Just two weeks before the end of the current fiscal year, Square will release what might become their best selling game of the year: Final Fantasy X-2. Since the original announcement, a steady stream of new information about the sequel to Final Fantasy X has surfaced.
Firstly, Final Fantasy X-2 will feature two theme songs, “Real Emotion?and ?000 no Kotoba?(1000 Words). “Real Emotion?will be composed by Nobuo Yamauchi and arranged by h-wonder with KennKato providing the lyrics. Lyrics for ?000 no Kotoba?will be the creation of Final Fantasy X-2's scenario writer Kazushige Nojima. The song will be composed by Noriko Matsueda and arranged by Takahito Eguchi. Matsueda and Eguchi will also serve as the game's composers.
Paine, the previously unknown third main character, will join Yuna and Rikku on their quest. An 18-year old fencer, Paine appears to be a bit of a tomboy with her short hair and style of clothing. Her voice and personality will also be reminiscent of Lulu. As previously speculated in Final Fantasy X: Another Story, Lulu is indeed married to Wakka and is pregnant with his child. Khimari will also make an appearance in the sequel, however it is unknown whether he will be a playable character. Perhaps most importantly, Tidus is back. The trailer from this year's JUMP Festa in Tokyo shows Tidus and Yuna escaping from a military squad, though it remains to be seen in what form Final Fantasy X's protagonist will eventually return.
In FFX-2, Yuna, Rikku and Paine are all members of the Kamone Group, an organization of sphere hunters. Spheres are important records of Spira’s history and culture, but are scattered across the face of the planet. On their journey, Yuna and co. will travel aboard the Celsius, a red airship controlled by Daichi and Aniki. Other non-playable characters aboard the Celsius include Shinra, a genius young Al-Bhed and Master, a blue alien-like creature. The Kamone Group's rival is the Le Branc Clan, named after its female leader. Her two henchmen are Uno and Sono.
While there is still little information regarding the new areas featured in Final Fantasy X-2, one has recently been revealed. Simply called “Under Bevelle? the first of these new locations seems to be predominantly dark and gloomy with only ambient light illuminating the murals on the walls.
As a first in the series, Final Fantasy X-2 will give players a great deal of freedom in how they chose to play the game by introducing the “Mission Select?system. This divides the entire adventure into individual episodes that can be completed in any order. After successfully completing one of these quests, a mission complete screen will appear. To ensure the seamless flow of the plot, Yoshinori Kitase's team has implemented the “Active Link?system, which will dynamically connect the different episodes. That way, the newly gained freedom of this open-ended system won't result in a fragmented story.
Final Fantasy X-2’s battle system will herald the return of traditional elements as well as several new concepts. The Active Time Battle (ATB) system will return after being replaced by Tochiro Tsuchida's more strategy-oriented turn-based battles of Final Fantasy X. Unlike previous installments, the enemies in Final Fantasy X-2 will be able to move their position after carrying out an attack. Along with the ATB, classic FF jobs will be implemented into character development. Thus far, players can assume the classes of White Knight, Black Knight, Dancer, Fencer, Gunner and Thief through the “Dress Up?system. By changing a character's costume, you automatically change his or her job. Executing “Dress Up?however, requires the use of so-called Dress Spheres. By default, Yuna is a Gunner, Rikku is a Thief and Paine is a Fencer. As a Thief, Rikku will be able to steal all kinds of things, ranging from items over time to MP from her foes. As a Fencer, Paine will have abilities like Auron’s Armor Break at her disposal.
FFX-2’s battle system also allows players to use chain attacks, which can inflict large amounts of damage. Chains also allow players to have all three characters strike a foe at the same time. While Paine executes an Armor Break, Rikku rushes forward to steal an item and Yuna fires her guns. Unlike traditional Active Time Battles, characters immediately respond to the inserted command instead of waiting. Gunners will be able to pull off chain attacks on their own through the ability called “quick trigger? Depending on whether you choose to execute a special ability or use an item, the AT gauge's length will change. An AT gauge with a reduced length will lead to quicker execution of the inputted command.
Interestingly enough, the JUMP Festa trailer featured a scene showing the dragon Bahamut attacking a group of enemies. Since the Fayth, along with the Aeons, vanished at the end of Final Fantasy X, it was believed that monster summoning would not be a part of FFX-2. Since this has been one of the series' trademarks since Final Fantasy IV we were happy to see that some form of the tradition will continue Final Fantasy X-2.
While there is little doubt that this latest addition to the world's most popular RPG series will eventually make its way across the Pacific, no official announcement has been made. Despite being a sequel, Final Fantasy X-2 is shaping up to become a truly creative game with plenty of new features to look forward to. Hopefully Square EA LLC will officially announce the domestic release by E3 2003.
