Final Fantasy X HD Impressions

I've been living in Japan for the last 18 months, teaching English, learning Japanese, and building up my "import" game collection. Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD came out on Dec. 26, but is still sold out in most stores, even out in the sticks, where I live. Today I found a PS3 copy at last, and, as there have not been many English write ups about this game yet, I'd like to share my experiences so far for anyone who is interested.

Let me begin by saying, as I have said before, that FFX is my favorite game of all time. I've finished it several times, including all possible optional quests and bosses. In fact, I've even played it (legally) in 1080p on my PC with the PCSX2 emulator. So as someone who is very familiar with Final Fantasy X, I can't BELIEVE how much work Square Enix put into this game. Holy balls. This is no simple upscaling. Every character, every 2D and 3D background texture, every menu, every cutscene, all the music, has received a substantial facelift. It just blows away the original game, even running in HD on a PC emulator. Hats off to Square's art department.

That being said, the voices and character animations remain the same, so if you thought those were awkward before...then actually they're even MORE awkward now because of the improved art assets. But never mind. The game looks and feels as if Square Enix wanted give fans the same feeling in 2013 that they had when they first booted it up in 2001.

A more controversial aspect of new version is trophy support. Personally I like trophies and achievements. The way I see it, I'm going to finish the Monster Arena anyway, so I might as well get a trophy for doing it, right? But dang, Square is not giving up that Platinum Trophy without a fight. The trophy list will make die hard fans weep with delight/rage. You have to get all Celestial Weapons (even f*&$ing Kimahri's), win all Monster Arena battles and all Blitzball tournaments. Then there's the International Version additions, including the Dark Aeons and Penance. I'm projecting a minimum 80 hours for that Platinum Trophy, and that's for people who already know what they're doing in the endgame battles. For everyone else, see you on Gamefaqs!

And guess what, the list for X-2 is even MORE appalling. Getting 100% completion (which took me three attempts on PS2) is only the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Finally, if I were reading this, there would be one more question I would want answered: Should I import or wait for March? The only real downside to this release is that, unlike the original International Version, it only has Japanese language support. But if you know some Japanese, go for it. My Japanese isn't great, but it's gotten me through Monster Hunter, Lightning Returns, and a handful of other games. And if you're already familiar with FFX, that will make things even easier.

Thanks for reading. I'll keep an eye on the forums and try to answer any questions. Happy New Year!