Final Fantasy X HD Remaster on the Vita – lest we forget

It’s very rare that I play a game more than once, unless you count my nasty habit of re-rolling characters quite often in MMORPGs. When a story is complete, especially if it’s a great one, I tend to stick the title back on the shelf for a rainy day with intentions to revisit that I never get around to.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster is one of those rare exceptions, so I preloaded it onto my PS Vita on Thursday night and jumped straight into it when the clock ticked past midnight. Well I jumped into the digital game manual first, slightly baffled as to why that particular piece of the puzzle didn’t unlock earlier than midnight, checked out the new features involving the touchscreen (swipe one way for a ‘heal party’ option using magic or potions or swipe another way for turning off Aeon summon animations, handy, seen one you’ve seen ’em all), then dived into the movie to see what all that was about, then dived into the credits to see if I could pick up another easy trophy and then 55 minutes later, a bit bemused as to what the previous two items were all about, finally selected ‘New Game’.

I think it only took a few minutes after that for me to start thinking, “wow, can’t believe I’d forgotten about that bit” and a few hours to finally try to list all the things I didn’t remember from the last time I played the game on the PS2.

Al Bhed Primers for example, I’d completely forgotten about that neat little collector-fest.  That whole thousand years in the future storyline, forgot about that too. Cloister Trials, forgot about them as well. Crusaders, Yevon, dream sequences, the list goes on. For everything I’d forgotten about, memories came flooding back of the things I loved about FFX in the first place; Yojimbo, reaching the Kalm Lands, Celestial Weapons, Blitzball, Auron just being super cool all the time, Rikku still being hot. I’ve not even completed my first visit to Besaid Island yet and already I’m looking forward to all the greatness to come, particularly when it’s all wrapped up with the wonderful Sphere Grid, one of my favourite character development systems in the whole series, second I think only to Materia.

What I found most interesting was the graphics. Ten years ago I remember being blown away by how great everything looked on the PS2, playing the HD version today on the Vita makes the game seem exactly how I remember it, if you factor in the rose-tint. My first gripe here is purely with the Vita’s small screen, I am NOT looking forward to finding all 26 Al Bhed Primers using it. This is somewhat offset by the fact that I can now walk around whilst playing, which wasn’t possible on the PS2.

My second and final gripe is, as with Fable, just updating graphics doesn’t make the game itself any better. Fable’s fiddly ranged weapon problems still existed in its recent HD makeover, and the ‘Equip’ option in the modern day Final Fantasy X feels decidedly antiquated, you’d expect it to be part of the ‘Item’ option nowadays. A decade ago I didn’t care, nowadays I tend to notice the little things.

These two gripes are pretty immaterial though, it’s like moaning about one small handful of sand when you’ve got a 20 mile long and otherwise perfect beach to play on. And on a final note, I can’t believe I forgot how much I loved this game. It still is one of the greatest in the series and I sometimes wonder if it doesn’t from time to time give Final Fantasy VII a run for its money. Which also makes me wonder how much I’ve forgotten about Final Fantasy X-2 which comes as part of this whole ‘Remaster’ bundle for £29.99 on the PlayStation Store.

Overall I’m surprised at how much of a bargain this purchase turned out to be, surprised how much I’ve forgotten over the years, but predominantly surprised by how great it feels to be reunited with a lost love, especially one who doesn’t look a day older than I remember. I think that maybe, when I’m done battling Dark Aeons and racing Chocobos, I’ll dig out a few of my older games, or perhaps just bide my time and hope that some of them get the HD makeover treatment too.