Final Fantasy X  
An apocalyptic waterworld for Squaresoft's next dream

Rei Writing something on the next Final Fantasy is really difficult for different reasons:
1) Because all of us videogames-lovers probably feel a certain awe in talking of a new chapter of the nowadays more famous series of games for console;
2) Because it seems a crime to announce even with few imperfection or uncertainty a game like this.

The game is surely the most awaited title for Ps2, together with Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 2.

It seems that Squaresoft is amused in seeing its own fans in tumult for something that is not well defined yet and it also seems that it increases before the release of every chapter of the series the spasmodic fans' curiosity, who try to discover how the game will be. Anyhow, the game was finally shown at the Tokyo Game Show 2001 Spring in a playable demo, impressing all the audience with the most incredible graphics seen on a gaming console and a new, interesting battle system. Final Fantasy X could probably make the fortune of Sony against Nintendo and X-Box, like happened years ago when Final Fantasy VII was released in Japan.

The release of Final Fantasy X for Japan was initially anticipated for March 2001, then it was announced that it would have been deferred in July; at present, the release date for Japan is July 19, 2001 while American and European users will have to wait until the beginning of the next year. The official motivation for this delay seems to be the desire of those people that are developing the game to improve it and to make it even more suited to the potentialities of the Ps2, taking mainly care of the details like the introduction of the ability for the characters'faces to be less fixed and expressionless in comparison to the preceding FFs, showing changing facial expressions, and so on. The delay for the version of the game in other languages (English, French, German and so on) is due to the huge amount of text that is going to be translated and to the realization of good quality voiceovers.

Other announced news, then denied, concerned the game's online support. In fact, after seeing the great technical difficulties, Square renounced the possibility of an online game to hit shelves; we will have to wait for the following FFXI to have an Online Final Fantasy. For now Squaresoft has created PlayOnline, an online source for helps, cheats and so on, to assure the players an help to solve their problems in the most difficult points of Square's videogames.

The team that has been reunited to work to the new Final Fantasy is proof of quality and surely it can reassure those people who were uncertain:

Director :Yoshinori Kitase
Characters : Tetsuya Nomura
Scenario: Kazunari Nojima
Battle System: Toshirou Tsuchida
Music: Nobuo Uematsu

All the quoted names are not unknown in the Final Fantasy universe. In fact, for example, Uematsu has written the music of the old FFs and it seems that he's going more and more toward an orchestrated sound, therefore we wait great things to come from the soundtrack of this title; the characters are created by the one who has also created the characters of FFVIII (in fact one of the criticisms that I already heard around is that the protagonists are a little bit too much similar to Squall and Rinoa); talking about Tsuchida, he has brought notable innovations to the battle system, on which I will return later in this preview.

These are all the premises for loving FFX the same way we used to love the past chapters. And I feel confident, not only because in a certain sense these names are a warranty by themselves, but also considering that from what we could see, there is no reason for not believing that this can become one of the best episodes of the series.

To better understand the elements of FFX, I will speak as clearly as possible.

The Characters

Tidus
The protagonists, that are also the characters on which we have a greatest number of information and images, are two young people: Tidus and Yuna. At first sight Tidus has some physical characteristics (the expression, the haircut etc...) that could resemble him to Squall in a blonde version.
Despite this, I suppose it doesn't mean that he will be the slavish copy of the protagonist of FFVIII, but simply that he has, for the fact that his creator is the same of the characters of FFVIII, superficial similarities with his "elder brother".
Anyway it immediately appears that over these details, between Squall and Tidus there are in common no other points. In fact Tidus, in total opposition to Squall, is a solar person, vivacious, more similar to the exuberant Zidane. His way of dressing and his being connected to the water make him a kind Californian he-man, and also his passion for a sport, the Blitz-Ball, seems to point out such direction. His weapon, according to the tradition of the masculine heroes of the series, is the sword, that he handles with a certain boldness.

