What’s so good about FINAL FANTASY X?

It's the 20th Anniversary of FINAL FANTASY X so let's profess our love for this amazing RPG...
By Duncan Heaney

Did you know that 2021 marks the 20th Anniversary of FINAL FANTASY X?

Originally released in Japan on July 19, 2001 for PlayStation 2, the RPG won a legion of fans, thanks to its tactical turn-based combat, incredible production values, soulful story and some truly memorable characters.

Since then, the game has gone on to win acclaim from a new generation of gamers, thanks to FINAL FANTASY X | X-2 HD Remaster for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam.

In honor of this true classic entering its twenties, we wanted to highlight just a few of the things that make it such a remarkable game, even today.

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1. Its setting is in-Spira-ing


FINAL FANTASY X is set in Spira - and it is fascinating. It’s a fully realized setting, full of different cultures, philosophies, languages and hairstyles.

Your journey will take you from sun-drenched beaches where you wish you could just lie down with a coconut drink, to thunderous plains where you may actually lie down due to a shock lightning bolt.

And yet, for all its beauty and wonder, it’s far from a paradise. Monsters are a constant threat and prejudice and inequality are rife. Plus it’s continually ravaged by a terrifying monster call Sin - that does take the shine off somewhat.

Even so, it’s one of the most memorable settings in an RPG, and one that will stick with you long after you’ve turned off the console.

2. The battle system is tactical and satisfying


The FINAL FANTASY series has long shown that turn-based can be fast-paced, and this is especially true of FINAL FANTASY X.

Battles move swiftly, but the turn-based nature means that you still have time to consider your strategy and make adjustments if necessary.

But the true genius of FINAL FANTASY X’s battle system lies in its flexibility. While you’ll have a core party you take into battle, you can switch members in and out at any time.

For example, if you need some muscle in a hurry, bring in Auron to smack your foes around with his giant sword. Or, if you need something with a bit more… finality, swap him out for Yuna and get her to summon a giant dragon or two.

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3. The story and characters change in unexpected ways


Talking about story is always tricky because… y’know, spoilers. But here goes…

Here’s the game’s official synopsis: “FINAL FANTASY X tells the story of a star blitzball player, Tidus, who journeys with a young and beautiful summoner named Yuna on her quest to save the world of Spira from an endless cycle of destruction wrought by the colossal menace Sin.”

A fair description, but what it doesn’t tell you is how deep that tale goes. Over the course of the adventure, every character undergoes meaningful change. They (and you) will face trials, have their beliefs challenged and find out important facts about their true nature.

What’s more, this is a game that absolutely delights in pulling the rug out from under you - every time you think you know where things are going, a new twist or story development jerks the narrative in a new direction.

That said, it’s not all about the story because…

4. There are loads of extra things to do beyond the main path


FINAL FANTASY X is packed full of side activities, some of which are so fully featured they could almost be entire games themselves.

Take Blitzball for example - a tactical sports sim that’s sort of like a cross between football and basketball… except underwater. Not only can you play matches of the sport, you also have the challenge of building the best possible team, scouting players from the various NPCs you meet in the world.

And that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. There are ultimate weapons to find and cultivate, secret bosses to uncover and more. If you’re someone who likes to really peel back the layers of a game, rest assured that FINAL FANTASY X will keep you busy for a long time.

5. It has some of the best music in the FINAL FANTASY series


Okay, personal opinion time: FINAL FANTASY X has the best battle theme in the series.

Now, you may disagree with me on that particular detail (and do feel free to make your case in the comments), but it’s difficult to deny that composers Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano produced something special with the FINAL FANTASY X soundtrack.

It’s a diverse collection of tracks that ranges from the melancholy piano of Zanarkand, to the fast-paced intensity of the boss themes, but each one is an audible delight - even if you’re just listening to the soundtrack album.

If you're yet to play FINAL FANTASY X... well, get on it fast, because it's a wonderful adventure. It's available for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and Steam as FINAL FANTASY X | X-2 HD Remaster, a collection that also includes its sequel and more!

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