Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Final Fantasy X-2: Female Protagonists

All of the Final Fantasy games that had a solid cast of characters (from the SNES age onward) have had exactly three female playable characters. The number of male characters varied between games but they strangely all had three female characters. Final Fantasy X-2 only has three playable characters so, of course, they are all female.

The character advancement system in the game is a job based system. Each of the characters earns points towards whatever job they're in when they take an action and those points get spent to unlock new abilities in that job. Unlike most of the other job system games you can't use abilities from one job while you're in a different job. (FFV and Tactics in particular had some pretty neat combos you could build up by combining a support ability from one job with another job.) The twist in FFX-2 is you can change between jobs in the middle of a fight. So you don't need your fighter to be able to cast white magic spells... If you need a white magic spell right now you can just turn into a white mage!

The different jobs are contained within spheres and the way you assign these spheres to the different characters is by adding them to a 'garment grid'. I can remember hearing about people being a little thrown off by this when the game first came out. Your job is tied to the clothes you wear? And you swap clothes in the middle of combat using a Sailor Moonesque transition scene? Some people just didn't like that. I didn't mind it at all, but I guess I've always played the female characters in games anyway and have a really easy time just seeing things as numbers and stats. I might find it interesting if the gambler job outfit looks the best on Rikku, but if my plan calls for Yuna to be the gambler and Rikku to be the white mage then that's just what's going to happen!

Many (most?) of the outfits are on the revealing side. In my playthrough this time I'm actually a little thrown off by the poses Rikku has taken in the black mage outfit. She sure likes to stick her butt out in ways that just don't look right. But on the plus side she's also throwing out Schwarzeneggeresque puns with each spell! (What's wrong, cold feet?  You're... fired!)

Some time ago I posted about trying out an MMORPG where every character was female and you could buy an item in the cash shop to remove your underwear. It felt weird, and it was pointed to me that agency would be a big part of it. Why are these women taking off their clothes? It turns out in the game you played as a male controller who issued commands to female robots so it was very much a case of them just doing what they were told by men and it really was as creepy as it felt. I think FFX-2 is very different from Scarlet Blade in this regard. The game is set on a series of tropical islands and skimpy clothes make a lot of sense for anyone to be wearing. (I went through the art book that came with the collector's edition and one of the things they talked about was how in FFX they made Yuna's outfit be a traditional reserved priestess style outfit while also having slits cut in the right spots for air flow because of the tropical climate.) Also, Yuna, Rikku and Paine are very much doing the things they do for their own reasons. Part of it is treasure hunting for the sake of treasure hunting. Part of it is trying to find clues in the search for Tidus. Part of it is doing what the leader of the Gullwings wants them to do (Brother, who I believe is Rikku's brother, but he's incompetent and seems to delegates all decisions to Yuna so far anyway.) But they are very much in control of their own actions. I guess the garment grid system isn't described in too much detail so it's possible the clothes they end up wearing were chosen by someone else? But since they're using the same spheres and grids but getting different outfits it probably has something to do with their own thoughts?

The bottom line is it feels like this is a game with all female main characters where they're actually the ones making decisions and being awesome. Hurray! I don't feel like I should feel bad for playing this game, that's for sure.

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