Preamble: Internet Assholes Are Asking Square To Make Final Fantasy X-3... AGAIN!
Every two to three months someone on the internet has the gall to ask Square-Enix if they plan to make Final Fantasy X-3. It's a routine I usually dismiss with an eye-roll or audible sigh; however, things were slightly different this time around. Earlier this week, during a live stream promoting Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, the game's producer shared concept art featuring older versions of Tidus and Yuna. Worth mentioning, these images are NOT NEW, and in fact, can be found in the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Nevertheless, several news outlets reported about the images, and further cited comments from Final Fantasy X's producer, Yoshinori Kitase. Many saw his remarks as a positive sign that Final Fantasy X-3 might even be in the early planning stages. Here's one particular quote reports cited as a positive sign:
"Currently, Final Fantasy X’s latest story is recorded in the voice drama for the HD Remaster, but back when we decided to include the voice drama the staff was excited about the thoughts of ‘Don’t you want to make Final Fantasy X-3?’ However, most of them have been busy, and so we haven’t been able to make it happen."
For now, I hope fans can look at this illustration and just wonder ‘I wonder what would happen in Final Fantasy X-3?’
These comments are interesting, but I doubt they will translate into something tangible. We have to remember that we are talking about Square-Enix; the same company that took fourteen years to make a proper Kingdom Hearts game. We also have to recognize that many of the people who made Final Fantasy X are no longer with the company. If they did make Final Fantasy X-3, what form or shape would it take? Regardless, my point is simple; Square-Enix is a mess of a company. With the Final Fantasy XV team in shambles, and the Final Fantasy VII Remake on its third development team,
These rantings might come as a surprise as I am a fervent defender of Final Fantasy X. It is, of all things, my favorite PS2 and Final Fantasy game. Be that as it may, I don't know how to feel about the prospect of another game set in the Final Fantasy X universe. By the time I finished X-2, I felt the franchise's troupe of characters were played out. Likewise, Final Fantasy X-2's "True Ending" doesn't leave room for interpretation. You can only have Tidus and Yuna share promises about staying by each other's side for so long before it becomes thoroughly played out.
Before anyone comments, the purpose of this blog isn't to backseat write Final Fantasy X-3 or to assume that I have the writing prowess to outwit Square. Instead, this blog is a treatise on why you don't want Square-Enix to make Final Fantasy X-3 in the first place. To underscore where I'm coming from, we are going to exhaustively look at FOUR of Square's efforts to expand upon the Final Fantasy X universe. I'm doing this with the clear intention of proving that the Final Fantasy X canon is beyond FUCKED and not worth salvaging! This journey will guide us through cinematic cutscenes, mobile games, and even an audio drama! If you want to have your mind blown, keep on reading! Otherwise, this blog may be one of the most depressing ways to end your year.
Before we continue, there's one important note I'd like to clarify. I'll be skipping the novel sequel to Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy X-2.5 ~Eien no Daishō~. It not only hasn't been translated into English, but it's been universally panned by Japanese audiences, and my gut tells me these fans are in the right. When I tried to read a fan translation of the thing, I found it to be excruciating. If you are interested, here's a link to a fan translation.
Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm
We start this blog on a shaky foundation. For those wondering, Final Fantasy X: Eternal Calm is a cinematic cutscene that fills in the gap between Final Fantasy X and X-2. Or at least, that's what Square claims it does. The barely ten-minute cutscene spends most of its time parading around recognizable characters from Final Fantasy X. For example, the first five minutes involve Yuna holding her breath underwater and teasing Wakka about becoming a father. Without a doubt, there are burning questions about the transition between Final Fantasy X to X-2, and long-winded narrations about Yuna holding her breath are not helpful.
Regardless, Yuna and Wakka eventually find themselves in the Besaid Cloister. Once there, Yuna is confronted by an elderly man who shares his woe of being a supporter of New Yevon, whereas his son is a member of the Youth League. Through what little lines of dialogue there are, you see Square trying to justify the awkward leap from Final Fantasy X to X-2, but in more ways than one, it's too little too late. We already know what the Youth League and New Yevon are, and the agendas of their respective leaders. This shortcoming instantly highlights a massive problem with the Eternal Calm. It's more than happy to regurgitate names and places, but it never attempts to build context with those proper nouns.
