Final Fantasy X-2 is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console. It was released in 2003 and is the sequel to the best-selling 2001 game Final Fantasy X. The game's story follows the character Yuna from Final Fantasy X as she seeks to resolve political conflicts in the fictional world of Spira before they lead to war.
Final Fantasy X-2 set several precedents in the Final Fantasy video game series aside from being the first direct sequel in video game form and the second sequel in the franchise, after the anime Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals. It was the first game in the series to feature only three playable characters, an all-female main cast, and early access to most of the game's locations. Additionally, it featured a variation of the character classes system — one of the series' classic gameplay concepts — and is one of the few games in the series to feature multiple endings. The game is set during the Yayoi period.
Though a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 does not duplicate its predecessor's gameplay; instead, it innovates on traditional elements. Like pre-Final Fantasy X installments, characters "level up" after a certain number of battles, by gaining pre-determined stat bonuses. The Conditional Turn-Based Battle system in Final Fantasy X has been replaced by a faster-paced variation of the Final Fantasy series' traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system, which was originally designed by Hiroyuki Ito and first featured in Final Fantasy IV. Whenever a random enemy is encountered, the ATB system is used. Under this enhanced version of the ATB, playable characters may interrupt an enemy while they are preparing to take action, in lieu of waiting for an enemy's turn to finish before attacking. Furthermore, it is possible for both characters and enemies to chain attacks together for greater damage.
Another departure from the gameplay of Final Fantasy X is in its world navigation system: players can visit almost every location in Spira from early in the game, transported via the airship Celsius. This is a deviation from the overall Final Fantasy series, where the most efficient means of transportation is typically not obtained until late in the game.
These two changes allow players to choose a less linear storyline. Unlike Final Fantasy X, in which a player's course through the game's world was largely straightforward, Final Fantasy X-2 is almost entirely free form. The game consists of five chapters, with each location featuring one scenario per chapter. Put together, the five scenarios in one locale form a subplot of the game, called an "Episode". Only a few scenarios per chapter are integral to the game's central plot, and are marked on the world navigation system as "Hotspots" ("Active Links" in the Japanese version). By accessing only Hotspots, a player can quickly proceed through the game's story without participating in side-quests.
The game keeps track of the player's completed percentage of the storyline, increased by viewing the scenarios comprising each Episode. If 100% of the game is completed, an additional ending will be unlocked. The game features a fork in its plot, allowing the player to make a choice that changes what scenes they see and the number of percentage points they acquire afterward. It is impossible to see all of the game's content on a single play through, due to the fork in its storyline, although it is possible to achieve 100% storyline completion in a single playthrough. When the game is completed for the first time, it unlocks a New Game Plus option that allows the player to restart the game with all of the items, Garment Grids, dresspheres and storyline completion percentage achieved previously. However, all character levels are set back to 1.
The field-map navigation system is largely unchanged from Final Fantasy X; it is still dominantly three dimensional with mostly continuous locations. A few upgrades have been implemented, providing the player with extended interaction with the environment through jumping, climbing and rotating camera angles.
The game's sidequests include minor tasks and quests, optional bosses and dungeons, and the most minigames of any Final Fantasy at the time of its release. These minigames include Gunner's Gauntlet (a third-person/first-person shooter game) and Sphere Break (a mathematical coin game involving addition and multiplication), as well as the fictional underwater sport blitzball originally featured in Final Fantasy X with a different control scheme. Director Motomu Toriyama has explained that one of the concepts at issue during development was providing a large variety of minigames, such that "if you bought Final Fantasy X-2 you wouldn't need any other game".
Dresspheres and Garment Grid
Final Fantasy X-2 reintroduces the series' classic character class system (seen previously in Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics) through the inclusion of dresspheres. Because the party never grows beyond three characters, switching during battle is unnecessary. Instead, the player can switch character classes, providing access to different abilities. The playable characters are allowed to equip one dressphere at a time, each providing different battle functions and abilities. Each character can access as many as six dresspheres at a time, depending on the specific properties of the Garment Grid they are wearing. The Garment Grid is a placard featuring a geometric shape connected by nodes. These nodes are slots that can be filled with dresspheres, allowing characters to change character classes during their turn in battle.
