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4/16/2013

Final Fantasy X in a Nutshell

While it's not the worst Final Fantasy, it's probably my most hated one.  Now allow me to explain in great detail as to why.

Tidus: Hi, I'm the hero.  I'm a nasally-voiced douchebag who NEVER STOPS GODDAMN WHINING, EVER. I'm also a star player in the really boring sport of Blitzball.  Clearly nothing can go wrong as I throw a metal ball around a big glass sphere in yet another noninteractive FMV movie.

Godzilla Sin shows up and starts wreaking havoc on Tokyo Zanarkand.

Tidus: What a shocking and unexpected turn of events!
Auron: Here have a sword. Let's kill a few guys.

They do just that, eventually Auron gets bored and tosses Tidus into the ocean.

Tidus: You're an asshole, Auron!
Auron: I know.

Tidus ends up on a boat and meets Rikku.

Rikku: Obligatory cute girl who never does anything, nice to meet you! Now we must dive underwater to fight monsters for no real reason.

They do just that. Somehow Tidus ends up a thousand miles away and conveniently meets most of the game's protagonists all at once.

Wakka: Behold my Carribean accent that nobody else in the game has! My weapon is a Blitzball, which is... kind of stupid now that I think about it. I mean, we're really heaving these skull-crushing metal spheres at each other in the name of entertainment? What kind of fucked up dark age do we live in?
Kimahri: I'm just a seat-filler who's only here to appeal to the furry demographic because I never do anything important. I'm also completely worthless because my placement on the sphere grid sucks and my Limit Break is a joke.
Lulu: And I'm a generic bucket of angst! Also, my outfit is one of the tackiest pieces of shit ever put into a video game.  Seriously, look at this damn thing:

I've seen prom dresses made out of carpeting samples that were more appealing to the eye.


Yuna: Hi, I'm going on a long, perilous journey with this band of losers, want to come with?
Tidus: Wow... your voice acting is terrible, and every time you talk you flail around like you have Parkinson's Disease. But sure, I don't have anything better to do.

They journey to some random village

Yuna: I didn't mention this earlier, but I send the spirits of the dead so they don't become monsters. It's also a convenient excuse to show off more eye candy.
Tidus: Ooo, pretty!

Spoony: Well hey, at least this FMV serves some purpose to the story, unlike most of the crap Final Fantasy 8 put down...

They arrive at the Blitzball tournament.

Seymour: Look at my hair, it's so CRAZY!
Tidus: He has an absurd outfit, looks menacing and is not part of our party, so he is obviously evil!
Seymour: Way to spoil the plot twist, you stupid kid.
Tidus: Hey, don't hate me because this series is more predictable than clockwork.
Seymour: Fine, I'll hate you because you're a sniveling twat and your obnoxious, whiny voice is the audible equivalent of having my testicles filed off with a cheese grater.
Tidus: That works.

A few Blitzball matches occur, which nearly put the player to sleep from watching the clock stop every two seconds as the same three animations loop over and over again constantly. I had no idea that a match timed at ten minutes could drag on for upwards of half an hour until I played this game. Needless to say, once it finally ended I vowed to never, under any circumstances, select the "Play Blitzball" option at the save points. That, and I learned that you need to pay out of your own pockets to renew player contracts, which is pretty stupid since you'll quickly figure out that everyone but Tidus is awful to the point of being completely useless.

Spoony: Blitzball is actually pretty much a carbon copy of Captain Tsubasa/Tecmo Cup Soccer for the NES, just with substantially worse mechanics and so much padding in the animations that it makes the experience completely unbearable.  So chalk up another thing Square blatantly copied from somebody more talented than they are...

Oh, and during this neverending Tournament, Yuna gets kidnapped by a rival team demanding that Wakka's team throw the game, forcing the rest of the group to endure some pointless filler fights and rescue her.  You'd think they'd have a pretty strong case against the rival team and they'd all be disgraced and arrested for match fixing, kidnapping and attempted murder (and possibly high treason considering Yuna's position), but guess what?  It's never even mentioned again.  So way to waste our time, Square.

Anyway, after that big borefest finally ends, you finally reunite with Auron.

