Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster launched at the end of 2013 in Japan, and heading into the rerelease's 10th anniversary, fans are still mad about the damage this version did to the original game's faces.
There are plenty of comparison shots (opens in new tab) out there if you want to see the difference between the two versions, but in short, the remaster makes changes to the original game's character models which ultimately result in making them look more plastic-y and, well, video game-like. Obviously PS2 character models aren't going to look that expressive to modern eyes in the first place, but it's hard to look at a clip like the one embedded below without feeling like there's been a clear downgrade.
Fans have lamented these changes pretty much from the remaster's launch, and every so often a new (opens in new tab) round (opens in new tab) of discussion (opens in new tab) on social media crops up on the topic. Heck, we even had a feature on Yuna's face. Now, between this year's 10th anniversary of the remaster and today's 23rd birthday of X-2, it seems everyone is eager to dive into the discourse again. And folks, the discussion has not been kind.
How did the FFX HD Remaster flew under the radar for 10 years about how it literally ruins the experience taking out character facial expressions is beyond me. That shit is beyond trash https://t.co/Ng0pBdoBFpMarch 13, 2023
ffx remaster is one of the best examples of remasters actively damaging the history and artistry of medium, largely for being so unknown in the fact that anything is different https://t.co/4arTy1CIrnMarch 13, 2023
https://t.co/wUC4IkLNK5 Jesus christ lol pic.twitter.com/5KXXXBZuwaMarch 11, 2023
I've yet to find a truly detailed breakdown of the difference in face models, but players speculate this is due to how the original game used different character models - less detailed ones for gameplay, and more detailed ones for cutscenes. The HD remaster, then, only uses the gameplay models even in cinematics, and while those specific models have been improved, they can't match the expressiveness of the faces originally used in cutscenes.
Would you notice any of this if you hadn't played Final Fantasy X to death in its original incarnation? I certainly wouldn't. But there's a clear artistic difference between old and new here, and that can very much change the mood and intent of any given scene in the game. This issue isn't even limited to games, either - just look at what Disney's done to scrub the life out of its classic animated films (opens in new tab).
Square Enix recently discussed its Chrono Cross remaster as an effort to save the game from becoming unplayable, and keeping these catalog titles available to modern players is an admirable goal - and a lucrative one, judging by how many remasters keep getting made. But in many cases, remasters are not presenting these games as they're meant to be seen. So even if you're willing to put up with some issues in favor of better resolutions and frame rates, there's reason to hold developers to account in building these rereleases as carefully as possible.
The best Final Fantasy games deserve better.