Final Fantasy X Part 8: Ain’t No Party Like a Summoner’s Party

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 4, 2016

Filed under: Retrospectives 98 comments

Before I start today’s entry, I have a bit of housekeeping to take care of. When my brother Patrick read part 5 of this series he wrote to me:

[…] You also failed to tell your readers that your brother won 100 straight Blitzball games, butt-fucked the Luca Goers, and routinely won games by double digits. My personal best was a 27-0 destruction of the Al Bed Machine Fuckers.

I try to imagine what Twenty Sided would be like if Pat was running it. That would be a very different kind of website.

It’s also worth mentioning that Pat recruited Bickson, the lead jerkface of the Luca Goers. He did this just so he could bench him and make sure the guy never played Blitzball ever again. We made a pretty good team. When it came to doing the sidequests to unlock the super-weapons, he handled the Blitzball and some of the races, and I did the monster arena collection stuff. (We’ll talk more about that later.) We played through the game many times like this. The only super weapon we never got was Kimari’s, because to hell with THAT minigame.

Anyway, back to our story…

Secrets Within Secrets

I really appreciate how the game always spends a line or two of dialog to remind you of important locations. You can go for hours between cutscenes, so these little refreshers are really helpful.
I really appreciate how the game always spends a line or two of dialog to remind you of important locations. You can go for hours between cutscenes, so these little refreshers are really helpful.

Final Fantasy X is basically a series of increasingly big reveals. There’s a lot of tension in the story as characters work on secret agendas, try to keep things hidden, and struggle to understand the world around them. At this point in the story there are several layers of knowledge:

What Tidus (and the Audience) knows right now: Summoners go on a pilgrimage to Zanarkand where they get the Final Aeon to fight Sin. It’s a long and dangerous road, so they take guardians.

What everyone else in the world knows: The summoner is killed when they call the Final Aeon. Thus every successful summoner pilgrimage ends in martyrdom. Once you know this, a lot of the conversations in the first half of the game will take on new meaning or depth. It’s why everyone is so somber about beating Sin. It’s why nobody else seems eager to reach the end, even though this is a tough journey and beating Sin will help the entire world.

What only the Maesters and Auron know: When the party gets to Zanarkand they’re greeted by the ghost of Lady Yunalesca, who was the first summoner to defeat Sin. She reveals that not only does the summoner need to die, but they must also choose one of their guardians to become a Fayth. Basically, this volunteer will be entombed in this supernatural display case and their soul will be used to power the Final Aeon.

By the time the summoner makes it all the way to Yunalesca, it’s unlikely they will reject the deal. After all, it would mean their long hard journey will have been for nothing. (The sunk cost fallacy in action.) They would need to face another hard journey to return home, and all the while they would just be leaving this horrible choice for someone else.

Furthermore, when Sin dies it body-hops to the Aeon that vanquished it. Which means that every incarnation of Sin is using the soul of a former guardian.

What only Auron knowsTo be fair, the Maesters could probably figure this one out if they cared.: The last person to become a Fayth was Jecht, which means that the current incarnation of Sin is Jecht. Auron tells Tidus that Sin is Jecht, but since Tidus doesn’t know any of the other secrets he has no idea how it’s possible or what it means.

What probably nobody knows: If you get to the end and refuse Yunalesca’s deal, then lady Yunalesca will try to kill the entire party. The text never says this explicitly, but it’s what happens to our party and it explains why the secret never leaked out into common knowledge. There’s no telling how many summoner parties she’s devoured over the centuries.

We never hear about guardians returning from successful pilgrimages. If a three-person party shows up, then the summoner and their volunteer will die fighting Sin, leaving one person alive. Maybe they die on the road home, since making the journey alone would be very difficult. Maybe they stick close to their summoner and end up dying in the conflagration between Sin and Final Aeon, since – as we see later – these showdowns can unleash enough power to level cities.

But maybe Yunalesca makes a habit of quietly disposing of any leftover guardians once she’s done with the summoner and their Fayth. This is conjecture on my part, but it would explain how the Big Secret has remained a secret for so long.

During operation Mi’ihen, Maester Kinoc asks Auron if he’s been to Zanarkand. I’ve always assumed this line was to show Kinoc was worried that Auron was in on the Big Secret, and that he might spill it.