Auron: (Damn it, he didn't drown.)  Oh, hi! Um, Sin is your father.
Tidus: GRR DAD, I HATE HIM... wait, what's that supposed to mean?
Auron: Nothing, forget I said anything.
Tidus: There isn't some incredibly important information you're keeping hidden from us, is there?
Auron: No.
(I wish; Auron doesn't press this point and Tidus doesn't even question it even though it would basically blow the entire plot wide open)

In a desperate attempt to distract us from that plot point, Sin attacks the stadium, raining down more monsters to attack.  Fortunately, Seymour saves the day - by dropping a boat anchor into the Stygian pit and pulling up the tormented soul of a bound fish-demon to fucking kill everything with eye lasers!

Spoony: Jesus, guys.  Could you possibly be any less subtle about foreshadowing Seymour's dark intentions?  Between this, the giant blue hair-horns and the huge forehead veins, You might as well just change his name to "Evil Mcbadguy" and have him kick puppies for a living.

...What am I saying.  This is the same franchise that brought us Kefka and Ultimecia, two of the most underdeveloped, painfully cliched villains of all time...

After a particularly dreadful laughing scene (seriously, Tidus' laugh sounds like someone strangling Donald Duck), the party roams the countryside for months killing monsters, solving the Trials of Yevon Boring Busywork and collecting Aeons. You also frequently run into this boring narrator guy who tells you about what's going on in the world, because printing a line of text and playing a voice clip is so much easier than actually letting you interact with something.  Of course, that might require the game to be something more than a strictly linear, no-surprises journey from one overused plot point to the next, and apparently Square wanted to avoid that at all cost.

Rikku: Well, we meet again.
Tidus: You know the drill, Obligatory Cute Girl. Back of the line and stay there.
Rikku:  But... I can steal things!
Tidus: So can everybody else, thanks to the sphere grid system. What, you think people get UNIQUE abilities in this series anymore?
Rikku: Well, there's Limit Breaks.
Tidus: I... guess. They're nerfed so badly that they're barely worth using anymore. Blue Magic and Item Mixing are only usable once every twenty battles when they were freebies in earlier games? What the fuck, Square.
Rikku: *Sigh* I give up.

It's around this point where you begin to realize that the Sphere Grid is a pretty lousy mechanic.  While it's not as game-breaking as the Junction system, it's more of a problem of it being, well, pointless.  I mean, you can choose to keep a character going on their current path and become a strong fighter, or you can have them veer off of the fighter path into, say, white magic and become mediocre at both.  Then, once you inevitably regret that decision, you have to spend more levels backtracking just to get yourself back on the fighter path, then spend even more time leveling up just to get them back up to speed.  Why even give you the option if it's just going to amount to wasting your time?  Oh, and as mentioned, Kimahri's default placement is in one tiny little locked-off section with about 10 spheres, so his level is firmly fixed for about half of the game's running time.  Which means that by the time the level two lock opens, he's far behind and not at all worth the effort it takes to power him up, especially since you probably already have three other decent fighters in Tidus, Wakka and Auron, and all of them have better limit breaks to boot...

Yuna: I forgot to mention this earlier, but I'm half Al-Bhed. Not that it really affects anything.
Tidus: Anything else you want to tell us?
Yuna: ...No.
Tidus: Are you sure?
Yuna: I just said no.
Tidus: Fine, fine. You're the most boring protagonist this series has probably ever had anyway.
Yuna: Look who's talking, crybaby. "My Daddy didn't give me enough cuddles, waaaahhh!"
Tidus: Hey, it's called "character development."
Yuna: Bullshit. You don't change at all throughout the whole game, and even when you come close it's a moot point anyway since you vanish forever five minutes later.
Tidus: At least I didn't take off most of my clothes just to star in an even more craptastic sequel.
Yuna: ...You win this round.

We take some time out from the plot to reunite with Seymour for... no apparent reason!

Seymour: Hi Yuna, will you marry me?
Yuna: I barely know you and your hands are really gross, but I accept anyway.

The dumbass just happens to leave around a videotape revealing that he's an evil bastard and wants everyone dead for no real reason at all.

Tidus: The guy who wears his hair in giant devil horns, has bulging forehead veins and a constant scowl, and summons a Lovecraftian horror to fight his battles for him is evil?  I never would have guessed!
Spoony: I think this "big reveal" would have been a lot more effective if Yuna and Seymour had some kind of history together at the beginning of the game instead of dropping this proposal on us out of the blue literally seconds before we find conclusive proof of his evil nature.  It also would have been a perfect opportunity for Yuna to have an actual character arc as she set her feelings for him aside and resolved to stop his mad plans.  But hey, why would I know how to structure a story better than professional writers?

