Final Fantasy X (ファイナルファンタジーX Fainaru Fantajī Ten?) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) as the tenth title in the Final Fantasy series. It was released in 2001 for Sony's PlayStation 2. The game marks the Final Fantasy series' transition from entirely pre-rendered backdrops to fully three-dimensional areas, and is also the first in the series to feature voice acting. Final Fantasy X replaces the Active Time Battle (ATB) system with a new Conditional Turn-Based Battle (CTB) system, and uses a new leveling system called the "Sphere Grid".
Set in the fantasy world of Spira, the game's story centers around a group of adventurers and their quest to defeat a rampaging monster known as "Sin". The player character is Tidus, a blitzball star who finds himself in Spira after his home city of Zanarkand is destroyed by Sin. During the game, Tidus, along with several others, aids the summoner Yuna on her pilgrimage to destroy Sin.
Development of Final Fantasy X began in 1999, with a budget of more than US$32.3 million and a team of more than 100 people. The game was the first in the main series not entirely scored by Nobuo Uematsu; Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano were signed as Uematsu's fellow composers. Final Fantasy X was both a critical and commercial success. The game has sold 6.32 million units worldwide. In 2003, it was followed by Final Fantasy X-2, making it the first Final Fantasy game to have a direct game sequel.
Like previous games in the series, Final Fantasy X is presented in a third-person perspective, with players directly navigating the main character, Tidus, around the world to interact with objects and people. Unlike previous games, however, the world and town maps have been fully integrated, with terrain outside of cities rendered to scale. When an enemy is encountered, the environment switches to a turn-based battle area where characters and enemies await their turn to attack.
The gameplay of Final Fantasy X differs from that of previous Final Fantasy games in its lack of a top-down perspective world map. Earlier games featured a miniature representation of the expansive areas between towns and other distinct locations, used for long-distance traveling. In Final Fantasy X, almost all the locations are essentially continuous and never fade out to a world map. Regional connections are mostly linear, forming a single path through the game's locations, though an airship becomes available late in the game, giving the player the ability to navigate the world of Spira faster. Like previous games in the series, Final Fantasy X features numerous minigames, most notably the fictional underwater sport "blitzball".
Final Fantasy X introduces the Conditional Turn-Based Battle (CTB) system in place of the series' traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system, first used in Final Fantasy IV. The new system was developed by battle director Toshiro Tsuchida, who had Final Fantasy IV in mind when developing the CTB system. Whereas the ATB concept features real-time elements, the CTB system is a turn-based format that pauses the battle during each of the player's turns. Thus, the CTB design allows the player to select an action without time pressure. A graphical timeline along the upper-right side of the screen details who will be receiving turns next, and how various actions taken will affect the subsequent order of turns. The player can control up to three characters in battle, though a swapping system allows the player to replace them with a character outside the active party at any time. "Limit Breaks", highly damaging special attacks, reappear in Final Fantasy X under the name "Overdrives". In this new incarnation of the feature, most of the techniques are interactive, requiring button inputs to increase their effectiveness.
Final Fantasy X introduces an overhaul of the summoning system employed in previous games of the series. Whereas in previous titles a summoned creature would arrive, perform a single action, and then depart, the "aeons" of Final Fantasy X arrive and entirely replace the battle party, fighting in their place until either the enemy has been slain, the aeon itself has been defeated, or the aeon is dismissed by the player. Aeons have their own statistics, commands, special attacks, spells, and Overdrives. The player acquires five aeons over the course of the game, but three additional aeons can be obtained by completing various side-quests.
As with previous titles in the series, players have the opportunity to develop and improve their characters by defeating enemies and acquiring items, though the traditional experience point system is replaced by a new system called the "Sphere Grid". Instead of characters gaining pre-determined statistic bonuses for their attributes after leveling up, each character gains a "sphere level" after collecting enough ability points (AP). Sphere levels allow players to move around the Sphere Grid, a predetermined grid of interconnected nodes consisting of various statistic and ability bonuses. Items called "spheres" are applied to these nodes, unlocking its function for the selected character.
