Each Final Fantasy has its heroes, its unique world, its independent storyline; the link between the various games stands in a broad uncertain mythology, made of magic creatures and recurring themes, and in the generic structure of the gameplay. What's more interesting, anyhow, is that each Final Fantasy is first of all a unique artistic research, conducted in different directions by people like Sakaguchi, Amano, Nomura, Uematsu, and all the talented artists at Square Soft. So, after all, that "Final" in the title hasn't lost its original meaning. Each Final Fantasy is truly "Final", in the sense that it's an experience by itself complete, which starts when the game begins and ends when the words "The End" appear. Characters like Cloud, Squall, and Zidane cease to exist when the game ends, and there's nothing wrong in it; each hero needs the abyss to be a hero, to escape the inevitable destiny of becoming pathetic or something completely different from what he originally was. In an industry where "sequel" is synonymous of "easy success", Sakaguchi and Square had the courage to reinvent from time to time the series.
That's why the announcement of this Final Fantasy X-2 came with a certain surprise of the gaming world; but, after all, this sequel to the successful Final Fantasy X is perfectly inserted into Square's (now Square Enix) new financial strategy and artistic choices; we wrote about this also in our detailed review of Final Fantasy X, but it's worth highlighting that like many other long-time fans of the series, we noticed that Final Fantasy X was a "bootlicker" when compared to previous installments: a game still gifted with high artistic values and a monstrous production, but designed first of all to attract the broadest range of gamers, with main characters that were much less intriguing than the disturbed heroes of the previous Final Fantasy games. Each videogame, of course, is designed to "sell": but even a rough comparison between Final Fantasy X and its immediate predecessor, the wonderful Final Fantasy IX, shows the glaring difference between a work born under the priority of "selling", and another born under the concept "a truthful, fine artistic research should not be separate from good sales".
This introduction is not a judgment of Square Enix's company strategy; rather, it's a bunch of thoughts coming from a gamer that profoundly loved past Final Fantasy games.
The story and the heroines of Final Fantasy X-2
Two years after the tragic and glorious events of Final Fantasy X, the people of Spira have found the strength to start living again, rebuilding their cities, and giving birth to a new era of prosperity, helped by the spreading of the once forbidden Al Bhed technology; in fact, after the fall of the Yevon religion, machina is no longer refused, and it's now part of everyday life.
|A new era of presperity in Spira.
|The dynamic Seagulls!</ font>
Rare ancient artifacts containing images of the past are the targets of clans of searchers known as "Sphere Hunters"; Yuna, Rikku, and Paine, the heroines of Final Fantasy X-2, are members of one of these clans, the "Seagulls". As shown in "Final Fantasy X: Another Story", the video included in the International Japanese edition of Final Fantasy X, Kimhari and Rikku found a magic sphere that showed Tidus, alive, but held captive into a cage. Seeing the image of Tidus, Yuna immediately decided to embark on a journey to rescue her beloved guardian, searching for spheres that may guide her to solve the mystery surrounding Tidus' disappearance. But many organizations and another group of Sphere Hunters, guided by the beautiful but evil Le Blanc, have their own interests - that go against the plans of the Seagulls.
The heroine of this sequel is inevitably source of disappointment for the people who loved her well-mannered style in Final Fantasy X. Do you remember the gentle, kind, moderate, beautiful girl that bravely bore the burden of the whole world on her shoulders in Final Fantasy X? Basically, she's gone, since the new Yuna is closer to Courtney Love than to her previous self in Final Fantasy X. Maybe the dreadful events of Final Fantasy X caused a complete splitting of her Ego (and that's the only way to justify an otherwise "out-of-character" development of Yuna's personality), but it's a fact that the ex-grand summoner Yuna now wears hot pants able to show more leg and more cheek than a miniskirt, a revealing shirt, and a pair of knee high boots. If Yuna will ever find Tidus again, the poor tanned fellow might have a heart attack.
In Final Fantasy X-2, Yuna is 19 years old. She is a Sphere hunter in the Seagulls Clan, now in search of her beloved Tidus. Gone is the nice but old-fashioned staff: now Yuna uses guns - and her starting job is "gunner". A new Lara Croft?
Age: 19 years old
Place of birth: Bevelle
Height: 161 cm
Hair: light brown
Distinguishing marks: eyes of different colors (blue and green)
Primary weapon: Al Bhed gun
Rikku was already a pretty exuberant girl in Final Fantasy X, so the transformation has been less drastic for her, and her attitude seems always the same: she is a very open, cheerful, straightforward person, that two years before the events of Final Fantasy X-2 served Yuna as one of her guardians. Rikku starts the game as a "thief".
In the clothing department, things have changed a bit though. Conventional thinkers may say she's practically naked, but you know, that's not possible, otherwise Final Fantasy X-2 would get a Mature rating. No, Rikku "wears" a nice short brown shirt, a tiny yellow bikini, and a shiny pair of blue boots; curiously, despite this summery style, Rikku also wears gloves, long white leathery sleeves, and a long red and yellow scarf.
Age: 17 years old
Place of birth: Al Bhed Home
Height: 158 cm
Distinguishing marks: she wears a yellow bikini
Primary weapon: Twin Daggers
When Paine was just a little kid, her entire family and all the people she loved were wiped out by the terrible destructive power of Sin. Since then, she has lived by herself, creating a barrier between the world and her inner thoughts. Strong, distant, sarcastic, she's in part a mystery also for Yuna and Rikku, who anyhow consider her a reliable friend, always able to go straight to the point in the most dramatic moments.
Paine is the fighter of the group, a veteran sphere hunter; her weapon is a sword, and she starts the game as a "soldier" - in many ways, her first fighting style resembles Auron's, but unlike the great guardian of Final Fantasy X, Paine is also extremely fast.
Paine wears black leather clothes, with plenty of belts and straps, that make her look a bit like a sporty version of Lulu. She wears a sort of revealing leathery shawl that wraps her upper body, and a pair of sexy shorts split in two parts along her hips and held together by metal clasps; the style of the shorts is mirrored in the thigh-high stockings; Paine also wears high-heeled boots and leather black gloves. Paine has a typical '80s hairstyle, that will please all melancholic punks out there.
Age: 18 years old
Place of birth: unknown
Height: 162 cm
Distinguishing marks: maroon red eyes; dreadful 80s hairstyle
Primary weapon: Sword
A few ending notes for this first part of our preview.
- The aforementioned video "Final Fantasy X: Another Story" was included only in the bonus disc contained in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy X: International; the video is not available in the North American and European (PAL) edition of the game.
- Many of the names used in this page were directly translated from the Japanese version, so the real names in the North American and European release might differ.
- The costumes and weapons indicated for each character are only their "default" costumes and weapons, the ones with which the characters start the game. The job system featured in Final Fantasy X-2 allows the player to change the job of a character, thus changing also her weapon. But more, much more on these interesting details in our second part of the preview!