Case in point, in one scene Wakka badgers Yuna about a pending marriage proposal. We learn the offer is from the leaders of New Yevon who wish to see Yuna wed Baralai. Yuna promptly rejects their offer, and the game never speaks of this matter again. At no point does the cutscene stop to explain who Baralai is, or what the critical tenets of New Yeon may be. The game promptly juxtaposes to a different scene where Yaibal attempts to recruit Yuna into the Youth League, and the same problems apply here. Characters are more than happy to spew contextless proper nouns, but NEVER establish their grounding in the world.
We eventually meet Rikku, still in her Final Fantasy X garb, who wishes to show Yuna something. When Wakka, Yuna, and Rikku board an Al Bhed ship, Rikku shows Yuna a sphere that appears to contain Tidus. If you played Final Fantasy X-2, then you are all too familiar with this memory sphere. I know I brought this issue up in my Final Fantasy X-2 series, but the fact Shuyin looks and sounds nothing like Tidus, makes Yuna look like a bumbling fool. Additionally, Yuna's character break in Final Fantasy X-2 is made even more apparent in this cinematic. On several occasions, Wakka impresses on Yuna that she cannot be running around looking for shit as she has an essential role in shaping Spira's recovery effort. However, Yuna shrugs off Wakka's advice and selfishly joins Rikku.
Additionally, these "expanded" storylines feature shockingly limited casts. One-off characters you've never seen before constantly plague these narratives. For instance, in this godawful abomination, only five characters have spoken lines of dialogue, and one is a senior citizen who is never named! More importantly, if the Eternal Calm intends to add context as to why Yuna joins Rikku in Final Fantasy X-2, the opposite is true. Yuna inexplicably becomes selfish at the drop of a hat, and that's it! It's a careless character change that feels utterly unearned.
The Mobius Final - Fantasy Final Fantasy X Collaboration Event
No need to adjust your computer screen, you read the above subheading correctly. A few months ago, there was a time-sensitive (i.e., it has since ended) Final Fantasy X themed expansion pack in Mobius Final Fantasy. For those that do not know, Mobius is one of Square's several Final Fantasy themed mobile games. Interestingly enough, Mobius has had themed expansion packs in the past, but in the case of Final Fantasy X, things are a bit "different." First, the "Dream Within a Dream" story arc is meant to honor the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy. That's right, Square-Enix marked the anniversary of their tentpole franchise, in a free-to-play mobile game. If that doesn't clue you into the current state of Square-Enix, I don't know what else will. More importantly, Mobius rewrote Final Fantasy X's canon in some unusual ways.
"Bizarre" is the best way to describe this thing. A vast majority of the event is spent listening to Tidus recite events from Final Fantasy X. However, if you want to know how Tidus ends up in Mobius Final Fantasy, then buckle up, because shit is about to get WEIRD! By chapter three, Tidus encounters what appears to be Yuna. While its status as a mobile game can forgive some of its missteps, other decisions in Mobius are unforgivable. In particular, in the span of a single chapter, Tidus learns how to summon Aeons, cast magic, and usher away evils spirits into the afterlife. If you know anything about Final Fantasy X, you know he can't do any of this shit.
Conversely, the story is told primarily from the perspective of Mobius' player character, and as a result, your interactions with Tidus are limited. Consequently, it is this player character, and NOT Tidus, who moves the story from one point to the next. Specifically, after the protagonist does some investigating, they discover the world of Mobius Final Fantasy overlaps with Final Fantasy X. Yeah, you heard that right, The Farplane, which has featured some of the most emotionally resonant moments in Final Fantasy history, acts as a gateway to a bullshit F2P world. I don't know what's real anymore.
Upon reaching the final chapter of this expansion pack, Tidus discovers a crystal that can return him to Spira. After several lines of expository dialogue, it's implied the Yuna we encountered earlier is Bahamut in hiding. Those who played Final Fantasy X-2 know it is Bahamut who offers to return Tidus to Yuna in the "True Ending." We discover the previous events in Mobius are Final Fantasy X-2 but from Tidus' perspective. When Tidus enters the portal, he sets into motion X-2's "True Ending." If you still have your doubts that this game is a real thing, here's a video compiling the cinematics from the final chapter:
Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission
We now enter the nebulous world of the post-Final Fantasy X-2 expanded universe. If you thought the previous stories were crazy, then they've got another thing coming. We now juxtapose to Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission, which takes place three months after the defeat of Vegnagun and Shuyin. Yuna receives a letter from a mysterious source asking her to return to Luca. Upon entering the Blitzball arena, she encounters Paine and Rikku. The three discover they each received similar letters and set off to investigate the newly discovered "Iutycyr Tower."
