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On October 22, 2002, SquareSoft released details on their upcoming game, Final Fantasy X-2. According to GameSpot, “This game is an action-oriented take on the FFX universe featuring a twin-pistol-toting Yuna in hot pants.” It has an anticipated release date sometime in March, 2003, in Japan, with a subsequent release in North America and the rest of the world.

This announcement marks the first time an installment of the Final Fantasy saga has had a sequel, and in fact, Square has mentioned that another follow up to FFX is in the works. There has been speculation that these games are being developed because of the anticipated unpopularity of Final Fantasy XI, which represents the series’ movement to a persistent, online world.

Looking at released screenshots and announcements show us that the game will feature Yuna, and paint her in a light more like Laura Croft than any traditional Final Fantasy series. Apparently there is a good deal of jumping, climbing, and other adventure game elements. Screenshots also reveal that instead of her ceremonial staff, Yuna is toting a pair of pistols, and has replaced her summoner’s robes with short shorts and a shirt, split in front. She is also wearing an ornament of some kind, the same symbol as was worn by Tidus and Jecht in Final Fantasy X.

Fans of the Final Fantasy series seem to have mixed opinions about Square’s decision to make a sequel to FFX. Some sound disappointed by the decision to make a direct sequel to any game, and others seem merely disappointed that the decision was to be based on this game. Others, though, sound excited about the prospect, mentioning that the story in the original was too complicated to have been only in a single game, and are glad for the second installment.

Final Fantasy X-2

SquareSoft confirmed on the 28th of May 2002, that it would be producing sequels to the hit game Final Fantasy X. At the time of the press release, two sequels were planned, and were tentatively called “Yuna” and “Rikku,” after two of the three female lead roles in FFX. Square had promised that both titles would be released in Japan by the end of the 2002 fiscal year, but as of this writing, nothing has been released. In fact, things changed around just a bit.

As time passed after the initial news of an X sequel, Square decided that there would not be two sequels – but only one. Most of the developers who worked on FFX have moved on to other projects, but director Yoshinori Kitase remains on the team of FFX-2, which is the tentative title of the newest addition to the Final Fantasy franchise. The story will revolve around Yuna and Rikku, who sport sexy new costumes, and saucy attitudes, fueled by some of the best the PlayStation 2 can offer. Al Bhed technology reigns supreme in this version of Spira, and the formerly sacred temples of Yevon are now floating fortresses. Yet, in this peaceful world, free of Sin, what will be the motivation for an adventure?

The story begins with Yuna discovering a strange sphere, which holds the image of a man who looks similar to Tidus, the youth who helped Yuna defeat Sin in FFX. So, as all RPGs start out, Yuna takes this discovery as a cue to go explore her world and search for answers. Accompanied by Rikku, and a new character, Paine, Yuna will travel across Spira in a fashion completely dissimilar from the FFX navigation scheme. Gone are the days of being constrained to a single linear path through the game. Welcome back world map of old – we missed you. Yes, that’s right, FFX-2 will not stand for “Final Fantasy X-Button” like its predecessor. Additionally, the sphere system for character advancement has been done away with, and the battle system is no longer strictly menu-driven. From what I have garnered through various sources, it seems as if the game will have a more “organic” feel to it. Yuna, et al. will be able to jump, climb, fall, and otherwise interact more naturally with their world.

The new battle system borrows from the older ATB (Active Time Battle) system, which is more realistic, and more challenging than other FF battle systems. One notable difference between FFX-2 and previous FF incarnations is that the job of a given character can be switched dynamically in battle, by using a Job Change Sphere. Need to change that Pop-Star into a Gunner? No problem. Also, for fans of the battle system in Suqare’s Saga Frontier games, the characters will be able to perform multi-person combinations. The ATB guage will decrease by different fractions depending on the action performed by the character. For instance, a defend will consume a third of the gauge, while using an item will take half of the gauge down.

A large portion of the story involves the hunt for these “spheres,” and if the time honored tradition of character-enhancement-through-sphere-collection holds true, we can be sure that they will result in a more-powerful party. Incidentally, Yuna, Rikku, and Paine will be part of a group of collectors called “Kamome” which aims to collect spheres before their rival group “Le Blanc.” If you have seen screenshots of Le Blanc, you will notice the sexy blonde bearing her breasts to the world (even more than Rikku now does!). Additionally, the Al Bhed airship, the Celsius, will be available at the onset of the adventure. Rumor has it that it will be transformable into a robot-type, and will be vastly explorable (compared to previous FF airships).