The story of Final Fantasy X-2 began in May of 2002, shortly after Square sent the series online with Final Fantasy XI. The company began talking about a sequel (or to be precise, two sequels) to the game's predecessor, Final Fantasy X, namely Final Fantasy X Rikku and Yuna version. Time passed and despite rampant speculations, the first direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game was a no-show at this year's Tokyo Game Show. Apart from a teaser poster showing a gun-wielding Yuna and two mysterious silhouettes, there was no sign of either games. It was only a few days before Square's Game Meeting 2002 Autumn that the first details about the direct sequel to Final Fantasy X surfaced.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Final Fantasy X-2 will be another creation of Square’s development team 1 under the leadership of Yoshinori Kitase and director Motomu Toriyama. This marks the return of the majority of the staff including character designer, Tetsuya Nomura and scenario writer, Kazushige Nojima. Unfortunately there are some notable exceptions. Battle director, Toshiro Tsuchida (famous for his work in Square’s Front Mission series) will not lend his talents to Final Fantasy X-2. Whether the strategy-oriented battle concept he pioneered in FFX will return in FFX-2 is at this point, unknown. The “three composer-one soundtrack?strategy utilized for Final Fantasy X and XI won't be continued with X-2; instead, the duo of Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi will compose the score. This marks the first Final Fantasy soundtrack without Nobuo Uematsu at the helm.
As speculated, Final Fantasy X-2 is the continuation of the prelude indicated in Final Fantasy X Another Story: a bonus disc included with the Japanese version of Final Fantasy X International. Final Fantasy X-2 is set two years after the events of Final Fantasy X. In this time, technology has replaced the teachings of Yevon. The spirits known as Aeons have vanished from Spira and former summoner Yuna is about to embark on another voyage. When Yuna receives a sphere recording from her former guardian Tidus - now held captive, she sets out for a journey to find her beloved with guns blazing. In the beginning of the adventure, players will meet several familiar faces at a familiar place: the island of Besaid. While Yuna now sports a sexy new outfit, hairdo and pistols, Wakka has apparently gained a few pounds. The only character from Final Fantasy X that has been confirmed to return in a major playable role is Rikku. She will join Yuna as well as a third, undisclosed, female in the journey to save Tidus. Not unlike Charlie’s Angels, Final Fantasy X-2 will sport a tempting trio.
Final Fantasy X-2 will use the same graphics engine as its forefather, but since the development team has had more than a year and a half to tweak the engine, expect FFX-2's graphics to surpass its prequel. RPG fans familiar with the world of Spira will find a few familiar locales as well as a whole host of new environments to explore in gorgeous real-time polygons. Some areas, such as Kilika (which was destroyed by Sin in FFX) will undergo a facelift while entirely new ones will be added, but the world is still the same as in Final Fantasy X.
While it is hard to imagine a Final Fantasy soundtrack without a single tune from Nobuo Uematsu, Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi are capable composers in their own right, having worked on the soundtrack for The Bouncer among other Square games. Following the trend set in Final Fantasy X and Unlimited SaGa, Final Fantasy X-2 will feature voice acting and the original seiyuu are also expected to return. As previously mentioned, Toshiro Tsuchida won't return as battle director and anyone looking for Overkills, Overdrives or the Sphere Grid will be disappointed as none of them will appear in FFX-2. In another first for the series, Square decided to implement action elements during field map exploration. These actions include a variety of platforming acrobatics, as the previously idle environments are now capable of changing over time. In the trailer shown at the Game Meeting 2002 Autumn, Yuna is shown jumping over a gap, which appeared as a bridge collapsed right in front of her. Though unlike Kingdom Hearts?Sora’s precise platforming, Yuna will jump automatically to overcome any obstacle with only press a button.
Final Fantasy X-2 represents many new paradigms for Square. Not only is it the first direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game, it is also the first in the series to feature action elements as well as the first to have changing environments. Though, not quite as exciting is the fact that FFX-2 marks the first Final Fantasy without Nobuo Uematsu composing. Despite breaking all the norms, FFX-2 won't break with one tradition: hours upon hours of gameplay. Considering that many companies don't feel the need to implement any new or innovative features into a sequel apart from enhanced visuals, Square can only be applauded for developing another title bursting with fresh ideas. Final Fantasy X-2 is slated for release in Japan on March 2003 and Square EA LLC has yet to comment on a domestic release. Taking into account that Final Fantasy X was localized in five months, Final Fantasy X-2 might be available on this side of the Pacific as early as next summer.
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Main Character Design: Tetsuya Nomura
Logo Illustration: ©2002 Yoshitaka Amano