I’ve had my fair share of bad relationships. The common theme between all of them is that they started out great. The beginning part to a romantic relationship is arguably the best part, everything is new and fresh and exciting – little innocuous quirks about each other only serve to inspire adoration, even becoming endearing qualities to each other.
Then something happens. Those little quirks start you drive you fucking insane. Things that started as mere charming attributes now make you cringe every time they come up, and you find yourself forcing yourself not to scream when you’re around the person. Maybe that’s just me.
Well, that is about where I am right now with Final Fantasy X. I feel like I fell asleep on the bus and woke up not recognizing where I am. But the driver is Satan and he’s driving us on a road straight to Hell, paved with all the best intentions in the universe. Let me stop the metaphors and explain some of those points that are pushing me over the edge.
I don’t consider myself a fan of the Final Fantasy series – I loved Final Fantasy VII, but I played it first as a young kid and had a nostalgic connection to it. To this day it’s one of my favorite games of all time, but that would have probably never happened had I not had prior experience with it. I briefly played FFX probably back in late high school with a good buddy of mine, and I had some good memories of that – although the gameplay never got past a few hours in, at most. I’m way past that in my current playthrough and the little flaws that I wrote off as “charm” of the game are starting to wear me down.
First of all, Blitzball. I cannot figure out how they took such a cool concept for a game and turned it into an awful 2D soccer game that’s more confusing than Sudoku on drugs. It’s an absolutely nightmare that only took about an hour before I decided I never wanted to play it again – and thank god you only have to play it once.
Speaking of Blitzball, what’s the deal with a floating sphere of water? And how can the players breathe underwater? This question was burning on my mind for a while, so I looked it up and learned that the players train for years to be able to hold their breath. This is weird to me and sounds like a cheap answer, but I’ll suspend disbelief here for the reason that “Fantasy” is in the game title. It sounds cool and all “futuristic” enough, but there’s so much to it that’s convenient that it bothers me.
On the subject of the characters – I cannot find anything likable about anyone, with the exception of Auron, who I feel could have easily been the protagonist of this game and no harm would have been done from leaving out Tidus entirely. He doesn’t seem to have any purpose – the plot of the game would have moved along just fine if he had never stumbled onto the beaches of Besaid. He only has one major tie-in to the story, but so does Auron.
More on the characters, let’s talk about the weird pacing of the cutscenes. I have a suspicion that when the game was translated into English, there were some segments where the English words were simply much longer or shorter than the Japanese equivalent. As a result, during conversation, you have these weird gaps between speech, presumably because the developers didn’t want to have to re-do all of the conversation animations. This also results in dreadfully rushed dialogue, and it actually happens quite a bit. As a result, there’s no flow in the conversation and it’s incredibly awkward to witness. Lines that are supposed to be meaningful can just be blurted out completely, like when Rikku was expressing her frustration while explaining the intentions of the Al Bhed. It was so painful to watch.
Going back more to the gameplay, let’s focus on the trials. Trials are the weirdest and most pointless wastes of time I’ve ever been exposed to in an RPG. The premise is that you have to remove and place little orbs on pedestal, which can be moved around for.. some reason. It’s a little mini-game that can last up to a half hour each, depending on whether or not you know what you’re doing. The puzzles simply aren’t fun to me and seem to exist solely to burn time and break the story up.
Honestly, they should have just called them “Trial and Errors” since that seems to be the preferred method to solve them. They are all set up in such a way that if you break the puzzle, you simply reset and try again. But why not engineer the puzzles in such a way that the player can fix the puzzle on his or her own, instead of just letting them try again? This means the puzzle is ostensibly a guessing game.
Oh yeah, and who the hell engineered these trials in the first place? Who is going in there and resetting them? It just doesn’t have any place in the game’s lore and it makes me sigh and shrug my shoulders whenever I’m thrown into one. About an hour of gameplay ago I was unfortunately subjected to the Bevelle Cloister of Trials. This bizarre Tron-like trial and error mini-game has you repeatedly floating down passageways, timing button presses with arrows to change direction. It’s maddeningly frustrating and it took me 25 minutes to complete – WITH A GUIDE. I probably would have quit if it weren’t for GameFAQs.
I wanted to love this game as much as VII, I really did, and I won’t say I hate it, because I don’t at all. But the small things are killing me and I just need to be done. It’s been suckling at the teat of my sanity and left me with sore, chapped nipples. I’ll look back on these days and laugh (with a Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild in my hands), but until then, I just need an escape plan.
Final Fantasy X, the honeymoon phase wore off long ago, and I think I’m ready to start clearing my stuff from your apartment. Slowly, of course, so you don’t notice. I’ve lost enough god damn hoodies to know, this is a time to be cautious. I’m going to slowly begin severing ties, and then one day I’m blocking your number and never answering your emails again. That time is getting here, closer every day.