As mentioned above, there were originally plans for two FFX sequels – one chronicling Yuna’s adventures in the new world, and the other following Rikku. FFX-2 will be primarily concerned with Yuna, but officials at Square claim that the story leaves room for another sequel if (sales) warrant it.

Two new vocal themes have been announced for FFX-2, which were done by Koda Kumi in Japan. Titled Real Emotion and 1000 Worlds, both songs promise to be great additions to the vast repertoire of music Final Fantasy has accumulated over the years. The OST will be available for purchase in Japan on 31 March 2003.

White Knight, Black Knight, Dark Knight, Fencer, Gunner, Thief, Dancer, Gambler are the eight confirmed classes/jobs which players can have their characters take on in Final Fantasy X-2. Each class will come with a different skill set, and as in previous Final Fantasy games, when a certain class is used, the character keeps their learned skills after a class change.

Final Fantasy X-2 promises to be a fantastic addition to the franchise, and will be aesthetically, as well as intellectually pleasing. Gamers can expect all the classic elements that made Final Fantasy the world’s most popular Role Playing Game. Riddles, battles (that will now involve more of the world map than merely scenery), an intricate story line, and the hallmark of Final Fantasy: an amazing musical score, will come together to make Final Fantasy X-2 a memorable experience.

X-2 is slated for a 13 March 2003 release in Japan, with no word on a stateside release yet (but we all know Square wants our money).

This game, honestly, is going to have to be a lesson for Square Enix. I've never seen them fully repeat a battle system, and this game has the most engaging battle system I've seen so far. Unfortunately, it's behind a rather goofy premise that seems to have turned a lot of players off. The garment grid could have easily become a "Job Grid", stick a few male characters in and you have Final Fantasy XII. Instead, this battle system may end up going to waste in a game that really needs a bit more substance.

Mission-based RPGs, I think, aren't prone to long play. Especially the way this game sets it up, where it prods you to where you need to go. You CAN spend a long time doing the secondary missions, but a lot of the time there's not much of a sense of satisfaction involved with completing them. The story scenes that it gives you for completing them, while funny at times, are not necessary in that basically all of them can be skipped and you won't miss any major plot points.

...Oh, and I just have to point out that whoever decided Wakka and Lulu should be parents together should be shot. NO! EVIL THOUGHTS!

The real selling point for this game, as I discussed above, is that it ties up a lot of loose ends left in FFX. Not necessarily with the big finale, but with a lot of the minor characters that the game took pains to introduce. Seeing a summoner turn into a theme park announcer is a rather interesting end to one of the many mini-storylines. However, the main story takes a backseat most of the game. I could care less, though, because if you pay attention, these people start out to have fun, not to save the world. Yeah, she started because of that one sphere, but it's all because they want to have fun, nothing more. Which is why a lot of the time the story goes away.

However, they manage to create 4 satisfying characters with great chemistry. 4, you ask? I count Brother in this tally because he cracks me up with how blindly in love he seems to be with Yuna. Speaking of Yuna, she's not a boring monotone dullard anymore. She's actually interesting, and she really does seem to have evolved as a person in the two years since FFX. The voice acting helps in this regard. What I DON'T like about the voice acting is how some of the characters sound slightly off from their FFX roots (Wakka) or totally different (Isaaru). I got used to those voices, and now they're all switched up on me.

The music is great, all of it having some sort of a light tone to it befitting the Eternal Calm. Even the big boss theme for the boss my brother's fighting now has some highupness to it. However, there's not enough. It repeats A LOT, and overall feels as if it was more of a "take this theme for these 3 areas" job rather than trying to tailor it to the individual areas. The battle theme sucks, too. Seriously. It doesn't even sound like Nobuo Uematsu composed it. What I like about it though is that it takes a backseat to the rest of the game. So it doesn't get as boring to listen to it the 50,000th time like in FFX.

The ending, unfortunately, is kind of a mixed bag. What many people might be expecting to happen at the end of the story doesn't, and the requirement to complete the game completely (which, to my knowledge, requires use of the New Game + feature, explained below) to see the best ending is a bit excessive.

The New Game + feature is something that Square last used on one of their major projects in Chrono Cross (Thanks to MightyMooQuack and RPGeek for pointing out that it's not Chrono Trigger). In this game, however, you do not keep your levels, only your abilities that you may have gained. This keeps the game from turning into a cakewalk the second time through, but it also makes all the random battles that much more tedious.

And regarding minigames... the more the better. ^_^ I don't see how anyone could complain about minigames.

Overall, I enjoy FFX-2, but I really think they messed up in the way they packaged it. This could have been the chance to prove that FF games DO deserve sequels, but somehow this doesn't seem to prove that point.

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