Yuna
The female heroin is Yuna, and if on Tidus a choir has shouted to the clonation from Squall, in this case there is some talk of a not inspired mixture between Rinoa and Selphie. However, looking at her, I would not say that Yuna resembles to anybody from FFVIII; rather it can be said that she has vaguely continued the tradition of the heroines of FF, that taste a little bit of Japan and that are mostly dark-haired . Yuna is a summoner: ability that is derived from her illustrious family. Her connection with water is so strong, that seems that her destiny in the game will lead her to face a sort of fire demon very similar to Ifrit. In fact, as many have noticed, looking at the logo of the game, that shows Yuna in it, the volutes of her skirt seem to represent at first sea waves, that then become more and more similar to flames (the reference to the clash between fire and water in the game is clearly shown in the logo too). Yuna is the perfect incarnation of the heroin of FF: she denies her noble origins and runs away. Her weapon is the rod.

Other Characters
Other confirmed characters are Kimahri (the blue Ifrit-looking beast with the broken horn on his head, that you can see in the screenshots of the game), Seymour ( a mage ), Rikku (a thief). Squaresoft will surely reveal the other characters very soon.



The Setting

It seems that the game is set in an undetermined future, in a shaken world a lot of time after an apocalyptic disaster: the Earth is for the greatest part covered by waters. The setting of Final Fantasy X remembers very much that of Final Fantasy VIII, not properly a fantasy environment, but more properly a cyber-like scenario (also similar for taste to Final Fantasy VII).

A lot of people talked of a deep similarity to the zone of Eshtar from FFVIII. If that is true or not, we are not able to tell yet, since the setting of the whole game is not known, but is it true that the predominant landscape elements seem to be the beaches and the ocean. The adventure should consist in a trip through such environments and atmospheres, directly tied up to something that has to do with the "kingdom of the sun."... I'm really curious...

The real novelty introduced in FFX's setting concerns the graphic aspect: in fact all the backgrounds, that in the past games have been pre-rendered, are now completely 3d and rendered in real time by the graphics engine of the game. According to what has been communicated by the developers, also for the maps the three-dimensional effect will be used in a more exciting way than in the preceding instalments, with greater possibility of mobility for the camera and so on.

The Battle System

Other elements that should represent the innovations of FFX concern the battle system, that will return to a three characters team and will make use of the usual Magic Points, but with a substantial difference: the ATB, as Tsuchida said a few months ago, has been eliminated. Besides, you'll be able to change your characters, their armors and weapons during a battle. Yuna has the ability to Summon the classic Final Fantasy's magic beasts. Anyhow, this time, the demons you invoke won't disappear after the usual realtime sequence. You'll be able to control them like any other character in your party. Each summon beast has its own moves, spells and special attacks.

Spoken dialogues and mini-games

But the most upsetting novelty for the FF series lovers will be the introduction of spoken dialogues! Do you remember the panels used for dialogues in the preceding instalments of the series, that left uncertain about which tone was the right one used by characters? All this will be only a memory, since Square has decided to finally give a voice to the protagonists of this new FF. Perhaps the spoken parts will be only those in the battles and FMV that underline the most important points of the history, but this not clear at the moment. In Japan the matter aroused curiosity and interest, considering that, for example, to Tidus the voice will be lent by a well-known animes' actor, Akira Ishida (among the other starring in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Sailor Moon).

What probably frightens more of the idea to finally allow the characters of FF to talk, is that bad voices or not inspired interpretations can ruin the whole game, while on the other hand the written dialogues left the benefit of the doubt. But probably those fears are only due to the importance of the novelty, considering that in many other games the utilization of actors' voices are a common practice, without so disastrous results as it is feared in this case.

In the tradition of the series, the game will include many mini-games. Blitz-Ball, the sport in which Tidus is a champion, is playable. It is an underwater sport, a mixture of elements derived from soccer, basket, and volley.

For now these are the more exhaustive and precise thing I can tell you on Final Fantasy X. I believe that soon will have other news from Squaresoft and other screenshots featuring new environments and characters. Check Ps2fantasy for next updates!.


- Rei (October 19th, 2001)