They save Yuna and kill Seymour, getting declared heretics by the Church.  Then they reinforce another Square cliche by falling down a pit into the next dungeon.  Come on guys, you already used that at the BEGINNING!  Get creative!  Use your brains a little!

Seymour: Surprise, I'm back less than an hour after you killed me!
Tidus: What is this Mickey Mouse bullshit?  Dead people supposed to turn into monsters!  We kind of spent the first few hours of the game establishing that plot point.
Seymour: Oh yeah, we just decided to throw that rule out halfway through the scripting process but never bothered to give any explanation as to why.
Tidus: What?
Seymour: You'll find out later. Toodles!

Despite the fact that the church has pretty much everyone on the planet after blood for the murder of one of their high priests, they decide to complete the pilgrimage anyway.

Yuna: I didn't mention this earlier but this pilgrimage to destroy Sin for a while kills me in the process.
Tidus: Shit like this never flies in JRPGs, so we're going to find a sloppy, last-minute way to weasel out of it and still beat the bad guy.  ...Boy, it's never a good sign when you can predict the ending of the story and you're not even halfway through it yet.
Yuna: Sorry.
Tidus: Whatever, this plot's a fucking mess and it's only going to get worse. Let's just get it over with.

And then THIS lovely scene plays!

Rikku:  Oh yeah, all those Al Bhed machine bosses you've been fighting?  We've secretly been trying to kidnap Yuna and other Summoners to prevent unnecessary death.
Everyone: MOPE MOPE MOPE MOPE MOPE FEEL SORRY FOR YUNA YOU BRAINLESS SHEEP MOPE MOPE MOPE
Spoony: ...So to prevent unnecessary death, you kidnap summoners by murdering their guardians with giant tanks and submarines so you can save them from meeting their fate at the end of the Pilgrimage.  Never mind that in stopping Sin - even temporarily - they prevent attacks that result in hundreds or even thousands of lives being lost.  Am I getting this right?
Rikku: Yep!
Spoony: Okay, seriously, I can't take this anymore.  People defend THIS game as one of the genre's prime examples of cinematic storytelling and great writing?  Are you serious?  I've seen GI Joe/Halo crossover fan fiction written by eleven year olds that didn't have leaps of logic this fucking retarded.  There weren't nearly as many annoying characters or glaring plot holes, either.  Oh, and before you try to tell me that the whole "Final Summoning" business is just a ploy to prolong Sin's existence, I'm well aware of that and I have a whole other rant lined up for it later.  The characters are not yet aware of this fact.  So this whole scene just makes the Al Bhed - and Rikku in particular - look like completely selfish pricks.  Not to mention that this scene as a whole is the most blatant, shameless attempt at milking pathos from the player I've ever seen in a video game, and that the only thing worse than the fact that Square has so little respect for their audience's intelligence is that there are millions of people out there that were dumb enough let themselves be manipulated like this and continue to do so.  Millions!  How have we fallen this fucking far as a species?

Seymour: BLAAARRGH, I am back to annoy you with another tedious battle! Oh, and I killed the Ronso race.
Tidus: Am I supposed to care?  Not one of them has done a single thing of note the entire game. Hell, even Kimahri's had maybe five lines of dialog, and I'm being generous with that estimate.
Seymour: Nevermind then. Back to my original plan, I need Yuna to become a new Sin and destroy all life on Spira!
Tidus: That's why you've been stalking us across half the damn planet? You do realize you just wiped out an entire civilization in the five minutes it took us to pass through their territory, right?
Seymour: What are you saying?
Tidus: I'm saying that if you can wipe out thousands of people in the time it takes me to speak this sentence, why the hell do you need Yuna?
Seymour: ...Uh... shut up!
Tidus: Hey, don't hate me just because I rendered your entire contribution to the plot pointless.
Seymour: I don't. I explained this to you earlier.
Tidus: Oh yeah.

They fight again anyway. As a beginner's trap, the game throws in the option to trash-talk Seymour, which just results in wasted turns for an extremely minimal stat boost. He also instantly kills any summoned monsters, but it doesn't make much of a difference since summons are useless as dirt in this game anyway. Once he's finally defeated, Yuna neglects to send him again because she is an IDIOT.

Tidus: Great, now we have to put up with him again later.
Seymour: After I finish unleashing genocide on the Al Bhed!  Thanks for just standing there and watching while I remanifest and leave, you dumb broad!  Nya ha ha!

