Final Fantasy X is undoubtedly one of the best games in Square Enix's catalog, and Blitzball is easily one of the best mini games ever featured in a Final Fantasy game. It's entirely likely that some of us sank just as many hours into it as we did the core game! Based on multiple playthroughs, the time has to be in the hundreds of hours, if not more.
At first it was tricky to get the hang of, but after practice in order to get some of the best equipment, we learned to love it just as much as we loved the core game. So in honor of this shining love, we delved deep into Final Fantasy X’s lore to uncover some hidden secrets about the sport.
10 Real Life Origins
Yoshinori Kitase was the director of Final Fantasy X. He was inspired to put Blitzball in the game for two main reasons. First of all around this time Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace launched. One of the most liked sequences in that film was the Pod Races.
Kitase then wanted to create his own original sport for this game. Another factor that played in was his love of soccer. At this time the impending 2002 FIFA World Cup was going to be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea so there was a lot of national pride involved with that. This interview with Kitase is pretty brief, but here it is.
9 The Name
Why did Kitase choose the name Blitzball anyway, and not something associated with water? No idea, but in German “blitz” means lightning and throughout time it has also served as a way to describe fast, strategic movement. During World War II there were Blitzkriegs, which is described in the dictionary as, “An intense military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory.”
In German, as a bonus fact, it means lightning war. In American football a blitz is a fairly rudimentary play in the game. It’s just like the video game series, NFL Blitz. Combine that together with ball and Blitzball was formed.
8 In Game History
So why is Blitzball such a huge defining factor for all of Spira? Well, the history is told in the game, but as a refresher, here goes. While popular a thousand years before the game takes place, it didn’t become as big a phenomenon until Sin destroyed Zanarkand.
The people believed Sin appeared because of their reliance on machines so they were banned. Blitzball then took the place in the people’s hearts to unite everyone through tough times. Even the gesture was taken to have a religious connotation.
7 The Teams
In Final Fantasy X there are six Blitzball teams. The main party is composed of the Besaid Aurochs and they can both compete and recruit from the other five teams including the Luca Goers, Al Bhed Psyches, Ronso Fangs, Guado Glories, and Kilika Beasts.
There are actually two other teams that aren’t seen in the mini game. The first ones we are introduced to are in the opening cinematic wherein we see Tidus playing Blitzball. He is part of the Zanarkand Abes. Zanarkand also has another team, the Zanarkand Duggles. Both can be played against in the sequel.
6 The Lone Developer
Kitase worked on a lot of its elements by himself. At first the plan was for it to be sort of hidden mini game, but it soon grew and grew. Here is a funny quote from a Game Informer interview with Kitase to perfectly illustrate this point. “I do feel sorry to have made some fans suffer because of this, but it would be appreciated if you can regard it as a characteristic of games from that era."
This is in response to talking about how Wakka's best weapon is sealed behind Blitzball. Read the full interview for some more insight on not just Blitzball, but Final Fantasy X's development overall.
5 Kingdom Hearts
Blitzball appears in the Final Fantasy spinoff, Kingdom Hearts. Wakka is an Island dweller along with Tidus and Selphie from Final Fantasy VIII who keep the main star, Sora, company. Sora can even battle them. It should come as no surprise then that Wakka still uses his trusty Blitzball as a weapon.
Tidus, on the other hand, wields a stick and Selphie has a jump rope. This was probably done to appease Disney’s more kid friendly aesthetic. It is great then that at least a Blitzball is okay, otherwise Wakka would loose a part of his identity.
4 Final Fantasy X-2
This sport is a huge piece of Spira and kind of defines their world. And while a lot happened between the two games, Blitzball at least stayed intact. Leaving it out of a sequel would be sacrilegious, right? While Blitzball does appear in Final Fantasy X-2, Yuna and friends cannot play the sport as it appeared in the first outing.
Instead players set up a sort of tactical menu and the game plays itself quicker in a more predetermined way. It is the same, but different. It is hard to describe, but let's call it more frustrating.
3 There Are Other Blitzballs
Prior to Final Fantasy X, which released in 2001, there was an instance of the word being used in another form of media. A Separate Peace was a novel written by John Knowles in 1959. Well, the idea of this version of Blitzball used a medicine ball and was above ground. In more modern times, a Blitzball was created as a new kind of baseball alternative.
This site, where one can buy it, was established in 2007. Lastly, also in the real world, underwater rugby was established in Germany during the 1960s and actually resembles the made up sport in Final Fantasy X.
2 Dissidia Final Fantasy
While Tidus focuses on swords, he also implements Blitzballs into his specials. Someone must be standing off to the side tossing both him and Wakka Blitzballs, right? Anyway, Tidus actually uses the balls more prominently in the fighting spinoff series, Dissidia Final Fantasy.
In fact, both Tidus and his father, Jecht, use Blitzballs in their attacks. They may not be the most iconic weapons in the series, but this just goes to show these really are weapons in Spira and not just toys for sport. Imagine if the world used American footballs, or Soccer balls for war.
1 More Ties To Soccer
Last, but not least, we have one last tie-in to soccer. Two of Tidus’ aforementioned specials that use Blitzballs are called the Jecht Shot and the Blitz Ace. These two moves are homages to famous Soccer moves. The Jecht Shot mirrors the jumping volley, while the Blitz Ace is almost exactly like a bicycle kick. See? Kitase really was a fan of the sport.