With the power supply in my PC dead, and its replacement DOA, I have to find my gaming needs elsewhere. Since my local Gamestop has been having ridiculous clearance deals on PS2 stuff, I've decided to try Final Fantasy X again. I first played it a few years back (when I first got my PS2), as it seemed quintessential to the era. After 25 hours, I decided I had better things to play and moved on. Now that this is pretty much my only option for a deep, immersive gaming experience, I've dived back in again, only to discover that there's pretty much no way you can play this without cheating.
Case in point: Jecht Spheres. About half-way through the game, you discover old recordings of Tidus's father. Besides giving backstory, they also unlock Auron's Overdrive abilities. However, the evil part is that half of these collectables are in previous parts of the game. To find them, you'll have to wait until the end of the game when you gain the ability to backtrack and search through THE ENTIRE GAME AGAIN. Or, you know, just look it up in a strategy guide. I'm fine with well-hidden collectables, but hiding them in previous parts of the game is just dirty.
Even better are the ultimate weapons. They play out like a particularly obtuse Everquest quest chain. First, you gotta do things stupid thing to get a useless item. Then you do another stupid thing, and it magically changes useless item into... another useless item. Now you have to do a huge chain of random, stupid things to get each weapon, each of which stop you from gaining experience, making them... useless again. However, if you use the first useless item on each useless weapon (and two additional magical things you've maybe collected), they become the most powerful items in the game. SURPRISE! Good luck figuring that one out on your own.
Want to get a few more powerful aeons before you defeat Sin? Well, first you'll have to go through each of the temple trials again and make sure you collected each of the secrets. The secrets work by taking a special sphere and placing it in a seemingly-random slot. Collect all five of those, then go to a secret place on the map and fight a boss battle. No, none of this is ever mentioned, or even hinted at in game.
Now, all this stuff IS optional. They're not mandatory to finish the game, but they sure do help when you face those insane final bosses. I know that Final Fantasy has historically had tons of this stuff, but this seems like 80's game design. Garbage like this was how I ended up missing Vincent when I first played VII. I didn't even know he existed until I read a strategy guide.
On the other hand, GameFAQs basically means scores of free strategy guides, so it could be worse.