It is hard to imagine a gaming world without the immensely popular and groundbreaking franchise Final Fantasy. Since its debut in 1987 with Final Fantasy, this series has become a cornerstone in the RPG market due to its rich stories, unique adventures, and unforgettable characters.
Although each story brought a new unique cast and plot, recurring elements provide a distinct connection to each game. These connections helped players feel bonded to the franchise as a whole. Though one of the most recognizable and highly-praised games of the series is Final Fantasy VII, some of the franchise’s most groundbreaking achievements came with the release of Final Fantasy X.
With the first FF release for the new PlayStation 2 platform, developers wanted to take new risks with the franchise and thus established what would become innovative standards for future releases. In this article, we will share some of the behind the scenes details of its development and a number of “firsts” that this game has achieved. From advanced storytelling techniques to gorgeous 3D-mapping, Final Fantasy X holds a special place in the history of the franchise (and not just for its terrible FF series moments).
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Final Fantasy X.
15 Tidus' Name Is Never Spoken in The Game
In the previous versions of the Final Fantasy games, players had the option of renaming many of the characters and aeons of the series. However, FF X removed that option for most of the players with the inclusion of the voice acting. Tidus remained the only character that could have a changeable name.
However, with that option came a big issue: since his name is changeable, how could you pre-record anyone saying his name? To resolve the issue, none of the characters actually state his name at any time during the game. He is only referred to as “he” or “him” by everyone. Poor Tidus.
Had it not been for promotions, instruction manual, and subtitles, even fans would not have known his name. Even in the direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, Tidus is still never named and, again, is referred to only as “he” or him”. He does, however, acquire a new title as the "Star Player of the Zanarkand Abes" in the blitzball minigame.
14 Cost $32.3 million to make
As the technology of video games and gaming systems improves, the cost of development is forced to increase as well. With the addition of these changes, and being the first Final Fantasy game to be developed for a sixth generation console (the PlayStation 2), more time and resources were spent in Final Fantasy X's creation. About 100 people who were previously involved with the earlier FF games also worked on this project, which helped to ensure that even with these changes, the familiar feeling of the FF franchise remained.
In all, the development of Final Fantasy X cost around four billion Japanese yen (which converts to around $32.3 million). Surprisingly, this is not even the most expensive FF game. The most expensive edition was Final Fantasy VII, which had total production and marketing costs of $145 million.
13 The Concept of “Seventeen”
Final Fantasy is notorious for killing off beloved characters in its games. Sometimes these deaths come so suddenly and unexpectedly that players are left heartbroken in the middle of completing the game. One character in Final Fantasy X was already designed to be the one to lose her life early in the game: the 17-year old summoner Yuna.
In the story, Yuna was fated to meet her death after collecting all of the aeons from temples around the world and finally facing a deadly match with Sin. However, her limited life of 17 was actually going to be a theme in the overall plot of the game.
In an interview with Siliconera.com, producer Yoshinori Kitase revealed that “The early ideas started with a concept entitled “Seventeen,” and the theme of that story was that 'a person would reach the end of life at 17 years of age.' That theme of 'inevitable death' was carried over to become Yuna’s fate in Final Fantasy X.”
12 Initial Planning and Announcement
As with many Final Fantasy games of the past, the development of the next installment tended to overlap the release of its predecessor. Such was the case for the development of Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy IX had just been released in 2000, but FF X plans began as early as 1999. In fact, at the 2000 Square Millennium Event, developers announced the Final Fantasy IX, X, and XI games together.
As reported by IGN from the event, the game had “a lot of principal production work already done” prior to its planned release in 2001. Many changes implemented in FFX included the move from a 2D to 3D backgrounds, changes in characterization and a new method of storytelling from both the perspective of the lead character and using voice actors to better convey the dialogue.
11 Scrapped Plans For Wandering Enemies
In implementing new elements such as The Conditional Turn-Based Battle (CTB), Final Fantasy designers also wanted to change the way gamers would fight enemies. In past games, you would walk through a world map area, the action would freeze, and you would be stuck fighting an enemy. However, designers wanted to make the possibility of facing enemies to be more realistic.
