Things Overheard: “Final Fantasy X Is Just a Kiddie Game”

It sounds insulting but is it at least somewhat accurate...?
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  • Where it was overheard: In the game section at a local Best Buy.
  • Concerning what: The recently released Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster.
  • Who said it: A younger individual who appeared to be about 20.
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My reaction:

Okay, so at first, I saw red. I’ve always despised the term “kiddie” because it automatically holds a negative connotation. Furthermore, I’m a lifelong fan of the franchise in question, and FFX is one of my favorite installments. The comment seemed insulting, unnecessary, ignorant, and inaccurate. Hence, I was about to open my mouth when a thought popped into my seething brain:

Is it inaccurate?

Let’s try to be objective

Obviously, my initial reaction was driven by emotion and sentiment. But when that thought interrupted my anger, I had to stop and think. The person who said it was probably only about 7 or 8 years old when FFX first came out; chances are, he didn’t play it back then. On the surface, that may not matter. After all, how can a game being “kiddie” change over time?

Well, it sort of can.

Video games have changed considerably. Now, I’m not saying there weren’t heavily mature video games when Final Fantasy X came out. Of course there were. But the overall atmosphere was just… different. Firstly, the Japanese still dominated the industry and let’s face it, Japanese developers have a penchant for younger-looking characters. Growing up, I was used to it; Western developers hadn’t yet had much of an impact.

Grand Theft Auto was really spearheading a new era of gaming (don’t forget that GTAIII came out just months before FFX in 2001) but most games – especially JRPGs – still had a certain look. And for younger individuals now, in a world where the most popular and highest-selling games are very adult-looking, very mature, etc., the “kiddie” label for FFX is actually understandable.

It’s not just the characters

It’s not only because Tidus looks like he could be 13 years old (even though he’s not). If you really examine the entire package, what do we see?

We see a love story between two characters that is cute and charming, but more akin to something we’d see in a kid’s animated movie as opposed to a mature, sophisticated romance. We see a world that is bright and vibrant and even when it’s dark, it retains a palpable semblance of lightheartedness. There’s no blood, no gore, no bad language, no overt sexual situations, and even the most epic encounters are epic and fantastical, but only on a particular scale.

It’s not Assassin’s CreedUncharted, Call of DutyHaloGears of WarKillzoneGod of WarGrand Theft Auto, or any of the other hugely popular franchises of today. FFX is distinctly different, not only in terms of gameplay, but also in terms of style, atmosphere, tone and design. The reactions and behavior of the characters are often adolescent or even childish; the jokes are simple and again, “cute” and never offensive. By today’s standards, FFX could be played by just about anyone.

As much as I love FFX, playing it again, sometimes I remember that “kiddie” comment and cringe

I cringe because I know, even if the person saying it didn’t fully understand, that the “kiddie” label might be accurate. At least, it’d be accurate for someone of that age. Granted, the deeper philosophical themes in the FFX storyline are definitely not “kiddie” and are deeper than many themes we see today. But even such intriguing, cerebral ideas are presented in a very colorful, all-ages-acceptable way.

Lastly: My girlfriend watched the scene where Tidus and Yuna are about to leave Luca, and they’re getting each other to laugh out loud. The look of the characters, the feel of the surroundings, the corny cuteness of the scene; she was perfectly justified in asking why I was playing a game for kids. After having recently seen me play inFamous: Second SonGrand Theft Auto VAssassin’s Creed IV: Black FlagThief, and Outlast, does anyone blame her for asking?

Yes, gaming has grown up. FFX will indeed appear “kiddie” to people who didn’t live through a generation where video games were more innocent, and an era where Japanese culture reigned. I suppose we just have to accept that.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.