The Sphere Grid system also allows players to fully customize characters in contrast to their intended battle roles, such as turning the White Mage Yuna into a physical powerhouse and the swordsman Auron into a healer. The International and PAL versions of the game include an optional "Expert" version of the Sphere Grid; in these versions, all of the characters start in the middle of the grid and may follow whichever path the player chooses. As a trade-off, the Expert grid has fewer nodes in total, thus decreasing the total statistic upgrades available during the game.
Final Fantasy X is set in the fictional world of "Spira", and it consists of one large landmass divided into three subcontinents, surrounded by small tropical islands. It features diverse climates, ranging from the tropical Besaid and Kilika islands to the temperate Mi'ihen region to the frigid Macalania and Mt. Gagazet. Although it is predominantly populated by humans, Spira features a variety of races. Among them are the Al Bhed, a technologically advanced but disenfranchised sub-group of humans with distinctive green eyes and unique language. The Guado are less human in appearance, with elongated fingers and other differences. Still less human in appearance are the large, lion-like Ronso, and the frog-like Hypello. A subset of the sentient races of Spira are the "unsent"—the strong-willed spirits of the dead who remain in corporeal form. It is explained that the dead who are not "sent" to the Farplane by a summoner come to envy the living and transform into "fiends", the monsters that are encountered throughout the game. However, those with strong attachments may remain in human form as unsent. Other fauna in Spira, aside from those drawn from real animals, such as cats, dogs, birds, and butterflies, include the gigantic, amphibious "shoopuf", and the emu-like chocobo, which appears in most Final Fantasy games. Spira is very different from the mainly European-style worlds found in previous Final Fantasy games, being much more closely modeled on Southeast Asia, most notably with respect to vegetation, topography, architecture, and names.
There are seven main playable characters in Final Fantasy X. Tidus is a cheerful young teenager and the star blitzball player for the Zanarkand Abes. He has long resented his father, a renowned blitzball player who disappeared during Tidus's youth. Yuna is the daughter of the High Summoner Braska, who defeated Sin to bring about the Calm, a time of peace. Yuna embarks on a pilgrimage to obtain the final aeon and defeat Sin. Kimahri Ronso is a young warrior of the Ronso tribe who watched over Yuna during her childhood. Wakka is a blitzball player and devout follower of the Yevon order. Lulu is a stoic and self-possessed, but well-meaning Black Mage. Auron is a taciturn former warrior monk, and finally Rikku is a perky Al Bhed girl with extensive knowledge of machinery. The primary antagonists of the game are Maester Seymour Guado and the other maesters of the Yevon religion, while the enormous whale-like monster Sin serves as the primary source of conflict.
Final Fantasy X begins late in the story, with the main character, Tidus, waiting with his allies outside the ruined city of Zanarkand. Tidus narrates the series of events leading up to his present situation, which spans most of the game's storyline. It begins in Tidus' home city, the unruined and high-tech Zanarkand, where he is a renowned star of the underwater sport blitzball. During a blitzball tournament, the city is attacked by an immense creature shrouded in water known as Sin. The city is destroyed, and Tidus and Auron are taken by Sin to the world of Spira.
After arriving in Spira, Tidus is rescued by Al Bhed divers in the area, and upon asking where he is from, one of them, Rikku, tells him that Zanarkand had been destroyed 1000 years earlier. After another attack by Sin, Tidus is separated from the divers and drifts to the tropical island of Besaid, where he meets Wakka, the captain of the local blitzball team. Wakka introduces Tidus to Yuna, a young summoner planning a pilgrimage to defeat Sin, who is described as mankind's punishment for their sins. Accompanying Yuna are her guardians, Lulu, Wakka, and Kimahri, while Tidus joins to help Wakka in the upcoming blitzball tournament and find a way to return home. The party travels to gather aeons, defending against attacks by Sin. They are joined by Auron, who convinces Tidus to become Yuna's guardian. He reveals to Tidus that Yuna's father, Lord Braska; Tidus's father, Jecht; and himself made the same pilgrimage and defeated Sin ten years ago. Tidus thought his father had died at sea ten years earlier. Following more encounters with Sin, they are joined by Rikku, who is revealed to be Yuna's cousin. Throughout the pilgrimage, Tidus and Yuna draw close through their shared experiences and mutual interest.
