Final Fantasy X Part 3: Steam Summoner Sale

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 23, 2016

Filed under: Retrospectives 139 comments

Tidus has a conversation with Rikku where he learns that Zanarkand was destroyed 1,000 years ago. He learns that there’s this religion called Yevon, and that his Zanarkand is now considered a holy place.

As if the Al Bhed haven’t been cruel enough, Rikku makes us sit through the sphere grid tutorial. I’ll talk about that hot mess in a later entry. With that out of the way, we’re done here. Never one to waste time, the writer pushes the big red button labeled “Sin shows up and magically transports our hero to another part of the world for purposes of plot convenience.” (The lettering on the button is very small.) This is not the last time they will push that particular button.

Besaid Island

Tidus, the best blitzball player in Zanarkand, washes up on shore in front of the worst blitzball players in history.
Tidus, the best blitzball player in Zanarkand, washes up on shore in front of the worst blitzball players in history.

Tidus washes up on the beach of Besaid Island. He makes friends with Wakka, who has the distinction of having the third most ridiculous haircut in the world. Tidus gets a chance to show off his extreme Blitzball prowess and Wakka – being captain of the local Blitzball team – invites him to join.

I love Besaid Island. This is actually the point where I connected with the world and decided I wanted to find out what happens next. It says something about the length of Final Fantasy games that when I came back here during the last chapter of the story, the music and scenery actually filled me with nostalgia. Usually you get nostalgia for a game you played months or years ago. Or played in a different time in your life. But this game is so long (especially for someone new to JRPGs) that I felt a sense of wonder simply returning at the end of the same play-through.

We’re a few hours in, and we’re just now being introduced to the premise of our journey:

Summoners are devout followers of the Yevon religion. They train to summon gigantic supernatural beasts, called Aeons. They go on a pilgrimage to the ruins of Zanarkand, where they will fight Sin. They pick up new Aeons from each of the temples they visit along the way. It’s a dangerous road, so a summoner always travels with one or more guardians – people who swear to defend their summoner with their life. If the Summoner’s quest is successful, then in Zanarkand they will obtain the Final Aeon, which will be powerful enough to defeat Sin.

Later we’ll discover that many summoners may be on their pilgrimage at the same time, even though only one of them needs to complete the journey. Lots of summoner parties get killed, or the group dissolves, or they give up, so this redundancy makes some kind of sense. Although, I imagine it would be really awkward if two teams reached the Zanarkand temple at the same time.

Hello there! After you.

Oh no, after YOU!

No really, we don’t mind. You guys play through.

Oh we’re not in a hurry. You were here first.

Etc.

Besaid serves as our introduction to the people of Spira. Here we get to see the world in its idealized state, not marred by violence, destroyed by Sin, or embroiled in an ongoing cultural / religious schism. This island village stands as an example of the people and places we’re fighting to save. There’s no assumed empathy here. The storyteller goes to work building an emotional connection with the world before they ask us to save it.

Putting a Team Together

Wakka takes Tidus into the village, where they visit the temple. We bump into the rest of the main cast and the party is formed. In the other Final Fantasy games I’ve played, it felt like other characters join your party. In this game, you’re joining theirs. The party was formed before our hero ever showed up. It consists of…

Heterochromia iridum (two different colored eyes) is believed to be caused by inbreeding. If true, then it should be pretty common on this island.
Heterochromia iridum (two different colored eyes) is believed to be caused by inbreeding. If true, then it should be pretty common on this island.

Yuna is the summoner, and thus the leader of the party. She’s serious, quiet, determined, powerfully empathetic, and enormously polite. She also gets an instant crush on our lead when she sees how handsome and protagonist-y he is. Really, the reasons for their mutual attraction are never expressed. Certainly Yuna is far too reserved to say what she digs about Tidus. Their affection is one of opposites. He’s brash, loud, confident, and full of jokes, while she is… not.

Yuna’s father is Braska, the summoner who died defeating Sin ten years ago. People keep saying things to Yuna like, “You’re the daughter of Braska. You have a lot to live up to.” Which has this unpleasant undercurrent of, “Your father died for us. What can YOU do?”

Just in case it's not clear, Lulu is the one on the right. I don't know who the other lady is.
Just in case it's not clear, Lulu is the one on the right. I don't know who the other lady is.

Lulu is our black mage – the person that casts your ice, fire, water, and electricity magic spells, as you do in these games. The story insists – through the comments of the other characters – that she’s serious and has a short fuse, but my take on her is that she’s insufferable, condescending, and never one to pass up the chance to make a cutting remark. When I compare Wakka’s description of her to her actual dialog, I’m left with the impression that something, somewhere, is getting lost in translation. It seems like she’s supposed to be stoic and quiet, like Squall in Final Fantasy VIII, but instead she feels really mean for some reason. Maybe her dialog was written to be sardonic but comes off as bitter and cutting in the English read? It’s hard to say.

Part of the problem is that the audience will naturally assume that when we meet someone new, we’re seeing them in their default state. If someone is angry, we assume they have a bad temper. If they’re drunk we assume they have a drinking problem. If they’re crying, we assume they’re emotionally brittle. It’s all part of the shorthand storytellers use. But it can confuse things if the character in question treats the protagonist differently from everyone else. Maybe she’s not always mean and cutting to people? Maybe she’s just weirded out or frustrated by Tidus specifically, and actually treats other people much betterAlthough she’s pretty cruel to Wakka at times, too.? It’s hard to say.

Also, she’s wearing a voluminous black dress made of fur and leather, and she lives on a tropical island. Maybe she’s mean because she’s always hovering just on the edge of heatstroke.

The game never explains which type of magic is used to sustain Wakka's hair.
The game never explains which type of magic is used to sustain Wakka's hair.

Wakka is our orange-haired Blitzball buddy, and inexplicably the only member of the party to speak with a faux- Hawaiian accent, even though most of the party grew up on this island togetherYuna moved here when she was about 10, but Lulu has presumably been here her whole life.. He’s a big believer in the Yevon religion, and is often used as writer shorthand to portray or explain the general attitudes and beliefs of the faithful. He’s captain of the Besaid Aurochs and a pretty decent Blitzball player, but the rest of his team has the combined sports prowess of, say, the swollen carcass of a dead manatee wearing a Blitzball jersey.

Is he a tiger, or a lion? I guess he looks more lion-ish? Then again, he's blue, which isn't a typical color for either animal.
Is he a tiger, or a lion? I guess he looks more lion-ish? Then again, he's blue, which isn't a typical color for either animal.

Kimari has been protecting Yuna since she was a little girl. He’s a Ronso, a race of humanoid… lion… people? With horns in the middle of their foreheads? Or is he more tiger-ish? Like, a tigercorn? I don’t know. They have a mild case of Noble Savage going on. Kimari towers over the other party members, but he’s actually pretty small for a Ronso. He also saves a ton of money on voice work by virtue of almost never speaking. I don’t think he gets a single line of dialog until something like ten hours into the story.

There are only two other people needed to complete the party, and we’ve already met them. We’ll reunite with Auron and Rikku later in the story.

Drama First

Really, the entire village lives in two of those five tents?
Really, the entire village lives in two of those five tents?