Yuna gets captured by the church or something, I don't remember exactly. At any rate, it's little more than an excuse to show a few more cinemas, draw the game out with a few more boss fights (effectively revealing that the Church is a bunch of hypocrites because they use fucking forbidden machina to fight you), and establish this lovely plot point:

Churchguys: Surprise, we're all unsent ghosts too. Also, as you've probably figured out, this entire religion is a sham. We're all too busy feeling sorry for ourselves after our repeated failed attempts to permanently stop Sin, so we just set up the whole pilgrimage thing as a way to give people false hope whilst we secretly pull strings behind the scenes to keep ourselves in power.
Tidus: So the whole planet is suffering just because you three guys are cowards, notwithstanding the fact that people can apparently cheat death as much as they want through some unexplained means, rendering the cornerstone of your power completely moot?
Churchguys: Pretty much.
Tidus: Do I even need to point out how idiotic it is that you're helping Seymour - a goddamned lunatic guilty of double genocide - become a new Sin so he can MURDER EVERYBODY?  It's kind of hard to lord over the world's populace when they're all mindless, bloodthirsty monsters...
Churchguys: Um... shit, you're right.  Boy, are our faces red.  Ha, ha, ha!
Spoony: And here I was thinking that Star Ocean 3 had the worst plot twist of all time.  At least that one made some modicum of sense; here, the game plays so fast and loose with its own rules that this twist raises far more questions than it creates!  If their plan is to rule the world in secret, why the hell are they aiding Seymour in his mad plan to kill all of their subjects?  If people are resurrected as monsters after death, does that mean that, contrary to what was stated earlier, monsters really don't have an unquenchable malice that  renders them unable to coexist with people (and if not, why are they trying to kill our party at every turn)?  Why do Seymour and these guys keep all of their memories and physical form in death when everyone else just becomes a monster?  What makes them special?  This is NEVER explained!  At all!

As the story really has nowhere else to go at this point, the group decides to just finish the Pilgrimage and maybe get a shot at stopping Sin.  Personally, I'd probably have them round up the survivors of the Al Bhed and Ronso camps and declare war on the Church of Yevon, with the ultimate goal of forcibly extracting some method to permanently destroy Sin; that might actually make for some interesting storytelling.  But again, I'm not a professional writer, so what do I know... right?

Spoony: Oh, and why doesn't anybody think to carry any of those spheres that can record stuff?  It might really help to have some EVIDENCE of the church's evildoings, you fucking clods!

Yunalesca: Yuna, you must sacrifice yourself and one of your friends to stop Sin for a few weeks.
Auron: I nominate Tidus!
Lulu, Wakka, Rikku, Kimahri: Second.
Yuna: I came all this way hell-bent on offing myself, but now I'm changing my mind at the last second!
Yunalesca: Even though you have absolutely no plan to stop Sin and nobody will listen to you anyway since you've all been declared heretics, I'm going to kill you to keep you quiet. DIE!

Yunalesca turns into Medusa and one of the most obnoxious, frustrating battles in any game ever occurs. After much grinding, cursing, and a whole ton of Game Overs which you're sure won't pay off anyway because the plot's an irredeemable mess at this point, the bitch finally fucking dies.

Auron: This might be a bad time to mention this, but your father is Sin because Yuna's dad turned Jecht into an Aeon, which Yevon just turns into a new Sin after a few months so he can resume his rampage. Oh yeah, that's also why Sin is pretty much immortal.
Tidus: ...What?  Are you for real?  Do you know how much time and how many lives we could have spared if you'd just revealed that straight away?
Auron: A lot?
Tidus: YES! For fuck's sake, the rules of death apparently don't apply (except when it's inconvenient to US, of course), the entire planet is kept submissive by lies, we're being used as the church's scapegoats, two entire races of people were pushed to the brink of extinction because we turned Seymour into an invincible superghost, and we were about to add to the Sin problem before Yuna got cold feet at the last second. Is there any other vitally important information that you'd like to share, or are you just going to hold out until a million MORE unnecessary deaths occur because of our actions?
Auron: The part about "us" being the only ones able to die isn't true, but only for me; I'm a ghost too.
Fayth: You're not real, Tidus. Neither is your dad, but he's apparently still able to become Sin and terrorize the whole of reality.
Tidus: ...You're both assholes. I'm out of here.

