Oh yes. This is what I spent my time doing, during my wait for Skyrim. While, as a full disclaimer, I have not finished Final Fantasy X-2, I'm currently distracted by school work and Skyrim (oddly enough, those things don't mix especially well), and therefore figure I should write what I have done, and I think after around 20 or so hours, I have seen most of what this game has thrown at me from a mechanical perspective, and any or all remaining story points have been discovered through the use of youtube and wikipedia. Honestly though, I'm writing this blog for no other reason than to justify the time I have spent with this game, time that could've been spent doing the essay that I am currently blowing off by writing this piece, ironically enough.
People who have been following my writing on this site know that JRPGs are not my forte, with most of my favorite titles in that genre being well-known SNES-era stuff, like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. While I have mined the deepest darkest depths of obscurity as far as CRPGs are concerned, the last JRPG I beat was Persona 3 FES when the endurance run was going on 2 years ago. I've played other stuff more recently, obviously. Pokemon Black is still pokemon to its own detriment, and Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is still hard (but yes, I will finish that at some point too), but I have oddly never had much interest in ever playing any of the games in the Final Fantasy franchise from the PS1-forward for any length of time. Chalk it down to me not having a PS2 until 2 years ago, my extreme aversion to Nomura's character designs, the obnoxious, unlikable characters that inhabit those designs, or this, but that has always been a series that has never seemed like it was for me... until now?
In some way, yes. Final Fantasy X-2 is the perfect, post-SNES Final Fantasy game for me, and I like it far more than I honestly should, given that its extremely stupid. While I think that the stories of all FF games are, on some level, excessively stupid self-pleasuring melodramatic nonsense that would only appeal to 13 year old wannabe otakus*, the general stupidity of FFX-2 extends beyond even that in a manner that I still have trouble deciding how self aware it actually is. It's an odd thing, whereas everything about Final Fantasy X makes it seem like something I would rather shoot myself in the foot than actually play*, Final Fantasy X-2 goes so over the top that it devours itself and instead becomes a gold mine of ironic enjoyment, and being the sad, cynical young adult I am, this stuff is like candy. Irony candy. Mmmmm...
*: The prior statements were hyperbolic in nature and used for literary effect. Please don't hurt me.
For the uninformed, I am of course referring to the game's blatant use of delicious, pandering fan service in favor of anything resembling a coherent plot. The protagonist in this one is Yuna, who I am to understand was the "Tragic Love Interest" of the last game. Except now she wears hot pants and searches for magical spheres that change clothing! Did I mention that the game starts with her singing a nonsensical J-Pop song at a concert? Joining her is resident jailbait Rikku and "She wears black if you're into that kind of thing" emo lady Paine. While people who actually like Final Fantasy X weren't a fan of how some of the returning characters are portrayed in this game, I am not one of them and therefore cackle with sociopathic glee every time one of the characters acts stupid or does something stupid that no actual rational human being would actually do. This is reflected in the plot, which doesn't actually reach its main thread until a little less than halfway through, and even then the length of the game seems (so far) entirely dependent on how much side stuff you can deal with. This side stuff, consisting of such dramatic moments as "Catching a chocobo" and "Scalping for concert tickets" basically comprises half the length of the game from what I understand. I could really go on about this forever, as there is far too much in this game to mock or deride. Needless to say, if you want the long and short of it, either play the game yourself or watch some of the cutscenes on youtube. Really, it speaks for itself.
Of course, what also speaks for itself is the actual gameplay. Final Fantasy X-2 basically uses a modified version of the job system from Final Fantasy V, a game that I am an apologist for (in that I apologize that you don't like Final Fantasy V as much as I do). Hell, I'd probably play the international version of Final Fantasy XII for that reason because it has the same thing. It's perhaps irrational, considering that the job systems in those games are never balanced especially well and as a result are easily min/max-able with worthless jobs like Bard and Dancer thrust to the wayside in favor of your Ninjas and your Blue Mages. Same goes here, in that you want your three ladies to basically fulfill the roles of Support, Magic, and Attack and the various permutations thereof, but really only have to use half of the jobs presented. The battles themselves are fast paced and enjoyable in that JRPG fashion, though coming off of SMT nocturne there isn't a ton of strategizing actually needed most of the time. However, the delicious fanservice creeps in here with the various (often revealing) outfits that our protagonists wear depending on their job. Perhaps most deliciously though is the unskippable 30 second clip of your ladies changing their clothes, Sailor Moon style, EVERY TIME you change a sphere in combat. Yep. EVERY TIME. Maybe if I watched more creepy harem anime I would be used to this kind of nonsense, but since I haven't I can do nothing but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
So, in conclusion, Final Fantasy X-2 is trash. What kind of trash is it? Well, for me it is the best kind of irony: Nonsensical girly fanservice combined with a battle and character progression system I actually enjoy. Kind of like how I feel about Kingdom Hearts Obviously, if you were an actual fan of Final Fantasy X and weren't approaching this in the most flippant way possible, I could see why you find it to be the other kind of trash. Once again, I enjoy this game far more than I have any right to, despite the fact that it's full of dumb, pandering ass shots, an aimless plot, and some of the more egregious examples of pointless mini games in any video game. Oh snap, I never did mention the Massage mini game, did I? Well, there is one. And there's also an entirely optional, entirely pointless hot spring scene complete with lesbian undertones.
What have I learned from all of this? I clearly need to go on more dates. Oh well. Skyrim awaits!