Aside from Yuna, nobody believes that Tidus is from the living Zanarkand of the distant past. The working explanation is that he’s a little crazy in the head on account of getting too close to Sin, and that he’s actually just from elsewhere in Spira. There’s a big Blitzball tournament coming up on the island of Luca, and people from all over will be there. The party reasons that Tidus might meet someone he knows there, so they offer to take him. Yuna’s pilgrimage passes through Luca, so it makes sense for them to travel together for this first leg of the journey.

Just to keep things complicated, it turns out that Tidus happens to look a bit like Chappu, who was Wakka’s brother and Lulu’s boyfriend. Chappu abandoned the faith of Yevon, and then died fighting Sin. This had the side-effect of making Wakka even more zealous for Yevon, and making Lulu more bitter in general.

Sure, the writer could have just shoved everyone together. “You seem nice! Why don’t you come with us to fight Satan?” But the writer took the time to give everyone different reasons to want to have Tidus along.

On top of her silent crush, Yuna is naturally disposed to helping people, so helping Tidus would make a lot of sense to her. Wakka’s Blitzball team absolutely sucks, and suddenly he finds a pro-level Blitzball player who looks like his dead brother, so inviting him along is a no-brainer. And Kimari? Kimari jumps Tidus on the road, fights him for a couple of rounds, and then seems to accept him into the party when he proves himself.

The only person who doesn’t have a good reason to want Tidus along is Lulu. And in fact, she finds his personality to be grating, his constant ignorance about the world annoying, and she’s probably creeped out by him looking like Chappu. Like I said above, maybe she’s not as mean as she seems at first. Maybe she just can’t stand Tidus.

Final Fantasy Island

So the storyteller doesn't explain where food comes from, but they do explain where these clothes come from. So that's nice.
So the storyteller doesn't explain where food comes from, but they do explain where these clothes come from. So that's nice.

The village of Besaid consists of five tents, two of which are given over to textile production. Another is actually used by the Crusaders – roughly the local militia. About half the visible population is a Blitzball team. Nobody seems to be related to anyone else, even though a mostly isolated micro-community like this one couldn’t sustain itself without an uncomfortable level of inbreeding that would turn the whole village into one big extended family. Nobody grows food. The temple is about ten times larger than required for a population this size, and that’s ignoring the massive underground puzzle maze used solely for training summoners.

It sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not. While the village is made of nothing more than absurd tropes and hand-waves, the storyteller has invested a great deal of time into establishing these characters, their motivations, their shared history, and their relationships with each other. The inner-workings of this group are actually fairly complex. Each of them has a different reason for embarking on this journey, and each has a different view of Tidus. The writer is carefully spending their exposition on the stuff that matters most, and leaving everything else to shorthand tropes

Final Fantasy X is confidently a drama-first kind of world. The storyteller knows exactly what kind of story they want to tell.

(Although having said that, I really wish the designer had thrown some unreachable tents into the background to hint that we were just seeing a tiny part of the village.)

 

Footnotes:

[1] Although she’s pretty cruel to Wakka at times, too.

[2] Yuna moved here when she was about 10, but Lulu has presumably been here her whole life.



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139 thoughts on “Final Fantasy X Part 3: Steam Summoner Sale

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    It's a dangerous road, so a summoner always travels with one or more guardians ““ people who swear to defend their summoner with their life.

    Pfft,what a lame summoner.This summoner never needed any guardians to wreak death and destruction upon his enemies!People followed that summoner just so they wouldnt find themselves on the wrong end of his massive dragons.

    1. GloatingSwine says:

      Didn’t actually turn out all that well for him, though.

      “Stick your special summoning hand in there, it will be fine“.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        At least he’s okay for if he is ever attacked by the darkness.

    2. p_johnston says:

      Holy crap I didn’t realize they had ported that game to PC. I’m so buying it now. Wish me luck with my dive into the ugliest video game faces ever made.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        And oh dear God, all the shit in the sewer level…

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I hope you dont mean literal shit.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Really, the reasons for their mutual attraction are never expressed.

    They are teens after all,and those dont need much to fall in lust.Just look at romeo and juliet.

    1. Decius says:

      She’s 17, and this is the literally first person who has met her since she hit puberty that hasn’t known the spoilers that come up later regarding why a romantic relationship wouldn’t work out well.

      Lulu hasn’t spent her entire life on the island; she and Auron are the only members of the party with prior experience being a guardian.

      1. Corsair says:

        Actually untrue – Wakka also previously guarded a Summoner, they got as far as the Calm Lands before they gave up. Him and Lulu together guarded him, I think his name is Lord Zaku but don’t quote me on that, I’m terrible with names and you only meet him briefly.

        1. Legendary says:

          It’s Father Zuke.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I think you mean father azai.

      2. Collin Pearce says:

        I think Wakka was also a part-time guardian for another summoner once, but he didn’t make it far because he was too focused on the game. Lulu somehow made it all the way to the Calm Lands somehow with basic-level magic.

        1. King Marth says:

          She was casting Ultima one-handed and blindfolded by the end of that journey despite it being shorter, she just lost all her skills when the next game started. Remember what kind of world we’re talking about.

          1. I’m currently playing Tales of Xillia 2, which uses almost all the exact same world assets as Tales of Xilla 1. Except it uses them more-or-less backwards from the original game. So of course where in the first game all the low-level “random” encounters are, the highest level monsters are, and vice versa.

            This is pretty lucky for the returning characters who show up in the early game ToX2 in the late-game ToX1 areas, utterly depowered from their literally-killing-local-God power levels in the previous entry.

            To the games slight credit, it actually bothers to handwave why everybody lost their skills. In a nutshell, the Bullcrap-o-tron powering all their special skills broke due to excessive Plot in the previous game and now everyone has to switch to pure Nonsenseoleum instead. But hey, they tried.

        2. Syal says:

          Lady Ginnem was all about the No Sphere Grid challenge.

    2. BeCeejed says:

      Okay but I think this is actually explained later. Perhaps its more subtle than I remember, but it was a big revelation to me so I remember it as one of the things that made Yuna very interesting and fascinating to me.

      Yuna is constantly fighting a kind of depression or resignation with the fate of the summoner. She will also complete it, she fully intends to, but nobody walks into death, even sacrifice to save lives, with a 100% pure smile on their face.

      Completing the first trial was basically the signal for her death sentence. She could have failed, some fail and live but she succeeded, so the journey to her holy self-sacrifice began. And first coming out of the room, with thoughts of success and the price it will cost her in her head, she meets a boy about her age who has a shitty poker face and can’t really hide how much he thinks she’s cute. And then he’s got a kind of exuberance for the journey, thoughts without knowledge of the end result of her quest.

      She wanted to have fun on her quest. She states it later. That she wanted the time they spent journeying to be a fun experience, with happy memories of friends. True, they were walking to her death; She’s basically a terminal cancer patient who decided to drink and eat whatever they wanted when they could, spend time with friends and family, and make the most of the time they have left. She volunteered for the death, complicated religious self-sacrifice and all, but that’s beside the point. She tries, at every opportunity, whenever she thinks she can, to have a diversion; a pleasant meal, a blitzball game, a shopping trip. To laugh and smile and have everyone remember her that way.