Full disclosure, I have not been able to complete whatever Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission may be. It's supposed to play like a mystery dungeon game no different than Chocobo's Dungeon. In fact, it has many of the trappings you'd expect in a typical roguelike. However, and I'm not exaggerating, it's the worst playing thing Square-Enix has ever made! I'm not going to lie to you and say Chocobo's Dungeon is the best thing since sliced bread, but at least it plays like an actual video game. Last Mission, on the one hand, is a flaming pile of trash. Seriously, look at the control scheme and tell me if it makes any sense to you.
Two significant issues plague Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission. First, trying to graft an epic storyline to a roguelike is a disaster waiting to happen. Given the game's punishing difficulty, you end up seeing the same cutscenes and character interactions over and over again. Additionally, Last Mission is one of the most fucked up roguelikes I have ever played. Not only is the tower EIGHTY LEVELS LONG, but every conceivable mechanic is procedurally generated. Saving the game, leveling your dresses, and restoring HP are all procedurally generated items. If you hit a stride in the game and want to protect your progress, you have to hope and pray a save tome is hidden somewhere in the environment. For lack of a better word,
But we are not here to listen to me complain about Last Mission's gameplay. No, we are here to discuss what it contributes to Final Fantasy X's canon. Well, I regret to inform you, it's another heaping pile of shit. If you want to watch yet another character break involving Yuna and Rikku, then boy howdy, you should play Last Mission! During the story, we discover Rikku hates Yuna's guts, and Yuna wants to cut Rikku out of her life now that Tidus is back. If you thought Yuna is the type of person who prioritizes her romantic relationships over her own family, then ding ding, you are correct!
I know what you are thinking, the concept of relationships only working under the backdrop of an impending disaster is interesting. Unfortunately, Last Mission's character strife feels like "drama for drama's sake." To illustrate, there's a moment where the trio gathers at a campfire to discuss their fears, and the three agree it's "change." Without warning, this touching moment turns into a shouting fight where each character blames the other for breaking up their friendship. Rikku exclaims Yuna never has time for her family, whereas Yuna repeatedly calls Rikku "selfish."
But the worst is yet to come! After Paine admits to forging the letters, everyone questions if they should continue with their journey. After hemming and hawing for a bit, they agree to climb the tower regardless if there's a treasure or not. Upon reaching the top of the building, they locate a broken contraption. Paine interprets the non-functioning machine to be a metaphor for their friendship. After a loving embrace, the three recognize their memories together will last forever. As they renew their friendship, the power of love restores the robot to its former glory. The game then cuts to black and ends.
Final Fantasy X -Will-
Before we continue, I want to say that Final Fantasy X -Will- is the biggest pile of shit I have ever seen my entire life. First, it's not even a "game." Final Fantasy X -Will- is an audio drama that plays while you watch the credits for the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Second, the story unfolds from the perspective of two characters you have never seen before. Specifically, Final Fantasy X -Will- is narrated by a seventeen-year-old girl named Chuami, and her childhood friend, Kurgum, joins her.
Another point worth clarifying, as you listen to this drama you look at articles of Final Fantasy X/X-2 concept art. These static images are occasionally themed to fit the narration, but that's not always the case. Regardless, let's break down this piece of shit bit by bit. After a short preamble, we find Chuami and Kurgum excitedly waiting to watch a Blitzball match. As they fret, they encounter Tidus who anemically greets them. While they suspect something is wrong with Tidus, the "Council" promptly assigns them a mission. Before the events of this story, New Yevon and the Youth League merged to form a unified government called the Council.
Chuami and Kurgum discover their mission is to relay a message to Yuna. When they land on the island nation, Wakka, who is no longer voiced by John DiMaggio, greets them. Wakka reveals that Yuna, in her grand wisdom, is restarting the Church of Yevon. Which makes perfect sense when you consider it's the same organization that at one point asked her to sacrifice her life for nothing. But as Wakka points out, they had progressive ideas about working towards world peace and societal tranquility. Pay no mind of their use of religious dogma to justify institutional discrimination against the Al Bhed!
