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I'm playing through all of Final Fantasy, and everyone is invited (Playing FF X now)

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Thanks for your interesting thoughts. I'm glad you had a good time with it, and thanks for pointing stuff out that I overlooked.

And yes, you are totally right with Quina and their Blue Magic. It's probably my favourite kind of magic in the FF games, but yeah, there is no way to cheese anything. Maybe the reason behind the short buff/debuff time was to make stuff like Mighty Guard less overpowered? That said, I wished there was a single, powerful boss, that you could take out with Level 5 Death, just as a sort-of Easter Egg.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Listen to my story.​

These words alone are probably enough to know what game I'm talking about, even if we are just talking video games in general.

I know that I played through FF X two times. One time during the later 00's, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you the exact year. My memory about it is foggy, in general. All I remember is, that I liked it. And that I died on Mt. Gagazet, against Seymour. Also, that I died horribly against Jekkt, and had to grind. Never understood why people thought he was so easy. There was a specific vulnerability I needed to get rid of, I think getting turned to stone.

Back than, I stopped there. No postgame- or side-content. I think I moved on to DQ VIII, maybe?

The second time was, I think, in 2012. I had the exact same problems with that Seymour fight, and with with Jekkt. This time, I tried to do side content, and got all the celestial weapons and seals. It wasn't that bad, on the whole, except for Blitzball. That one took a whole Saturday. I started the grind in the arena, but soon realized that it was way too much for my taste, so I gave up.

I did get a new appreciation for the story, and the characters, though. Surprising no one, I guess, I like them all (including Wakka, because his arc is interesting to watch). Never really understood the hate against Tidus. I liked the linearity (it is so thematically fitting), I liked how you would meet people again and again on your travels, and just enjoyed the mood of what felt to me like a low-key dystopia. I certainly love the tropical islands vibe.

The version I played is the one with the advanced(?) sphere grid. You know, the one that offers more freedom. This time, I'll try out the original one. The only thing I used said freedom for was to give Yuna and Lulu both White and Black Magic. By now, I know that I don't mind linearity in character development much, so the more linear board should be more of a pro, than a con.

Also, this is the German version, which means that the subtitles are in German, but the voice acting is in English. So, this is a case where I can actually see both versions of the text for a good part of the game. Should be interesting.

It's strange, as much as I enjoyed playing the game, and liking the story, I don't feel real emotional attachment to it. I think part of the problem is, that it already looks too realistic. I had thought already of replaying the NES games, simply because of their looks. With this, there was a bit of a lack of motivation. This lack vanished when I actually started, getting drawn in pretty much immediately (just so you know that I DO enjoy playing this game). But I think it becomes clearer to me, that I prefer 2D and sprites, and that graphics that try to be realistic become more and more of a turn-off for me.

Anyway, I finally started.

-------------------------------------------------

Just as a side-note, I never liked the starting screen. It always looked like a website of some kind, and felt off with it's color scheme (weirdly enough, as it's blue should fit well with the tropical island vibe).

But this aside, I really like the beginning. I'm still not sure why I find the shot of all the weapons so striking, but the whole atmosphere is beautiful. I can't comment on how this will look for a first-time player, but knowing the story, I always loved this scene. In general, campfire scenes in JRPGs are great, because they show our cast in a relaxed manor, despite them being under constant stress. Here, we just see them relaxing, as much as it is possible.

Of course, there is also the foreboding of things to come. You can feel how this might be the last time this team can relax, before they die. So, to me this scene feels great, for setting the mood of the whole game. The world, as dystopian as it is, is calm, and looks very relaxing, on the surface. You can easily get tricked, by the beautiful Besaid Island. So, being here, knowing that bad things are coming, maybe even death, while spending time under a mild night sky, fits this game really well.

A small detail that I always loved in the Kokiri Forest in Zelda: OoT, and which I love here, are these little, moving lights. They add beautifully to the light atmosphere.

And Tidus, who we don't even know how he looks like yet, speaks the words.

"Listen to my story. This may be our last chance."

It's a beautiful intro. And the game makes it immediately clear, that this is (at least supposed to be) Tidus' story. This is aided by listening to his inner monologue throughout the game. We'll see where this goes, and if it's REALLY his story.

And then, we go back, to the start of the game.

We find ourselves in a big city, technologically advanced and seemingly high in the sky. I'm immediately reminded of Midgar, Esthar and Terra. With this knowledge, one could immediately have a hinge about how this story might go. At least roughly.

That said, there is a nice contrast in that we immediately get introduced to the activity these people do during their free time: Blitzball. I don't think the former three games showed us this - VII had the Gold Saucer, sure, but we never found out what the people on the plate of Midgar do for fun, or the people in Esthar (well, I guess it's Triple Triad, so maybe this point is moot).

So, maybe as an interesting point: This is the first game, where the game-long minigame is essential to the story. VIII and IX could easily exist without Tetra Master and Triple Triad (at least if we go just by story, VIII would be way less broken without the cards). Here, the minigame is part of the fabric of the world, in a much clearer way.

We are introduced to Tidus, as a celebrity and Blitzball star, loved by his fans. But a creepy kid appears, telling him he has plans tonight.

I'm still not sure what this is about. Is this the day where his mother died (she is dead, right?) or where Jekkt vanished, and he and Auron are remembering him? Because Tidus remembers, so it's not a feeling that the city, Zanarkand, will be destroyed.

For the record, I did recognize the music as a new version of the first FFs theme song. Not a favorite track of mine, even though it is fitting.

Soon, we are introduced to Tidus father Jekkt, which makes Tidus uneasy. So, the game immediatly throws a shadow on his glorious life.

The match starts, and I assume this was an amazing FMV, back in the days. Because, honestly, I still think it looks great. Especially the part, where Tidus tries to do his shot, and in the middle, he watches as Sin approaches.

The arena is destroyed, but Tidus lives. And we meet Auron, who is constantly drunk, I guess? I always thought his bottle contained Sake. The creepy kid appears again, and tells Tidus "It begins. Don't cry." So, maybe it was just a warning for things to come, and Tidus is somehow aware of it?

Now that I think about it, I thought this was a part of Tidus' psyche, that manifests itself as a kid, but I think that's actually not true. Curious. It would make sense, considering it knows more than our protagonist.

Together with Auron, Tidus flees, and has to fight Sin spawns. I forgot that Tidus' weapon is the one from Jekkt, which makes it all kinds of interesting. I'm sure I'll have a lot more opportunities to explore their awful relationship.

I forgot to mention this at the start, but the battle system is my favourite in the series. I love, how you can exactly see who has their turn when, and how the order will change with each action. Later on, when we get attacks that will slow enemies down, this will get real fun.

While I appreciate what the ATB brings to the game, I never really liked how it forced you to act quickly (if only to go into the items menu). Knowing the games, it's no problem, but still, I prefer to have as much time as I want in every menu.

Also, I remember the bosses being really fun, often having a gimmick that would make them into small puzzles. I'm looking forward to finding out how true that is.

We get some introductory battles, where we fight a boss that can't kill us (thanks, gravity magic), making it a great learning opportunity. Also, that sometimes you might be able to attack something other than monsters, and that there are just more things to do then fight.

We also get the Limit Breaks from FF VII back, except that they now need some work. Due to my shitty D-Pad, I'll probably miss on some of the ones from Auron. It's, generally, a nice system, giving each character even a bit more personality.

Soon, everything breaks apart, Sin swallows up the city, and basically everything. And Auron repeats something.

This is it.
This is your story.
It all begins here.

Again, we are reinforcing that it is Tidus story. Even that it begins here could be interpreted in multiple ways.

This is all really well done. Really interesting. I'm looking forward to re-exploring this game more.

And then, we get to some really weird part, where Tidus swims around in the air. I guess it is a dream sequence? I remember, one time, I swam around forever, because the direction was wrong. Trying to repeat that showed me, that I soon reached the left border, so no idea what I did.

During this dream, we find little Tidus, while getting a monologue from the one at the campfire scene. He does remember this dream. Where he felt alone, without his fans. A nightmare.

Tidus' nightmare is to be alone. Thanks, awful dad. Knowing what I know about Jekkt, it's pretty clear that this is based on his awful father leaving Tidus', while the boy was still small. And being traumatized, never wanting to be alone anymore. So being a star was perfect for him, it gave him always people around him. No matter how shallow.

Granted, even if it is subtext, it's pretty surface level. But that never stopped me before.

This is probably a good time to stop. Next time: A ruined temple and Al-Bheds.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
The real answer is that everyone else did all the sidequests before setting foot in the last dungeon.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
I'd watched a friend of mine play through nearly the entirety of Final Fantasy X before I got my PS2 (I think I just missed the Yuna wedding stuff), so I was aware of Jecht's self healing capability before I got to him. I've played through FFX 5 or 6 times, and have never won a single blitzball match, and don't care to.
 
I have never done FFX sidequests because they seem extremely annoying and I don't grind, and I thought it was pretty easy to beat Jecht just following the criitcal path. Here's the trick:

Jecht is easy if you know how powerful Quick Hit is, and he's hard if you don't. Get Quick Hit on as many of your melee attackers as possible by the end of the game game. They toned it down a bit in the remakes, but it's still extremely good instead of game breaking. It's easy not to notice Quick Hit, this because you get it relatively early on (depends which version you're playing, but if you're talking about the PS2 version it was very early), and at that point it feels like a lot of MP for a small effect. However, by the end of the game it's using a proportionally smaller chunk of MP. And during the final boss, there's no reason not to use consumables, so there are really no restrictions on it. If you can only use Quick Hit once or twice, okay you're getting your next turn a little faster, no big deal. If you can use Quick Hit every turn instead of Attack? You're getting a ton of free turns and doing a hugely increased amount of damage.

The other tip is that alchemy is extremely powerful. Experiment or look up some of the best recipes. It's your best source of healing.
 

Mr Bean

Chief Detective
I remember being confused by the sportscaster voice over in Zanarkand when Tidus is running to the stadium for the longest time. It took till my 3rd play through or so before I stopped dashing through that area and just stopped to listen to him ramble. I guess it ties back into the whole estranged fathers and children that runs through the whole game. Kinda odd they don’t give you enough space to hear the whole thing if you aren’t deliberately dawdling though.
 