When the party arrives in the Guado city Guadosalam, Seymour proposes to Yuna, who accepts as she intends to give Spira hope. In the Macalania's temple, the group sees a message from Seymour's late father. He declares he was killed by his son, and that Seymour's evil nature will destroy Spira. The group reunites with Yuna to engage Seymour in battle and they kill him; soon afterward, Sin attacks the group and they lose track of Yuna. While searching for her, Tidus learns that a summoner must give their life to perform the "Final Summoning", leading to his desire to find a way to defeat Sin that would not result in Yuna's death. The group finds Yuna in Bevelle, where she is forced to marry the now unsent Seymour. They interrupt the wedding and escape with Yuna. The group is captured, and ordered to stand trial. After being forced to escape, the group heads towards Zanarkand.
In the journey, Tidus learns that he, Jecht, and the Zanarkand they hail from are summoned entities akin to aeons based on the original Zanarkand and its people. Long ago, the original Zanarkand battled Bevelle, in a war in which the former was defeated. Zanarkand's survivors became "fayth" so that they could use their memories of Zanarkand to create a new city in their image, removed from the warfare on the Spira mainland. One thousand years after its creation, the fayth have become tired of the summoning of their Zanarkand, but are unable to stop as two of its people, Tidus and Jecht, came into contact with Sin, and until its defeat, the summoning will not stop.
Once the player completes Yuna's pilgrimage, Lady Yunalesca—the first summoner to have defeated Sin and has been unsent ever since then—tells the group that the Final Aeon is created from the spirit of one close to a summoner. After defeating Sin, the Final Aeon transforms it into a new Sin, which has caused its cycle of rebirth to continue. The group decides against using the Final Aeon due to the sacrificies it would carry and the fact that Sin would still be reborn. Disappointed by their resolution, Yunalesca tries to kill Tidus' group, but she is defeated and vanishes. They then seek a new way to permanently destroy Sin that will not require any sacrifices. The group learns what makes Sin possess the Final Aeon is Yu Yevon, a summoner who lost his humanity and is only able to summon Sin. This leads the group to enter Sin's body and battle the now absorbed Seymour and Jecht's imprisoned spirit. With Sin's hosts defeated, Tidus' group battles and defeats Yu Yevon. Sin's cycle of rebirth ends, and the spirits of Spira's fayth are freed from their imprisonment. The Unsent Auron goes to the Farplane, having died years ago following an encounter with Lady Yunalesca. Just then, Dream Zanarkand and Tidus disappear because the now free fayth stop the summoning. Afterward, in a speech to the citizens of Spira, Yuna resolves to help rebuild the world now that it is free of Sin. After the credits, there is a brief scene with Tidus underwater. He opens his eyes and begins swimming upward, and the screen fades to white. This scene segues into the sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, in which Yuna investigates Tidus' possible survival in order to continue their relationship.
Development for Final Fantasy X began in 1999, costing approximately ¥4 billion (approximately US$32.3 million) with a crew of more than 100 people, most of whom worked on previous games in the series. Executive producer Hironobu Sakaguchi has stated that although he had concerns about the transition from 2D to 3D backgrounds, the voice acting, and the transition to real-time story-telling, the success of the Final Fantasy series can be attributed to constantly challenging the development team to try new things. The development of the script was much longer than the ones from previous games due to the addition of the voice actors. Scenario writer Kazushige Nojima was particularly concerned with establishing a connection in the relationship between the player and main character. Thus, he penned the story such that the player's progress through the world and growing knowledge about it is reflected in Tidus' own understanding and narration. Nojima collaborated with three other staff members on writing the scenario for Final Fantasy X, the process of which took about three to four months. The game was initially going to feature online elements, offered through Square's PlayOnline service. The features, however, were dropped during production, and online gaming would not become part of the Final Fantasy series until Final Fantasy XI.
