When it comes to Final Fantasy games, many will wonder where the series went wrong. For some, Final Fantasy X was the last truly great installment, and is one of the paragons of the series. However, I have some bad news for you. It isn't the absolute best of the best before Square Enix started messing with the Final Fantasy formula. Final Fantasy X-2 is. Now, I don't want to cause any harsh feelings, or to come across some kind of fangirl, but we all just have to accept it. FFX-2 is better than FFX.
Yes, Final Fantasy X-2's story may not have seemed as "mature" as FFXoh ya know, feeding 's. Many would brush it off as a girl power extravaganza. Which isn't to say it isn't. Much of it is a fun and flighty affair. However, there are more serious matters brewing below the surface, which offer more drama and depth than FFX.
In the previous game, we see Yuna and her friends eradicate Sin from the world after learning Yu Yevon was responsible for its cycle of resurrection. This, along with the revelation of corruption within the church, struck quite a blow to Spira, considering nearly every person alive was a follower of Yevon. What many people brush aside is that FFX-2 isn't just about Yuna, Rikku, and Paine having girl-power adventures, finding Tidus, and saving the world again. It's also about the world of Spira trying to find balance among the warring factions of New Yevon, the Youth League and the Machine Faction that have sprung up in the aftermath.
In comparison, Final Fantasy X's story of journeying to collect Aeons, discover what Tidus is and defeat Sin seems a lot less complicated.
Final Fantasy X-2 also has a better leveling system. While Final Fantasy X's sphere grid was rather revolutionary and has been mimicked in many other RPGs since its creation, FFX-2 successfully blended it with the job system famous in many classic Final Fantasy games. Battles suddenly become a lot more strategic when you have 16 different dresspheres to choose from for your characters, and can swap between them on the fly. While FFX did pay homage to the notion of classes, by having certain characters fit various archetypes (ex. Kimahri is a Blue Mage, Rikku is a thief), FFX-2 took it a step further and gave us our jobs back. With cute outfits added, for good measure!
Not to mention, Final Fantasy X-2 offered better mini-games. All FFX gave us was blitzball, which most people tend to either tolerate or absolutely hate. With the sequel, we not only saw blitzball return, but also were able to play Sphere Break, catch and raise chocobo, or dig up machina. Variety is the spice of life, and FFX-2 provides plenty. Though really, FFX-2 deserves more credit for making blitzball more tolerable, due to a change in how the mini-game is played.
Then, there's the Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission content, which we're only getting for the first time in the Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster. This stuff blows FFX out of the park. The inclusion of extra dresspheres is a minor bonus, compared to everything else the game has in store. Ever wonder where FFXIII-2 got its Paradigm Pack component from? That would be FFX-2's Creature Creator, which allows people to recruit both monsters and NPC characters, even ones like Tidus and Lulu, to fight alongside the party. Some of them even have little bonus events.
Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission makes the deal even better, as it's pretty much a full, additional, roguelike RPG set after FFX-2. Yuna, Rikku, and Paine reunite to explore the mysterious Iutycyr Tower after getting unsigned letters that bring them back together. The revelations that come from this additional jaunt aren't exactly earth-shattering, but offer closure to people wondering what happened to the women and Spira after FFX-2 ended.
Really, when it comes down to content, Final Fantasy X-2 is a real winner. True, it will likely never receive the acknowledgement it deserves, but at least as we replay it in the Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster, we'll all know in our hearts that it's the better of the two games.