According to the Final Fantasy X Official Strategy Guide, “Originally, Final Fantasy X was going to feature wandering enemies visible on the field map, seamless transitions into battles, and the option for players to move around the landscape during enemy encounters” However, the new idea didn’t work with the game system and software. The plan was held off temporarily and added to later editions, including Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII.
10 First Time Using Active Storytelling
Another new storytelling element was added to help the players connect with the lead character from a different perspective. In the past, FF games have been shown from the third-person perspective with the player controlling the actions of the lead character. This same perspective was also used in FF X as well.
However, in Final Fantasy X, the story was developed so that as you explored and gained more knowledge, your actions would affect the main character of Tidus. He, then, reflected this new knowledge through his own understanding and narration. This unique perspective provided a closer connection to the player and the character, giving the player the opportunity to see the actions of the game through Tidus’ eyes. This was one of the many intuitive layers added to interesting plot of this game.
9 Early Character Plans For Tidus
As with many video game characters, early drafts of their development are usually vastly different from their final product. In the case of Tidus, his early depiction included darker hair. The reason for this was to differentiate him from the wildly popular Final Fantasy VII character of Cloud Strife. Incidentally, Cloud’s early depiction also showed him with dark hair too.
Despite his famous predecessor's similar looks, Tidus was able to retain his signature blond mane because of the name that was chosen for him: his name means “sun.” Also, he was intended to have a tougher personality and occupation like that of a gangster-- or possibly a delinquent plumber. Gotta watch out for those troublesome plumbers.
The overall plan was making Tidus a more likable character. In the end, the dark-haired, bad boy plumber because the blond-haired athlete fans have come to adore.
8 First Series to Use Full Voice Actors
One of the biggest changes introduced in the Final Fantasy series was the move to voice actors. Other than the introduction of soundtrack songs with audible words, any dialogue in the game was carried out in scrolling subtitles. Voice acting was one of the aspects that producer Yoshinori Kitas felt was missing in the series.
His interview with Gamestm.co.uk revealed that “When we ask Kitase what he wanted to accomplish in bringing Final Fantasy X to the PS2 that he was not able to previously, the answer is pretty simple: 'Definitely the implementation of voice acting.'”
Final Fantasy X was the first game to introduce full voice acting to its game and eliminate the need for the subtitles (though some of us still use them anyway). Along with the voice acting, characters were given more expressive faces to match the dialogue using skeletal animation technology and motion capture. While voice acting brought a new dimension to the game, it also produced one of the most cringeworthy moments in the franchise.
7 Marvel and DC Comics Connections
So many DC and Marvel fans were able to see many of their favorite comic book characters come to life through animated movies and tv shows. Over time, certain voices became so familiar and iconic for fans. Likewise, these voice actors have forever cemented their association with these beloved characters.
Many of these long-time favorite animated comic book voice actors and actresses can be found behind the voices of the Final Fantasy X characters too. Comic book animation vets include James Arnold Taylor voicing the lead role of Tidus, Tara Strong as Rikku, and John DiMaggio providing the speaking voice for both Wakka and Kimahri.
In addition to playing in comic book animation, some have also performed in Star Wars animated shows and other video games. You should recognize Taylor as the voice of Ratchet, and Strong as the voice of Talwyn Apogee in the Ratchet & Clank series. DiMaggio also voiced Marcus Fenix in Gears of War.
6 Voice Acting Performances Influenced The Script
Once of the greatest aspects of voice acting is the ability of the actor or actress to bring more depth to the character with simple inflections and volume changes. Though limited to just their voices, many actors see more of themselves in the characters once the final movie is completed. In many animated films, specific characteristics of the voice actor are translated to their animated onscreen personas.
In the case of Final Fantasy X, however, the animation and graphics had already been completed by the Japanese production company so the characters themselves could not be altered. Writers were provided with limited information about the original Japanese scripting, so they had more freedom to create their own unique story. Thanks to the creativity of the English writing team, though, they were still able to bring more personalized aspects of the actors to their animated counterparts.