Map director Takayoshi Nakazato wanted to implement a world map concept with a more realistic approach than that of the traditional Final Fantasy game, in-line with the realism of the game's 3D backgrounds, as opposed to pre-rendered backgrounds. As a player of the games in the Final Fantasy series, battle director Toshiro Tsuchida wanted to recreate elements he found interesting or he felt was entertaining, which eventually led to the removal of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, and instead, incorporated the strategy-focused Conditional Turn-Based Battle (CTB) system. Originally, Final Fantasy X was going to feature wandering enemies visible on the field map, seamless transitions into battles, and the option for players to move around the landscape during enemy encounters. Battle art director Shintaro Takai has explained that it was his intention that battles in Final Fantasy X come across as a natural part of the story and not an independent element. However, due to hardware and system limitations, these ideas were not used until Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII. Instead, a compromise was made, whereby some transitions from the field screen to battle arenas were made relatively seamless with the implementation of a motion blur effect. The desire for seamless transitions also led to the implementation of the new summoning system seen in the game. Yoshinori Kitase has explained that the purpose behind the Sphere Grid is to give players an interactive means of increasing their characters' attributes, such that they will be able to observe the development of those attributes firsthand.
Character designer Tetsuya Nomura has identified the South Pacific, Thailand, and Japan as major influences on the cultural and geographic design of Spira, particularly concerning the geographic location of the southern islands; Besaid and Kilika. He has also said that Spira deviates from the worlds of past Final Fantasy games in the level of detail incorporated, something he has expressed to have made a conscious effort to maintain during the design process. Producer Yoshinori Kitase felt that if the setting went back to a medieval European fantasy, it would not seem to help the development team advance. While he was thinking of different world environments, Nojima suggested a fantasy world that incorporated Asian elements. Sub-character chief designer Fumi Nakashima's focus was to ensure that characters from different regions and cultures bore distinctive characteristics in their clothing styles, so that they could be quickly and easily identified as members of their respective sub-groups. For example, she has said that the masks and goggles of the Al Bhed give the group a "strange and eccentric" appearance, while the attire of the Ronso lend to them being able to easily engage in battle.
Final Fantasy X features innovations in the rendering of characters' facial expressions, achieved through motion capture and skeletal animation technology. This technology allowed animators to create realistic lip movements, which were then programmed to match the speech of the game's voice actors. Nojima has revealed that the inclusion of voice acting enabled him to express emotion more powerfully than before, and he was therefore able to keep the storyline simple. He also said that the presence of voice actors led him to make various changes to the script, in order to match the voice actors' personalities with the characters they were portraying. The inclusion of voice, however, led to difficulties. With the game's cut scenes already programmed around the Japanese voice work, the English localization team faced the difficulty of establishing English-oriented dialogue and the obstacle of incorporating this modified wording with the rhythm and timing of the characters' lip movements. Localization specialist Alexander O. Smith described the process of fitting natural-sounding English speech into the game as "something akin to writing four or five movies worth of dialogue entirely in haiku form [and] of course the actors had to act, and act well, within those restraints.
Final Fantasy X marks the first time regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu has had any assistance in composing the score for a game in the main series. His fellow composers for Final Fantasy X were Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. They were chosen for the soundtrack based on their ability to create music that was different from Uematsu's style while still being able to work together. PlayOnline.com first revealed that the game's theme song was completed in November 2000. As Square still had not revealed who would sing the song, GameSpot personally asked Uematsu who jokingly answered "It's going to be Rod Stewart."
The game features three songs with vocalized elements, including the J-pop ballad "Suteki da ne", which translates to "Isn't it Wonderful?". The lyrics were written by Kazushige Nojima, and the instrumentals were composed by Uematsu. The song is performed by Japanese folk singer Rikki, whom the music team contacted while searching for a singer whose music reflected an Okinawan atmosphere. "Suteki da ne" is also sung in Japanese in the English version of Final Fantasy X. Like "Eyes on Me" from Final Fantasy VIII and "Melodies of Life" from Final Fantasy IX, an orchestrated version of "Suteki da ne" is used as part of the ending theme. The other songs with lyrics are the heavy metal opening theme, "Otherworld", sung in English by Bill Muir, and "Hymn of the Fayth", a recurring piece sung using Japanese syllabary.