      She actively encourages Tidus’ side enthusiasms. Wakka’s too, his Blitzball obsession and all. She accepts Rikku for much the same reason. And she believes Tidus’ story about Zanarkand. Why not? Why not believe him? It hurts her not at all. Its like a pleasant dream that came to life basically to do exactly what she wanted to have happen – to have fun with her and make her journey a pleasant experience.

      Her relationship with Tidus hinges on the fact that she constantly acknowledges her own upcoming death as inevitable and wants to enjoy the time they have left. I believe she explicitly encouraged Tidus be left in the dark for some time because it was in fact to her benefit.

      He was cute, he was happy (For the most part), he wanted to help her even though he didn’t understand what that meant. Later she learns he’s the son and godson of her father’s best friends. The start of their relationship makes a lot of sense.

      And relatedly, regarding Lulu…

      Lulu made it further than Wakka on their prior journey before the summoner themselves quit. Lulu knows what the journey will cost Yuna. Yuna listens to Lulu’s advice. A calm “Yuna…” from Lulu will let Yuna know she’s gone too far, is risking losing her purpose. Lulu dislikes Tidus as a distraction. She knows what Yuna will face and how easily it might be for her to give up later, how hard it might be to continue.

      Yuna has declared that she wants to succeed as a summoner. She shows a remarkable resolve even independent of Lulu. Lulu wants to help her succeed. Be the supporting encouragement she needs to make the hard decisions a summoner will face. She openly resents Wakka for his past failures and doesn’t view him as great Guardian material. Tidus, vouched for by Wakka, distracting, and ignorant, is a hurdle she hardly wants Yuna to face. She increasingly resents his influence and attempts to counter it whenever possible, by counseling Yuna and by discouraging Tidus. Chappu’s loss of faith is probably readily on her mind too.

      She doesn’t hate Tidus. But he really has no place in a Summoner’s retinue, in her opinion, and she makes it known to him whenever possible.

      Yuna basically likes Tidus for the same reasons Lulu doesn’t. He’s a distraction, and I’m not talking about that ridiculous outfit.

      1. Mintskittle says:

        An addition to Yuna’s desire for a happy journey, when the party meets Isaru, another summoner, and his brothers, they decide to make a game of it, a race to see who can beat Sin first. Also similar to Tidus, Isaru’s younger brother doesn’t seem to understand the full ramifications of what it means for Isaru to complete his journey.

        1. Syal says:

          Dona also makes it a competition, though it comes off less friendly.

      2. CraigM says:

        I love this breakdown. Having not played FFX before (though I’ve played roughly 60% of all FF games), this series has made me very interested.

        Now this explanation of characters sounds amazing, and am curious if the game bears it out. Maybe the Steam sale…

        1. Von Krieger says:

          Not really. I wasn’t fond of the game at all and I didn’t much care for the fact that the vast majority of the game is basically a tour ride, where you’re shuttled off to one location to accomplish something, then the next, never exploring, never branching, just running through a theme park and going on each ride in order before being shuffled off to the next one.

          I loved 1, 4, 5, and 6, thought 2, 3, 7, and 9 were decent, disliked 10, loathed 8 with every fiber of my being, and swore off the series after purchasing and playing through 12.

          Personally I found the characters to be somewhat flat an uninteresting and aspects of the game moderately obnoxious at best, and time-wasting tedium for no real purpose other than to pad out the game, make you grind, and sell guidebooks.

          Like one character’s best weapon is acquired by dodging 200 lightning strikes in a row.

          It takes something like 30-90 minutes (I don’t quite remember the exact amount, as it was well over a decade ago when I played) to dodge 200 bolts.

          Fuck up once, you have to do that all over again.

          It’s like Korean MMO-levels of grinding while banging your head against a wall.

          1. Syal says:

            Super weapon stuff is ridiculously tedious in 10. Lightning bolts is a straight 20-minute grind (in the fastest section), but the Chocobo race and Butterfly gathering are hard enough they’ll probably take longer, and Wakka’s means playing something like 7 Leagues of Blitzball which is going to be like a day or more.

            But they’re definitely endgame content, you can’t get any of them until the last dungeon anyway (stupid Guado locking their doors at night who do they think they are.)

      3. Collin Pearce says:

        Perfect summary of everyone’s feelings.

        I’d like to add a little to Lulu’s personal description. Her world is very harsh, and she had lost nearly everything she had due to things outside of her control. She failed as a guardian once so completely that her summoner died on the road.

        Her pain turned her harsh, cold and unyielding, like stone. She had to be, because anger was how her mind chose to cope- and it was the opposite of Wakka’s strategy. Which is why they ended up together. They are perfect compliments, and foils, to each other. She wasn’t smarter, more informed, more mature, whatever, than anyone was, she just exercised her intelligence and initiative differently.

        All of the characters were so complex. This was an excellent story.

        1. Felblood says:

          Lulu is another character whose has great development over the course of the story, which is largely ignored becasue anyone who notices her behind Yuna standing in the limelight will likely be distracted by her…

          …character design.

          Like Titus and Wakka, she very much fakes it until she makes it, and becomes the kind of person she only pretends to be at the start.

          She is kind of a pill at first, and she has a lot more in common with Titus than she’s initially ready to admit. As the most experienced guardian on the team, (until Auron joins up) Lulu sees herself as Yuna’s second-in-command and advisor.

          She’s serious minded in principle, and expects that from others, but she hardly lives up to the stoic ideals she preaches. She rolls her eyes and snipes at Tidus for his emotional outbursts, but it’s more to make herself feel better than in any hope of influencing his actions. So, isn’t she having emotional outbursts about how people shouldn’t be allowed to have emotional outbursts?

          The fact that Tidus actually takes her criticism to heart, and hangs on her every word as she lectures him on history and politics, actually has a really positive effect on her. Not only does she start to gain some respect for him, realizing that there’s more to this guy than the gormless foreign who washed up on her beach like a piece of garbage. She begins to think about the way her demeanor influences the other party members, and develops into a real leader. Eventually she becomes the backbone behind Yuna’s heart, and she lends her stoic determination to the party when things seem bleak.

          Even her romance with Wakka has a very understated, human progression. It’s not fairy-tale whirlwind, that ends with a kiss in front of an explosion. That stuff is for new couples like Titus and Yuna. This is the process of two people who’ve hurt each other letting go of the past, and rediscovering their compassion for a person that they still care for.

          If you’ve never tried to patch up a long term relationship that’s been shipwrecked for a while, it’s hard to explain. It’s easy to get lost in counting all the ways the other person’s personality flaws contributed to the negative situation, but you have to face your own flaws and commit to some personal growth, if you’re going to make it work. Wakka’s reflexive escapism and fanatical piety vs. Lulu’s protracted mourning and trite cynicism, both compounded by the loss of Chappu, are character flaws they had to deal with during the Pilgrimage anyway, so they had a head start.

          It’s ironic that I had to learn to walk in other peoples shoes, before I could see the nuances in this cast, when that’s also the lesson that Lulu’s story is about.