Oh god, I thought I was the only one.
same for me, but I was honestly still pretty new to RPGs (i think x was my second final fantasy, maybe my fifth or so turn based rpg). I didn't really have any strategy or specialization in mind, just followed sphere grids, tried to keep everyone levelling, and made sure to take what stuff i did know was extremely good (ultima, holy, etc). It was forever ago, but I just remember having the absolute perfect rhythm of attacks and healing that was more patient than anything I had done in my life to that point, but was undone by what must have been the smallest difference in speed. obviously can't remember the exact process but at some point in the battle jecht jumped one of my characters turns and 30 minutes or so of patterns went out the door. I was an extremely mad 13 year old
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Oh god, I thought I was the only one.

same for me, but I was honestly still pretty new to RPGs (i think x was my second final fantasy, maybe my fifth or so turn based rpg). I didn't really have any strategy or specialization in mind, just followed sphere grids, tried to keep everyone levelling, and made sure to take what stuff i did know was extremely good (ultima, holy, etc). It was forever ago, but I just remember having the absolute perfect rhythm of attacks and healing that was more patient than anything I had done in my life to that point, but was undone by what must have been the smallest difference in speed. obviously can't remember the exact process but at some point in the battle jecht jumped one of my characters turns and 30 minutes or so of patterns went out the door. I was an extremely mad 13 year old

Well, I'm glad that there are others like me. Perfectly honest, I feel like my approach to battles, bosses or not, is still pretty much "hit hard and heal", in most cases. With FF X, I incorporated attacks that slowed the enemy down or made you faster, but aside from that, I still don't have a mind for getting into the details of how to break any FF (except VIII, I guess, which says more about that game than me).

Also, wow, that sounds incredibly frustrating.

The real answer is that everyone else did all the sidequests before setting foot in the last dungeon.

A friend of mine said basically this. After complaining about how easy Jecht was, I asked him if he had done the side-quests, and yes, he did. To be honest, I still don't really understand this. I expect a game to get at least easy, if I have a lot of side content and do all of it. That, to me, is part of the point of side-quests, making the game easier, so I don't need to grind if I'm stuck. Maybe that's me, but especially with a game where I can level up, I WANT this to be the way to make it easier, just in case I get stuck.

I'd watched a friend of mine play through nearly the entirety of Final Fantasy X before I got my PS2 (I think I just missed the Yuna wedding stuff), so I was aware of Jecht's self healing capability before I got to him. I've played through FFX 5 or 6 times, and have never won a single blitzball match, and don't care to.

Oh god, I had forgotten about his self healing (I appreciate the spoilers, but don't worry about them, I know the game too well not click on them). Good to know. The main problem was petrification, though, I think. And my grinding was only done, so I could put something on my armor to make me not stoneable anymore.

I have never done FFX sidequests because they seem extremely annoying and I don't grind, and I thought it was pretty easy to beat Jecht just following the criitcal path. Here's the trick:

Jecht is easy if you know how powerful Quick Hit is, and he's hard if you don't. Get Quick Hit on as many of your melee attackers as possible by the end of the game game. They toned it down a bit in the remakes, but it's still extremely good instead of game breaking. It's easy not to notice Quick Hit, this because you get it relatively early on (depends which version you're playing, but if you're talking about the PS2 version it was very early), and at that point it feels like a lot of MP for a small effect. However, by the end of the game it's using a proportionally smaller chunk of MP. And during the final boss, there's no reason not to use consumables, so there are really no restrictions on it. If you can only use Quick Hit once or twice, okay you're getting your next turn a little faster, no big deal. If you can use Quick Hit every turn instead of Attack? You're getting a ton of free turns and doing a hugely increased amount of damage.

The other tip is that alchemy is extremely powerful. Experiment or look up some of the best recipes. It's your best source of healing.

Oh, I know about Quick Hit, and used it often enough, but I think it's on Tidus' main path, isn't it? So he certainly got it, but no one else, because I think I didn't get to the end of the others pathes on the grid. And before that, I don't want to mix abilities. Dunno, I want my characters to be different, in how they fight.

Using an alchemist in FF V taught me, that I don't like alchemie much. It always seems too much work. But considering that I put the work into the Blue Mages this time, I will try to experiment more with it. Just to at least give it a chance.

Thanks for the tipps.

I remember being confused by the sportscaster voice over in Zanarkand when Tidus is running to the stadium for the longest time. It took till my 3rd play through or so before I stopped dashing through that area and just stopped to listen to him ramble. I guess it ties back into the whole estranged fathers and children that runs through the whole game. Kinda odd they don’t give you enough space to hear the whole thing if you aren’t deliberately dawdling though.

This is a really good observation. And, considering how the game gives you a ton of cutscenes that you can easily skip (at least it seems that way), I'm not surprised at all, that the did it that way. As linear as this game is, there are a lot of things hidden on the side, like such cutscenes you can trigger or not, and treasure chests that are somewhat hidden, or stuff like the Al-Bhed primers. I'll keep an eye out for this, but I really like how there is still stuff to find, even if the main path is basically a straight line.

------------------------------------------------------

Last time, a giant monster attacked Tidus' city, and ate him.

He wakes up in some water ruins, everything dark and grimm. I found that they got the atmosphere pretty right. It looks a bit like his city got ruined, and he woke up afterwards. For a short time, I wondered if we are at the real Zanarkand here, but then remembered what it actually was.

Even the minimap creates a sense of linearity, with a red arrow pointing us in the right direction. Which I actually really love. In dungeons, I normally have the problem, that I want to explore all the non-critical areas, before continuing on. Which means backtracking, nearly all the time. This arrow, while creating other problems that I don't really mind, makes it super easy to avoid that.

Aside form waking up in ruins, Tidus gets also attacked by a big seamonster and has to make a fire, so he doesn't freeze. It's a pretty stark contrast to the life he had, up to an hour or so ago. I did enjoy the slight Resident Evil like puzzle, of finding three items by simply running around a building. I'm actually impressed that the boy can use firestones, I would probably have frozen to death, or something.

Also, if you have already played the game, even without coming back here, it's easy to see a former cloyster in this ruin.

To further strenghten the idea that this is Tidus' story, we get his narration, something that will continue throughout the game. It creates a nice effect, not unlike the one in VIII with Squall (and in some way, the one in VII too). It's nice to spend so much time in the head of your lead.

We get another memory of Tidus, where he learned that Jecht is assumed dead. And where we learn, that not only his father, but also Auron, was an abusive prick. No, it's not Tidus' fault that his father died, and it's not ok to make a kid feel bad for crying about losing his father.

Tidus denies having cried, but the creepy kid appears again. Telling him that, yes, he did.

I really wonder about his mother, who doesn't really seem to play a role in Tidus' memory. Which is by design, of course, and makes a certain amount of sense. The focus of the boy was on his abusive, awful father. So, I guess his mother didn't help him much with this, or else he would remember her as a positive force in his life.

It reminded me of the one scene in VII, where we see Cloud coming back home and seeing his mother, not wanting to talk with her. And then never, ever mentioning her again. Like, how is this even a thing, not caring about their mothers, at all? I guess the answer would just depress me, so I'll not linger on it much further.

It boils down to Tidus having two shitty dads and an ineffectual mum. No one to look up to. Honestly, he became pretty decent, considering that.

A few Al-Bhed wake Tidus up, by blowing open the door. They nearly kill him, before being stopped by Rikku. He still has to work, and is stuck outside on a ship, where only Rikku will even think about giving him food. It's just one more grim part of the new situation, when he finally does find other people, and then doesn't understand their language, and is even nearly killed by them. The whole thing must feel godawful, being ripped out of your mainly cosy life as a pro-athlete with all kinds of technology to help you, to a world in ruins and people who don't care about you, at all.

A wonder, he didn't get traumatized by it. But then, Jecht was trauma enough, I guess. He certainly is happy, when finding out that someone, Rikku, understands him.

It's, of course, pretty useful to have Tidus as this outsider, so we can have someone the game explains everything to. I think it's the first time, that the main character in an FF is this guy. We even had a reverse situation in VII, where Cloud knew more (in some way) than the others, and explained certain things.

Here, Rikku gives him the useful excuse of getting too close to Sin, and talking nonsense for that reason. Because Zanarkand was destroyed a thousand years ago. It is also now a holy place, so he should not tell anyone that he thinks he is from there.

There is also a short bit about her being scared, that he hates Al-Bhed. Nice little touch, so early, in such a small way.

While getting angry about not being able to go back, a very understandable and human reaction, Sin attacks, and Tidus' is thrown overboard.

Next, we finally get to a nice place, a tropical island with seagulls crying, and beautiful weather. Plus, a blitzball reaches him, which raises Tidus' spirits immediately, and he does one of his supershots. Which immediately gets him on the good side of Wakka.

It's another nice contrast. Tidus got ripped out of his old life, gets thrown into a situation where even other people want to kill him, and now is finally welcomed here. Sort of.

We already get a bit of a chance to explore. I find a Lunar Seal, and a treasure box in the water.

Through Wakka, we get the basics of the religion here. Mainly, it is about repenting for the sins of their forefathers, who had a life that was just way too easy, with all these evil machines. And now everyone has to pay forever for it, with Sin always making sure that the world doesn't become a decent place, ever again.

I always loved this place. Summer is my favourite time of the year, and you can basically feel how warm it is on Besaid Island. It also feels like this calm, relaxed place. Which has a very harsh reason for being that way, but more on that later. For now, it is a really nice change of pace, simply feeling good to be there.

Also, Wakka immediately starts treating Tidus like a younger brother, which is nice. And sad, but more on that later on, too.

I always found it chilling, that the Blitzball sing is now used as a prayer. It just stinks like corruption. For a first-time player, this has to be really confusing and intriguing. But knowing what has happened in this world, I just get angry at the shitty, old man in power.

Anyway, we soon meet one of many groups, who will go on their own journeys, and who we will see again and again on the pilgrimage: Lutts and Gatta, two crusaders.

I never thought much about them, but they basically offer a bit more hope for people, so they can carry on. I wonder, if the church helped create them, because as one more tool, they are likely pretty useful. Sure, the main hope are the media, but only very few people can do that job. But everyone can become a crusader, and feel like they are doing something useful, like they could fight Sin. No matter how hopeless it is. It's surely very useful for the church.

We soon get to the temple, and while I generally think peoples annoyance with Tidus is overblown, he acts like a dumbass here. Instead of listening to the rules, not entering if a medium is already inside, he simply storms in. But, honestly, this very quality is what makes him important, for Yuna and this world. Someone who doesn't care about the century-old rules of this world. Spira is basically (un)dead, not dying, but also not living and developing, because they are way too focused on rules that were made up to oppress people.

That Tidus ignores these rules will become essential, and is the main reason why Yuna is drawn to him (that and him not knowing about her dying). I assume she finds him refreshing.

To be clear, the good thing is not ignoring rules in general. It's about ignoring rules made up by bullies, rules that make no sense at all, and are only there to keep most people down.

I always had a weak spot for the cloyster puzzles. I don't think they are that well made, and I wished there was more logic to them, instead of "put all spheres everywhere and hope a wall explodes", but I always liked that they tried to put something in there that tries to be a logic puzzle. It's not Lufia II, but what is?

