The dreams that have faded… never forget them.
Final Fantasy X features one of the most beautifully unique worlds in the entirety of the Final Fantasy franchise. Its distinct mix of culture, religion, architecture, and environments based off real world places like Bali set it apart from the games that came before it, which often drew inspiration from medieval Europe or a mechanical dystopian universe. Yusuke Naora, the art director for Final Fantasy X, FFVII, FFVIII, and FFXV, described the game as a “journey,” which is true for multiple reasons: first, the focus of Final Fantasy X itself is a pilgrimage, the characters journeying from one temple to the next. Of course, the protagonist, Tidus, has embarked on a journey of his own, traveling through different planes of existence to be present with the rest of the crew.
And then there’s the journey of Final Fantasy X as a game — one that started from the minds of its creators and ended in our hands, gracing our gaming screens. It’s this journey in particular that fans of the game may not be totally familiar with, as game development as a whole tends to be shrouded in secrecy. So when we do get glimpses of insight into Final Fantasy X’s development journey, it’s easy to want to gobble it up immediately. Of course, seeing how a beloved game came to be may come as a shock to players, but it’s interesting nonetheless and definitely worth delving into. So, courtesy of the Final Fantasy Fandom Wiki, here are some FFX concept art images that will be sure to change how you think about the game.
17 SEVEN TEEN
Believe it or not, Final Fantasy X wasn’t always about Yuna’s pilgrimage with her guardians. According to the book Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume III, Final Fantasy X was originally called 17 SEVEN TEEN and featured a different story altogether. Focusing on a protagonist who looked very similar to Final Fantasy X’s Tidus, the protagonist of 17 SEVEN TEEN sought a cure for a raging pandemic that mysteriously killed people once they hit 17 years of age. He would travel the world seeking this cure, knowing his own time was fast approaching…
Angelic Impact x Devil’s Shock
Although these initial ideas didn’t quite make it into the final product, this FFX concept art shows some clear similarities between 17 SEVEN TEEN’s universe and Final Fantasy X’s. Certainly, the physical characteristics of the blond, spiky-haired, seemingly optimistic protagonists but also in the clothing styles and architecture choices of the other characters and their environments. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during those early 17 SEVEN TEEN discussions to understand just how it evolved into Final Fantasy X!
Square Millennium Announcement
In January 2000, production of Final Fantasy X was formally announced at the Square Millennium Event. This artwork was created by Yusuke Naora for the event, which featured Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy XI. During this time, members of the press were treated to a beta trailer for each game, Final Fantasy X’s in particular being quite different from the final product. Note the FFX concept art still features a blond, spiky-haired protagonist with a slight smile, while the beta trailer shows a character overwhelmingly similar to Tidus, albeit with black hair.
It’s also worth diving into the trailer itself, as it features radically different gameplay than the finished product. The most noticeable differences are obviously cosmetic, as we immediately see Tidus has black/brown hair and the menu layouts are quite different, but also that the Calm Lands feature a free-roaming camera instead of the game’s final fixed one; additionally, there’s a PlayOnline component advertised, where players could connect to the internet to receive tips on how to beat the game. PS2 players will be able to see the PlayOnline website referenced on the main menu (subsequent releases have removed the URL).
Early Character Design
As work on Final Fantasy X progressed, so too did its character design, which underwent dramatic changes throughout its lifetime. Although the theme of the spiky, blond-haired boy persists, other characters seemed to have wildly different paths from inception to completion. In this particular piece of FFX concept art, it’s easy to see the clear water world themes carry through the clothing and accessories on what can be assumed to be early versions of Auron and Yuna, although who these people truly are is anyone’s guess.
Blond and Spiky Hair: A Theme
It appears that the designers had a clear ideas for Tidus, as most of the FFX concept art featuring the protagonist don’t derail from the blond, spiky-haired teenager we’ve come to know and hahaha. Every other character, however, underwent dramatic changes throughout their lifetime, as exemplified by this illustration of Tidus and what appears to be Yuna and one of her summoned aeons. A theme was already taking shape, and 17 SEVEN TEEN’s original concept art was clearly behind it.
The party comes together…
Although this particular piece is nowhere to be found in Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume III, it is listed as FFX concept art in the Final Fantasy X Fandom Wiki. Judging by the architecture resembling the other aquatically-influenced buildings, it does seem likely this came from Final Fantasy X, complete with characters that could ultimately become Rikku, Kimahri, and Wakka. Of course, hoping to name the people depicted is a fruitless endeavor, as they could easily be any number of cancelled characters.
We called it “Sin”
Fans who have played Final Fantasy X recently (or still have it fresh in their minds due to it being completely memorized) might recognize what is taking place in this FFX concept art. Although the colorful characters fighting an early Sin could reasonably be Tidus and the crew, the positioning of Sin and the camera angle are reminiscent of the Crusaders and their fatal battle against Braska’s Final Aeon along Mushroom Rock Road.