Spoony: I may have been able to buy that the VILLAINS of this story had some means of cheating death that they deliberately kept hidden from the rest of the world, but now AURON does too?  Why can HE cheat death too?  Furthermore, why even make Auron a ghost?  This plot element is literally completely meaningless.  You could have just as easily had him barely escape with his life and then relay his story to Yuna, except - oops - he didn't think to do that until it was too goddamn late!  Why the fuck DIDN'T HE TELL HER THIS?!  It would have been one thing if she didn't believe his words and then came to realize that what he said was true after it was too late to do anything about it, but this does not happen; Yuna never once questions him about the summoning that killed Braska and Auron never says a single word about it until this point!  He is literally an accessory to the biggest crime against humanity in Spira's entire history and he never faces any consequences for it whatsoever.  Kee-rist.

Fayth: Wait, there's more!
Tidus: *Sigh*... I'm going to hate myself for saying this, but: Fine.  Out with it.
Fayth: Zanarkand as you know it isn't real either, it's a fabrication created by Yevon and his only real reason for existing as Sin is to protect it from anything he perceives as a threat. Which includes pretty much everybody and everything.
Tidus: So why in fucking HELL did he ATTACK it at the beginning of the goddamn game?!
Fayth: ...I don't know.
Tidus: Great. Not only is this plot point stolen straight from the Matrix, it's diluted with a whole ton of backwards-ass idiocy that causes it to make even LESS sense.
Fayth: Yep. The whole plot is derivative, self contradictory and little more than a thinly-veiled whinefest about the evils of organized religion, which was already a trite and played-out concept when Xenogears and Breath of Fire II did it several years earlier. What a way to bring this series into the sixth generation, eh?
Tidus: Yeah. Not to mention that Grandia II came out a year before Final Fantasy X, had the same general premise, a comparable setting and even a disquietingly similar cast of characters, but was much, much better written.  That game was a lot more fun to play, too...

The story has officially hit a dead end since there's now no way to even TEMPORARILY stop Sin, which had the potential to set up a lot of nihilistic angst, invoke a genuine sense of dread in the story, and maybe even make you think that the Church of Yevon's plan of turning everyone into mindless, unfeeling (maybe?) monsters wasn't so wrong after all (which would be a perfect opportunity to break away from the series' norm of boring, one-dimensional villains with no redeeming qualities whatsoever - we are only ten games in, after all).  Hell, it was even a good chance at introducing a moral dilemma by having the means to stop Sin come at some dire price like - and I'm just throwing this out here - destroying the Farplane and the Fayth, ensuring that Sin could never remanifest, but also that there would no longer be an afterlife for any Spirans ever again; I'm sure that would piss more than a few people off.  Hell, it would even perfectly cement the whole anti-religion theme you're going for by destroying the church and teachings of Yevon, both figuratively and literally.  But hey, why enhance your story with things like "depth" and "thought provoking material" when you can just boil it all down to a childishly simple black-versus-white scenario yet again?   Pander to that lowest common denominator like there's no tomorrow!

Spoony: And this is why I continue to assert that Square Enix is the single biggest waste of talent in the game industry today.  At the time this game was being made Square had Tetsuya Takahashi, Yasumi Matsuno AND Masato Kato under their label.  Three people who have written far more well-conceived and believable plots than the hacks behind this garbage could even dream of.  Instead, they completely waste Kato on their terrible MMORPG, Tetsuya Takahashi quits to form his own company after Square deems Xenogears "too complicated" for their standards (telling, eh?) and shoves it out the door as a buggy half-finished mess, and Matsuno is stuck making the travesty that is Final Fantasy Tactics Advance instead.  Nice one.

Sure enough, Square goes down the road always taken as Cid arrives minutes later to bail our heroes out with a literal deus ex machina.

Cid: Hey look, I now conveniently have an Airship powerful enough to contend with Sin!
Spoony: ...So the last forty hours of the game were nothing but pointless bickering.  Fan-fucking-tastic, Square.  What's next, all we have to do to defeat Sin is show him the power of our love and he'll lose his supernatural immortality?*
Cid: ...Shut up and get onboard!

*Don't laugh by the way, because that's exactly what happens.  Nevermind that this "love is the ultimate trump card" bullshit is such a trite and cliched plot device that it was laughed off the Disney Channel years ago - the fanboys will eat up ANYTHING!

Since the game's having so much fun pissing on every plot point it spent the first half of itself setting up, we throw one more on the grill by having Sin be defeated by Blitzballs, Magic and thrown items, even though earlier on some dudes were hitting the monster with high-tech magic cannons and didn't even manage to make a scratch.

