In 1986 the videogame company Squaresoft was on the verge of bankruptcy and videogame designer Hironobu Sakaguchi had the plan to retire after completing the project he was doing, so he called it Final Fantasy, because it would be his final game. Final Fantasy turned out to be this huge saga that reversed Square’s misfortune. Final Fantasy X is the tenth game in the Final Fantasy series, and was the first to be developed for Play Station 2. FFX is a Role-Playing Video Game by Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix after the fusion with Enix in 2003). Presented in 2001, it’s among the 20 best-selling console games in history and the second best-selling game in the series after FFVII.
This videogame was important because it featured realistic characters’ facial expressions, achieved through motion capture and skeletal animation technology; life-like visual effects as lights and shadows between the characters clothes; 3D locations and it was also the first in the series to incorporate voices in the dialogues, dubbed by professional actors. But I want to talk about the Original Soundtrack, specifically. I say the original one because in 2013 Square Enix launched a Remastered HQ version of the game and a big part of the sountrack was rearranged for better sound quality but it lost the nostalgia factor that the old sound had. That was, in part, because the original one was in MIDI, which is a technological standard that gives it a more “electronic” or “retro” sound to the instruments. After the critics, they included an option to change the track version.
1. An iconic Original Sountrack
Final Fantasy X’s music was composed by Nobuo Uematsu (51 tracks), Masashi Hamauzu (20 tracks) and Junya Nakano (18 tracks). It was the first Final Fantasy title in which Uematsu was not the only composer. These two new composers were chosen for the soundtrack based on their ability to create music that was different than Uematsu’s while still working together.
This is the most famous track on the game but Uematsu wrote it years prior for the recital of a flutist. Then, he saw that the track didn’t work for the occasion and decided to re-use it later, working perfectly for FFX.
The theme is first played during the opening, which shows Tidus, the protagonist, and the other characters at the ruins of Zanarkand, the city that used to be his home but was now in ruins, as they prepare for their pilgrimage. This theme is played during key moments, typically rearranged and under other titles like “Movement in Green”, “The Truth Revealed” and “Ending Theme”.
This is a rather sad track that talks about Tidus’ homeland Zanarkand which is also a metaphor for utopia and hope when everything is lost because the city of Zanarkand was destroyed 1000 years before the events of the game yet Tidus keeps saying that he will take his friends to Zanakand. Poetically, Zanarkand Ruins is the final destination of their pilgrimage to defeat Sin, the main villan, creating a narrative cicle.
This theme plays when Tidus is heading for the blitzball stadium in Dream Zanarkand (the one from the first scene), and when he is remembering Jecht, his father and most famous blitzball player of all time, showing him the Jecht Shot, the trick he is famous for. It plays for the final time after the group wins the final battle and the villagers of Besaid Island are rejoicing. It’s hopeful and positive like Tidus, who even though has a sad story is mostly cheerful.
“Yuna’s Theme”/”Daughter of the Great Summoner”
Yuna has two themes attributed to her named “Yuna’s Theme” and “Daughter of the Great Summoner”. “Yuna’s Theme” appears everytime Yuna has an important scene and “Daughter of the Great Summoner” plays when Tidus talks to her for the first time in Besaid, and on the deck of the airship before the final fight. Both of Yuna’s themes are calm and hopeful but a bit sad in my opinion, like her fate, even though she survives in the end. She’s 17 and “knows” she won’t have a normal life which deep down makes her sad, especially after meeting Tidus but she is always devoted to her duty just like her father who was the highest summoner.
“Suteki da ne”/”Isn’t it wonderful?” (Yuna and Tidus theme)
It plays during the romantic scene between Tidus and Yuna at the Macalania Forest after their escape from Bevelle, where Yuna was being forced to marry Seymour, one of the villains. It has arrangements from “Daughter of a Grand Summoner” which plays during Yuna’s introduction, “Yuna’s Theme” which plays during scenes involving Yuna, “Game Over” which plays when you fail in a battle, “Spira Unplugged,” which plays in Besaid Village (Yuna’s home and where they met) and Kilika Port (where Tidus realises the importance of her role), and “A Fleeting Dream” which plays on the Zanarkand Ruins road, meaning the end of their journey and Tidus’ home.
The lyrics of the song as well as the melody talk about an impossible love and how wonderful it would be if they could be together. It gains meaning when we know that Yuna is supposed to die in order to defeat Sin and Tidus is not real but an old soul. An orchestral version of the song plays during the ending credits, hinting that their love remained.
This theme is burned in the memory of every FFX lover after hours of gameplay because it plays everytime there’s a battle and works in a loop. Its sound is energetic and exciting, working perfectly for the characters movement during battle.
This is the heavy metal song that begins FFX, playing during the blitzball game in Dream Zanarkand when Sin destroys the stadium. Its growling vocals and wild guitar works perfectly with the destruction and action elements of the opening scene. Also, a looped version plays during the battle, linking it to the begining of Tidus’ journey. This track was not altered in the remastered version.
“Hymn of the Fayth”
This hymn consists of a single melodic line reminiscent of Gregorian chant and in the game serves as a transitional song and an indicator of religious importance or solemnity, appearing in every temple during the pilgrimage. One of the plots of Final Fantasy X is the religious corruption that ruls its world, prohibiting machines as a whole yet Bevelle, the religious capital is full of this technology. The theme’s main voice changes in every Eon’s chamber, the to-be Yuna’s Eons souls are kept, sometimes is a young girl, a tenor man, etc depending of the Eons “personality”.
“There was something I didn’t tell anyone else that day. That song we heard there, in the temple…I knew it from my childhood. It was proof that Spira and Zanarkand were connected somehow. At least to me it was.” – Tidus
Final Fantasy X is a good example of amazing videogame soundtracks that elevate the narrative and the existing emotions while complementing the actions of the player. The characther’s themes represent well their story and personality and the main themes make the plot bigger and even more emotional. 30 years after Final Fantasy I, the soundtracks are still very much loved so in 2007 Nobuo Uematsu created a symphony concert tour that is still performing around the world called Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY. A symphony orchestra, a choir, and renowned vocal and instrumental soloists under the direction of GRAMMY Award-winner Arnie Roth and a multimedia show with scenes of the games.