There’s nothing quite like your first Final Fantasy game. An initial glimpse into the explosively colorful, epically structured, decades-spanning mega-series, fans often say that their favorite game in the collection is the first one they ever played—which makes sense, since that particular installment is what grabbed their attention in the first place. The same has been true for this writer since a fateful New Year’s Eve many moons ago, when a bored friend pulled out his PS2 and a copy of Final Fantasy X.
Set in the beautiful but imperiled world of Spira, Final Fantasy X follows the adventures of Tidus (a cocksure but ultimately caring sports star supposedly teleported 1000 years into the future), Yuna (a quiet but steadfast summoner) and their merry band of fools as they begin a journey to defeat a massive, world-destroying beast called Sin. Along the way, they become tangled in a web of cutthroat Spiran politics, racial cleansing and despotic religious zealotry, which ultimately calls for them to turn their backs on the old, corrupt ways of Spiran society. All the while Tidus and Yuna’s bond grows stronger, until the point that it ultimately saves the world when—SPOILER—Tidus sacrifices himself to save Yuna’s life.
The game was a critical and financial success, earning a 92 from MetaCritic, selling over 8 million copies to date, and getting the promise of an HD remake for its 10th anniversary. It is also the first entry in the Final Fantasy series to spawn a direct sequel—Final Fantasy X-2, set two years after the conclusion of X, highlights new struggles faced by Yuna in a quickly changing Spira with the help of her quickly changing wardrobe. While X-2 was decidedly more divisive than its predecessor (with fans decrying its bubbly and light atmosphere in comparison to X‘s more mature and emotional storyline), there is one thing that X-2 does right, and that’s Yuna’s story. Or, more specifically, it works in conjunction with X to truly emphasize Yuna’s struggle after the end of X, show how she changes and grows, and makes one thing pointedly clear: losing Tidus was one of the best things that could have happened to her. In Final Fantasy X and X-2, Yuna’s story is a journey of the self wherein she needed to lose Tidus in order to be whole.