      4. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        About Yuna believing Tidus about Zanarkand, remember she met also Jecht (who was also claiming to be from Zanarkand, and she spent a long enough time with him that he showed her the Jecht Shot), so she has a real reason to believe him, not just wish fulfilment. It gets even stronger when she learn Tidus is Jecht’s son.

        1. Decius says:

          She also knows Auron, at least by reputation, and Auron tells people what he thinks they need to know.

  3. Miral says:

    The idea of multiple summoner journeys happening simultaneously seems a bit more awkward if you assume that the Aeon spirits are unique and actually summoned from some spirit world for battles. Similar to the Zanarkand scene you have above, I just envisage a heated battle, then the summoner making a grand gesture…. and nothing happens, because the Aeon they were trying to summon was already fighting with the other party.

    Unless maybe they’re careful not to contract to two summoners at once. But then that means that each temple would have to have access to multiple Aeons, so there would be some “spare” for the next party. But then, why not just stick with one party and let them have them all?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Aeons are in constant flux,belonging to all the parties at the same time,until one summoner is observed summoning them by another summoner,when the aeon finally collapses onto its final master.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Aeons are simply a super-massive elementary quantum particle. Which makes the summoner’s pilgrimage the equivelant to the LHC. The Large Aeon Collider if you will.

      2. tmtvl says:

        I’d make a counter pun, but I don’t know Aeon Flux well enough to do so.

        1. Droid says:

          Your effort was duly noted.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      Maybe the temples are like Rin, and they’re “confident in the summoners’ abilities to win” with only a limited number of aeons…

      More seriously, though, my understanding is that the pilgrimage isn’t about the summoners acquiring power (though they do, and that helps with the journey) but rather about them learning the craft of summoning by binding as many different aeons as possible. It’s a sort of summoners’ on-the-job training program to prepare them for the final summoning, which is really the only aeon that matters.

      So if a summoner calls an aeon and it’s busy–well, that’s why they have a guardian.

      1. Decius says:

        Gameplay/story segregation: there’s multiple summonses on pilgrimage at the same time, but boss fiends block your path until defeated once, then just the ordinary fiends.

    3. It’s funny you mention that. There’s a recurring summoner you meet throughout your journey who challenges Yuna to solo battle as a test of her skills and conviction. Whatever Aeon she summons, Yuna cannot. Beyond that I don’t recall if the game further acknowledges the concept of Aeons as singular entities.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        It make me wonder if, should all the Aeons be currently summoned to different other summoners, one might go into battle to find the equivalent of “WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GUYS?!?”

        I wonder how many summoners failed or were killed because of this…

        1. Felblood says:

          New Headcannon: Get!

      2. Syal says:

        There are three fights like that, I think. At one point you fight through the entire roster of Aeons, but if you keep the same summon out the enemy will never summon that one.

    4. Locke says:

      You fight other summoners in the game. They use the same summons as you do. I can’t remember if Yuna is in the party and you can fight summon vs. summon in the same party, but their summons have different names. It very much suggests different copies of the same aeon somehow.

      1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        You can never use the same Aeon as the one the other summoner uses, it’s always greyed out. That implies that there can only be one copy of an Aeon out at a time, and that the guardians are there to take care of things when the summoner can’t summon.

    5. Scerro says:

      There’s plenty of ways you could explain it, but I like to explain it away by saying that combat is relatively rare and there are actually few summoners… Plus a summoner either dies quickly in combat or the Summon wreaks havoc and is released quickly.

      Either that or I would say the summoner summons according to their power a part of the actual Summon, like they’re only drawing one fraction of a percentage of the real summon, leaving other summoners to take tiny fractions of the Summon for their own summoning.

      Summon. Summ-on… After that it’s stopped being a real word to me.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Maybe she just can't stand Tidus.

    Just like 90% of the players.So I guess almost everyone likes her from the get go.

    As for her reasons,her friends all want to go with this guy,so how can she say no?

    1. Abnaxis says:

      Actually, on reading the article I kind of wonder if there’s a sort of inverse relationship between how favorably players view Tidus versus how they view Lulu. I mean, as I remember it at the time I originally played the game I thought her outfit was rediculous, but I didn’t really have a problem with her character. She doesn’t match the “serious and has a short fuse” description that other characters apply to her, but her actual character as kind of “the mature one” rang true to me.

      1. I recall her being very popular at the time, easily the most so out of the cast, especially in fan art for what should be two very obvious reasons.

        1. Christopher says:

          Having not played FFX, and from Shamus’ description, is Morrigan from Dragon Age as similar to Lulu as she seems?

          1. Mintskittle says:

            I can’t speak for Morrigan, but Lulu starts out rather huffy and short tempered with Tidus and his nonsense, but having to act as exposition fairy for him and dealing with plot, she mellows out over the course of the game.

          2. Ninety-Three says:

            Nah, Lulu can be mean, but she’s not a terrible person (unless you think she’s just that annoying). Morrigan suffers from Bioware’s compulsion to write “Chaotic Evil” characters, and their inability to give evil more depth than “I kick puppies and hate charity”.

          3. Xedo says:

            Morrigan is all about power and independence, hence her dislike of helping anybody who needs help. She’s not so much rude as just offputting from her amoral/evil attitude.

            Lulu is much more of a team player. She’s in this to support Yuna on a quest that is utterly selfless. But she’s definitely had a lot of personal loss, and comes across as the experienced person in a group of idealists. It makes her feel like a buzzkill, but it doesn’t come from a mean place; she’s just the experienced one providing maturity until Auron can come back to take that role on.

            Possibly excepting her attitude towards Tidus, who looks like someone whose death she’s still coping with.

            1. Jakale says:

              I’d forgotten that Lulu was didn’t like Tidus coming along, since she ends up as his main world-information provider and the game even brings that up.

              Looking back, my take on her attitude is in part from her experiences as a Guardian prior to this, part her relationship with everyone else, part Yuna’s unusual Guardian-heavy pilgrimage, and part how Tidus showed up. The journey will already be mentally and physically tough(summoners and guardians give up or die), Yuna is her friend from childhood who she thinks of as a sister, is bringing along all her other friends for it, and now there’s this random crazy guy that Wakka (who Lulu doesn’t consider has the best judgement) just found on the beach and decided to bring home like a lost puppy. Wakka isn’t suspicious, Yuna is actively interested in having his company, and Kimarhi doesn’t care as long as he’s not a threat to Yuna.
              Since Lulu is basically the big sister/mom for the entire group because of how they grew up and her greater experience, I think she’s taking up that role by treating the unknown factor that is Tidus with his irreverent questions and actions, unknown motives, and possible dangerous mental state as a possible major issue for this journey.

              1. Syal says:

                I think Lulu’s line at Kilika sums it up; Wakka and Yuna are building Tidus up as the savior of the pilgrimage basically. They’re looking for easy outs to hard topics, and they’re looking for it in a brash teenager who just disregarded the precepts of the world’s religion.