When our motley crew meets up with Yuna, they find her to be distant and cold. Chuami reveals there are reports of the Farplane eloping into parts of Spira, but Yuna dismisses these claims as hearsay. Nevertheless, when Yuna decides to investigate the matter, she sees walking and talking apparitions at the Moonflow. If that isn't surprising enough, Chuami reveals that she is the daughter of Auron. Somehow, Auron had a child while he was a ghost. That's right, That is a thing that happens, and it cannot unhappen because this shit is FINAL FANTASY CANON!
After the characters observe the Farplane conjuring talking ghosts, the team endeavors to report their findings to the Council. While in transit to Bevelle, they discover Sin is alive and well. Yup, Sin is back. If you are confused, you are not the only one. Those who remember the events of Final Fantasy X, know that Sin was a metaphor of Jecht's alcoholism and parental abuse of Tidus. Not appreciative of this aspect of Sin, Square pulls Sin back into existence for shits and giggles. Does this audio drama ever address how this stunning turn of events is possible? NOPE! Does Square-Enix care if this ruins Final Fantasy X's ending? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Worth mentioning, while this nonsense is happening, none of the characters behave as they should. Yuna is cold and distant; Wakka is back to being a religious zealot; Lulu is dismissive of anyone younger than her; Tidus is an arrogant asshole. Speaking of which, we eventually find out Tidus has been flirting with an unseen female Blitzball player named "Marphie," and Yuna has been dating Kurgum in secret. In fact, Yuna and Tidus use these relationships to blackmail the other into returning to them. To add insult to injury, one of the last things we witness is Yuna and Tidus in the process of breaking up with each other, under the backdrop of the impending Apocalypse!
As the story begins to conclude, we discover Tidus is unhappy to be back in Spira due to survivor's guilt. Yuna, on the other hand, claims she's been busy re-establishing a church that at one point was run by EVIL ZOMBIES! As Yuna sets off to form a party to defeat Sin, Tidus arrives and demands he be a part of her team. He recites their promise to protect each other no matter what. Yuna hesitantly accepts and makes a speech to the people of Bevelle. After she finishes, the audio drama mercifully ends.
What Does Any Of This Mean For Final Fantasy X-3?
You may still be questioning the purpose of this blog, and honestly, that's an entirely valid sentiment. Dicking around aside, should Square-Enix follow through in making Final Fantasy X-3, these are the plotlines it would likely address:
- The possibility Auron impregnated a woman with his ghost sperm.
- YRP breaking up because everyone became a jagoff.
- Yuna cuts Rikku out of her life because boys are more important than family, and Paine leaves both of them in the hope of learning more about her past.
- Yuna and Tidus' relationship is on the rocks, and both are whiny brats.
- The Farplane connects to a free-to-play mobile game.
- The factions from Final Fantasy X-2 merge to form a unified government, and Yuna restarts the Church of Yevon.
- Sin is back, even though his return makes no sense and retcons the heart and soul of Final Fantasy X.
- The ghosts of the Farplane appear to be sentient as they can now interact with their surroundings.
Hopefully, this list proves a point I want all of you to take away. If Square-Enix makes Final Fantasy X-3, it will feature dogshit storylines that have nothing to do with what made Final Fantasy X "special." Likewise, Square has consistently shown they have no idea why people fell in love with Final Fantasy X in the first place. While their efforts to expand upon Final Fantasy X feature familiar faces, they never seem to understand the spirit of those characters. Tidus and Yuna are the clearest examples of this problem. Both have been warped to fit whatever bullshit narrative Square wants to saddle them with, even if it has no logical frame of reference.
It pains me to say this, but Final Fantasy X-3 would be a disaster. If made, It's going to be a shitty game. Everything Square has shown us up to this point is garbage. Therefore, people need to stop asking them to make Final Fantasy X-3. Seriously, it reeks of fans pining for a new Indiana Jones movie, and then when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, everyone regretted their calls for a reboot. Nothing good is going to happen if another Final Fantasy X game is made! It's just going to be a cocktail of sadness and disappointment!