It still strikes me as strange, that there is no boss battle at the end. But that's not the point of these puzzle dungeons. I do wonder, who is supposed to solve the puzzles? The guardians? Elsewhise, there is no point of them entering with the medium. It would make more sense to let the medium solve them, to get more into the spirit of the temple, or something like that. But with no enemies, why the guardians?

Probably to have both in a holy place, to strengthen the bond between them. Having the summoner wander the cloisters alone, might estrange them from their companions.

Outside, when Yuna summons Valefor, we see an immediate connection between her and Tidus. She is a star here, a hero, worshipped by nearly everyone, for her special abilities. I'm sure Tidus noted here, already.

I always love the different ways, how the Aeons are summoned, and how they interact with Yuna. Her gently stroking Valefors beak, or riding on Ifrits arm - it creates a sense of them not being just monsters that attack and vanish, but of creatures that form a bond with the medium.

Skipping to the night, there is a small party going on, which, despite being the last nice thing, before Yuna starts moving towards her grave, feels like a nice summer gathering. This game does the nice atmosphere really well. Here, Yuna thanks Tidus - he came in, because he was worried about her. While not even knowing that it was a young girl, he thought an old man was in danger. Which, again, speaks pretty well of Tidus.

It certainly left an impression on her. She wants him to come along. Part of that is likely, that he is also just the same age as her, and she can be, for once, just be a bit of a teenager around someone.

I was surprised, that the whole "Tidus looks like Wakkas dead brother" thing is already unveiled. This could be some thing that comes up in a dramatic scene later, but not much is made out of it. Instead, there is no drama and Tidus just thanks Wakka. Which is really nice.

Here, we already see how this game works. It's slow. Not in a bad way, it just takes its time to get where it wants. Instead of giving us action-setpiece after action-setpiece, we only had a puzzle dungeon and a few fights on the way to the village. Mainly, it was character work and world building. Sure, part of it is that there is a lot to explain, but we see a lot of the characters doing small things or talk with each other. I really like this small, relaxed pace.

Which, again, fits the idea that this is a dead world pretty well. There is no drive here. Sure, the people have a goal, and there is determination, but it feels all so slow and everyone, while seemingly relaxed, is just too broken to put more energy into it.

In the morning, Wakka gives Tidus the old sword of Chappu (Wakkas brother), which I also had forgotten. So, Wakka isn't quite over it, I guess. We learn, that Yuna came here ten years ago, when Sir Braskas Calm started. Since then, Wakka and Lulu became like older siblings to Yuna.

We are talking siblings, not parents. While parents aren't much of a thing in FF games, or JRPGs in general, here it will be called out, and is very much intended. Most people don't get old here.

Also, something that I never thought about: The last Calm started ten years ago. That's really not a long time. People start becoming summoners from a small age, as I understand it. They devote maybe more time to this, than it takes for Sin to start reappearing. I get that people need this hope, but this seems like a very short time. So, when did the Calm end? One year ago? More?

I wished the time-frame would be longer. This just seems so short, that it would disillusion people too much - not enough gain, to put much hope into a summoner.

Well, I still remember that I can get a second technic for Valefor, a stronger one, which I do get. Using him, he is actually really useful, with the attack that makes his enemies slower.

On the whole, the game seems to let you break it pretty easily, in general. Your summons are big meatshields, that you can load up with overdrives before boss battles, which are pretty powerful. And overdrives can get pretty powerful, too, also from your regular characters.

But then, I still remember a bunch of challenging boss fights, so breaking isn't the right word.

As an aside, the interiors of the houses, and basically everything, looks really great, again. The huts look like places where people might actually live, in such a small community. Square (or is it SE at this point?) was great at this in VII and hasn't unlearned anything here.

We get one more cutscene, of Yuna taking a last look at Besaid Village, and I can only repeat that I love how the game takes time for these small, slow things. It offers a lot of small moments to its characters. I appreciate that a lot. And, knowing where this is going, it's nice seeing how Tidus doesn't get it. At all.

Aside from some tutorial battles about the strength of everyone, we also get a fight, where Kimahri attacks Tidus. I assume, he is protective of Yuna, and just doesn't trust the new kid.

I really appreciate, how this tight-knit group all react different to this intruder. Yuna finally has someone who doesn't know her as a summoner, but just as a friend and peer. Wakka likes him, as a player and someone who reminds him of his younger brother.

Lulu hates him, likely because she doesn't want Wakka and Yuna get hurt - it's fun, how she straight-up says to Tidus that she doesn't want him here. With how little time she gets, it is great how she says what she thinks (aside to Yuna, who she is always kind to), and is also shown as pretty smart.

And Kimahri, too, dislikes Tidus. That said, I don't have much to say about him. I always wanted to use him, because he looks awesome, but I can't get over him not having a niche in battle, that isn't filled out by someone else, when we talk about abilities. I'll try to find something for him, this time. I'm also open for suggestions, though.

When reaching the ship, the whole village seems to be there, watching Yuna go, incredibly sad. I don't have much to say here, except that it's a pretty painful scene, if you know what is actually happening.

I really find Spira fascinating. FF VI and VII are clear, oppressive dystopias, where the game makes clear from the get-go, that the world is awful. X is smarter about this. The world can always lull you in, appearing like a nice, relaxed place. With the darkness hidden, not immediately visible. When I think of VII, I want to get as far away from that world as possible. When I think of X, I think of nice weather and a relaxed world, the horror not the first thing on my mind. And even then, the horror isn't as brutal as in X. I mean, it's fast and hits hard, and leaves as many dead people as a destroyed reactor.

Dunno, I have a hard time putting this into words. I hope it is a bit clear, what I mean, and that I'm maybe not the only one who sees it this way.

Anyway, this is enough for now. Next time, we fight against Sin for a bit and visit Kilika.
 
Oh, I know about Quick Hit, and used it often enough, but I think it's on Tidus' main path, isn't it? So he certainly got it, but no one else, because I think I didn't get to the end of the others pathes on the grid. And before that, I don't want to mix abilities. Dunno, I want my characters to be different, in how they fight.

I also want my characters to be distinct and characterful in battles, and I like the linkage between narrative and gameplay, which is why I've never played with the International Sphere Grid. I think the default skills and for the most part just following their paths on the grid make the game the most fun for me.

But I also like to use the tools the game gives me, and FFX provides a few extremely rare items that allow to nab one or two skills from another path. Also the grids are interconnected in such a way that part of the design of the game is to choose what connections to unlock for a brief dip into an ally's skills. You would have to do grinding for the characters not to be different, but you are very likely naturally stumble onto enough items to to give someone a useful skill or two, here and there.

For me, this is characterful as well—it makes sense that party members might learn a thing or two from each other. And one of the most powerful items for doing this is called a Friend Sphere, after all!
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Oops, Inscryption really took my focus of from this. It's time to continue.

I also want my characters to be distinct and characterful in battles, and I like the linkage between narrative and gameplay, which is why I've never played with the International Sphere Grid. I think the default skills and for the most part just following their paths on the grid make the game the most fun for me.

But I also like to use the tools the game gives me, and FFX provides a few extremely rare items that allow to nab one or two skills from another path. Also the grids are interconnected in such a way that part of the design of the game is to choose what connections to unlock for a brief dip into an ally's skills. You would have to do grinding for the characters not to be different, but you are very likely naturally stumble onto enough items to to give someone a useful skill or two, here and there.

For me, this is characterful as well—it makes sense that party members might learn a thing or two from each other. And one of the most powerful items for doing this is called a Friend Sphere, after all!

I like this way of thinking about it. Will adopt.

speaking of manipulating the action economy in ffx,


This is very good. I love the belts he put onto his legs, when playing Lulu.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Last time, we went on board to travel away from Besaid Island. People talk Yuna up, as someone truely special - but only in her relation to Lord Braska. Not for herself, but as the daughter of this great Summoner from their past.

There was a lot of this in IX, with Garnet, and how she was divided between being a princess, even just a vessel of power, and a person.

Tidus learns from Wakka, that Braska was the last summoner to defeat Sin, and gets a delightful burn from Lulu, for not getting how hard this might be on Yuna. Having a prominent person as her father.

Lulu doesn't talk too much, but I love how sharp she clearly is, whenever she says something.

This parallels Tidus situation with Jecht, and how he has been always in his shadow. So, like Lulu, he gets Yuna. I love how he defends her as a person, when people talk about her as a summoner, and he tells them that she has a name, actually.

From Yuna, we learn that she believes him, being from Zanarkand. Jecht, who was Braskas guardian, told her about it, about the great stadium. And here it becomes clear - Jecht didn't die, he came to this world, and became Yunas Guardian.

I think you can go below deck, and meet some other people there? I missed that, unable to find the way down. I did try.

Soon, Sin attacks, and we get another easy fight. Trying to draw its attention away doesn't help, and a giant wave hits Kilika.

Honestly, considering how the village is built, everything should have been destroyed. But it works well enough, enough people died and there is clearly a lot of damage. And it's more important to show us one of Yunas duties: Sending the souls of the dead away, so they don't become fiends. The monsters we fight in this game.

I'm repeating myself, but I find the explanations for the appearance of monsters in this series pretty well done.

The whole scene, seeing Yuna dance, basically doing a cremation, while crying, is excellent. Sometimes, I forget that Yuna is just a 16-year old girl, somewhat in that age-range. But when one thinks about it, this is really brutal. That she has to carry this intense burden (even aside from the knowledge that she will soon die).

So many people here, grieving people, put their trust and hope into her. And she, with her youth, has to be so incredibly strong.

And Tidus sees her pain. He never wants to see it again. I'm constantly impressed, by how much he can actually offer, especially to Yuna. Tidus is way more, than just a bratty annoyance, the way some people think of him. He carries pain, which also taught him how to deal with it, to a degree. How to see it in others.

Also, I guess it's not a coincidence that Yuna walks over water.

Next morning, the team goes to the temple, to pray for victory. When Tidus says, that it is a weird time to think of playing, Wakka explains to him that it is the perfect time. We learn it here: Blitzball is the carrot, the circus, that makes the life of the people in this dead world bearable. It's the one thing they have, to take their thoughts away from their pain.

I wonder, if the church assholes hadn't thought of this, would it have lead to more aggression? Or just to people, not even capable of pretending to carry on, just giving up? How strong of an incentive is Blitzball, to carry on?

In the wods, we fight Ochu, and win. While its earthquake, after sleeping, would be devastating, with Valefor, the fight is no problem. The crusaders, though, are clearly worthless, if they can't even defeat one somewhat strong monster. Especially if their goal is to defeat Sin.