          4. tremor3258 says:

            Lulu doesn’t go for the ‘kick puppies’ action – but she does take the Summoner job more seriously than the rest of the cast that speaks on Besaid, and her tendency towards responsibility leads to her being pretty cutting in remarks. (Kimari’s sort of… there)

            If I remember, she eases up a lot at the Calm Lands.

          1. SharpeRifle says:

            Thanks! I’ve been meaning to rewatch that.

    2. Radkatsu says:

      Of western players maybe. Playing the game with JP voices changes things dramatically, and Tidus is actually entirely likeable. Yuna is as well.

      1. tmtvl says:

        The only jRPG I’ve played where that wasn’t the case was Riviera, where what’s-her-face sounds like a 12-year old.

        Then again, I haven’t played every jRPG ever made yet, so I’ll hold of from declaring this to be true in general.

        1. Scerro says:

          Typically japanese voices are good/great, or utterly unbearable. There are few in-betweens.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Aside from Yuna, nobody believes that Tidus is from the living Zanarkand of the distant past.

    Technically,he isnt.Right?He is just a simulation of the real guy.

    Also,forgot to ask this in earlier entries,all the stuff that happens in the beginning,with sin attacking,is that a memory of what happened to actual tidus,or is that some weird fragmented illusion that only this version experienced?

    1. Abnaxis says:

      I always thought the inhabitants of Zanarkand weren’t “simulations” of the original people, but rather were the actual spirits of the original people who were bound to the Faythe to in an eternal Groundhog’s Day sort of “relive these days forever so Zanarkand is preserved” thing.

      I’m not sure where I got that impression from, though, and the game probably contradicts me on that.

      1. Decius says:

        It’s kind of vague, but Tidus and Jecht were described as “dreams” of the fayth. It’s not described exactly how those dreams can commit mass murder.

        1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Aren’t Tidus and Auron basically summons? Tidus is just a really human version of Ifrit or Shiva, with some complicating factors…

          1. Mintskittle says:

            Auron, no. He’s an unsent, like Measter Mika and Seymore. Jecht, on the other hand, is.

            1. Decius says:

              As is Tidus. Which makes things weird with the spoilers about the final summoning.

              It’s implied that Tidus is summoned by Jecht, or by Yu Yevon because of Jecht.

    2. MichaelGC says:

      It only happened to dream-Tidus, I think – or at least, it’s not just a memory from original-Tidus. dream-Zanarkand is an actual place* which e.g. Auron managed to travel to from Spira, and the events which take place there are real** things happening for the first time, rather than memory re-runs.

      Er, I think.

      * For some variant of ‘actual’.
      ** For some value of ‘real’.

    3. Cedric says:

      It’s a fake memory built for Tidus because the real person he is based on was already dead by the time SIN attacked. This is according to X-2.

    4. Taellosse says:

      Well, A: nobody knows that Tidus is some kind of ghost/copy/simulation-thing yet, including Tidus – that doesn’t get revealed until MUCH later on.

      B: I’m not sure there was an “actual Tidus” – my understanding of the big reveal is that Jecht and Tidus come from a “dream” of Zanarkand that was created after the real one was destroyed, but I was never given the impression that time was locked in place there or something. The initial inhabitants of dream-Zanarkand might have been the same people as those that died when the original was destroyed, but it’s been centuries since then, and the inhabitants and culture have changed significantly since (original-Zanarkand was at near-constant war, surrounded by hostile monsters, and made extensive use of the same magic the modern Spirans use, but none of that stuff is true in dream-Zanarkand). The people we see in the opening scene, and the one or two returns later on, probably never have had real-world analogues in the original – they might just inhabit the dream-version alone, even if their ancestors did exist in both.

      Also, my understanding is that dream-Zanarkand is a physical place, created at the same time as the first incarnation of Sin – it’s just that no one but Sin knows where it is, and it/he makes sure no one finds it. Permanently destroying Sin would unravel the magic that maintains the permanent summoning that is dream-Zanarkand, and anyone that comes from it (including Tidus). Tidus didn’t come into existence in those ruins right before the Al-Behd show up – he was really born and grew up in dream-Zanarkand until Sin actually physically showed up and took he and Auron away (which is why he doesn’t wake up in the ruins of original-Zanarkand – Sin isn’t some kind of mystical conduit, he just swallowed him and spit him back out in a new place).

    5. Hector says:

      This may be going more towards the Japanese mythology than Westernized concepts, but in and of itself it’s not that complicated. Tidus, and Auron, are basically spirits and walk between the real and spirit worlds. In this case, the specific Spirit World in question was the dream of Zanarkand. The strong implication of FFX2 is that Tidus is functionally the reincarnation of somebody who died a long time ago, which actually fits in once you realize his body, like Auron’s, is made up of pyreflies – generic spirit energy. To the Tidus we know, his life as the son of Jecht is his life, and that’s basically true whether you think of his Zanarkand as real of not. Actually, even the asking if it’s “real” is pointless and would have no meaning in the logic of the game’s setting.

      The Fayth have been holding this realm together for a long time now and are very, very tired. And it’s entirely possible that Tidus was literally a part of the Fayth somewhere – it’s hard to say for certain.

      1. Decius says:

        The Tidus of FFX was created by a fayth formed from the Zanarkand fayth after the machina war, based on a Zanarkand Abes player. To ease the transition, the fayth and dead Auron conspired to simulate Sin attacking Old Zanarkand, then brought Tidus into Spira. Near the location of the fayth- the sunken temple.

        The Al Bhed, convinced by Auron that there’s a way to destroy Sin here, arrive. Unfortunately, they also know the nature of Tidus, and consider him inhuman. He is still instrumentally useful to them, but due to communications problems they don’t realize that Tidus doesn’t know what they know.

        Sin/Jecht notices his old friend and son, and arrives. In order to die, Sin/Braska transport Tidus to Besaid, where their daughter is learning how to summon. Sin/Yu Yevon, meanwhile, tries to kill everyone.

    6. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      It’s Sin attacking Dream Zanarkand for real.

      Nothing really gives an explanation as to why (not even the Ultimania, which has very detailed stories about everything), but the best guess is that Sin is just following its orders (protect Yu Yevon and keep anyone from finding Dream Zanarkand) and attacking any place where a lot of people gather/technologically advanced. Also probably to get Tidus out into the world.

      As for why Sin is even allowed to do that? DZ is a summon being continually summoned, so it doesn’t matter to the summoner what happens to it, it’ll just rebuild itself.

  6. Artyom says:

    I see a typo.

    The village of Besaid consists of five tents, two of which are given over to textile production. Another is actually used my the Crusaders ““ roughly the local militia.

  7. natureguy85 says:

    Holy crap, Lulu is Morrigan from Dragon Age Origins! Well, more the other way around since this came first, but they are similar in appearance. Both would fit the “black mage” role, and Lulu’s personality certainly sounds like Morrigan’s as well. Even the bottom of Lulu’s outfit, seen in the picture of Lion-O, I mean Kimari,, reminds me of Morrigan’s skirt.

    The plot of this game sounds similar to that of Tales of Symphonia, which also came out after this.

