Last year, I completed a replay of Final Fantasy X on the Playstation 2. To some, and to me, it was a classic game despite making a few changes from the classic FF formula. Although the virtues of the game are (and will be) another post for another time. What I really want to tackle here is what would be on my personal list for a “Perfect Remake”.
The current new generation consoles, mainly the PS3 and 360, have graphical and storage advances that really blow the PS2 out of the water. The game looked and played really well anyway, but the idea of an enhanced remake (although unlikely) is something I’d dearly love to see.
Firstly, I guess I should get gameplay tweaks out of the way. Mainly because I don’t really think it would need too many changes. The game was good as-is, and only minor tweaks would really be needed. The ability to run the game, or at least the majority of the resources, from hard drive would be a huge improvement. It would certinaly reduce the lag-time when switching into battle-mode or moving between different areas.
The only serious gameplay tweak I would definitely like to see would be an additional ability available to magic-users. “Target all”. It’s usually been a mainstay of the Final Fantasy games, and one thing I felt sorely missing from the magic system. Whether it was something available later on in the Sphere Grid, an ability available from equipment, or both, it would be nice if it was at least gainable at later stages in the game.
One option I would like to see, certainly in a remake, would be to toggle the tutorial modes. When you’ve already played the game a few times, you don’t really need to sit through “false” battles or long explanations of the Sphere Grid. Keep them in there, but make a setting to switch them off. There’s already an option as to which Sphere Grid to use which is asked as you start the game, so just add one for Tutorial Mode.
Oh, and the ever-useful “Quicksave” option should be standard in pretty much every console RPG going. 😛 If I’ve gotta eat, or go out, or answer the phone, I do not want to lose all of the progress I’ve just made. Similarly, I don’t like having to quick-skip the story mode stuff post-boss just to get to a save point in a hurry. Let me at least do a one-resume-only save, and savour the plot when I’ve got the time for it. The same goes for in-battle. A friend of mine summed it up perfectly in this comic strip.
Basically it’s a problem I have with any RPG. It sucks knowing that the next plot-relevant section of gaming might take, for example, an hour between save-points when I’ve got a week of half-hour slots for getting some gaming in. I live on my own and have to do my own food and chores. (And I know I’m not alone in these respects) Does this mean I don’t want to game? Hell, no! Does this mean that sometimes I only have a shorter window of opportunity of gaming? Of course it does. This is why I like quicksaves of Nintendo DS style suspend modes. It means I can put down and pick up games, regardless of where in the plot (or proximity to a full save point) I really am.
On a related note, “borrowing” FFX-2’s ability to skip over cut-scenes would come in handy at various times. Some of the boss level battles tend to both require a few attempts and also sitting through a long custom-animated (hence, not-dialogue-skippable) sections of plot. After I’ve just suffered a royal beatdown, I do not want to then have to sit through a two minute cut-scene a second (or third, fourth, etc…) time, especially when it contains information or plot-advancement that I’ve already seen recently.
A few additional sidequests would also be a rather cool addition. I’d love to encounter extra summoners on their pilgramages, and face off against them.
The Aeons obviously comprise the central concept of the entire game, so some minor additions here would add a great deal to the game. The sequence-length option is probably me main issue with the game as-is. It’s either “Always Full” or “Full First Time, Then Always Short”. I’d love to see an additional setting for “Mixed”, where the sequences (after the first full-length one) would be primarly in the short form, but with a full -length Summon or Overdrive appearing at random. Probably with a modifier so that it happens rarely in regular battles, and slightly more frequently during Boss battles. Settings for “Once per Battle” or “Once per Session” would also be nice.
The actual full-length sequences would also, in my personal opinion, benefit from a few extra variations. A slightly more impressive, and distinct, “Grand Summon” version for Yuna’s Overdrive would look really cool. Just a little way of showing that this is slightly more than a regular Summon event. I also think that in the battles with other Summoners, it would be rather nice (and fair) if they had their own variations on the “dance” aspect, that at least made them do more than just stand still in the middle of the screen.
I also believe that, apart from Bahamut and Anima, the Fayth spirits got a bit short-changed. They simply used standard character models. It would be great to see them look slightly different, and slightly more dated as well. And Yojimbo’s Fayth should probably look more like a Samurai or Warrior Monk than a simple Crusader model.
Naturally, the Perfect Remake would include all of the additions from the International/PAL version of the game. This aspect would probably benefit from using different skins to differentiate the Dark Aeons from the possessed Aeons.
Finally, it would be nice to have a few more Aeons in the mix. More abandoned, ruined, hidden or just plain sealed temples would make really cool optional sidequests. Plus it would be nice to have a few more of the usual pantheon of summoned creatures available. For one thing, not all of the Elemental types are represented by Aeons. Having Aeons for Holy, Dark, Gravity and Water would help round out the lineup, as well as allowing some of the classic summons (and monsters) a chance to show up. Although I’m not entirely sure who would work for Holy, as I don’t think Alexander would exactly fit the setting. Let alone physically fitting on screen. Having said that, Anima wasn’t exactly on the same scale as the other Aeons.
A remake on a higher-spec console would obviously bring with it the potential for improved graphics. More polygons. More detailed textures. Even with just updating the current graphics to use the better hardware, there would already be a severe improvement. The next step, however, would be to make some of the characters and actions seems slightly less generic. This isn’t an issue unique to this game, as many RPGs suffer from it also, but Spira seems to be populated by clones. And clones with identical dress-sense. Vary the meshes and skins a little bit. Add in a few recolours, and a few size-altered meshes. Between this two steps it would probably be easy enough to make every NPC look slightly different without giving every single one their own unique character.
