Final Fantasy X released in Japan exactly 20 years ago and was my introduction to the series. To this day, it remains my favourite entry and one of my favourite games of all time.
What’s so great about it? Never mind the fact that it introduced some of the coolest summons in the series: Yojimbo, and my personal favourite, Anima.
Never mind the fact that it also features one of the best boss battle themes against one such summon. One of the best not just in the series, but in gaming overall.
Final Fantasy X has some of the best music, character development and turn-based gameplay in the series. But I love its true-to-life story of love and loss the most.
Listen to My Story…
Final Fantasy X takes place in Spira and tells the story of two people united by fate. First comes Tidus, a young, brash and mostly clueless Blitzball player from Zanarkand.
His father, Jecht, mysteriously disappeared 10 years ago and his mother died. Fuelled by resentment toward Jecht, Tidus now tries to surpass his father in every way.
A gargantuan whale-like being known as Sin attacks his homeland during a match. Saved by his father’s friend, Auron, Tidus eventually ends up on the other side of Spira.
On Besaid island, he meets a group of likeminded Blitzball players. Tidus learns of their customs and their ardent renouncement of technology based on Yu Yevon’s teachings.
Teachings which, as Tidus finds out later, are falsehood.
More importantly, he learns that Zanarkand was destroyed a thousand years ago. Sin wreaks havoc on Spira to this day.
But what happened between then and now? Summoner Yuna, another pivotal character in Final Fantasy X, could bring Tidus to the answers that he seeks.
Yuna is a dutiful young girl at the start of her pilgrimage to defeat Sin. Accompanied by her guardians, Yuna prays at temples across Spira to ascertain her dedication. Each temple’s Fayth, a spirit of a long-gone human, rewards her efforts with a new mythical being — an Aeon.
Once Yuna demonstrates her resolve, her journey culminates in the ruins of Zanarkand, where she must select one of her guardians to become the most powerful Final Aeon.
During this journey, Yuna and Tidus develop strong feelings for each other. Eventually, Yuna appoints him as her guardian which makes Tidus the likeliest candidate for the Final Aeon; the stronger the bond, the stronger the Aeon.
Sounds straightforward so far, right?
However, once Yuna performs the Final Summoning and defeats Sin, the Aeon will kill her.
This May Be Our Last Chance
Long ago, Yuna’s father, Braska, along with his guardians, Auron and Jecht, defeated Sin. Braska chose Jecht as his Final Aeon, the only one capable of matching Sin’s power.
Whoever defeats Sin in this form is subsequently possessed by Yu Yevon’s spirit and kills the summoner. Eventually, that someone forms the next Sin, making him immortal.
Summoners don’t fight to defeat Sin for good, but bring about the so-called Calm: a brief period of peace between Sin’s death and the formation of a new one. Spira’s inhabitants accept this perpetual cycle as punishment for misusing technology in the past.
I’m sure you’ve put two and two together by now, but I’ll spell it out anyway — Jecht is Sin.
Throughout the story, Tidus constantly reiterates his hatred toward Jecht, how he abandoned him and his mom. But Jecht didn’t leave home for no good reason; he left to aid his friends and rid Spira of suffering.
When Tidus finally comes to grips with the fact, his resentment dissipates, if only slightly. He resolves to put an end to the cycle and to his father’s torment.
Tidus persuades Yuna to forego the Final Summoning and defeat the Final Aeon within Sin, instead. Doing this would not only save Yuna from her predicament, but leave Sin without an Aeon to resurrect itself with.
Alas, Sin’s demise will lead to consequences either way. For you see, Tidus doesn’t exist. The Fayth, the same spirits that bestow Aeons upon wayfaring summoners, dreamt Tidus into existence to defeat Sin once and for all.
When Tidus lays Jecht to rest, the Fayth will cease dreaming and Tidus will disappear.
Fittingly, a song named “Someday the Dream Will End” accompanies the final stretch to Zanarkand. It signifies the game’s conclusion and the looming end of a dream, of Tidus.
A Fleeting Dream
Final Fantasy games seldom end on an uplifting note and the tenth iteration is no exception. It’s raw and heart-wrenching, with interspersed bits of joy, much like life itself.
There’s no option for a happy ending.
Unless you take Final Fantasy X-2 into the equation…
At times, you’re participating in a high-stakes Blitzball tournament or teaching Yuna how to whistle. But Final Fantasy X frequently reminds you of the fleeting nature of life and the multi-faceted complexity of relationships.
Both characters go through experiences that highlight this.
Yuna matures by being forced into difficult decisions. Does she uphold the tradition and sacrifice her friends, those she loves, for a brief moment of peace?
Or does she abandon this path, but risk losing the one person she cherishes the most?
Thanks to Tidus, Yuna learns to take control of her fate. She opts to dictate her own actions rather than being a mere tool for tradition which bears little to no long-term consequence.
Tidus goes through an equally complex development: he reconciles with his father. Final Fantasy X realistically portrays the nature of a human relationship.
When Tidus faces Jecht’s Final Aeon and “Otherworld” starts playing, most disagreements dissipate and seem trivial.
Suddenly, who said what and who hurt who is no longer important. Past grudges don’t matter anymore. Because there, in that moment, you realize that you won’t ever have another chance to say… “I hate you”.