    1. Corsair says:

      Hey, Lulu’s kind of mean, but she’s not -Morrigan- vicious. She just thinks Tidus and Wakka are both idiots, especially at the start of the story. And at the start of the story she’s completely correct.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        And especially unfocused idiots, what with their joking and jackanaping, and general unwillingness to take things SERIOUSLY. She’s the “class rep” of the group and doesn’t see value in blowing off steam, and sees herself as the natural leader of the guardians and organizer of the expedition (having the most extensive experience with the job)

    2. Christopher says:

      Crap, I should have read further ahead in the comment section.

    3. Grudgeal says:

      Tales of Symphonia shamelessly ripped off this game for the Journey of Regeneration, complete with an idiot hero who joins the party as a hanger-on, the hero’s best friend who provides explanations and fights using sports equipment, a self-sacrificing female Chosen One with a crush on the protagonist, a cold female mage who knows the real ending and purpose of the pilgrimage, a gruff older swordsman with a hidden past who acts as the hero’s surrogate father-figure/older brother, and the would-be saboteur of the whole pilgrimage that joins the cast halfway through in order to stop the whole song and dance once and for all. About the only thing missing is a Khimari counterpart, and you could argue Noishe fills that role in ToS.

      Of course, ToS ends up pulling the rug from underneath that since the Journey of Regeneration is just the first… Third?… of that game.

      1. natureguy85 says:

        Agreed from what Shamus and you have described. I haven’t played FFX and played ToS after starting it in co-op with a friend and borrowing his copy. I liked how the Journey wasn’t what the team expected. The only thing that I don’t think was right with your comparison was that I don’t recall the mage, Raine, knowing what the journey really was. I thought that was only the swordsman, Kratos.

        You’re also right that the game is so long that by the end, I forgot what was going on at the start and that’s the part I recall more fondly. I can’t even remember what happens later.

        1. Grudgeal says:

          Raine knows that The Chosen One was supposed to die at the end was what I was referring to.

          It’s not a perfect analogy as the entire team except Tidus does know it in this game, Lulu is the one who basically makes the call to keep Tidus in the dark about it in FFX. They’re both sort of the ‘secret keeper’ about how Yuna/Colette are supposed to die at the end.

    4. Felblood says:

      I actually quit DA:O after just a few hours because Morrigan put me off so much.

      I remember thinking, “It’s like the worst possible offspring of Lulu and Kreia. Pass!”

      1. poipoipoi says:

        Yes, but she’s also like… the WORST mage in the game, after yourself* and Wynne, specced in the worst way and specializations possible.

        Since the ideal party is “2 mages, someone who can tank, and someone who can open locks outside of battle. Oh, and that 2nd mage should absolutely be a healer, because Healer==easy mode, No Healer==Death”, you’ll basically never talk to her after Hour 10 or so.

        *Why would you ever NOT play as a damage-focused mage?

  8. Thomas Lines says:

    .y take is that Lulu is a bit broken. She might not ha e been the most friendly person in the world before but the death of Chappu screwed her up in ways she’s never really dealt with and that makes her unwarm to people and especially mean to Tidus and Wakka.

    Wakka is messed up by Chappu too, except where Lulu got super serious, Wakka started avoiding problems all together.

    Through the journey Lulu gradually begins to loosen up and sort out her issues with Wakka and becomes more supportive and encouraging as a result.

    I really dig how messy Wakka and Lulus relationship is. She was in a love triangle between two brothers, she chooses one over the other and he immediately goes off and dies. And the one person she could turn to for love and understanding is a horrible reminder of what happened.

    There’s no real need to make your side characters relationship with each other so complicated before the story even begins but I think it, and it’s very slow burn healing, really works

    1. Corsair says:

      Lulu is also dealing with the death of a summoner she previously guarded who was killed trying to reach the Fayth of Yojimbo, but yeah, Chappu is a far bigger part of her early hostility. Later in the game Lulu warms up to Tidus considerably. One of the things I really like about this game, by the end of the game the whole party has been noticeably changed by the journey they went on together. Tidus grows up and loses his stupidity, Wakka sheds his blind faith in the theocracy, Yuna her unwavering obedience, Lulu her contempt and callousness, Kimahri regains his pride and goes from Yuna’s silent guardian to all their friend.

      Auron is a twist – he’s the same man at the beginning that he is at the end, but now you understand how and why he is who he is.

      Rikku…well, everyone’s got that one ditzy friend with the emotional depth of a spatula.

      1. tremor3258 says:

        FFX is great for character development, I’m looking forward to reading the take on everyone’s arcs.

        (And how the dynamics shift. sometimes subtly, as the characters mature)

  9. Flavius says:

    Wait, Kimari is a cat-man, with a single horn on his head?

    He must be the same species as Unikitty!

  10. To nitpick a nitpick re: “What to they eat?

    No, no manner of food production is shown, not that the island seems large enough to support it, but with nearly half the town’s population being athletic young men apparently capable of holding their breath and swimming nigh-indefinitely one could reasonably assume that fishing plays a significant role in the village’s diet.

    Speaking of, on the very beach Tidus washes ashore on you can find a hut, boats, racks, and nets, so at the very least Square was heavily implying subsistence via fishing. Some vegetable gardens and fruit trees wouldn’t have hurt, though.

    1. Taellosse says:

      Maybe they also eat aquatic vegetation. Being able to breathe underwater would make seaweed collection pretty easy.

  11. MichaelGC says:

    the third most ridiculous haircut in the world

    So, let’s see – it must be:

    1. Seymour
    1. Seymour again. It’s just that ridiculous
    3. Wakka

    1. Decius says:

      1.5 Yunalesca.

      1. Parkhorse says:

        Don’t forget Jyscal Guado.

        Nooj is pretty bad, too.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Depends if thats “in the world of final fantasy x”,or “in the world we humans playing the game inhabit”.Because if its the second one,no one trumps yugi muto:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NYd1Y2v7OA

      1. Retsam says:

        If we’re counting the Yu-Gi-Oh canon, I doubt he’s in the top 50.

  12. Decius says:

    My big compliant at this point is that we’re several hours into the game, and just now getting the basic tutorials. You’re starting to have to make long-term strategic decisions with the sphere grid when you’re still getting popup messages during battles telling you what new thing you need to know.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      That’s JRPGs for you. You’re not “well into the game” until you’ve got at least 12 hours into it. You probably had to play an hour to get to the first SAVE POINT.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Is it really a jrpg thing?Because oddworld games have a bunch of hidden prisoners you need to save for a good ending before you even learn how to reach them.Then there is the dead rising series,with all the timers and replay things.

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          So the later Ultima and Might & Magic and Wizardry games were contemporary to FFX. How do they stack up in comparison? A lot of gaming tropes and conventions got coded under “JRPG” because RPGs from Japan were the only games doing them on consoles, but were Western RPGs on the PC of that era any better at handling grind or pacing? I’m talking about right before BioWare, Black Isle, and Troika shook up the genre.

          1. Hector says:

            Baldur’s Gate came out years before FFX, and by that time, classic series such as Might and Magic and Wizardry were dying out, with no really new ideas. By the late era of these games, however, they didn’t involve a lot of tutorials since the fans were pretty well accustomed to the mechanics. In most cases, their mechanics were at least fairly polished for what they were, and the big issues were the fact that they hadn’t kept up UI development. They’re still quite playable with small mods today, although the graphics… well, ignore the graphics.