Another way would be to implement the clothing separately to the actual character. So you could vary things that way. However it’s done, though, making every NPC look at least slightly distinctive would be a nice touch. And it would certainly help Blitzball player recruitment easier.
Similarly, there were more weapon names than there were models. Altering the colouring at least slightly between differently named weapons would be a subtle but cool improvement. It wouldn’t even need extra shapes, just vary the colours or patterns a bit. This would probably be easiest for elemental and status related names.
Plus, it being a remake and all, it would be cool to have a few nods to other FF series (and related) games. Throw in a few familiar weapons as bonuses. Minor change, but a cool little addition.
One additional visual tweak that would be great specifically for Blitzball would be if Blitz players had a game-specific model. The main reason for this would be to have the clothing redone using palette-switching depending on what team they were on. If there’s one thing I always found difficult was playing against a team where either I’ve pinched one of their players, or they’ve recruited one of mine. But if clothing was recoloured to the team’s own colour scheme, it would help a little. It would also make more sense, really.
I decide get rid of Datto and, in his place, recruit Zev Ronso. Currently this means that Zev retains the Ronso Fangs uniform, so I’d leave him out in a match against the Ronso Fangs to avoid confusion. This works well enough, until the Al Bhed Psyches snap up Datto. I can’t influence the lineups of other teams, so I end up with an Auroch-alike in the opposing team. Not good. Similarly if I’d recruited Tatts for while, then let him go, it would still be slightly confusing the first time I matched up against his new team as I’d have a familiar once-ally in the opposing team.
However, if at least the colouring of the clothing changed to match team colours, it would be a lot easier to keep who’s on what team straight. Especially in later stages, when teams start recruiting former members of other teams. In the midst of a fast-pased game, I need to be able to know at a glance who’s on my team. After all, isn’t that the reason behind team uniforms? (Which the various players do appear to wear…)
The other thing that would be nice to see varies would be the various stock actions. For one thing, it always looks slightly odd when you’d get groups of people (usually cheering) looping through exactly the same piece of stock animation – in perfect unison. Similarly, it looks a bit out of place where the main cast are going through some dialogue yet it’s punctuated by obviously stock animation on a loop. It wouldn’t be quite as bad, only it compares very badly when you get similar bits of dialogue done to custom animations with smoother motion-captured acting.
I can’t really think of any improvements that would need doing for the music. Not other than remastering or re-recording the material to take advantage of the hardware, anyway. Maybe a few “Easter Eggs” in the Luca Theater, where you can unlock new arreangements of music from older FF games. But apart from that, the music does the job as-is.
A Perfect Remake wouldn’t be “perfect” without a few extra bits of dialogue to support any additions, or cover gaps in the original. Gaps like the (English) dialogue used prior to Dark Aeon confrontations was obviously just bolted on by grabbing bits of speech form elsewhere in the game -with varying levels of success. This, however, introduces a bit of a problem. On the one hand, the vocals are really good in the original game. On the other, it would probably need re-recording. This does sound contradictory, but any additions or changes would either have to be really well done to make sure they matched or just a complete re-record.
Blitz was a really fun little minigame, especially as it probably ranked close to Aeons as one of the central cultural aspects of this particular FF world. Like many of the things I’d like to see in a perfect remake, there aren’t really any major changes that would really be necessary. Just a few little things that would make it really shine in its own right. I’ve already covered team colours in the previous section and online play in the next.
The basic game engine for it already works well. Apart from a few graphical oddities in how it can represent the relative locations of players when they’re defending the goals. Polishing the existing game engine to stand-alone-game standards would be a subtle yet adequate improvement in itself. A few extras would be nice, though. Extra teams would be unlikely, owing to the geographical makeup of Spira, unless you wanted a team of Hypello from the Moonflow area. I’m not entirely convinced that a Hypello team would fit, though. Unless they’re amphibian, they’d likely be worse than the Besaid Aurochs. And at the beginning of the game, nobody’s supposed to be worse than the Aurochs.
Throw in a few extra techniques, and a few extra formations, and you would not only have an even tighter version of Blitzball, but one that would work really well against a human opponent.
With a “perfect” remake, adding online challenges would be another really cool addition. I can think of three main aspects of the game that would benefit from Network Play.
SUMMONER vs SUMMONER
Go online and have a “Three Aeon Tag Team” match against other players. Facing off against other CPU-controlled Aeons in-game is all well and good, but having a match against other actual human players would add a whole new element to it.
CLOISTER OF TIME-TRIALS
Not only would it be interesting to be able to re-run your favourite Cloisters trying to get the fastest time on a global leaderboard, but being able to race against other players would add another new level of challenge. Can you get to the Chamber of the Fayth before your opponent does?
Again, it just seems like a natural extension to the original game. The ability to play against another real person would add to the challenge. Plus the chance to participate in live tournaments and register in leagues would be really fun. Pair this with the team-colours fix, and you could always have it so that the opposing team had an easily distinguishable colourscheme. Especially useful if playing online at an early stage in the game, or against anybody else who prefers an original-Auroch-heavy lineup.
I could easily go on for much longer about this. Final Fantasy X was a great game to start with, greatly enjoyable in its current form. And with lots of replay value. But given a more modern console to play it on, I’m sure everybody could think of endless little tweaks that would be cool and take advantage of the power (and improved coding techniques) that have developed since 2002.
I guess the main thing, though, it that it is already a great game. One that I can see myself revisiting again, and again. I wouldn’t write anywhere near as much about a game that I thought really sucked. But I love the game so much that it’s hard for me not to want to imagine what my personal “Perfect Remake” would comprise of.
I also hope to write more about the Final Fantasy series in upcoming posts. Both reviews, and remake lists for some other entries in the series.
Also, some of the negative points will probably crop up again. As I do intend to write about some of my RPG Pet Peeves in the near future.