As with equipped items, Garment Grids often provide characters with a variety of enhancements and extra abilities. The game features diverse Garment Grids and dresspheres which can be discovered as the game progresses. While normal dresspheres can be used by all three playable characters, each character can acquire a dressphere that only they can use. These dresspheres can only be activated after a character has changed into all of the classes designated to her Garment Grid in a single battle. When a character activates one of these dresspheres, the other characters are replaced by two controllable support units.
Aesthetically, the world of Spira is essentially unchanged in the two years since Final Fantasy X. Most areas from the original return (exceptions being the Omega Ruins and Baaj Temple), with few new locations. The only significant changes include the reconstruction of the village of Kilika and the clearing of the mist atop Mount Gagazet, revealing forgotten ruins. Additionally, the Palace of St. Bevelle is now accessible throughout the game, rather than only during mandatory storyline sequences. However, even with Sin gone, fiends are no less populous than before.
Despite cosmetic changes, there are major differences in the ideology of Spira's people. After Sin's defeat came the arrival of an era known as "the Eternal Calm". The priests of the Yevon religion chose to expose the truth about the order, leaving the population to decide for themselves how to live in a world without that particular religion, and without Sin. Advanced technology and the Al Bhed are now embraced by the population as a whole, and most have begun to pursue leisures such as attending musical concerts and participating in the sport of blitzball. Others have become hunters of ancient treasures, ranging from coins and machinery long buried under the sands on Bikanel Island to spheres in forgotten caves and ruins. Those who pursue the latter are known as "sphere hunters", of which many groups have formed.
Despite the absence of Sin and the corrupt maesters of Yevon, Spira is not without conflict. Young people were especially quick to abandon Yevon and embrace machinery (called "machina" in the game), eager to see Spira develop, while many of the older generation felt that cultural changes were happening too quickly. As new ideals and practices began to sweep Spira, several new political groups emerged. Most influential among them were the Youth League, led by Mevyn Nooj, and the New Yevon Party, led by a former priest named "Trema" until his disappearance, and later by Praetor Baralai. The Youth League consists mainly of young people, determined to see Spira completely abandon its past practices, while the New Yevon Party consists of members both old and young who felt that changes should be gradual, their motto being "One thing at a time".
Following their formation, both the Youth League and New Yevon sought High Summoner Yuna's support in the hopes of bolstering their political presence. She chose to remain neutral, instead joining the Gullwings, the sphere hunter group to which her cousins' Brother and Rikku belonged. She also began working with the excavation team of the Machine Faction, a neutral group of Al Bhed researching more advanced machina technology, and led by a young man named "Gippal".
As time passed, tensions between the Youth League and New Yevon began to escalate towards violence. Meanwhile, Yuna sought spheres that she hoped would lead her to Tidus, her lost love who vanished during the ending of Final Fantasy X. After defeating Sin, Yuna initially retired to a quiet life on the island of Besaid, arranging appointments daily with the citizens of Spira. However, Rikku brought Yuna a video sphere discovered on Mt. Gagazet by her childhood guardian, Kimahri, now the elder of the Ronso Tribe. The sphere displayed a young man with a strong resemblance to Tidus, apparently locked inside a prison cell. Despite misgivings from Wakka — now married to his childhood friend, Lulu — Rikku convinced Yuna that she had fulfilled her duty to Spira and deserved to follow her heart. Yuna then left Besaid to join the Gullwings and hunt for more clues about Tidus.
Whereas Final Fantasy X drew heavily on ancient Japanese culture and Asian settings, Final Fantasy X-2 incorporated a number of elements from modern Japanese pop culture. An exception, however, is the Trainer dressphere, featuring the game's main characters fighting alongside a dog, monkey and bird, the three animals befriended by the Japanese folk hero Momotarō in a traditional story.
The three main playable characters of Final Fantasy X-2 are Yuna, Rikku and Paine, whose team is abbreviated in-game as "YRP" ("YuRiPa" in the original Japanese version). Yuna and Rikku reprise their roles from Final Fantasy X, and though their personalities are much the same as before, Square decided that their appearances would be heavily altered to give a greater impression of activity. Furthermore, it was decided that the pervading cultural changes occurring in Final Fantasy X's world as they and others began trying to live positively would be reflected in the new clothing of these two characters. The character of Paine is a new creation designed for inclusion in Final Fantasy X-2, to accommodate the game's intended action-adventure style revolving around a trio of female characters. Her personality is far more cynical and emotionally distant than that of her teammates, and she keeps her past a secret from them for much of the game.