Summoner Parties

While Yuna and her entourage are the center of this story, we get glimpses of other summoner parties on our journey. Right now there are two other summoner groups doing a pilgrimage at the same time as Yuna: Donna and Issaru.

I wonder how common this is? If there are always multiple summoner parties going, then the attrition rate for these folks must be terrible. I’d assume that the number of summoners would start out small at first, but as Sin’s rampage went on the number of vengeful widows, widowers, orphans, and general mourners would grow over time. The number of summoner parties would go up until one of them closed the deal.

Yuna’s Party

Don't mess with this group, or three out of seven of them will fight you!
Don't mess with this group, or three out of seven of them will fight you!

Yuna’s party is enormous by the standards of this world. (But exactly the right size for a Final Fantasy team. What a coincidence!) It looks like her original plan was for a four-person team of Yuna, Kimari, Wakka, and LuluIn a mechanical sense, this is a complete party capable of handling all monster types. Although fast-moving foes would have been a little annoying without Tidus.. Then Tidus, Auron, and Rikku get dragged into things.

Yuna’s party is also unusual because they have several compartmentalized secrets within the group. Tidus is the only one who doesn’t know about summoners dying at the end of their journey. Auron is the only one who knows about the Big Secret regarding the Fayth, while everyone else thinks that only Yuna is doomed to die and the rest of them will get to go home. Auron and Tidus are the only ones who know that Sin is Jecht.

It’s also an unusual party because Yuna is the daughter of the last summoner to defeat Sin. Her party is a bit of a do-over for Auron. It’s pretty clear that Auron has an agenda and it’s a safe bet he’s not on this journey just so he can re-live the anguish of ten years ago by watching Braska’s daughter and Jecht’s son sacrifice themselves.

Donna’s Party

Look at these two. Isn't Donna supposed to be some kind of magic user? What happened to good old-fashioned mage robes?
Look at these two. Isn't Donna supposed to be some kind of magic user? What happened to good old-fashioned mage robes?

I don’t know what to make of Donna. She’s got this snooty attitude and line delivery. She comes off like a spoiled rich snob out on holiday. I always got the impression that muscular lunkhead Barthello – her only guardian – is also her boy toy.

But it’s hard to imagine someone as soft and self-centered as Donna being willing to march down the harrowing road of the pilgrimage to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Then again, she does quit when the road gets tough. She’s not a very sympathetic character, but she is an interesting one. I always thought there must be a good story behind her decision to become a summoner.

Isaaru’s Party

Okay, I see you have like a cape thing on top of mage robes. And also a bow? This might have been an over-correction.
Okay, I see you have like a cape thing on top of mage robes. And also a bow? This might have been an over-correction.

Yuna runs into Isaaru in the Djose Temple, just after Operation Mi’ihen. This is another three-person team, but this time they’re all brothers. Moroda and the shockingly underage Pacce are his guardians. We learn later that Pacce is like Tidus: He doesn’t know the summoner is doomed to die at the end of the journey.

Isaaru’s party eventually falls apart, which is probably good for everyone involved. Imagine if he’d made it to Zanarkand ahead of Yuna. Lady Yunalesca would have dropped the bombshell that Isaaru would need to pick one of his brothers to become a Fayth, which would leave the other grief-stricken brother to face the long dangerous road home all by themselves. Would Isaaru sacrifice his 10 year old brother, or leave Pacce to die alone in the ruins of ZanarkandTechnically you don’t call the Final Aeon right there in Zanarkand. Presumably you go somewhere like the Calm Lands where you’ll have room to fight. Regardless, the leftover guardian will have to make their way home alone. Figuring out how difficult this would be depends on how literally you want to take the portrayal of combat.?

This is why you shouldn’t bring a ten year old with you on a dangerous quest, dumbass!

Braska’s Party

Oh, you want mage robes? Well how about I just put on a mage robe, then another one on my arm, then another mage robe on my other arm. Maybe I'll even top it off with a mage robe on my head. Happy now? IS THIS ENOUGH MAGE ROBE FOR YOU?
Oh, you want mage robes? Well how about I just put on a mage robe, then another one on my arm, then another mage robe on my other arm. Maybe I'll even top it off with a mage robe on my head. Happy now? IS THIS ENOUGH MAGE ROBE FOR YOU?