Spoony: Who'd have thought it, thousands of years of terror and oppression at the hands of this unstoppable monster, and all we have to do to defeat Sin is fly an airship next to it and throw Blitzballs!  This is straight out of Battlefield Fucking Earth, you clods.  Christ, if you're going to rip off story elements from something, at least steal ones that actually make sense.  Not copying notes from one of the worst films and books of all time wouldn't be a bad idea either.

After an extremely padded-out battle, eventually they manage to blast its mouth open and enter its innards.

Tidus: What the shit?  Why does this look like the last area of Quest 64?
Yuna: That sure doesn't bode well for the game's image, does it?

Lots of fights with Behemoths ensue. Seriously, you've never seen this many Behemoths before. Hell, you've never seen this many fights with this many enemies with this much HP in a row outside of a Nippon Ichi title; the only difference is that Final Fantasy X's damage cap* ensures that you'll be hacking away at the same enemy for upwards of twenty minutes while in Disgaea you could take them out in three or four hits.  This dungeon is one of the most mind-bendingly tedious things I've ever endured,  yet for some reason I kept playing.

* You could do the quests to boost your characters' damage caps from 9999 to 99,999, but that involves dodging lightning 200 consecutive times, getting an absurdly low time in a race on a chocobo that doesn't respond to the goddamn controller, playing around 100 hours of Blitzball and all sorts of other tasks that are exercises in complete and utter frustration and/or mind-numbing tedium.  I've played a lot of video games and seen a lot of crappy side-missions in my time, and I can honestly say that these are the absolute worst I've ever encountered.  Bar none.  But if you really want to torture yourself for a couple hundred hours for such a minimal payoff, then be my guest.  As for me, I'd rather do something far less painful.  Like pull out my tonsils with needle nose pliers.

Countless days of needlessly long and obnoxiously frequent battles later...

Seymour: ROOROGHGLFBLAAAGH
Spoony: So if you can get INSIDE Sin AND you're far more powerful than Yu Yevon himself, why do you need Yuna exa-  you know what, fuck it.  I don't even care anymore.  I've seen kids act out more coherent plots with Power Rangers action figures after downing a six-pack of Josta.  You've stolen fifty hours of my life and twenty dollars of my money that I will never get back, now you're going the fuck down.

Yuna FINALLY sends this fucking lameass villain out of the story once and for all

Tidus: Farewell, sweet prince. You were more annoying than Seifer and twice as ugly.

Spoony: I know I'm harping on this a lot, but you know what might have made Seymour into a halfway decent tragic villain?  If the death of his mother and his turn to genocidal madness was orchestrated by the Church as part of their nihilistic ends, and then only having him find out and/or accept the truth once he's already gone beyond redemption.  Then he could have generated some sympathy as a victim of circumstance instead of being yet another piece of the same predictable, morally-black-and-white drivelshit that permeates every single storyline in the entire history of this franchise.   If you're going to turn your stupid little video game into a disingenuous soapbox about how the belief systems of billions of people are evil and corrupt and how literally any band of idiots could figure this fact out if they sat down and thought about it for thirty seconds, you might as well go all-in with that idea.  Hell, if you really want to be on the bleeding edge of what's hip and trendy, just title your next game "Islam Must Die"; that'll really get the angsty bigot bucks rolling in!
Now we move on to Sin's core, where we meet Jecht, who also turns out to be the only likable character in the whole game.  Hey, anyone who can make Tidus' life miserable is okay by me!

Spoony: Seriously though, Jecht is, with absolutely no hyperbole on my part, the best character in this game.  He's the only one with anything resembling a decent character arc, since we've witnessed every step of the path he's taken - from an abusive drunkard to a worldwide hero to an unwilling participant in bringing Spira to its ultimate destruction.  Even the acting here is surprisingly solid as you can feel all that weighing on him in his voice; I legitimately felt bad for the guy, which is no mean feat for a character we've witnessed belittling his own son to the point where he develops a psychological complex.

But the real kicker is that even during this heavy emotional moment, he still manages to squeeze in one last jab at Tidus for being a whiny bitch.  Jecht is just pure awesome.  If only he were in a game that wasn't written and designed by chimpanzees with brain damage...

After a climactic battle with abismally bad metal music, we get this rather strange scene.

Auron: Yuna, summon your Aeons! Quickly!
Yuna: Okay!

Auron slaughters them all with a few waves of his sword.