5 Japanese Dialogue vs English Dialogue Issues
Over the years, many of us have seen kung-fu movies and anime that incorporated some less-than-stellar English voiceovers. Although these types of shows can safely get away with these comical additions, video gamers have much loftier expectations. While the addition of the full voice action brought more life and realism to the FF characters, it also brought more headache for the English voice actors.
With the production of Final Fantasy taking place in Japan, the dialogue was, of course, in Japanese. The issue was that the writers had to create scripting that not only matched the animated mouth movements of the characters but still accurately told the story of the game. Also, the cadence difference in both languages made for many sections of dialogue that contained awkward pauses and characters speaking to themselves.
4 The First Time Composer Nobuo Uematsu Collaborated On The Soundtrack
For more than 13 years, Final Fantasy’s music had come from the mind of the brilliant composer Nobuo Uematsu. A self-taught musician, Uematsu has single-handedly composed the moving scores for the first Final Fantasy game released in 1987 to Final Fantasy IX in 2000. However, for Final Fantasy X, Uematsu reached out for assistance for the first time for the game’s unique score. Fellow composers Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano were added to the team to bring more originality to the score but still kept the heart of Uematsu’s style intact.
According to an article on IGN.com, “The orchestral and choral sounds we are familiar with are still around, and just as in FFIX, the love theme 'Suteki Da Ne' provides the base for a few nice variations, but there's a surprising amount of more modern influence to the music.” In all, the three composers produced an original soundtrack that contained 91 tracks on four discs.
3 First Time The Phrase “I love you” was Used in the Dialogue
Despite the hours of dialogues since the first Final Fantasy game in 1987, it is hard to imagine that the simple phrase “I love you” has never been used in the series. Despite numerous romantic storylines and relationships, no one has expressed one utterance of love in this way.
In the Japanese version of the game, the character Yuna spoke her final words to Tidus as, "Arigato" (or “Thank You” in Japanese”). However, the head of localization for the US, Alexander O. Smith, wanted to have a more sentimental ending. Typically, the Japanese do not use the phrase “I love you” so its inclusion would Americanize not only the cultural connections of the storyline but the ending as well.
Despite kickback from the Japanese division of development, Smith was able to include the phrase and give Tidus and Yuna a more romantic goodbye.
2 The First Game with a Direct-Game Sequel
Final Fantasy X went on to become a commercial success after its release in 2001. Since it was released on PlayStation 2, expectations were low since many fans had not acquired the new system yet. However, sales exceeded expectations, and the game “became the first PlayStation 2 game to reach two million and four million sold copies.”
Due to its critical and financial success, Final Fantasy X-2 was created as the first ever direct-game sequel in the Final Fantasy series. Not only was it also the second sequel in the franchise’s history, but it was also the first game to have three playable characters and an all-female lead cast. Set two years after the action of Final Fantasy X, X-2 followed the adventures of Yuna, Rikku, and Paine in their quest to resolve the political chaos in Spira. After its release in 2003, the game also became a critical and financial success.
According to an article from Square Enix, “In October 2013, Square Enix announced Final Fantasy X and its sequel Final Fantasy X-2 have together sold over 14 million copies worldwide on PlayStation 2.”
1 Helped Reshape Future FF Games
The risks taken in Final Fantasy X turned out to be for the betterment of the franchise as a whole. Not only did fans respond positively to the changes but they came to expect them. The use of voice actors, 3D mapping, and the more realistic characters became a staple in the future releases. Unused ideas for this game were later implemented into future games to great success.
Creators also learned from their mistakes from this game as well. Going forward, there were no more unnamed lead characters, and their names were always included in the spoken dialogue. Changes appeared through the series beyond X and X-2, and were included in games Final Fantasy XI through the latest release Final Fantasy XV. Final Fantasy X truly set the standard for the franchise after its release and future games down the line.