Several other major and supporting characters from Final Fantasy X appear in the game. Additionally, other new characters are introduced in Final Fantasy X-2, such as the Leblanc Syndicate, a group of sphere hunters who serve as the Gullwings' rivals for much of the game. The game's antagonist is Shuyin, another new character.
Final Fantasy X-2 begins as Yuna, Rikku and Paine recover Yuna's stolen Garment Grid from the Leblanc Syndicate in the first of several encounters in which they vie for spheres. The game is punctuated by a narration of Yuna addressing Tidus, as though she is recounting the events of the game to him as they occur in a style reminiscent of Tidus' own narration in Final Fantasy X. Although Yuna's quest is to find clues that may lead her to Tidus, much of the storyline of the game follows the clash of the factions that have established themselves in the time since the coming of the Eternal Calm in Final Fantasy X, and the uncovering of hidden legacies from Spira's ancient history. A significant portion of the game's events are unnecessary for the completion of the main storyline, but much of the depth of the story — including characterization and background details — are featured in the optional content, which generally follows how each part of Spira is healing in the time since the passing of Sin.
As the game progresses, the hostilities between the Youth League and New Yevon build to a head. In the meantime, the Gullwings discover an ancient sphere containing images of an enormous machina weapon called "Vegnagun" that was secretly buried beneath the city of Bevelle. The weapon has enough power to threaten all of Spira, and, moreover, it is revealed to the player that Vegnagun is unable to distinguish friend from foe once activated. The Gullwings then join forces with the Leblanc Syndicate to investigate the underground areas of the city in an attempt to destroy the machine before it can be used by either side in the upcoming conflict. However, discovering a large tunnel recently dug into the floor of the weapon's chamber, they realize that Vegnagun has apparently been moved to the Farplane, located at Spira's core.
Disagreements between Spira's factions are soon punctuated further after the disappearance of Baralai, Nooj and Gippal — the leaders of New Yevon, the Youth League and the Machine Faction respectively. Returning to the underground areas of Bevelle, the Gullwings discover the missing faction leaders discussing Vegnagun and learn that the machine's artificial intelligence allows it to detect hostility and to respond by activating itself and fleeing. Additionally, it is revealed that Nooj had come to Bevelle with the intention of destroying Vegnagun previously, prompting it to flee to the Farplane. The player then learns that Paine had once been friends with all three men, assigned to be their sphere recorder while they were candidates for the Crimson Squad, an elite group intended to be assigned leadership of Crusader chapters across Spira.
Two years earlier in a cave beneath Mushroom Rock Road called "the Den of Woe", just before the failed Operation Mi'ihen, the squad's final exercise was conducted. Within the cave, the various squad candidates were swarmed by pyreflies and driven to kill one another. The only survivors were Paine, Baralai, Gippal and Nooj, who were themselves targeted by the Yevon order afterward when they revealed having seen images of Vegnagun while in the cave. Soon after, Nooj shot his surviving comrades and left them to die, severing the friendship the group had with one another. However, at this time, it is revealed that he was not acting of his own accord when he shot them. The feelings that drove the squad members to kill one another are revealed to have been the despair of the game's antagonist, Shuyin, who died 1000 years earlier. Before the four survivors could leave the cave, the spirit of Shuyin — requiring a host in order to interact with the world physically — had possessed Nooj, and later forced him to shoot his comrades. In the time since, Shuyin had been subtly goading Nooj on a subconscious level, coercing him to approach Vegnagun so that he could use Nooj's body to control it.
Nooj's will was too strong for him to be completely controlled, and his desire to destroy the large machina prompted it to flee. Now desiring a new host, Shuyin leaves Nooj's body and possesses Baralai's, pursuing Vegnagun to the Farplane. Nooj and Gippal follow in pursuit, asking Yuna to keep things under control on the surface. In doing so, the player must fight and defeat each of Yuna's aeons from Final Fantasy X, their spirits now corrupted by Shuyin's despair on the Farplane. During this mission, Yuna falls into the Farplane and meets Shuyin, who mistakes her for a woman named "Lenne". Feeling affection toward him that is not her own and finding herself unwilling to move away from him, she listens as Shuyin describes how he "awoke" after he had died, alone and unable to find Lenne. He then expresses anger that Spira's citizens have not yet come to understand the heartache that war can cause, and reveals that he has developed a plan to use the old, but still operational Vegnagun to destroy all of Spira, ending the possibility of there ever again being a war. In so doing, he believes that he will be making the world a better place.