Yuna: ...What was the point of that?
Auron: I got bored watching Nancy here weep and trade blows with his dad.
Tidus: Oh fuck you, Auron.
Auron: Also, we're murdering them so Yevon can't use them to become another Sin.
Tidus: Which we could have avoided entirely if you'd just told us what was going on in the first place.
Auron: Oh shut up about that already, the game is almost over.
Tidus: Fine, fine. (Asshole.)

Jecht melts into a pile of goo, revealing the ONE TRUE VILLAIN.

Yevon: I AM THE BIG BAD GUY. ...Wait a minute.  Why am I a pill bug, why don't I have any speaking lines, and why am I so pathetically weak? I don't even have a chance in hell of winning because you all suddenly have permanent Reraise status; where did that shit come from?

Spoony: Yeah, don't give us even the illusion of a challenge, Square.  Just hand it to us for free.  You condescending fucks.

Yuna finishes the job by slowly bonking Yevon to death with her wand, ending thousands of years of terror in the most retarded way imaginable.  If you thought Cloud's final showdown with Sephiroth was an anticlimax, you ain't seen shit until you've seen an invincible Yuna wand-bonk Yevon's 9999 HP away 100 points at a time.

Tidus: Well, that was awful. How hard do you have to try to make a final boss lamer than fucking Ultimecia?
Yuna: No shit. As lame and uninspired a character as Ultimecia was, at least she had a speaking part and a fighting chance at beating you.  I mean, it was around 0.1% if you had any kind of proficiency with the Junction system, but better to have a slim chance than no chance at all.
Tidus: Oh yeah, I'm apparently not real. Bye!

Tidus ceases to exist while the rest of the cast goes on to star in a sequel that's not only even worse than this game, but is so brazenly offensive to the series and its fans as a whole that it ruins the franchise's credibility forever.  Way to go above and beyond, guys.

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Spoony:  I thought 8 was doomed to be the series' black sheep, but then this came along and somehow managed to be worse in almost every way.  This isn't just embarrassingly bad and nonsensical - it's the bottom of the fucking barrel for storytelling in gaming.  The plot is absurd, the writing is cliched, sloppy and filled with amateurish mistakes, the character and set designs are overblown and tacky, the characters themselves are unlikable pricks (particularly Tidus, who is one of the absolute worst video game characters of all time), the gameplay is railroaded to the point that it may as well just be a non-interactive movie with occasional battle sequences*, the pacing sucks, and the sidequests are a fucking disgrace.  I mean, Triple Triad and Tetra Master both sucked, but at least those were largely optional and the few times they were required, matches were over and done with in a few minutes.  Here, you'll be plugging away at a single minigame for hours upon hours trying to get a single character's ultimate weapon, then you get to do it again!  And again!  And again!  Blow me; if you're going to require that much of a time investment to fully complete your game, at least make it fucking fun.

* Final Fantasy XIII took the next logical step and actually became exactly this.  Way to somehow lower the bar even further, Square.

But the worst thing of all is the "message" it carries, which is so overwrought and heavy-handed that, if I didn't know better, I'd swear was supposed to be a parody of the anti-theistic theme of most JRPGs.  It's bad enough that Square consistently squanders all of the talent at their disposal in order to crank out the same one-note gameplay, formulaic storylines and forgettable characters time and again, but to shoehorn in a lame straw man about organized religion alongside all of the shameless guilt-tripping and expect people to eat it right up is beyond insulting.  It's an outright slap in the face to their audience's intellect, and everyone involved in its creation should be ashamed of themselves for putting such a blatantly manipulative and disingenuous piece of propaganda on the market in the first place.

But of course, the fanboys are so blinded by groupthink and hero worship that they fail to see this nugget of wisdom for the farce that it is and instead swear allegiance to it as if it were the most profound, important and groundbreaking message ever imparted upon the electronic medium.  Hey fanboys, here's a tip: video games are works of fiction produced by marketeers to cash in on whatever is currently popular with a given age demographic (aka those angsty crusades against "the religious hate machine" you launch from your shitty Tripod sites that nobody but you and your three friends ever read).  They're pandering to you not because they care about your beliefs or even have any respect for your intelligence, but simply because you're a gullible cash cow who will mindlessly buy anything that reinforces your personal politics and puts a pretty coat of paint on it.  Which is pretty much the dumbest thing I can imagine; buying video games and movies and albums put out by big-name labels to support your political views is like donating to NAMBLA just to spite a blogger you don't like - ineffective at best, dangerous at worst, but no matter what, it makes you and your "cause" look like fools.