      2. Christopher says:

        I’m pretty sure Persona 4 is like two hours of just pressing x to skip dialogue in the beginning. But it’s all good as long as it drags you in and immerses you, I find. Although I’d rather watch the anime than play it again.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          If someone is skipping dialog in Persona 4, either they’ve played it before or they aren’t doing it right.

          The 2-hour intro works because it has a LOT of interesting dialog and plot to set up, including the entire reasoning behind investigating the TV world/murder. There’s also a fair bit of player interaction in the sense that it lets you pick dialog choices often – yes, they generally don’t do much besides change people’s responses, but it’s enough to give the feeling of actually roleplaying a bit (oddly rare in a JRPG).

          The anime is pretty damn awesome, though.

          1. Christopher says:

            Ah, I’m hardly complaining. I meant skip in the sense of progressing the text boxes, not in skipping everything as fast as possible, sorry for being unclear. It’s a great setup! I appreciate it even more after going back and trying Persona 3 FES for the first time. I have been told it gets better later, and I believe them, because the early hours of that game really skip on the setup, and keeps you in the dark about the characters and world around you in a way P4 definitely does not. Introducing the town, characters and mystery in the way P4 does is really good, even if it’s ages before you get into the “playing the game” part. And besides, dialogue and characters are a big part of the appeal of that game. It’s not an unresonable introduction in the way one could complain about a super long cutscene in an action game.

        2. Syal says:

          At least Persona 4 lets you save during that first hour. I’ve heard previous Persona games don’t.

          1. Grudgeal says:

            Yep. Persona 3 was actually not that long about it, I think 30 minutes or somesuch before you hit Tartarus and the first save point, but the FES expansion with the extra establishing scenes really began to stretch it. As interesting as Persona 4’s intro is for setting up things, and it’s one of the better jRPGs I know of in this regard, the ability to save and pause it is the true mercy.

  13. Nixorbo says:

    He also saves a ton of money on voice work by virtue of almost never speaking being voiced by the same actor as Wakka, John Dimaggio.

    The more you know.

    1. Shamus says:

      That guy’s voice is so versatile it borders on supernatural.

      1. ccesarano says:

        If you’ve never seen Pirates of Silicon Valley, he also makes for a wonderful Steve Ballmer.

    2. Hal says:

      “Bite my furry Ronso ass!”

      1. Volvagia says:

        Ironic you say that, because Wakka actually sounds like a different accented version of his Bender voice in terms of general pitch and inflection but (from what I checked out) Kimari doesn’t sound anything even close to that.

        1. GloatingSwine says:

          Kimahri is more like a less shouty Marcus Fenix.

  14. ulrichomega says:

    Aside from Yuna, nobody believes that Tidus is from the living Zanarkand of the distant past.

    I like the sphere grid…

    1. Mintskittle says:

      I like the Sphere Grid too. I was saddened by its removal for the more traditional leveling in X-2. OTOH, Job system, yay!

      1. Ramsus says:

        I love job systems so much that X-2 is my favorite FF game. I did rather enjoy the Sphere Grid. I just wish that there had been a new game plus mode where you could have more freedom with it for silly things like making Lulu a physical attack character or Wakka the black mage of the party.

        1. Mintskittle says:

          Though I haven’t tried it, the updated rereleases have the international version of the Sphere Grid as an option, which allows for that very thing, Though from what I’ve heard, if you don’t know what your doing, it’s possible to screw up your build and make things harder for yourself.

          But yeah, watching Lulu kill enemies with a plush animal is always good for a laugh.

          1. Syal says:

            Yeah, Expert Grid is basically a big spider web where everyone’s grids intersect in the middle, and various points further on. But the game is built around certain character builds fighting certain enemies so you kind of still want to follow the main path.

            1. Decius says:

              Everyone’s grid intersects a lot, and they all start near the center. It’s expert mode indeed, because you can screw things up like me and reach the endgame without anyone learning certain critical skills.

              On the other hand, you can also make Wakka hit hard enough to solo bosses with a single overdrive. Just put him on “Auron’s” path with all the status effects and strength. Then put Auron on Rikku’s for the speed and evasion… And pretty soon you forget that you need to get Haste and Full-Life.

        2. Locke says:

          The Steam version has something called the Expert Sphere Grid, which is exactly this!

        3. Felblood says:

          Because of his high speed, most guides actually encouraged you to spec Wakka as a white mage, back in the day.

          You got to keep the heals coming!

    2. Morzas says:

      I read a great article years ago that showed that the Sphere Grid doesn’t have as much freedom as one might think. http://gameinternals.com/post/3364162387/straightening-out-final-fantasy-xs-sphere-grid

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its still more branching than the one in 13 however.

  15. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

    How does the story on this one compare to FF4 and FF6? They’re the only ones I’ve played.

    And Chrono Trigger for that matter. I guess you could say it kind of counts as an FF game, especially since it started development as one.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      Please go and play FF9 at the very least, it’s fabulous, by far my favourite FF. Great characters (who aren’t constantly mopey), an interesting story that isn’t as silly and nonsensical as some FFs have been, one of the better combat systems. Lots to like there.

      And one of the best game soundtracks in existence, too.

      1. Syal says:

        9 is great, but I think the story is something of a weak point for it. It’s pretty meandering.

    2. Genericide says:

      In my personal experience, FF6, FF10 and Chrono Trigger all had good stories of roughly similar quality. Not so much FF4, I felt it was often shallow and/or contrived. Which of the first three you prefer is at least partially down to personal preference. I’d say that Final Fantasy 10 is the best at world-building and setting, since the whole game is essentially a stranger’s tour of an interesting fantasy world. Final Fantasy 6 has the advantage of being an ensemble cast. If you dislike Tidus and the main story of 10 it’s unfortunate, because you’re kinda stuck with him. But in 6 there are a bunch of character arcs running in parallel and you can latch on to favorites. I’d say Chrono Trigger is the…tidiest of the three. It’s often simple and trope-y but well told, with a fairly positive and uncomplicated outlook compared to the intricate webs of later Final Fantasies. It also does some neat things with the time travel premise in the late-game.

      This isn’t to say that all three of the games don’t share traits. FF10 has some nice character arcs, FF6 has long linear stretches of sight-seeing and Chrono Trigger has some twists in the tale. But I’d definitely say they have individual strengths.

      1. Henson says:

        FF IV is a merely serviceable story with some good moments. The summoner village is effective, the fate of Rydia is neat, the actions of Palom and Porom work well, etc. But yeah, a lot of what attempts for drama is either still stuck in the awkward dungeon-crawling roots of the series, hackneyed and obvious pathos, or seriously hampered by the lack of expressiveness of the characters. The elements are there, but the depth is often lacking, largely in comparison to what has come since.