At the temple, we fight a Sin Spawn, a bit of a gimmicky boss, but not strong enough so that the gimmick would be worthwhile.

The woods are an interesting mini-dungeon. I like the short length, and how you can explore, if you want. I think I mentioned it, but this game does find ways to give you small pieces of freedom, which is enough for me to offset the problem of not being able to go back anywhere, and losing the world map.

To be clear, it's fine to like world maps. I just think the game does a good job of justifying not having one, especially thematically. And I feel like, aside from things that didn't really do anything (like revisiting old cities, where you can't do anything), there is the same amount of exploration as in older games, with the dungeons having dead ends with treasure.

Of course, it feels different. But for me, this works very well. I actually really love the arrow, that points me into the right direction, but I think I mentioned that already, too.

At this point, Yuna asked Tidus to become her Guardian, and Wakka now tells him that he would make a fine one. Which, as Tidus points out, was the first time he did consider it for real. It is also here, after meeting Sin on the boat, that he realized that he would not get back to Zanarkand, at least not easily. So, he starts to arrive in this weird, unknown world, and to find his place, step by small step.

At the temple entrance, we meet another Blitzball team, the Lucca Goers, who do some really childish bragging. It's really stupid, with this being the one thing that gives people joy, and immediately having stupid rivalries. But then, they have to feel that Blitzball, playing for the people, is really important. So, I guess it goes to their heads. And, considering how horse racing, the main (only?) sport in ancient Byzantium, lead to riots and deep rivalry between the teams, this is probably very close to how it would play out.

We get another interesting tidbit, though. The bragging reminded Tidus of his awful father, but Yuna doesn't understand that - he was always kind to her.

I always wondered about that. Was Jecht that awful, because Tidus was a boy? Or did the way Spira works have a good effect on Jecht. Like, maybe being away from the constant fans, in a smaller group where not everyone in the world knew him, had a positive effect on him? There might be a reading here, that suggests that this world, the one created by Yevon, was a more enjoyable one for Tidus' father. That it actually was the better one. Which is likely not intended, and a horrible reading, considering what the message of the game is.

Still, I wonder why Jecht was such a horrible father to Tidus.

Inside, we meet another character we will travel along with: Donna (and her one Guardian, whose name I forgot to write down). She always seemed like a horrible person, and felt like a clearer interpretation of the Summoner as a pop idol. Arrogant, abrassive, unlikeable. And in competition with Yuna, the other summoner. Because, I guess, she does it for fame? Which makes no sense, she knows that she will die.

I guess, the way Summoners are revered in this world, it would make sense for some of them to get really arrogant.

Tidus, not being allowed inside, should wait. But is forced into the temple, by Donna and her guardian. When getting to the end, the others are angry - Yuna could get excommunicated, for having someone here who is not a guardian.

But why do it this way? No one will know, if Tidus was really down there, or not. It's clear that Donna wants to get rid of her competition, but the plan is pretty lacking (especially, because Yuna can always just say, that Tidus is now a guardian of hers).

We also learn, what the summons actually are: They were former people, who faught against Sin, and died. And then, they offered their soul to Yevon. Who trapped them in statues (forever!), so a summoner would connect with them. So, like all the other people who died, they became monsters, but instead of roaming the lands, they got stuck in stone statues, and forced(?) to work for the summoners.

I forgot this. I thought the summons are former versions of Sin, who got stronger and stronger (so the new version would be able to defeat the old one). Like, the first one would be Valefor, terrorizing the people everywhere from the sky, shooting deadly lasers down. I still like that idea, but I guess it's not the case. No, it's just the horrible fate of people to be in immobile statues, slaves to any summoner who is strong enough to force them onto their will.

Just more horror, that came from this crazy cult of Yevon.

Also, Tidus got homesick from the song inside the temple. He knew it from Zanarkand.

While I know the main story, I forgot a lot of details. I'm really looking forward to find out, how the change to worldwide cult happened. If we find out in detail, it's not like this is assured.

When outside the temple, Yuna is surrounded by people who are putting all their hopes into her. It made Tidus homesick once more, reminding him of the way fans surrounded him. It's clear, summoners are the idols of this world. Even before X-2, Yuna was an idol. The world just was different at this point.

I know, it's basically text, so sorry for writing everything here. I just want to have it all here.

---------------------------------------

I think, I'll leave it here. Next time, Lucca and probably a Blitzball match, that I will very likely lose.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
No, it's just the horrible fate of people to be in immobile statues, slaves to any summoner who is strong enough to force them onto their will.
I don't think this is true. Aeons are manifestations of the Fayth; I think they retain their owners' will. Tidus, too, is a dream of the Fayth, though he wasn't summoned so much as spontaneously manifested.

FFX has some really great world-building.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Damn, I really need to respond sooner.

I'm not sure? I mean, they willingly gave their soul to Yevon. According to Lulu "But when a summoner beckons, the souls of the fayth emerge once again.". I feel like it is a bit vague, how much of their behaviour as Aeons is free will? But yeah, you certainly can read it in the way, that the Aeons help out of their own, free will. But then, it is Yuna who gives them commands, it's not like they can choose how to fight and how to act. If Seymour would summon Ifrit, I assume he would attack us. Isn't that the case with his horrifying Aeon? I think we fight it at some point? And later control it?

I feel like, while it is their soul that is used to create them, the will that gets them out of the stone statues is also the will that can order them to act. Or maybe they are just blind to what is right and wrong, and just assume the summoner is correct, maybe as part of the way they are summoned. Maybe it's just the blind faith into the church, that makes them follow whatever the summoner at the moment wants them to do, and they are in it with their whole heart, because a summoner, as the one who fights against Sin, can't be wrong?

Dunno, but yeah, the world building is excellent.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Last time, we just got onto the ship to Lucca, for the Blitzball tournament. On there, we meet O'aka the XXIII, a traveling merchant who we will meet again and again on our travels.

In the engine room, we see that a Chocobo is used to power the ship, because machina is, of course, forbidden (except when it is not). Tidus and the player (think) see them for the first time here. It's a very adorable interpretation of them, I love how they always look like they are smiling. That said, I hope he is treated well, I feel kind of unwell, with seeing another one of these birds used as free labour.

This ship offers a great moment of downtime, where there isn't anything to do, but talk to everyone, chill out a bit, and learn about the world. I already know why I like the setting so much - it's just so relaxed (or seems that way, as already mentioned in some way). Time is basically standing still, on a world-wide scale, so no one is really in a rush, most of the time.

I think you can even skip most of the character scenes, except for Tidus'? If true (I don't know, I would never do that), that is very nice design by itself. I appreciate it, when there is a lot of stuff in games that the player isn't forced to experience.

We can listen in to Waka and Lulu talk about how it is Yunas and Tidus' decision, if he wants to join as a guardian. Again, I like that Lulu is smart enough to realize that Tidus can't stand his father, and that Yuna has realized that too, and therefore can't ask him. So, it would be up to Wakka.

Also, I really like that Lulu, despite not liking Tidus (especially after he barged into the temples inner parts), that she only wants what's best for Yuna. If she would feel better with Tidus at her side, she will accept him.

The interaction between her and Wakka are interesting, too. They clearly feel like a couple, where she is the smart one, but where both also talk about things, to get something done. I enjoy their interactions.

And we learn what might have been to be expected anyway - many children lose their parents. Wakka wished he even HAD a father to hate. He doesn't remember his, at all. I wonder if this is part of the theme of the game? Even if your parent is an abusive jackass, he still loved you, and you should be happy to have one at all? As I play on, and the way Auron talks about Jecht, it feels a bit that way, and I don't like that at all. But we'll get there later on, when I've seen more of the game again.

Fittingly, Tidus finds a Blitzball, and we get the minigame, where we kick it against his angry memories. Also, there is the memory of Tidus, where his father acted a bit fatherly, for once, and showed him the Jecht shot.

In case anyone is curious, I got the shot. Not that it helped me, but it's nice to have.

The team sees it, and we get another scene that makes it clear, how each of them want Tidus for his Blitzball skills (or as a replacement for a lost brother). Except for Yuna - like Tidus sees her as a person, she also sees him for more than just the guy who throws a ball very well.

I never realized it, but Tidus needed someone like Yuna as much as Yuna needed someone like Tidus. Their journeys through life mirror each other so much, so they are the only ones who get each other. Well, in most ways - while Tidus hates his father, and how he has to live in his shadow, Yuna feels pride for being known for her father. But then, her father wasn't an abusive monster to her. Still, they are the only ones who see each other just as people, and who get the other one.

Also, in nice foreshadowing, Tidus tells Yuna he would probably punch his old man, if he met him.

When reaching Lucca, Tidus immediately draws attention to himself, by screaming into the crowd that his team will win. I'm sure it's partly just this, that draws Yuna to him - Tidus is alive, he is looking forward to something, he has something to live for. He is full of energy, wanting to do something with it. Everyone else is just thinking of death, all the time. It has to be refreshing for her.

Soon, we learn that the tournament is held in hoor of the 50th year in office of Maester Mika. We see him, and also the disgusting monster that is Seymour Guado. We learn that he follows his father Jyskal, and I immediately have a residualy memory of him murdering his father, to get the position. No idea if its true, but if not, it would still fit this monster.

Sorry, I should act like he isn't a bad guy. But, considering that we follow Tidus, who immediately dislikes him, I feel like the game doesn't even try to hide how there is something at least wrong with Seymour. Even aside from his design marking him as a probable bad guy.

You know, it's a bit of a shame that the game never does any "unreliable narrator" stuff with the story. I know, it's VIIs thing, but we are experiencing the story mainly from Tidus' POV. And yet, he tells us how it was. But I guess it was more, so we got more into his head, as an excuse for that.

We also get Wakkas first sign of being a religious nut, when he wants to force Tidus to bow, too. I guess this is part of seeing him as a younger brother. Stuff like this still gives me chills.

There is also the shot of Seymour seeing Yuna, and clearly crushing on her immediately. Like, here would be a good opportunity to paint Seymour worse than he is, because Tidus also clearly is interested in Yuna as not just a friend (even though that is also part of it). But ok, Seymour needs to be scum.

Learning about Auron being seen in a cafe, Yuna wants to go there, and Tidus follows. We don't meet Auron, but Kimahris two schoolyard bullies.

Look, I appreciate the writing of this game in general. But these two losers are so dumb, and talk like they are eight years old, the way they insult Kimahri. I have a hard time not laughing about it, because they are so ridiculously childish. Which I probably shouldn't, becaue it's likely a way how real-world "adults" behave, towards other people they don't like.

I do like that Kimahri, instead of talking to these clowns, just smacks one of them in the face, knocking him down. Nice work, man.

