What this content adds, for me, is a reflection on the nature of death. The Nature of Death is an important question to answer in whatever world I am in. In stories with magic or where death is not a barrier I like to know its meaning. In a realtistic story, death removes characters from an active role. But when you can talk to the dead and, potentially, cross back into the living world what weight does dying actually have? In this additional content it answers what it means to become a fiend. As you get new fiends and level them up, most of them have stories attatched. These have been wide ranging in their scope detailing laments and aggressions left over from their life. A father concerned about his children, a lover who still wished to meet her match at their appointed place, or a member of a mansion lost to fire who remembers the perfume of the killer. Rather than being purely silly or arbitrarty tales (there are a few), these are the reasons why the residents of Spira hold onto the world. It will show to me, in nearly 185 individual ways, what threads bind people to the world. Or, in that last example, why flowers and “inanimate” objects would hold on.

     A small aside, there is a Japanese belief that any item which remains cherished and relatively intact for 100 years will have the opportunity to gain a soul of its own. This is part of the reason why you may see angry spirits possessing umbrellas. Due to this, unusual objects becoming fiends is acceptable as I understand the culture that made the story. (I am going to attribute this knowledge to Gaijin Goomba as I am fairly certain I gained this information recently.) This is what makes a story of a former rose in a garden as a fiend interesting. It is likely not a story that would have come from America as our mythos rarely includes such elements.

     In so many RPGs my characters have doled out an unfathomable level of death upon the denizens of the world. In this game the bulk of the world is in fact out to get you. But this content returns an element of humanity, and shines further light on the spiral of Spira. Rather than all the fiends being wild and crazed, some have seemed to hang onto pieces of their humanity. Not all the fiends out there are bloodthirsty. Some just died badly. Others had more they wished to do when they passed of old age or illness. In rare cases, so embrace their new forms but it doesn’t make them inherently evil.

     This feels as though it is a whole new game to help enrich this world. I’ll have to look up the credits for it, but I encourage anyone who picks up X-2 and has the time to invest in some of the Creature Creator. Aside from being able to make really unique party line ups, what it adds to the world is worth thinking on.

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