As promised, I keep discussion of video games to a minimum here, but some of the problems with this re-release piss me off so badly that I have to vent about them somewhere.
Story & Gameplay
First of all, the biggest problem is that almost all of the “convenience” and “quality of life” changes were aimed at one thing and one thing only: skipping gameplay. These features are numerous: allowing movement and battles to play out at x4 speeds, allowing the party to stay fully-healed at all times, providing infinite money, and giving every character every single ability. They’re all aimed at one thing: getting that pesky gameplay out of the way.
This is primarily a problem because there is no way to speed up or skip any of the countless pieces of dialogue or the hundreds of cutscenes and mini-cutscenes. This game is filled to the fucking brim with dialogue, and there is no way to skip any of it. At best, you can press B to cut off someone’s lines, but it doesn’t speed anything up, because the character then just stands there playing out the animation and lip-syncing to silence.
The end result is that, if you’ve spent 10 hours playing the game with these features, then a solid 95% of your time has been spent watching and listening to dialogue, not playing a fucking video game. Square-Enix did everything they could to remove the gameplay while doing nothing to allow players to skip the story bits that we’ve seen countless times. I don’t want to listen to Tidus whining about his daddy issues for four hours again–I want to skip all that and get back to the actual fucking game.
Square-Enix doesn’t want you to play a game. They want to show you a story.
And that’s fine. I understand that, and I won’t begrudge the people who (for who knows what reason) just want to experience the story again. I don’t understand them, because Square-Enix tells terrible stories (and has been doing so since FF6, their last good story) with boring characters, unnatural dialogue, and sometimes horrendous acting. However, if Square-Enix is going to add in all these features to allow those people to skip the gameplay, then they should show me the same freaking courtesy and include some features aimed at allowing me to skip the story.
The key distinction is that… Final Fantasy X is… a video game. It’s a game. It’s supposed to have gameplay. I know it’s considered controversial to say this, especially about these oh-so-beloved classics, but Square-Enix did everything they could to allow people to skip the fucking gameplay in this video game so that they could get back to the movie that Square-Enix wants to make.
Square-Enix wants to make movies. This has become indisputable. They consider gameplay to be a hurdle that must be jumped before the next scene of the movie can play.
Final Fantasy 13 was heavily criticized for being exactly that–it is a DVD menu. It’s just an overly elaborate and complicated DVD menu. Instead of just pressing the up arrow and selecting Next Scene, you have to hold up for 17.2 seconds, press A forty-two times, and then the Next Scene will play. And Final Fantasy X has exactly the same problems.
My issue with FF13 was that it felt like the intro never ended; the entire game felt like an intro. Once I reached Chapter 9 or so and still felt like I was in the intro, I quit playing the game and never looked back. It didn’t help that Gamestop sold me a copy of the game that didn’t work, so I couldn’t proceed. When I later acquired the game on PC, though, I couldn’t even get past Chapter 4 before I said “Fuck this. It’s a neverending intro.”
Final Fantasy X is exactly like that. The intro doesn’t end until players have reached Zanarkand, killed Lady Yunalesca (who is absurdly objectified–something else that Square-Enix gets a free pass on), and assaulted Sin. Only when you get the airship, 95% of the way through the game, does the game finally open up, do the training wheels finally come off. The entire time I played through Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, all I wanted to do was get to the airship so that the actual game could begin, so that I could start looking for secrets, and so that I could start actually playing the game. But it’s a bittersweet experience, because I knew, when I finally reached the airship last night on a save file that is 25 hours long (probably 12 hours of actual time, and probably 5 hours of actual playtime because of the x4 speed and the fact that at least half of the game consists of watching people talk about shit I stopped caring about when I was 17 years old), that the game is pretty much over. The game is over.
There’s no point in going and doing all of the extra hidden stuff, because… the game is over. I haven’t even gone to the Omega Ruins yet, because… the game is over. I haven’t sought out the hidden aeons yet, because the game is over. Suddenly, just before the very end of the game, Final Fantasy X says, “Oh, hey, there’s all this other shit that you can go and do before you kill the final boss!”
Yeah, but I’m at the final boss.
I insisted on playing through Final Fantasy X before diving into the fucking abomination of sexual objectification of women that is Final Fantasy X-2 (no, really–even people who don’t frequently address the way that women are made into sexual objects by games took issue with FFX-2–it’s almost as bad as Ride To Hell: Retribution, and I might say it’s even worse because of how it utterly derailed the summoner Yuna and turned her into a J-Pop slut). FFX-2 is absolutely disgusting, and many men report being unable to even play the game without feeling dirty. That’s how egregious it is. Did you ever want to play Dress Up with slutty clothes and Japanime babes? Then Final Fantasy X-2 is for you.
But I realized recently that there’s no point. It’s not like anything that I do will actually carry over to the sequel. Other than the Al Bhed dictionary (I believe), nothing that happens in Final Fantasy X has any impact on Final Fantasy X-2. It’s not like Dragon Age: Origins and the masterpiece Dragon Age 2. So there’s been no point in putting it off. Even knowing that, I haven’t started a file, because… Ugh. Even thinking about the game makes me want to not play it.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a “Press Start to skip dialogue” option in these re-releases, especially when Square-Enix is bending over backward to give players ways to skip the actual gameplay itself. This is a JRPG. Fighting random battles, killing dudes, and leveling up is the gameplay. If you remove that, what do you have?
Hours of cutscenes and dialogues.
You have a fucking movie.
Square-Enix: for when you want your video game to be a movie.