Real Emotion About an Underrated Gem

I’m going to tell you a story. Now this story is about a Video Game that has been slandered by the Role-Playing Fanbase as being one of the worst games ever created. There are some folks who believe that this is the worst piece of crap that has ever been produced by Square-Enix. Maybe you know what game I’m talking about from the title, or maybe I just gave it away in the intro here, but in case you were totally stumped by my “amazing” hiding skills, I am talking about the one, the only…

Final Fantasy X-2

Now, I bet half or maybe all of you who saw this game come up just rolled your eyes. However, let me be the first to say I’m going to be the one to totally change your mind about this game, and if by some freak accident if I’m not able to, I will concede defeat. So, in classic weeaboo fashion… 行きましょう!(Let’s go!)

The Playable Cast of Final Fantasy X-2

Our story begins roughly 2 Years after the events of Final Fantasy X. (OH YEAH, SPOILER ALERT) After watching Tidus vanish before her in a cloud of pyreflies, Yuna is left heartbroken in this new “Eternal Calm” she has created, where Sin can no longer return. Rikku, Yuna’s bubbly Al Bhed cousin, (A race of humans in this game), finds Yuna one day and shows her an sphere containing a video of what seems to be Tidus in a prison cell, screaming that, “He wants to see her!” Yuna, doing what anyone would do in this situation, *note sarcasm*, decides to run away from her home in Besaid with Rikku, in order to find out the mystery of this sphere, and along with the cliche dark and brooding newcomer that needs to be present in every Final Fantasy game, Paine, they become the Gullwings, a rag-tag group of sphere hunters out to get the treasure. So, yeah, think Charlie’s Angels, but not really.

This is the airship they travel in, The Celsius. Totally inconspicuous, I know.

Throughout the storyline, relationships are tested, alliances are made, enemies slain, blah blah blah saving the world blah blah blah. Look, I’m going to be the first to tell you Final Fantasy X-2 is NOT the best in the story department.

What really set’s apart FFX-2 is it’s GAMEPLAY. Now, for those of you who played Final Fantasy X, you remember a very boring, lackadaisical, I-can-make-a-sandwich-and-consider-my-next-move-thing. With X-2 though, you’d better keep your hand on the controller. X-2 returns to the Active Time Battle system that made Final Fantasy great in the first place. Enemies attack you whilst you are deciding options in battle, and the pace makes Final Fantasy X seem incredibly sluggish in comparison.

One of the best additions in X-2 is the implementation of the DRESSPHERE, oh goodness y’all this is where it gets crazy. The Dressphere is basically a cleverly designed comeback of the Job System from Final Fantasy V. Except this time with PRETTY COSTUMES AND EXPLOSIONS AND AMAZINGNESS, YEAH!!! This feature is nothing short of revolutionary as you can change these jobs even in BATTLE.

Yuna's Many "Dresspheres"

Gone are the Sphere Grids, the slow battles, and every character having a specific role. In X-2, anyone can be anything, which makes battles a lot more fast paced, fun, and frantic.

Besides the battle system, the other aspects of the game are very memorable too. Sure, the classic FF Victory Jingle is gone in place of a poppy win theme. So? Unless you are a hardcore purist, this really shouldn’t be an issue, as it wasn’t for me. The Sound design is great, with an EXPLOSIVE AND AMAZING opening that rivals any Final Fantasy before it’s time. The writing and voice acting is campy at it’s finest, it draws on many pop culture references from Paine saying “Ice Ice Baby” when casting a Blizzard spell, to Rikku whispering “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Rikku” in her Samurai garb.

This is a great example of a quote.

The game looks good for a PS2 game of its era, and runs well with only a few technical hiccups. The mini-games and replay values truly make this one a blast to play. From sensually massaging Leblanc to playing a RIDICULOUSLY hard game called Sphere Grid, that makes me believe Spirians are truly gluttons for punishment. Some of these will make you throw your controller on the ground and maybe even rage quit, but you’ll want to pick it up again very soon for more fun.

Anyways, in short, Final Fantasy X-2 is definitely a GEM of the PS2 era that should NOT be overlooked. It by far deserves the title of a Final Fantasy game, and I guess with that you should try it out yourself and have YRP prove to you that…

“It’s showtime, girls.”

~Daniel Jenkins


Heavenly Gem; Review of Heavenly Sword

I just finished playing a copy of HEAVENLY SWORD that I picked up for $10 a few months back and was more than pleasantly surprised of how awesome it was. This gem of a game had been gathering dust in my tv stand drawer for the better part of last year until I decided to give it a shot over the semester break. I hadn’t expected much. IGN had given it a 7 out of 10 when it came out five years ago. Gamespot was more fair, giving it an 8 out of 10, though user scores were mixed.

All in all, the game was on my radar, but I just didn’t know  how truly awesome it was. We don’t typically review five-year old games on VGHL;  we typically do either recent games or “classic” reviews on games from previous consoles. I thought the blog would be a perfect place to do a written review in our VGHL format.

Story: 9/10. The protagonist, Nariko (voiced by Anna Torv, most noatbly of Fringe) is given a nice pathos. We learn early on of the guilt that she has carried with her since her birth and the trials of redemption her father and mentor have put her through to become the character that she is. There is also an evil King, the antoagonist voiced by Andy Serkis (of Lord of The Rings) who is also a director on the game. Supporting cast is also quite good and fleshed out in cut scenes.

Presentation: 10/10. The graphics are amongst the best of any PS3 title even today, which is impressive for a five-year old game. Nariko’s fighting style is like ballet and battling hundreds of enemies at a time on-screen with no slow down or lag is a delight.

Gameplay: 10/10 Easy to learn, and satisfying to master. The only game to make awesome use of the six axis motion controls, which is an afterthought now to the PS3. It’s the only game that made me wish there were more games that used it as well as Heavenly Sword.

Design: 9/10 Boss fights are quite good. Stages have variety, and there is a good use of QT events without over using it. A minor gripe is that there are a couple of annoying puzzle sections which require too much precision with the six axis, and enemy minions could have had more variety, but what works, works well.

Replay Value: 7/10 There are some sections you will want to replay through to earn three out of three medals awarded for kills and style. You need the majority of these to unlock behind the scenes videos which are worth watching, but after the initial quest is over, you are pretty much done with the game.

Overall Score: 8.5. It would deserve a 9 or even 10 if there were just more of it to play.

Jacob Safari,  Live Producer