A detail we learn is, that Sin attacks where many people gather. So cities stay small. Lucca is an exception, and Yuna thinks it's because the crusaders protect it (due to the stadium being here). So, the city where the circus is located is not attacked by the evil monster, huh?

While we were in the cafe, the first game starts, and Yuna suddenly went missing. Meeting Lulu, she explains that it had been the Al-Bhed Psyches, who want Wakka to throw the game.

This is silly. One thing I remember is, that the Psyches were always the strongest team, and they are afraid of the ones who never won a single game in the last few tournaments? Whatever, we will get Yuna back.

The boss fight is simple, with a nice gimmick - you can attack a crane to rip a part out of the boss. It's not a hard fight, but I appreciate the gimmick. It also looks delightful, when it picks the boss up, and the machine (I think here it gets obvious, that the Al-Bhed use machina) looks like it is struggling to get out again.

The funny thing is, that Yuna could take care of herself. When the boss is defeated, she steps out of a door, with an Al-Bhed knocked out. Which fits, she can summon a fire-spitting monster. I like, how she isn't just a damsel, but is actually shown as a competent fighter in her own right.

Yuna asks, if someone named Cid is on this ship, and we learn that she is half Al-Bhed. Which Wakka doesn't know, because he simply can't deal with things that are not black and white.

I do find interesting, how Lulu doesn't seem to care much about the teachings, or anything. She seems way too smart to fall for them, the way Wakka does, and just follows them, so Yuna doesn't get into trouble. I wonder, how much she actually believes into the whole "we pay for our sins from a millenium ago" nonsense.

When getting back to Wakka, whose team had won the match, he falls unconscious into her arms, as he was hurt during the game. It is very sweet, seeing her actually really caring for this guy.

And then, I fail horribly in the probably only game of Blitzball I will play. Dunno, nothing I did worked, I couldn't use the Jecht Shot (even after halftime, despite equipping it there, I think) and just never scored a goal. It also takes way, way too long. Like, the card games were over in one or two minutes. This thing takes 15, or something, it's exhausting. I still get the urch to try one more time (partly because I want a better overdrive for Wakka, and also because I actually want to try experiencing everything the game has to offer), but I still don't like it much.

There is a nice touch here, though. Wakka gives up his place for Tidus. But after half-time (and it felt like the enemies played extra hard, they scored most of their goals in the first half), Wakka joins the game, after Tidus decides to get out. Which clearly shows him having already grown up a bit. He knows that it's not his game, and that it means a lot more to the other players. Despite Blitzball being the main thing that connects him to his old life.

But this time, after the match is over, monsters DO attack. We switch to Auron, who watched the game, and together with Tidus and Wakka, we fight a bunch of fiends. And then, Seymour steps in, summoning his mother (if I remember correctly, this is her soul that he summons) and easily destroying everything that runs around.

So, this was just him showing how awesome he is, with him also providing the fiends to kill, right? You got to make a big, first impression, victims of violence be damned, I guess.

We get a nice scene between Auron and Tidus. Tidus lets out all his frustration on him, which isn't surprising - he is the replacement of his father, after all. Auron doesn't mind, and explains that it was him, who defeated together with Jecht and Braska Sin ten years ago. And that Jecht asked Auron to watch over Tidus, afterwards. It gets explicit - Sin is Jecht. And Tidus is supposed to kill him.

As an aside, the people didn't get much joy out of the game, due to the attack at the end. Left a very bitter taste, of course, considering this city is normally free of monster attacks. Maybe it would be a good idea to not take even the last bit of joy away from the people, just so that Seymour can act like a big hero? What a jerk.

Auron offers his service as a guardian, which everyone welcomes - everyone knows him from his time with Braska. And he takes Tidus along, making him officially a guardian as well.

So, Tidus has to do work, for something Jecht did, having to kill a new Sin. It feels a bit like, similar to how the people in Spira have to pay for the sins of their forefathers, Tidus pays for what his father has done. Not a perfect analogy, granted, but in the end, his life took this turn because Jecht had decided it years ago. And, similar to the people of Spira, Tidus doesn't really have a choice.

Before stopping, I need to cover one last scene. Everyone knows the laughing scene, of course, and I never understood why people disliked it. I mean, you probably all know my argument too, that the laughter is supposed to be awful and fake. Faking laughter is Yunas way of dealing with the pain she carries around. So she trains fake laughter, fake smiling, which is incredibly sad. Still, Tidus plays along. After all, she only wanted to help him, the same way he helped her, when he showed her how to whistle.

"I want my journey to be full of laughter."

I'll talk more about this, I'm sure. But then, the game isn't subtle here (or in general). The dancing, the laughing - all the beautiful things Yuna does, things that should be enjoyable, are twisted, and full of pain.

---------------------------------------------

Well, that's all for now. Next time: The first, uh, let's say dungeon, the Mi'hen Highroad.
 
Every time I play FFX, I spend hours playing Blitzball even after getting Wakka's weapon and overdrives. I... might have a problem? Definitely get why it wouldn't work for everyone, but it was the last Final Fantasy minigame I really liked.
 

Pajaro Pete

(He/Himbo)
As an aside, the interiors of the houses, and basically everything, looks really great, again. The huts look like places where people might actually live, in such a small community. Square (or is it SE at this point?) was great at this in VII and hasn't unlearned anything here.

this is completely beside the point and from two weeks ago, but it was still square at this point. ffx-2 was released after it became square enix, i remember this because very dumb people would frequently cite x-2 as an example of how enix is ruining square
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
this is completely beside the point and from two weeks ago, but it was still square at this point. ffx-2 was released after it became square enix, i remember this because very dumb people would frequently cite x-2 as an example of how enix is ruining square
Still nice to get the info, for some perspective. Thanks!

---------------------------------------------------------

So, last time, there was the laughing scene. Which means, we now enter Mi'hen Highroad, which might be considered a dungeon, I guess?

FF X doesn't really have classical dungeons, and seems to play with that a bit. What would be in most JRPGs dungeons, the cloysters of trials, are without any random encounter (and mostly without boss fights), and just there to test the summoners mind. Which, honestly, is still somewhat bizarre, because the real test has to be the part where she prays to the respective faith. But accepting this as a thing isn't much of a problem either, I think.

So, instead of having dungeons with arbitrary mcguffins, the road itself takes the place of a dungeon. Which is smart - this is a dangerous world, where people die all the time and become monsters, so the road is extremely dangerous. And something like Mi'hen Highroad is pretty long, and acutally feels a bit like how long a road of this kind might be in real life. Well, at least it gets the point across better than a classical world map.

It also gives us the possibility to meet other characters on these roads, which is one of my favourite things about this game. Considering the danger, someone like Shelinda, who is basically just a nun with some white magic, who tries to do good deeds, is pretty impressive.

And, like dungeons tend to do, they tire me out after some time. Mi'hen Highroad is too long for my taste, and the encounter rate seems a bit high (not just here, it happens again and again in this game). I do try to use everyone in every fight, which doesn't help much. It's also not a problem, if I get regular safe points, or just breaks from the fights. But as it is, I don't like it much, so many random encounters are a bit exhausting.

So, I like to use everyone in each round, not just because the way experience works makes it the sensible thing (you are just wasting potential EXP otherwise), but also because it makes the group really feel like one, where everyone participates in the fighting. I remember, when I first played this game, I just used Tidus, Yuna, and at this point Auron, because I liked them most. Wakka is a religious nut, so I never used him, and Rikku later on was weak, so she never got a place in battle either. Lulu probably got some use, if I found an elemental monster. Which made that one underwater dungeon, which is an actual dungeon in game design sense, and within the world, pretty annoying. But, thankfully, Tidus can always flee.

Point is, I love that I can just call in whoever I want for no cost. Funnily enough, switching equipment takes up a turn, but that's just a random fact I learned this time. It really makes me feel like everyone is part of this. That said, I really wished that just everyone would get experience, participation or not. Forcing me to use someone is nothing I enjoy much, and there is simply no point. The way it is, you just leave EXP lying around, which is just weird.

One thing more, about leveling up: I really dislike, that I have to use another currency besides EXP, namely spheres, to level my characters. Mostly, it's no problem, but I actually did run out of ability spheres, and later of two other types as well. And I know, the ability to get them is cheap, but it's just obnoxious having to use it. And it doesn't seem to serve any purpose. I wished, I could just get everything I traveled over, with that specific character.

Well, back to the story, where we meet Mei-Chen, the old historian, who, impressively, also travels all over Spira. And he doesn't even have magical healing powers, so, pretty great. I always listen to him and his information.

There is also Lucille, captain of the Chocobo Knights from Djose, who warns us of a big monster. Tidus wants to kill it, which, funnily enough, sounds like something Jecht could have said, according to Auron. Yeah, we find out, over the span of the game, that Tidus and his father aren't that different.

Another character I always liked is Belgemene, a failed summoner, who tries to train Yuna by having a match between their summoned Aeons. I fail this one horribly, Valefor simply couldn't compete with Ifrit.

She tells us, that she already tried, but could not defeat Sin. I wonder what that even means. She didn't get to the end - everyone (except Tidus) knows that summoners die at the end of their journey. But I think, they only die after their new, final summon killed Sin, and became the new Sin, killing the summoner then and there. At least that's how I remember it. So, I guess she turned her guardian into a final summon, but it wasn't strong enough.

I wonder how she is viewed by the world. It's not like she gave up, she just failed. I wonder, if people are kinder in this case.

Also, we do learn here that Sin is reborn, after only a short time. I wonder how long it takes, until the new Sin starts to wreck havoc. The time is a short one, where the people live in peace. And I can't help but think, that even then, they are afraid of when Sin will come back.

Tidus is probably confused here, because it seems so pointless to kill Sin, just for it to be reborn soon. But this whole world needs the hope for even a short calm. It seems pointless, but I find it understandable. There is just nothing else to hope for, aside from this short time of peace. Well, and Blitzball, I guess.

Gatta and Luttz from Bevelle are here, too, they are on a mission. Huh.

And there is also Shelinda, who wants to stop people from using machina, as it is against the teachings. Well, yeah, we'll come to that. I really like Shelinda.

And one more recuring thing: Rins Al-Bhed shops, with him traveling all over the place. With the others inside, Tidus finds Yuna looking into the sunset, clearly crying, before she realizes he is there. She did get a new perspective on things, through Tidus questioning the teachings, that maybe Sin isn't just there due to vanity, until people repent.

This game isn't subtle at all, but it never quite spells out, how ingrained a power structure becomes, when it is in place for a decades. When people don't even remember anything else, things get taken as fact. I can't help, but think of a later time in FF VII, maybe a hundred years later. Where the planet is dying, but more slowly, and neither our heroes nor Sephiroth ever happen. Where president Shinra is presenting himself as a god-emperor, ruler of the world, and people would just accept and worship him. Because elsewise, without being glorified enough, he couldn't provide the important energy. Something like that.

