So Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD collection is out this week, and to say Iím excited would be an understatement. Itís not often I look forward to replaying a 10 year old game over newer releases, but this is an exception! The game may have taken way too long to localise and convert to ĎHDí, but the delay hasnít dampened my spirits in the slightest.
FFX remains a remnant from a not too distant past when JRPGs were at their best. It sits at the very pinnacle of interactive entertainment perfection, only encapsulated by its predecessor, Final Fantasy IX. Both games were the product of a time when JRPGs were all the rage; Japan knew what the world wanted, and delivered. Regrettably as weíve progressed through the noughties, both the genre and the Japanese development scene have slowly fallen into a lull. Whether this remains a temporary blip or a sign of a terminal decline only time will tell. Unfortunately to make matters worse, the downturn has had a major impact on the availability of games in the genre, particularly in the Western world. Fewer games than ever are escaping the land of the rising sun, and we are now at a stage where only those special few are even offered the chance to succeed globally.
In the Ďmodern video games industry, titles like FFX are rarer than ever, while the JRPG genre may still be alive and kicking, it has fallen far from its pedestal. Despite the relative success of the ĎTales Ofí series and other smaller franchises (Atelier take a bow), they cannot replicate the scale with which Final Fantasy typically aims to deliver. When budgets and audience priorities are taken into consideration, itís easy to see why. † There is no longer a viable target market for such big budget titles, the JRPG has been relegated to niche status and as such massive expenditure can no longer be justified. While I expect we will continue to see valiant budget efforts from the like of Bandai Namco (Namco Bandai?Öwhatever), we wonít see many more traditional big budget JRPGS hitting the shelves in the near future.
Final Fantasy X is a game that deserves all of the credit it receives. With a captivating storyline, world class soundtrack, charming characters, and immersive strategic gameplay, the title is the very personification of fun. I just wish such games were more commonplace in the Ďmodern marketí. If the industry could produce just one FFX a year, itíd be a much happier more diverse place. Unfortunately in the age of the all dominating blockbuster FPS this is nothing more than a pipe dream. With the majority of companies now fully focused on either triple AAA titles or mobile development, itís clear to see there is no longer a place for the humble JRPG, particularly at the likes of Microsoft, Sega (where is Phantasy Star Online?) or Konami (Suikoden!!!).
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This week Iíll take a trip down memory lane and remember the good old days, when the industry encouraged diversity, and wasnít so focused on how many shades of grey they could shove into their next shooter (I pray itís not 50!). While some may argue my love for FFX is unfounded, my disdain for the industry in its current state is wholly justified.