At ease, soldiers
One of the few medieval European inspirations to sneak into Final Fantasy X, a much more colorful version of the Chocobo Knights are depicted in this FFX concept art. It appears that Lucil, Elma, and Clasko hadn’t been designed quite yet, as these knights look pretty different from the final version. Their striking use of red really dominates the scene, contrasting against what appears to be an early version of a green Blitzball stadium.
Praise be to Yevon
Early priests of Yevon dressed similarly to the existing Final Fantasy class, the black mage. Hiding their faces with hats and cloth coverings, the priests give off a more secretive tone, suggesting that they may be hiding something from outsiders. In the final version, priests no longer cover their faces, although the splendidly ornate robes remain.
Mr. Sandman, bring me a Dream Zanarkand
Isamu Kamikokuryo, the background art director for Final Fantasy X, described Dream Zanarkand as having an “Asian atmosphere” with many different races. Although it is only briefly shown in the game as a hologram by Seymour, Dream Zanarkand stands out due to it being one of the only highly developed cities in Spira. According to the book that comes with the PS3 collector’s version, Kamikokuryo used this FFX concept art as source material when designing Final Fantasy XII’s Archadia.
In another life…
Perhaps there exists a parallel universe where Spira was never devastated by the Machina War 1,000 years ago. One where people flourished in cities full of both magic and machina, where all the races lived peacefully amongst themselves with no fear of Sin. This FFX concept art depicts one such city — perhaps Kilika or Luca, or some other city yet entirely — alas, the people of Spira live in the universe with Sin in it; one day, they will know the Eternal Calm, and sights like these will become commonplace.
Stay away from the summoner!
At one point, Mt. Gagazet also had a temple dedicated to Yevon, holding the Chamber of the Fayth and the dreaded Cloister of Trials within. This temple was eventually scrapped, leaving curious fans wondering if there was another aeon to be claimed by Yuna and her guardians.
Although this FFX concept art could reference any number of locations, it seems like it could be an early representation of the Chamber of the Fayth. Perhaps crystals were much more important to the pilgrimage during the design process, ultimately becoming save spheres or places to upgrade Celestial Weapons in the final version.
Braska’s not-so Final Aeon
Clearly this could be any number of foul beasts that plague Spira, but there’s enough evidence to suspect that this may be an early version of Sin. Note the aquatic references still prevalent in this FFX concept art, including the octopus tentacles.
Paine, is that you?
This FFX concept art clearly states that the character is an NPC, but she’s important for a few reasons; for one, she’s holding a sword which has been labeled “Masamune,” which is Auron’s Celestial Weapon. Second, her short hair, determined gaze, and clothing resembles a familiar face seen in Final Fantasy X-2, Paine. Could it be that Paine was conceptualized long before the team knew a sequel would use her?
I don’t… I don’t know what this is.
Let us pray
If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit Bali, chances are this FFX concept art immediately stood out to you. Famous the world over for its many temples, tourists embark on their own pilgrimage like Yuna to visit as many of the 20,000+ temples as they can on the island. Careful of the monkeys! And speaking of…
According to the Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume III, this little creature is supposed to be a monkey, although it certainly doesn’t look like the final version (and maybe not one in real life either). Note that there’s one perfectly perched atop a priest’s head — an homage to the many monkeys that can be found roaming temple grounds in Bali.
People die and Yuna dances
Now here’s something players might recognize right away — Yuna’s sending in Kilika after Sin’s attack. Interestingly, Yuna performs the sending dance atop a flower and not in the water, and her dress looks quite different than her kimono-inspired final look. Still, it’s a beautiful image (“beautiful, and a bit sad”)!
Are you surprised to see a small little fairy girl? Me too — this image surprised me the most out of all the FFX concept art available on the Final Fantasy X Fandom Wiki. Although it’s nowhere to be found in the Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume III, two factors point to this being from Final Fantasy X, and potentially even an early version of Yuna. First, recall 17 SEVEN TEEN’s use of cherub beings with wings — this could easily be one of them. Second, take a look at the pose this brown-haired, light-eyed healer makes. Look familiar? Mind = blown.
Nature is healing
The Calm Lands don’t look so calm in this particular scene, but who said battling fiends was easy? If you look closely, there appears to be a statue of a person within the rifts. Could this be tribute to High Summoner Gandof who first brought The Calm to Spira 400 years prior to the game’s events? Hmmm…
Isn’t it wonderful?
I could spend days posting all the cool FFX concept art I’ve found, but I think I’ll close with this lovely depiction of the spring in Macalania Woods. Naora describes this piece as an homage to the Temple of the Ancients featured in Final Fantasy VII, showing a calm passage of time and allowing Tidus and Yuna to share a sweet moment they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
So, what do you think? Did you learn something new about this incredible game, or do you have more trivia to share? Let us know in the comments!
All FFX concept art images are available on the Final Fantasy X Fandom Wiki.