Look, I know even that barely qualifies as subtext, instead of text, but I take what I can get.

I really like this scene, like all the calm, whistful ones. And here, I realized that Yuna is just a teenager, instead of having fun (like she will in X-2), she does the job of an adult, carrying the weight of the world. It's a deeply sad scene, if you know what's coming. There is just no time for teens having fun. Wakka and Lulu are probably in their early 20s, too.

When Tidus learns, that they are on the way to the ruins of Zanarkand, he promises her to bring her there. And, similar to the promise between Squall and Rinoa, they are binding in these games. We, as players, know it will be the case.

The Chocobo Eater was surprisingly strong. I have no idea what triggers him pushing us back, but I never managed to push him off the cliff. One time, he was nearly down, but then pushed me back three times, nearly in a row. Is this luck, or how does this work? I won, but it was surprisingly hard.

On the end of the road, we meet Donna again, and for the first time, I realize that they are going somewhere to do adult things. I never realized, that they were a couple.

Here, we find out what the mission is, that the crusaders are preparing. They captured Sin Spawn, because Sin always comes for his spawn, to lure it here. Together with some Al-Bhed, they want to kill the monster for good. At this time, I thought these guys are just plain dumb, thinking that they, who couldn't even fight this giant plant, could defeat Sin. But the Al-Bhed are of a different caliber, so, maybe.

Also, I figured out that the whole "Sin always comes for his spawn" also meant that Sin is coming for Tidus. I mean, I figured it out before Auron activelly tells Tidus.

We are forbidden from continuing, which is pretty crazy, considering summoners are basically allowed everything, as long as they carry on with their pilgrimage. But it doesn't matter, because Seymour, who is responsible for this mission, appears, and allows us to come along.

The game never tries to hide, that Seymour is awful, does it? His music is creepy, his looks are creepy and Tidus never likes him. I'm just surprised, that the game doesn't even try that old twist.

So, this mission is done by the crusaders, with the help of Yevon. Which Wakka critizises, as they use machina here. And, look, he is right. I mean, not really, but isn't it at this point pretty clear, that Yevon itself doesn't play by its rules? Sure, the people are brainwashed, but the whole "you dirty servants can't use these toys, but we sometimes can, if we have a good reason" might need to be questioned more. Lulu is smart, she should get the problem here. Especially when Seymour tells us, to just act like the machines weren't here. That there are more important things than the teachings. How far does this blind faith go? Yuna, too, isn't dumb, she should get that there is something really off here. But maybe I'm just naive.

Dunno, I would think Wakkas head would explode, or something.

Seymour recognizes Auron, as does fantasy pope (aka Kinoc), but Auron doesn't even pretend to like these clowns.

Also, children are with the crusaders, too. Which, uh, ok.

Oh, right, Kinoc tells us that he knows, that the offensive won't work. Like, why are they telling us this? Shouldn't they care a bit more about covering their lies up? But then, who cares, a single summoner does, in the end, not matter. I do find it fascinating, how the summoners are these revered people, who everyone looks up to and loves, who everyone gives gifts to. But who, in the end, don't matter to the big organization who creates them. It reminds me of Zack from VII, who is a pretty big deal, but abused as soon as he is uncomfortable. No matter how powerful someone in these abusive systems seems, they are just expendable pawns, and don't really matter. But the lie fascinates me.

The boss here was surprisingly strong. The hands regrow relatively fast, and the main body has tons of HP. I think people came close to dying, or even did, one or two times. Which was a surprise, I didn't remember this guy being too tough. I do like how the boss is structured, though.

Soon later, we refight the thing, with Yuna, Auron and Seymour. And I can't help but be reminded of VII, where we have Sephiroth for a short time, and he dominates everything. Seymour here is similar, even though he doesn't even have level 3 spells. Still, he does a ton of damage. But, the monster didn't have as much HP as before, and it was way less aggressive, so the game cheated a bit.

This part made me think, that there might be more to how Seymour might be a reinterpretation of Sephiroth. I'll keep it in mind for later.

Also, Tidus is not part of this short sequence. Which I find interesting, considering how this is supposed to be his story. Just as a small aside.

After that, the Al-Bhed try their big gun, which nearly pieres Sins forcefield. But, in the end, the monster just brings destruction, and kills a ton of people. And with that, the crusaders are done, and Yevon is happy. Because the crusaders were seen as traitors, using machina, and what happened here proves to them, that machina can't win against Sin. Only the summoners can. Their own, personal army of super soldiers.

I didn't even remember this, aside from the main things. But not how Yevon orchastrated the whole thing, working for the defeat of the crusaders. It's extremely cynical, but how is it possible that no one blames the church for anything here? They set this nonsense up. How does no one think, that they might be responsible here? Again, I get that the people see Yevon as their leader, but how obvious can you get?

The scene here is pretty well done, showing the destruction and the death of the people here. When Tidus wakes up, he takes Sin going away personally, and tries to follow it. He soon gets unconscious, and we get another dream with the creepy child. It's mainly about Jecht being an alcoholic, and mean to his son.

When Tidus wakes up, Yuna is doing her dance again, sending the deads souls. Lulu seems to have softened up to Tidus, asking him, if he is alright.

Seymour makes his move, telling Yuna that she is not a person, but just a summoner (actually, that she can't cry, to give strength to the people, but that's what it means). He wants to be her pillar, like the first summoner had Yunalesca as his. Which is very gross, considering that these two were lovers too, if I remember correctly. He clearly doesn't care for her as a person, just as a tool for more power, as the daughter of Braska. Icky.

When we continue the journey, Yuna acts cheerful. Kimahri explains, speaking to Tidus and us for the first time, that Yuna always plays cheerfulness. Especially in times of crises. And if the others show pain, she tries even harder.

So, I'm not sure what exactly the tipping point was, but with Lulu being conscerned about him and Kimahri talking to him, Tidus seems to be an accepted member of the team now.

-------------------------------------------

With that, I'm stopping here. Next time, we get to the temple of Djose.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
After seeing their friends and loved ones die all around them en masse, the Crusaders were likely way too depressed and exhausted to ask questions like "Did the church know this would be a slaughter?" (THEY ABSOLUTELY DID) and "Was this just a scheme to get people back under Yevon's wing?" (IT ABSOLUTELY WAS). The Church of Yevon got exactly what it wanted.

Speaking of that sequence, it's the last time you'll see both Luzzu and Gatta alive; Luzzu confesses to Wakka that he convinced his dead li'l brother to join the Crusaders (Wakka decks him) and Gatta has strict orders to stay at his post. One of them is going to die. Usually it's Luzzu, but if you're insistent on Gatta disobeying the orders he was given, he will die instead, and where you would find him freaking out over what's happening, you find his corpse instead. And it's all your fault.

A couple of cutscenes also change depending on who the survivor was.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Yeah, I didn't think about the fact that, aside from the people there, no one on Spira even knowas what happened here.

And that you can change the fate of Luzzu and Gatta is interesting. I told Gatta, that he should stay put, when he complained about his job being boring. And later, found him in shock, screaming.

To be more clear than in my write-up, the scene left a pretty strong impression on me, this time. Part of that was finding Gatta here, but also aside from that, it made it gives the player a good picture of how big a force of destruction Sin is. Really impressive stuff.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
To be more clear than in my write-up, the scene left a pretty strong impression on me, this time. Part of that was finding Gatta here, but also aside from that, it made it gives the player a good picture of how big a force of destruction Sin is. Really impressive stuff.
For sure. And if you went the usual route the first time and insisted he go on the front lines on replay, his death will hit extra hard because you know it's your fault that he died.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Last time, we saw the Crusaders basically being wiped out. It was a great set-piece.

Also, and I will probably go more in-depth about this later, but here I started to feel that this game has a lot of FF VII DNA, even more than from other Final Fantasies. There seem to be similar themes, with regards to a powerful entity (be it Shinra or Yevon) suppressing people, and controlling most of the world and a jerk who overtakes said entity (except that Seymour seems to be less good at it than Sephiroth, maybe?), making the story more boring, because it changes from being about suffering forever to simply die. Maybe we can just look at X as a projection of VIIs future, if Sephiroth never had happened? As I said, more on this later, when I have seen the whole story play out again.

For now, we are on our way to the Djose temple, the third one. As an aside, I really like the world map we see, when we move from one part of the map to another one. Not sure what I like about it, though. Just seems to make it more like a historical story, maybe?

We meet Lucille and her two Chocobo Knight buddies, who tells us that only one of their Chocobos stayed alive. And, you know, she seems smart. Not going to put more of an emphasize on it, but she seems like someone who might get, that Yevon acted extremely problematic here. A bit of a comment at least would have been nice. But I guess the brainwashing is too strong in this world. She assumes, that their failure was due to them ignoring the teachings of Yevon. Their shame is so deep, that they feel like they can't even go into a temple and pray.

Fittingly, the monks totally welcome them all with open arms.

Djose Temple looks pretty cool, with the flying rocks that are held by electricity. That said, it might be a good time to mention that, no matter how cool some of the settings here look, they never beat the beautiful, prerendered graphics from the PSX games, to me. There are great things to look at (I'm thinking of Macalania Woods, for example), but it all seems lacking, in comparison. I feel like we really lost something, with these prerendered backgrounds.

Anyway, we meet Gatta again, who is broken. Luttz is dead, and the boy has no idea what to do next. You know, while I tend to read heterosexual companions in stories as long as friends as possible, I'm totally willing to see these two as a couple, even if not official. Maybe that's unfair on my part, I don't care.

But that's beside the point. Seeing Gatta here (which you don't need to, as is often the case in this game), hurts, and shows us how broken this world really is. The church doesn't care a bit about how it hurts the believers, as long as they stay in power. I really like, that we get this one, very personal echo of what just happened, of a person being so horribly in pain. For such a small thing, it hit me pretty hard.

Inside the temple, we meet Isaah, another summoner. His little brother follows along, and his big brother is his guardian.

Like Yuna and Donna, he seems horribly young. I know, people simply don't get old in this world (aside from the clowns in the church), but it is really horrible, that they are kind-of drafted into this painful service, at such a young age (another similarity - the summoners are a kind of elite soldier, seemingly important to the world, but just useful trash for the main corporation of this world). They haven't even grown up yet, and are already on their way to death.

And again, another guardian who is deeply important to the summoner. I don't think, there is ever anything said about how guardians are supposed to be. I wonder if it is implied, that there needs to be a deep, personal connection there, or if this is just something people do, who know that a loved one becomes a summoner. You probably want to spend as much time with them as possible. And considering you are on a pilgrimage, fighting together for your life, this has to strengthen your bond immensely.