The original soundtrack spanned four discs and 91 tracks. It was first released in Japan on August 1, 2001, by DigiCube, and was re-released on May 10, 2004, by Square Enix. In 2002, Tokyopop released a version of Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack in North America entitled Final Fantasy X Official Soundtrack, which contained 17 tracks from the original album on a single disk. Other related CDs include feel/Go dream: Yuna & Tidus which, released in Japan by DigiCube on October 11, 2001, featured tracks based on Tidus' and Yuna's characters. Piano Collections Final Fantasy X, another collection of music from the game, and Final Fantasy X Vocal Collection, a compilations of exclusive character dialogues and songs were both in Japan in 2002.
The Black Mages, a band led by Nobuo Uematsu that arranges music from Final Fantasy video games into a rock music style, have arranged three pieces from Final Fantasy X. These are "Fight With Seymour" from their self-titled album, published in 2003, and "Otherworld" and "The Skies Above", both of which can be found on the album The Skies Above, published in 2004. Uematsu continues to perform certain pieces in his Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy concert series. The music of Final Fantasy X has also appeared in various official concerts and live albums, such as 20020220 Music from Final Fantasy, a live recording of an orchestra performing music from the series including several pieces from the game. Additionally, "Swing de Chocobo" was performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for the Distant Worlds – Music from Final Fantasy concert tour, while "Zanarkand" was performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in the Tour de Japon: Music from Final Fantasy concert series. Independent but officially licensed releases of Final Fantasy X music have been composed by such groups as Project Majestic Mix, which focuses on arranging video game music. Selections also appear on Japanese remix albums, called dojin music, and on English remixing websites.
Versions and merchandise
The Japanese version of Final Fantasy X included an additional disc entitled "The Other Side of Final Fantasy", which featured interviews, storyboards, and trailers for Blue Wing Blitz, Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, as well as the first footage of Final Fantasy XI. An international version of the game was released in Japan as Final Fantasy X International in January 2002, and in PAL territories under its original title. It features content not available in the original NTSC releases, including battles with "dark" versions of the game's aeons and an airship fight with the superboss "Penance". The Japanese release of Final Fantasy X International also includes "Eternal Calm", a 14 minute video clip bridging the story of Final Fantasy X with that of its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2. The video clip was included in a bonus DVD for Unlimited Saga Collector's Edition under the name Eternal Calm, Final Fantasy X-2: Prologue. It was first released in Europe on October 31, 2003, and featured English voice-overs.
The international and PAL versions include a bonus DVD called Beyond Final Fantasy, a disc including interviews with the game's developers, and two of the game's English voice actors, James Arnold Taylor (Tidus) and Hedy Burress (Yuna). Also included are trailers for Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts, a concept and promotional art gallery for the game, and a music video of "Suteki da ne" performed by Rikki. In 2005, a compilation featuring Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 was released in Japan as Final Fantasy X/X-2 Ultimate Box.
Square also produced various types of merchandise and several books, including The Art of Final Fantasy X and three Ultimania guides, a series of artbooks/strategy guides published by DigiCube in Japan. They feature original artwork from Final Fantasy X, offer gameplay walkthroughs, expand upon many aspects of the game's storyline and feature several interviews with the game's designers. There are three books in the series: Final Fantasy X Scenario Ultimania, Final Fantasy X Battle Ultimania, and Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω.
Due to its commercial and critical success, Square Enix released a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X in 2003, titled Final Fantasy X-2. The sequel is set two years after the conclusion of Final Fantasy X, establishing new conflicts and dilemmas and resolving loose ends left by the original game. As a result of the title's popularity, Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima decided to establish a plot-related connection between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII, another well-received Final Fantasy game.
The advancements in portraying realistic emotions achieved with Final Fantasy X through voice-overs and detailed facial expressions have since become a staple of the series, with Final Fantasy X-2 and other subsequent titles (such as Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XII) also featuring this development. Traversing real-time 3D environments instead of an overworld map has also become a standard of the series, as demonstrated in Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII.