Final Fantasy X HD: More than Just an Upscale

Change is afoot -- both visually and audibly.

News by Pete Davison, .

Square Enix's big new Final Fantasy may be the MMO that launches next Tuesday (or this weekend if you're lucky enough to have Early Access), but the remastered versions of Final Fantasy X and X-2 are looking lovely too.

We've seen a fair amount so far about how the visuals have been improved from the original. The game's now true widescreen and has new character models, for starters. Being HD and consequently no longer beholden to varying TV standards, it will also now run at full speed for European players who previously had to put up with Tidus looking like he was running through syrup -- a problem that was, thankfully, fixed by the time Final Fantasy X-2 came out.

What we haven't seen -- or rather heard -- a lot of is what, if anything, is happening to the soundtrack. Both Final Fantasy X and X-2 had excellent (if very different) soundtracks, so it would have been perfectly understandable for Square Enix to have kept the original versions of all the music and left it at that.

However, that's not happening, it seems. This new video, released at Gamescom, demonstrates not only the new high-resolution visuals and interface in the HD version of Final Fantasy X, but also the fact that the music has been remastered.

I'm... not entirely sure how I feel about the new version, to be honest. The original Final Fantasy X soundtrack, while having a very obviously "synthesized" sound, had a certain pleasing crisp, tinny feel to it; composers Uematsu, Hamauzu and Nakano all wholeheartedly embraced this artificial sound rather than attempting to create a realistic, orchestral score for the game. The new version, meanwhile, has a very different feel to it; it's still recognizably the Final Fantasy X battle theme, but it has an altogether different texture, thanks largely to the addition of "thick"-sounding instruments like the electric rhythm guitar as well as more realistic instrument samples.

Commenters on YouTube appear to be divided in their opinions, with many hoping that Square Enix will provide the option to switch between the old and new versions of the music -- not an unfeasible request, but one I somehow doubt we'll see coming to fruition. Square Enix may yet surprise us, of course.

What I'm more interested to hear -- and what the video doesn't show -- is what, if anything, is happening to Final Fantasy X-2's soundtrack. X-2's score was the work of Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi rather than Uematsu, Hamauzu and Nakano, and it had a very different tone: more strongly influenced by J-pop and electronica, it was somewhat jarring on a first listen -- particularly if you'd just come off a lengthy playthrough of FFX -- but, in my opinion at least, it's aged a lot better than X's rather "video gamey" soundtrack. This isn't to say that X's score is bad, before any passionate fans jump down my throat; just that its synthesized MIDI instrument sounds are more obviously dated than the more abstract electronic audio aesthetic of its sequel. Let's not forget that FFX originally came out 12 years ago. (Yes, really.)

There's no firm release date for the FFX/X-2 remaster as yet; it's expected by the end of the year. You can find out more and preorder it via the official website.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for Spazgadget #1 Spazgadget 4 years ago
    My fervor for this game is keeping from me being too upset about minor soundtrack changes, but I can understand your misgivings. Considering what a solid, engrossing story FFX is, I'll make the call that the updated soundtrack will be one of those things you cease to notice after about 3 minutes of playing the game.

    Absolutely can't wait for this.
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  • Avatar for Terpiscorei #2 Terpiscorei 4 years ago
    I'm getting the feeling that the Vita version is going to be canned, given the total absence of information about it. While I love FFX, I was really looking forward to playing it on the Vita; I'm not sure I want to play through it again on PS3. Perhaps I've been conditioned to expect turn-based RPGs on handhelds.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #3 touchofkiel 4 years ago
    @Terpiscorei Weren't the first official screenshots from the Vita version? I don't remember. I doubt it will be canned, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was delayed... disappointing either way, because that's the version I'll be getting. You're right, though - the lack of any real word about it is a little troubling.

    But then, they haven't talked much about the PS3 version either. They've been pretty quiet about the whole thing, except for a steady trickle of screens and videos.

    As for the changes, I'm glad Square's not doing a simple HD upgrade. Between this and Kingdom Hearts 1.5, it looks like they're putting more effort into it than most. I'd be happy either way, but it's a nice touch.

    Not sure about the music though. That battle theme sounds way off. On the other hand, I think the non-battle music will sound much better arranged.
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  • Avatar for Terpiscorei #4 Terpiscorei 4 years ago
    @touchofkiel I think you're right about the first screens. I'm probably being worried about nothing, but as someone in the NA market, Square-Enix's business decisions of late haven't agreed with me very often. :/
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #5 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    release date?
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  • Avatar for jacobshafer86 #6 jacobshafer86 4 years ago
    I will also vote that I am only interested if they actually release a Vita version. I have my doubts that it is still in production.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #7 MHWilliams 4 years ago
    @Stealth20k None yet. This year they believe.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #8 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    @MHWilliams This is why I went from a square supporter to apologist to given up. Its bad enough they dont localize anything or make jrpgs barely. But give us a date
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  • Avatar for Riverking #9 Riverking 4 years ago
    Just going off the youtube video with both songs the difference seems small enough that it didn't bother me. I was never that into FFX's OST though, so that could be the source of my indifference towards the changes.

    I am much more interested in what they did with FFX-2 soundtrack tbh.
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  • Avatar for salparadise #10 salparadise 4 years ago
    @Terpiscorei I would have to agree. Only would get this if it was on the Vita. The more portable rpgs the better.
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  • Avatar for TPoppaPuff #11 TPoppaPuff 4 years ago
    Changing the soundtrack is neat and all, but the real question should be rather they fixed the dialogue and voice acting? Yeah, it's probably a lot more work than the soundtrack, but it's also a lot more important.
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