Maroda, Isaahs older brother, tells us about summoners disappearing. I like that, that these guys treat us like equals, unlike Donna. Speaking of which, after we make our way through the cloyster of trials, we meet her. But the interesting thing is, that her guardian, Barthello, has deep respect for Auron, and wants to shake his hand (never to wash it again - sometimes, I really like the humor in this game, silly as it can be).

The next morning, Yuna oversleeps, and there is a fun scene, where everyone, including Auron and Lulu, make fun of her hair. Tidus tells us, in the narrator voice, that he now knows that the laughter was all fake, except for his.

Honestly, I don't quite buy it. It get that there is a certain force behind it, with everyone being sad and having to try. But also, humor and laughter tend to take a person over. I want to believe, that there was at least a bit of genuin cheerfulness behind it.

Soon, we meet Shelinda again, who is as much into lecture mode as she can be. Well, she thinks we all should learn, that only blind faith into the church will save this world.

I feel like there is more to be said about her, than I do here. Her faith is very strong, makes her walk these ways full of monsters all alone, just so she can help people. But she also tries to give them a bad feeling, for not following the teachings of Yevon closely enough. That said, she also doesn't quite judge others, and healed the wounded after the desasterous battle. There is a lot of quite strength to her, which I find fascinating. Even here, she does actually useful things, like healing the wounded.

We also meet Kimahris bullies again. I wished I had more to say about them, aside from their insults feeling like they are schoolyard bullies. Maybe I will find something more interesting later on, after we fought them. But for now, there is just not much there, at least nothing I can see.

Also, Belgmene appears again, and we fight our second battle. This time, I win, easy due to me having more powerful Aeons, and two at that. At least I think, that I can use both of them, unlike her with just Ixion. And, while there is more to her, she is another one who tells us, that using machina is not the answer. And maybe, in some way, she is right - at least, if we only talk about defeating Sin. In the long run, we need Tidus, someone who is deeply connected to this Sin, and is not bound to the rules of this world, like the others.

Like, to the really deep things, technology is never the answer, at least in a JRPG. Neither being completely against it, nor trusting it fully. The power of love and friendship means way more here, interpersonal relationships are what drives the heroes forward.

Soon, we reach the Moonflow, a river that has to be traversed on the back of a giant, elephant-like creature. Funnily enough, Auron tells us about the time, where Jecht saw one and attacked it, due to him being horribly drunk. Which resulted in him, Braska and Auron having to give the owner all their money. That sounds like something the Jecht I'm now seeing in my mind would do, stupid nonsense like that. It's also always nice, to see Auron not being all business, all the time. It's nice, when the game shows him sharing a nice memory.

By the way, as I played on, I started to see Jecht as not the horrible bully to his son I remember him as. Not to say he was a good father (he wasn't, even when he was there), but it feels like he was more bad and unprepared, instead of horribly abusive. It is still perfectly valid for Tidus, to be angry at him. But, as the game went on, I started to be more understanding of Jecht. Which, I have to give the game credit for, that wasn't a small feat, considering how I looked at this jerk.

While crossing the river, Wakka points out that there is a sunken city on the ground. It was a machina city, pulled down by the weight of their sin, or some nonsense like that. His point is, that you shouldn't use evil machines, because they are evil. And how Sin was created through stuff like that. I think it was around here, were I started to get really tired of Wakka, the first time around. And started to like him the second time.

Also, Al-Bhed try to kidnap Yuna again, and we help her. Uh, it's nice that the Al-Bhed try this again and again, but the boss still felt a bit filler-y. That is, until we reach the other side, and find a girl lying there. Fittingly, it's Rikku, who Tidus recognizes. And Wakka is the only one, who will not learn (for now), that she is an Al-Bhed. Auron, seeing it in her eyes, doesn't care. Of course. And with that, we have our full team.

With her, being a technical genius, we can now upgrade equipment. Which I never do, because I have way too many options, which all seem semi-interesting. Too fiddling for my taste, too much choice. Especially with the game never demanding any custom-made weapons, at least for the main game (and even later, you get the ultimate weapons anyway).

Her overdrive would probably be really cool, but I honestly am not interested in trying out all kinds of item combinations. The mix command, as powerful as it can be, is just nothing I enjoy using, with all the testing. In FF V, I could spend an hour or so, trying out everything and making a list. And even then, the results felt kind of boring. Here, due to it being only available as an overdrive (which balances it a lot, you can only use overpowered stuff from time to time), I just don't have the possibility to try often.

I read that people tend to put Kimahri on her path, so they have someone who can steal before her. I tried that, but it didn't work out. He just got here, at this point, where I got her. Not knowing what to do with him, I just put him on her path. It works fine. He is decently strong, and has a lot of HP. Good enough.

------------------------------------

Well, enough for today. Next time, we visit Guadosalam, and meet Seymour again. Gross.
 

yama

the room is full of ghosts
The first time I played this, I didn't exactly set out to make Kimahri Rikku-But-Worse-In-Every-Way-But-You-Get-Him-Earlier-In-The-Game-So-It-Balances-Out but somehow he ended up with mug relatively early.
 
I love blitzball. Not so much for the actual minigame mechanics, which are too static after you get a sufficiently good team, but because it provided a secondary source of world building and character growth. I've grown up on sports games for the most part, and still find myself playing an occasional football manager or ootp, so finding the same sport management system as a secondary in an rpg was a thrill. What it lacks in the mechanics and team building is made up for with the fact that it all integrates and revolves around people actually in the world. 10+ years into most sport game franchise mode gets you to a similar spot; it's made up people gaining numbers under your "care". The excitement of that is the same as something like crusader kings where you can fashion stories and themes for the made up names. Being able to watch characters grow and imagine their place in a world where they truly "exist" is such a cool thing that i really wish more games tried. Still dream of the day where i finally level up mifurey enough that she has acceptable speed and becomes a blitzball legend.
 
Getting Steal on Kimahri before Rikku joins might take a bit of grinding, but it's a good route for him even if he gets there later. Rikku gets a lot of HP and some strength early on to bridge the gap between the stats she has during the intro and what she needs to be effective when she joins for real, and Kimahri already has higher base stats in those areas than she does, so he becomes a stronger but slower thief who's still kinda fast.

The first time I played FFX, I took Kimahri down Lulu's path, thinking that he'd pick up all the magic upgrades and then return to his starting point to learn Ultima once I had the key spheres for it. He was terrible, never anything more than a worse version of Lulu, who already tends to fall behind the fighters in DPS. The last time I played it, I went for Rikku's path and he was much better.
 
Getting Steal on Kimahri before Rikku joins might take a bit of grinding, but it's a good route for him even if he gets there later. Rikku gets a lot of HP and some strength early on to bridge the gap between the stats she has during the intro and what she needs to be effective when she joins for real, and Kimahri already has higher base stats in those areas than she does, so he becomes a stronger but slower thief who's still kinda fast.

The first time I played FFX, I took Kimahri down Lulu's path, thinking that he'd pick up all the magic upgrades and then return to his starting point to learn Ultima once I had the key spheres for it. He was terrible, never anything more than a worse version of Lulu, who already tends to fall behind the fighters in DPS. The last time I played it, I went for Rikku's path and he was much better.

One option that works out really well is to do both of those things:

If you teach Kimahri Steal (no grinding required to rush it, just send him along that route when you can) it also puts him in a good position to skip straight to the second level Black magic skills before Lulu can, which ends up making him a strictly better version of Lulu (the same spells do more damage, he gets stronger spells sooner, more durable, can also do a good enough physical damage attack instead of no damage at all, better overdrives for burst damage) who does stay useful through the main game instead of falling off toward the end and can also Steal.

This is convenient because the color-by-numbers encounter design (using the right party member basically guarantees a one-hit-kill, using the wrong party member is waste of a turn) means having a party member who can cover two separate one-hit-kill niches (magic and steal) lets you avoid wasting turns waiting for Rikku/Lulu to go again if you get an encounter with 2 mechs or 2 magic resistant enemies. That's not super common, but still It makes Kimahri as good at Rikku's one hit kills as Rikku, and he's better at Lulu's one hit kills than Lulu.

(I've never played postgame content or done the mini-game grinding for ultra weapons, presumably the balance is different there since those let you break the damage limit and presumably give all sorts of different bonuses...)
 
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sending lulu down a purely physical path on the expert sphere grid was the most rewarding thing in the remaster. did it hurt spending all that time getting her ultimate weapon only to realize it is almost irrelevant when she doesn't use magic and her overdrive is extremely underpowered? no, not at all.

was more hurt by wakka's not having any magic boost/one mp skill after making him a white mage as it always should have been
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
The real problem with physical Lulu is that her attack animation is several times longer than anyone else's.

Post-game, you get every node for every character (that you bother to use). Post-post-game, you delete half of the sphere grid and replace it with better stat boosts. At that point, the only difference between characters is equipment and overdrives.
 

Lokii

Administrator
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
When I played through earlier this year I took Kimahri down Auron’a path and it worked out much better than expected. Simply having another solid high damage dealer was welcome in almost every sceanario. Even though he was a little bland ability-wise, making him a bread and butter front liner created space for other characters to lean into their specialties more and it really worked out well. Then I steered him into Tidus’ quadrant not only for the boost to speed but also to get him Haste. Two haste casters gives so much utility, especially for the late game bosses where your action economy is under more pressure. He remained useful from the beginning of the game through the end boss and I used him a lot.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I love blitzball. Not so much for the actual minigame mechanics, which are too static after you get a sufficiently good team, but because it provided a secondary source of world building and character growth. I've grown up on sports games for the most part, and still find myself playing an occasional football manager or ootp, so finding the same sport management system as a secondary in an rpg was a thrill. What it lacks in the mechanics and team building is made up for with the fact that it all integrates and revolves around people actually in the world. 10+ years into most sport game franchise mode gets you to a similar spot; it's made up people gaining numbers under your "care". The excitement of that is the same as something like crusader kings where you can fashion stories and themes for the made up names. Being able to watch characters grow and imagine their place in a world where they truly "exist" is such a cool thing that i really wish more games tried. Still dream of the day where i finally level up mifurey enough that she has acceptable speed and becomes a blitzball legend.
Thanks, that's a very interesting perspective. I mean, I still don't quite get it, but I also never played sport sims, so I'm just missing context here. But it's really cool to get a perspective from someone who likes this minigame, beyond the basics of playing it.

The real problem with physical Lulu is that her attack animation is several times longer than anyone else's.
While it is absurdly long, I adore Lulus usage of dolls of various forms (all former FF creatures, right?). Nearly never used it (her magic is just too good), but I loved watching the little guys slowly waddle over and kick something that is 20 times their size.