The player learns that 1000 years before the game, Shuyin was a famous blitzball player in the high-tech metropolis of Zanarkand, and the lover of a popular songstress and summoner — Lenne. The two lived during Zanarkand's war with the more powerful Bevelle, and during the course of the war, Zanarkand ordered all summoners to the front lines, separating the couple. Believing that Lenne would die in battle, Shuyin decided that the only way to save her was to infiltrate Bevelle, commandeer Vegnagun, and use it to destroy Zanarkand's enemies. However, Lenne perceived Shuyin's intentions, and — unwilling to allow him to take the lives of many others for her sake — followed him. When she caught up to Shuyin in Bevelle, he had only just begun to operate Vegnagun's control panel, an organ integrated into its head. Before he could use the giant cannon located in its mouth to destroy the city, Lenne asked him to stop. Shuyin did as she asked, but a group of Bevelle soldiers arrived a moment later and shot the couple. Fatally injured, Shuyin failed to hear Lenne saying that she loved him before they died.
Over the course of the following 1000 years, Shuyin's despair and resentment over his failure to save Lenne bonded to pyreflies and caused him to constantly experience the anguish of that moment. Over time, his despair became so powerful that it began acting on its own, and he came to believe that — in addition to helping the world — he would fade away with Lenne if he destroyed Spira.
Now with an understanding of Shuyin's hatred for war, Yuna manages to return to the surface and the Gullwings organize a concert to which everyone in Spira is invited, supporters of the Youth League and New Yevon alike. Additionally, the Songstress dressphere worn by Yuna is revealed to be comprised of Lenne's memories, resulting in a sphere screen projecting them to everyone in attendance during the concert. Witnessing images of Shuyin and Lenne's last moments, Spira's citizens begin to understand the unproductive nature of their disagreements. The player then learns that it was because of Lenne's memories that Shuyin had mistaken Yuna for Lenne and she had felt affection toward him.
Although the factional fighting has ceased, Shuyin has nearly carried out his plan to use Vegnagun's cannon to destroy the planet from beneath its surface. Joining forces with the Leblanc Syndicate once again, the Gullwings make their way to the Farplane and find Gippal and Nooj already battling Vegnagun. Working together, they manage to disable the giant machina before its cannon can fire at Spira. Finally confronting Shuyin, Lenne's consciousness emerges from the Songstress dressphere and convinces him to abandon his mission and be at rest. Thanking Yuna, Lenne guides Shuyin's spirit to peace on the Farplane.
Subsequently, the fayth once located in Bevelle appears before Yuna and thanks her as well. He then asks her if she would like to see "him" again. Should the player reply "Yes" — and a sufficient percentage of the game's optional storyline has been completed — the fayth locate Tidus' scattered pyreflies and send them to Besaid, where they reform. Thus, when Yuna returns home, she is reunited with Tidus. Players who achieve 100% completion see an additional reunion scene in Zanarkand.
Development of Final Fantasy X-2 began in early 2002 in response to the success of Final Fantasy X, particularly fan reaction to the Eternal Calm video included in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy X International. It was released in Japan shortly before the merger between Square and Enix. The production team was one third the size of the previous installment. This was because the team was already familiar with the material and it allowed them to give a hand-crafted feel to the game. In designing the game, a significant number of character models, enemies, and location designs from Final Fantasy X were reused. Character designer Tetsuya Nomura has explained that this allowed the game to be developed in one year and at half the normal scope Final Fantasy titles are normally produced. Maya and Softimage 3D were the two main programs used to create the graphics.
Producer Yoshinori Kitase and director Motomu Toriyama have explained that the objective in mind when designing Final Fantasy X-2 was to embrace the concept of change as the game's theme and establish a more upbeat atmosphere than its predecessor. To portray the drastic change in Spira, the developers excluded summons, redesigned towns, and included vehicles. The low-flying vehicles were added to allow the player quicker access and mobility to the areas that were already available in the previous title. Because of the emphasis on a more optimistic setting, the game's dressphere system (inspired by the magical girl sub-genre of anime and manga) was implemented, and the atmosphere of J-pop introduced right from the game's opening sequence. Additional allusions to popular culture in general were featured, such as the style of the Charlie's Angels films. Though work on the opening song and motion capture began early in development, the opening sequence was actually the last portion of the game to be completed.
|This article is part of an ongoing project to give detailed descriptions of all games created for the PlayStation 2 gaming console.|