Final Fantasy X was the series' first foray into the sixth console generation. Unusual for the series, it was a launch title for the PlayStation 2. Most remembered for being the first fully-voiced entry and for garnering then-obscure voice actor James Arnold Taylor some attention. Music was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, Nobuo Uematsu, and Junya Nakano, with arrangements from Shiro Hamaguchi and Hirosato Noda.
The plot opens in the Mega City of Zanarkand, where a cheerful sports star named Tidus is preparing for a game of blitzball, a sci-fi combination of rugby and water polo. No sooner has the game begun than a giant sphere of watery doom engulfs the city and reduces it to neon kindling.
In the ensuing chaos, Tidus is sucked into a portal and reawakens in the pre-industrial world of Spira. According to the locals, his home still exists in Spira, but as ruins: it was destroyed one thousand years previously.
Tidus soon learns of Sin, an invincible aquatic Goliath which attacked Zanarkand and now terrorizes Spira, bringing destruction without reason and keeping them locked in the dark ages. Only one method exists to defend against it: A ritual which allows a "summoner" to temporarily destroy Sin and grant the world a period of respite from its wrath (the "Calm") before its inevitable return. Finding himself smitten with a young summoner named Yuna and hoping to find a way back home, Tidus agrees to become one of her guardians and accompany her on her pilgrimage across Spira; a journey which ends in the holy ruins of Zanarkand.
X split from the previous games in almost every way. To start with, it eschewed a Class and Level System for a Point Build System: Characters share a mammoth Skill Tree (the Sphere Grid) which they navigate by consuming Ability Points won in battle. Along the way, you activate nodes that award new skills or stat increases. Some branches are blocked off until you uncover keys, but in the late-game, you can invade another character's section of the Grid and learn their abilities. Everyone starts out the game in a specific 'job' (e.g White Mage, Samurai, Thief), but they can potentially do anything apart from summon (only Yuna can do that) or learn each other's Limit Breaks ("Overdrives").
X also departs from Active Time Battles for a Combatant Cooldown System with the turn order displayed in a corner, giving players as much time as they want to ponder their next action. More importantly, you can swap out any of your characters mid-battle; since the guardians always travel together, there's no need for characters to split up or spend the game cooling their heels in an airship.
X takes a minimalist, though still pretty abstract, approach to equipment: You only have a weapon and a gauntlet, and both come with attributes that a worn "Accessory" previously would. Some pieces come with empty slots that can be filled with whatever, provided you have the needed items.
Summons are no longer a glorified magic spell, but instead a clan of mons (Aeons) who automatically join you during your travels, along with a few hidden ones Yuna can seek out. Each one functions as a playable character once summoned, along with their own HP, Overdrive, and spell list. Later on, you get the power to teach them moves and boost their stats, but it has little effect, and Aeons are far outclassed by the guardians by the end. (They can be useful as meat shields, though...)
No modern FF is complete without mini-games, and X's were more time-intensive than ever; mainly unlocking and fixing the best weapons (you can't earn AP when wielding one until you re-energize it). The most famous of these, and certainly the most enjoyable, is the Blitzball tourneys. After a certain event, each save point adds the option to put the story on hold and play a few matches. Each town has its own team and you have the chance to recruit those players, who roam the world as NPCs, when their contracts expire. There are a lot of free agents hiding in the game, too, so it pays to approach everybody to see if they play, similar to the card games of old.
X was successful enough to go against form and inspire a direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, which takes place two years after X and stars two of the three main female characters from that game.
The plot is noticably similar to that of an earlier Squaresoft title, Bahamut Lagoon, which is lampshaded by X's Global Airship: the Fahrenheit (though it is never explicitly named in either game.) The airship in Bahamut Lagoon is also called Fahrenheit. What's more, the airship used throughout X-2 is named the Celsius.
The PAL or "International" version of the game included more Bonus Bosses to fight, along with an "Expert" mode with a new Sphere Grid: there are fewer nodes and everybody starts out close to each other. It provides an early opportunity to mold characters Final Fantasy II-style, and isn't hard to use if you know what you're doing, but a beginner will wander around aimlessly without a goal in mind. HD ports of the game and its sequel were released for the PlayStation 3 and Vita in 2014; the production team used character models made from scratch instead of simply upscaling the old ones. A PlayStation 4 version was released on May 12, 2015: this release gives players a choice between the newly-rearranged soundtrack (which not everyone was wild about) and the original soundtrack. The compilation was then brought to Steam in May 2016. Finally, ports to the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One were released on April 11, 2019 in Japan and Asia and April 16, 2019 elsewhere.
This game contains examples of:
- "...And that, as they say, is that."