Favorite Games List - PlayStation 2 (Part Two)

Last night I kicked off a week-long PlayStation 2 Favorite Games extravaganza with my fondest memories of the Grand Theft Auto III trilogy. So for part two, let's switch it up a bit and look at a trio of Squaresoft games.

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The Bouncer - One of the last games developed by Squaresoft before they merged with Enix, The Bouncer made its way into my collection at a time when I was buying up everything Squaresoft was putting out. Unbeknownst to me, this game was a far cry from the JRPGs I was so accustomed to in the Final Fantasy series. An action beat 'em up, The Bouncer stands out to me as a memorable title on the platform because you controlled one of three main characters throughout the game and the scenes you, the player, experienced varied depending on whose perspective you were playing as during any given portion of the game. Upon learning this, I was immediately intrigued and would replay the game to put together the pieces of the entire story.

Final Fantasy X - While the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remasters that Square Enix put out on PS3, PS Vita, then PS4 frustrated me as a filthy cash grab (that I to my shame contributed to), I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a great time with the games when they launched. Final Fantasy X was Square's first foray into voice acting and while I think the direction it's laughably bad (and in my opinion hasn't made great strides to improve in the games since), there was still a charm to hearing Tidus, Wakka, Yuna, and the rest as fully voiced characters. It brought the series to a new level.

The Sphere Grid system was a new interesting approach to leveling up. The series' last iteration of turn-based combat was a fresh approach allowing you to switch party members in and out of combat on the fly. I probably spent more time playing Blitzball than I did the rest of the game as I continually lead the Besaid Aurochs to victory. And graphically, Squaresoft was showing just how much time and care they put into their visuals with the beautifully rendered cinematic cutscenes. It's also the last story in the series I could actually describe to you as Final Fantasy XII and the Lightning trilogy fell off a cliff for me narratively-speaking.

Final Fantasy X-2 - After years and years of hoping, Square was final giving players a proper sequel. Even though it wasn't the Final Fantasy VII sequel fans wanted ( and Dirge of Cerberus certainly disappointed a couple years later), it was a start. The trailer for Final Fantasy X-2 might be one of the first times I remember watching a trailer over and over again on a website like IGN. It's certainly the earliest one that stands out in my memory, anyway.

Final Fantasy X-2 picked up following the events of Final Fantasy X. Instead of a continuous fluid story, X-2 switched up the Final Fantasy formula by structuring the game around a series of shorter, self-contained missions. And instead of following around Yuna and her six Guardians, the playable cast of characters was focused on the trio of Yuna, Rikku, and newcomer Paine. And the series brought back the classic Job Class system for the first time since Final Fantasy V (or Tactics if you count that). Yes, I maybe felt a bit weird playing dress-up with Team YRP but the game itself was actually a lot of fun and switched up enough of the systems and mechanics to forgive the realization that Squaresoft was mostly reusing a ton of assets from the first game.