Just to put a finer point upon this, here's the truth of the matter: Sony and Square Enix's employees are not "brave warriors" and you're not "fighting a righteous war for the future of humanity" by buying their products; you're an easy mark being played by the conservatives who run said companies in order to put a few more dollars in their pockets.  They don't have the slightest shred of respect for you, your intelligence, or your "righteous cause", and they only reason they make games based around those themes is because you pay their salaries by buying them.   By pandering to your political views and having their stool pigeons at IGN and Gamespot constantly parrot that the idea that they're the only ones brave enough to speak the truth and anyone who says otherwise is an ignoramus who is only worthy of scorn and harassment, they ensure that you'll keep opening your wallet to them for years to come.  So wise up; if you want an actual, intelligent look at the rise of organized religion and the impact of faith, then put the controller down for a while, log off your mom's Compaq, and read a fucking book.  Or hell, if you just want to hear some moron's self-righteous masturbation about how everyone but him is a brainwashed lemming or a snake oil salesman, or how the daily lives of people living in places like Burma or Zimbabwe or Venezuela or Ethiopia can't possibly compare to his struggles as a straight white middle class male atheist American, or how the entire world would turn into a perfect conflict-free paradise overnight if only everyone would just throw away their Bibles and start worshipping him instead (preferably through his Patreon page, HINT HINT), then save yourself some money and just browse Tripod for a while because there's plenty of that crap available online for free.  Why not?  It's the exact same shit you're already eating out of Square's hand, just with none of the false pretense attached.

Oh, and before some wiseass steps up and tries to play the "blah blah you ignorant brainwashed sheeple blah blah crusades blah inquisition blah Peter Popoff blah" card, know that I am by no means a fan of religion, organized or otherwise.  However, I am a firm supporter of letting people practice whatever beliefs they choose and go about their daily business without being harassed by belligerent manchildren who think that skimming the Wikipedia pages for Richard Dawkins and Friedrich Nietzsche is a free ticket into the magical realm of instantly being smarter than every theist who has ever lived (and of course more than makes up for being a 28-year-old philosophy major who dropped out of college and moved back in with his parents after being fired from Dairy Queen for throwing a shitfit over a customer's Jesus fish bumper sticker being a personal attack against his sacred beliefs).  Being a cancerous and abusive asshole about your atheism is every bit as ignorant and hateful as doing it in the name of God.  Hell, it may even be worse; at least the more vocal theists have the balls to speak out using their real names and are standing up for what they perceive to be a greater good (misguided though it may be) while your average armchair atheist warrior just goes hunting for random people to gang up on and sling abuse at so they can have fifteen seconds of cheap self-gratification and a screenshot of their ban/block message to frame and hang on their wall as a trophy commemorating "yet another victory over the ignorant sheeple".  All whilst hiding behind dozens of throwaway accounts and proxies so they never have to be held to task for any stupid shit they say or any of the crimes they commit on their "righteous crusades".  But hey, it sure is easier to designate someone as your personal scapegoat and hurl insults at them from the shadows than it is to be a decent person, now isn't it?  And you can do it with a clear conscience too, because your lap-dogs whom you've trained into barking out mindless affirmation on command say that you're fully justified in dehumanizing others, manipulating people for your own gain and being an abusive piece of shit, so that means you are!

Do I even need to point out how hypocritical it is of these people to attack someone for their perceived "bigotry, ignorance and blind bias" while they're taking every word written in a fucking Playstation 2 game as gospel and launching campaigns of systematic harassment against other people simply because their nine-year-old overlords on the Gamespot forums said they weren't worthy of respect for not liking a video game?  Or that they always make sure to keep their menagerie of yes-men and a directory of premade meme images within easy reach so they always have a thoughtless knee-jerk response to any and all criticism whilst simultaneously criticizing the pious as "unthinking sheeple"?  No, I didn't think so.  But then again, when your entire life is based around self-pitying narcissism and misdirecting blame for your pathetic go-nowhere existence, I suppose you have to invent some bullshit double standard or another just to live with yourself on a daily basis...

But I digress.

In fairness, Final Fantasy X is at least appealing on a technical level, bearing some downright incredible visuals and excellent music for the time of its release (barring Jecht's shitty theme song).  However, like Final Fantasy VIII before it, it also stands as proof that presentation alone does not compensate for a weak script that hides its flaws behind empty propaganda, boring characters and countless gameplay flaws.  As I've stated many times before and since: strong aesthetics can help a good game, but they can't save a bad game.  Especially not one this unapologetically, condescendingly full of itself.