    3. King Marth says:

      I’ve played half of FF6 and only have cultural awareness of FF4, but I do know Chrono Trigger. The cast of FFX is far smaller than FF6, though as a result you get much more focus on the relationships within the entire group rather than the myriad side-stories you get in FF6. The closest parallel I’d draw with Chrono Trigger is a similar use of the rules of the setting; this isn’t a details-first game, but the quirks of how the Aeons work and how the afterlife is a real physical place on this world inform the story of FFX in the same way time travel is critical to Chrono Trigger. Of course, time travel is a very powerful storytelling device which Chrono Trigger uses well; I’d say FFX has deeper character stories than Chrono Trigger (more Glenn-style backstories) and shallower environmental story.

      There are a few general recurring tropes (linear story and world until the Airship opens things up, defeat world-ending abomination no-one else could…) but that’s to be expected with the traditions of the genre.

    4. Syal says:

      Bigger, fewer characters with more character moments, tighter focus on the main story. Better animations means more attempts at subtlety. Far fewer named villains.

      I didn’t much like 6’s story actually. 4’s is fine but limited by technology. I like Chrono Trigger’s better than 10’s but 10’s villains have more complexity.

  16. Christopher says:

    I like this series of deep looks on games, it’s my favorite content on the site right now. Glad it didn’t stop with Mass Effect!

    1. Soldierhawk says:

      Me too! It helps that FFX is one of my favorite games of all time too, but just in general, this kind of article is why I keep coming back here every day. (That and the D&D stuff!)

    2. Aerik says:

      +1

      I don’t know if Shamus intended this, but going from “Mass Effect 2 and 3 are an incompetent drama-first story” to “FFX is a good drama-first story” is really interesting to me. This is how you do it right (y’know, mostly :P).

      Also, I really hope that Steam puts Final Fantasy games on sale, so I can refer to it as the “Steam Summoner Sale”.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    Lulu is my favorite character in the game, and I totally forgot that she is a bit mean to Tidus and Wakka. This is probably because I felt like being mean to Tidus and Wakka, especially Tidus.

    If you’ve played X-2 at all, you know that Wakka and Lulu end up getting married, so some of her attitude to Wakka might just be her acting a little “tsundere” towards someone she doesn’t want to admit she likes. The grim mission they’re on for the plot of X isn’t exactly helpful to establish a romantic mood, so maybe that explains a bit.

    But what I don’t understand is LULU IS THE ONLY BLACK MAGE IN THE WORLD AND NO ONE THINKS IT’S WEIRD. The world is full of Blitzball players, summoners/priests, thieves, warriors, et cetera. But Lulu is the only one in the world who knows Black Magic, apart from those who detour to her sphere grid, and how she knows it in the first place is never explained.

    EDIT: I mean, yes, you could retcon that she simply has the Black mage Dressphere from X-2, but X-2 is made up of ridiculous retcons. Lulu and Wakka getting together is the least ridiculous of those retcons.

    1. Geebs says:

      Lulu’s the only person in the party with any real sense. She only comes across as mean because she’s constantly having to pull everyone else back from the edge of total character implosion.

      (Well, OK, there’s Auron, but he DGAF.)

      I think in particular that she’s really sick of Wakka being a HUGE RACIST.

    2. galacticplumber says:

      Untrue. A fairly large portion of the humans you fight also know and use black magic as do most monsters in one form or another. The only reason you don’t notice it more on humans is that you don’t really fight humans very often at all.

      1. Syal says:

        Seymour joins your party for a bit and black magics the hell out of things.

    3. tremor3258 says:

      I really like Lulu – even in the full party, she still seemed the responsible one keeping things pointed in the right direction even as she eased up and Yuna took full command.

  18. Dt3r says:

    Usually you get nostalgia for a game you played months or years ago. Or played in a different time in your life. But this game is so long (especially for someone new to JRPGs) that I felt a sense of wonder simply returning at the end of the same play-through.

    I find myself doing this with a lot of JRPGs (Final Fantasy, Star Ocean 2, etc.). My favorite was how Earthbound handled it; at the end of the game there’s a playable epilogue that exists just for the purpose of revisting places from along your journey.

  19. Jamas Enright says:

    Reading that summary of Summoners and Aeons… I got the feeling I could swap out Aeons for Pokémon and throw in Gym Leaders, and not a lot would be different.
    (Because of the high level presentation of the plot.)

    1. Locke says:

      The plot of Final Fantasy X is a lot like a Pokemon game where instead of becoming a Pokemon master by defeating the Elite Four, you become a human sacrifice by defeating kaiju Satan.

  20. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Also, [Lulu is] wearing a voluminous black dress made of fur and leather, and she lives on a tropical island.

    Shamus, you forgot to mention that her skirt is made entirely of belts..

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      And that her whole outfit is being held up by anti-gravity magic.

      1. Decius says:

        And strategic use of double-sided tape.

  21. Scerro says:

    After this series, I want you to play FFXII and dissect why the party DOESN’T work.

  22. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Little correction, Yuna moved to Besaid when she was 7, since it was just after her father defeated Sin 10 years prior.

  23. Zaxares says:

    Regarding settlement sizes: It all makes sense according to Squeenix logic where in most of their games you travel to “the capital city/enemy empire” that’s supposed to be the biggest city in the world… and it’s actually only about 4 – 8 screens in size.

  24. Andrew says:

    The reason why Yuna would dig Tidus eluded me for a long time, and then it finally hit me… and when I told other people about it, they said it was obvious to them from the beginning, but YMMV. It’s dependent on the major spoiler of the game, so stop reading if you somehow made it here despite caring about that.

    Okay, here’s the deal. Yuna is a summoner, and she’s dedicated. That means that every single person in Spira except Tidus considers her as good as dead. She has no future. Look, back at the scene where the party is leaving Besaid and they tell Yuna to take all the time she wants saying goodbye. Yuna is so stoic, but in her heart she’s a 17-year-old girl being treated by the whole world like she has terminal cancer. Yuna connects with Tidus because he’s the only person in the world who isn’t tainted by the “spiral of death”. He genuinely has no clue that “defeating Sin” means death for the summoner. He talks with hope about Yuna’s glorious retirement as a high summoner. Yuna sees that, and even though he’s (to everyone’s knowledge at the time) terribly wrong, he’s also the only one who treats her as a whole person instead of keeping her at emotional arm’s length, and she needs that.

    That’s also why Yuna accepts Tidus’s story about being from Zanarkand more quickly than anyone else “” no one who grew up in her world could possibly have Tidus’s ignorance/innocence of the way things work, and she’s more sensitive to that than others.

  25. Andrew says:

    Oh, and despite the “dream” stuff, Tidus and Dream Zanarkand are just as real as Aeons are. Dream Zanarkand is a real place somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Sin physically goes there and physically sucks up physical Tidus, leaving him at Baaj. Jecht physically left there in a physical boat, went too far out, and washed up somewhere near Bevelle. The whole city and its inhabitants are summons on a scale that exceeds the power of any mortal summoner, and Tidus is arguably not exactly human, but there isn’t any magic involved in Tidus or Jecht getting “sucked into the real world”, just an exceptionally rare act of transportation. Nor, as you might think at first, is there any time travel. Zanarkand, the one that Spirans know about, was destroyed a thousand years ago, but Tidus isn’t from there, he’s from the weird summoned copy of it that exists in the middle of the ocean.

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