In general, I wished I had actually asked how to build Kimahri. I got a lot of use out of him, as sending him on Rikkus path gives him a lot of HP and quite a bit of power (he was similarly strong as Auron, at one point), but he started to lag behind more and more, as the game went on. A shame, really. I love his design.

---------------------------------------

Last time, we got our last party member, and were on our way to Guadosalam, home of the Guado. When we enter, we meet Twamel, some kind of aid for Seymour, I guess. No, wait, a part of the family, who just acts like he is Seymours secretary, or something. Icky.

We meet Shelinda and Mei'Chen again, who explains about the Farplane, where people can meet their dead, loved ones. Their ghosts. And also about the idea of the Al-Bhed, that it's just the pyreflies, reacting to peoples thoughts and dreams.

It is weird, that only dead people appear here. But then, a lot of people die in Spira all the time, way too young, and it's no surprise, if the ones people are thinking about in there are just ones who have died. But more on that in a second.

As Seymour did send for Yuna, we enter his home. Where we learn that he is the successor of the family that bore the leaders of the Guado for generations. And all, except Seymour, look basically the same. Because dear Seymour is half guado, half human. Also, this place has no temple, people are just passing through.

It's Lulu, who tells us this. While the game doesn't give us much backstory for her, which is a shame, she has a lot of small scenes in situations like this, and I enjoy them every time.

Together with the knowledge, that it was Seymour who bridged the disconnect between the guado and the rest of the world, we get a lot of information here. It is never fully filled, at least not as far as I know, but there is a lot implied here.

That there is no temple here speaks of how much the guado must have been ostrazised from the rest of the world, except for the Al-Bhed. But thinking about it, this is still a very human-centric world, right? I can only think of the Ronso, elsewise. And a few other races, of course, who simply don't play much of a role in this world. So, were there fights? It doesn't really feel this way. Except for Wakka, who has his reasons, most people don't seem to take the whole "no technology" idea too serious. So, maybe the aren't too antagonistic against people who don't believe.

Having the Farplane must mean, that a lot of people visited all the time, so I guess the relationship to humans was actually fine.

So, why are the Guado so happy that Seymour bridged the gap, and made the Guado part of the bigger community? Or, maybe it's just Twamel, who simply is into everything Seymour wants and does. And Seymour, of course, who has his own plans for Spira. So, I guess the world and the Guado were perfectly fine, even before this race became part of the bigger community, and we are just playing out how Seymour deals with his weird complexes.

Now that I'm through this, I wonder what the other Guado actually think of this whole stuff. But I don't remember any critizism, so it's probably fine.

And I'm immediately a bit corrected: It was Jyscal, Seymours father, who brought the "wisdom" of Yevon to the Guado. Seymour just was supposed to take over the whole thing.

Look, I'm really not trying to be snarky here, but I have a bit of a feeling that it was still only Jyscal who wanted to change the situation, and it feels like the only reason he wanted to do this was, because he was in love with a human woman. Not trying to make fun of it, it just feels very much that way to me.

Speaking of being snarky, I read over parts of the Dark IDs LP of the game, and boy, I really don't like his sarcastic attitude, everywhere. It's a shame, as there is a lot of work put into his LPs, but there is nearly no honest discussion about interesting topics, as most of what he does is make fun of everything. I guess it shows my change in taste, I really liked his LPs once.

Back on topic, there doesn't seem to be any indication of the joining of the Guado to the greater community is good or bad. It's just part of what happened, with the implications unclear, as they were done for hidden agendas, from both Seymour and his father. It's not like the Guado seemed to have used machinary much, so there couldn't have been too much change, I guess? And people seemed to have visited the Farplane before, too, so not much seemed to have happened.

Anyway, the group is invited into a special chamber, where we see a beautiful vision of Space, and switch to a vision of Zanarkand, how it looked a 1000 years ago (or like at the start of the game).

It got strong Bugenhagen vibes from this place, which isn't surprising at all. And maybe, there is a connection here. Both rooms show us something bigger than our small situation. Bugenhagen was focused on how we are part of a bigger world, and the cosmos, a vision of something positive. But here, in Spira, the vision is focused on the dead past, something from forever ago. Which speaks volumes of how this world is stuck in the past.

Funnily enough, it just dawned on me that FF VII is focused a lot on the future, in some way. Bugenhagen and Aerith try to work towards a brighter future, maybe even without humans, but Shinra, too, worked for a vision forward. It was a horrible, disgusting vision, just saying, all the parties in that game looked forward.

We learn from Seymour, that Yunalesca, the one Yuna has her name from (even her name is specifically from the past), lived in Zanarkand, once. Yuna does point out, though, that it was her father, who named her that. Interesting, as it shows us how different these two are in some regards. As we will learn later, Braska will accept the status quo, and will keep the cycle going, as it did for a thousand years. Yuna will not. Braska was stuck in the past. His daughter, maybe with Tidus' help, is going to break everything open.

It is also probably the first time, that Yuna expicitely makes clear, that she disagrees in some vague way with her father. Which is interesting, considering how much she adores him.

Yunalesca also was the first one to defeat Sin. But not alone - she had someone alongside her, to have an unbreakable bond of love, as is necessary for two people, to defeat Sin. At this point, I felt that this bond is coded as romantic, but in the end, we will learn that it can also be the bond between parent and child, or friends. Still, there is significance in the fact, that the first summoner-guardian couple was a romantic one. Especially with how Seymour fixates on that. Which leads to the next part, him asking Yuna for her hand.

As mentioned, I feel like Seymour is clearly enough coded as a villain, that it might be intentional, at least for seasoned FF players, to know from the start that he is an antagonist. So, at this point, I assumed he wanted to use the fact that Yuna will die, to promote his position, and give him Emperor-like powers over Spira. The powerful summoner, who stood at the side of the one who defeated Sin and who everyone would listen to.

I forgot, that he would become Sin, that way. Which...considering that there has to be a deep bond between summoner and guardian, it's very obvious that Seymour has not the slightest idea of how relationships actually work. A marriage out of pragmatic reasons will not work here, the Final Summon will be too weak this way. What a broken mess of a person.

I find it interesting, that even Wakka realizes that the marriage would just be a tool, so the people in Spira would get even more hope out of Yunas pilgrimage. Lulu assumes, it is supposed to raise the spirit of the people of Spira. Which makes it an interesting idea for Yuna, who knows nothing but how to sacrifice herself for others, and the rest of the world. Considering she soon finds out about Seymour killing his father, and her only then agreeing, this is a nice red herring.

Before continuing on, though, Yuna wants to visit her father in the Farplane. And I really get Tidus here, when he asks if the dead are really sent there, and if they are now living in that place. I get why the others are annoyed at these questions, but they are good ones. Still, very tasteless.

We got one or two other hints about Auron being an Unsent, and here, he shows us another one, be not being willing to enter the Farplane. But then, I only assumed it work hurt him to be inside, but I'm not sure. I guess he also simply doesn't care, seeing images of dead people, knowing they are only images. Rikkus thinks so too, and doesn't go inside. The Al-Bhed, the outsiders of this world, are the only ones really looking into the future, trying to find out more about how technology works. There is no point for her, looking at images of lost ones. Also, she still has her father, which is a nice detail in itself. Considering that Auron, Wakka and Yuna are all orphans.

The Farplane is an interesting place, as it is basically a graveyard, just for the whole world. Except that it gives your grieve a stronger focus to latch onto, as you can see the people you are longing for. It must simply make it harder to let go, when you can still see them.

There is a short story by Asimov, about people trying to create a device to look into the future. It is forbidden to work on it, but the protagonists still do, and develop the machine. They also publish the works, so that everyone gets them, and the government is incapable of deleating the knowledge. Except that the machine can't look into the future. Or rather, just a very short amount of time. Like one second. On every place they like. Which, basically, kills privacy, as everyone can now spy on everyone else all the time.

It connects to this, because one person, a mother grieving for her dead son, started using this device to look into the past, which is also possible. And she will not be able to live a normal live, from now on, as she can't let go.

Point is, I don't think we as humans could handle more than a grave. To really see a dead person in front of us. Maybe it would be too hard, and make us focus too much on the grieve.

The place itself is pretty fascinating, a floating island surrounded by a fascinating landscape. And we see the people here. Or, rather, their memories, as they don't do anything, just stand there. Here, Yuna says she has decided. That everyone was so happy, when her father defeated Sin, so all she wants to do is make others happy.

Yuna also asks Tidus to think of Jecht. Who, of course, won't come. But at this point, we already heard that he is Sin, so this shouldn't be too surprising. We do learn, though, that Tidus is angry at Jecht for not being there for him, due to being in Spira.

Weirdly enough, Tidus' mother appears, despite never having been sent. Yuna suggests, that she was simply ready to go on, on her own.

So, we never get much about Tidus' mother. Or any mother, I guess, except for Seymours, who was also kind-of terrible. Still, I think I mentioned it already, but the way she is sidelined reminds me a lot of Clouds mother. I still can't get over it, that he never lost a single line about missing her, or something, and that the game acts like she never existed, after the flashback. I mean, we see her there.

With Tidus' mother, it's similar. He obviously has some feelings for her, elsewise he wouldn't see her here, but she is only a vessel for him, to get angrier at Jecht. The main thing we learn is, that she was mentally always somewhere else, when Jecht was gone, and only interested in Jecht, when he was around.

So, I guess Jecht was a better parent than his wife, maybe? Or let's just say that they were both bad. It's a wonder that Tidus doesn't have more issues than he has.

Or maybe, he just overdoes it. Considering that he was a child and teen, his mother might have been there for him, just not as much as he would have wanted her to be. We don't really know.

But then, she died due to a broken heart, when Jecht was gone for good. So, yeah, I feel it's unfair to demand of parents that they give themselves fully to their kid, but this seems like Tidus never was of much importance to her.

With that, we leave the Farplane. Outside, Jyscal, Seymours father, tries to get out. And here we learn, that even despite a sending, people might be bound to this world, if their will is just strong enough. Yuna sends him again, and we see Auron in distress. I like how this is done, that the game gives us a few hints of him being an unsent.

We get a nice bit with Lulu, when Tidus asks he what she thinks of Yuna marrying Seymour. She will support Yuna, no matter what she decides, but she also would prefer her to marry out of love. But, what she doesn't mention is, that Yuna will die at the end of the pilgrimage. So, I guess she doesn't mind, because it won't matter. Yuna will not have to live with that creep, in any case.

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With that, we are done with Guadosalam. Next time, we cross the Thunder Planes and are on our way to Macalania.
 
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