Here we have another three-person team. Braska was the summoner with Jecht and Auron acting as guardiansI hope Braska had some black mage training, because otherwise elemental foes were going to be a pain in the ass.. We see their journey in recordings that Jecht made along the way.

Auron was a serious stiff at the time, while Jecht was a brash loudmouth. Auron hated him at first, but they bonded during the journey. I’ve always wanted to know more about their adventures. While I think this game is a complete as a stand-alone story and can only be diminished by adding more, if I had to have a sequel I’d rather it have been a prequel that told Braska’s story rather than whatever the hell Final Fantasy X-2 was supposed to be.

Seymour’s Party

Geeze lady, are you TRYING to make your son a supervillain?
Geeze lady, are you TRYING to make your son a supervillain?

Well, this explains a lot. The audience doesn’t learn this until reaching Zanarkand, but Seymour was a summoner when he was about tenSo, this was probably a decade or two before Braska brought the Calm? I guess it depends on how old we assume Seymour is.. His mother was his guardian, and she was going to become the Fayth.

So you make a ten-year-old kid sacrifice his mother so he can turn her into an Aeon, and then kill himself summoning her to defeat Sin. Yes, mom was dying of some non-specific disease, but sending your son to his death is still pretty messed up. I strongly suspect this was his father Jyscal’s idea. It sure as hell wasn’t Seymour’s plan, since he wanted nothing to do with it. Jyscal wanted to unify his people (the Guado) and humans. So he married a human, and then sent his wife and son off to die for the people.

We’ll talk more about Seymour later.

Honorable Mention

Father Zuke and WakkaAnd possibly others, we don’t know. did a pilgrimage a year or two ago. Zuke lost heart and quit before reaching Zanarkand. At the time Wakka was relieved, since his mind was still on Blitzball. If Zuke’s pilgrimage had been a success, then right now the world would be enjoying a nice post-Sin Calm, but the new Sin would be growing and forming. And it would be Wakka. Which is strange to think about, brudda.

Lady Ginnem journeyed a few years ago, and had Lulu as her guardian. Ginnem perished just after the Calm Lands – about the same point that Zuke gave up. Lulu still carries some guilt over failing to guard her summoner. Again, if Ginnem had succeeded then we’d be in the Calm and the next Sin would be Lulu. Which is actually pretty easy to imagine. It would just be this giant angry mass of black leather, fur, and belt buckles.

Ohalland was a successful summoner from a couple of centuries back. We don’t know who his guardians were, but we do know he was a champion Blitzball player. He’s a major source of inspiration for Wakka and comes up several times in conversation.

 

Footnotes:

[1] To be fair, the Maesters could probably figure this one out if they cared.

[2] In a mechanical sense, this is a complete party capable of handling all monster types. Although fast-moving foes would have been a little annoying without Tidus.

[3] Technically you don’t call the Final Aeon right there in Zanarkand. Presumably you go somewhere like the Calm Lands where you’ll have room to fight. Regardless, the leftover guardian will have to make their way home alone. Figuring out how difficult this would be depends on how literally you want to take the portrayal of combat.

[4] I hope Braska had some black mage training, because otherwise elemental foes were going to be a pain in the ass.

[5] So, this was probably a decade or two before Braska brought the Calm? I guess it depends on how old we assume Seymour is.

[6] And possibly others, we don’t know.



From The Archives:
 

98 thoughts on “Final Fantasy X Part 8: Ain’t No Party Like a Summoner’s Party

  1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Dude, Braska started in Bevelle, he got Bahamut as his first summon. Ain’t nothing that’ll withstand that, he doesn’t need Black Mage training.
    That ties in the game mechanics, too, since in a No Sphere Grid run, you’re going to be using summons a lot. Same for quick enemies, summons solve every problems.

    Dona and Barthello are indeed lovers (it’s made official in X-2).

    Also, yes, it is pretty common to have multiple summoners on the Pilgrimage at the same time, because the failure rate is so high (or rather the success rate is so low: 5 in 1000 years before Yuna).

    1. Solism says:

      That seems remarkably low. So only 5 Calm periods (~50 years)?

      1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

        Calms last only a few months (between 6 months and a year, I think), so not even that long. So yeah, you can guess how desperate the people of Spira are for *any* reprieve. No wonder they just cheer the summoners on.

        1. DanMan says:

          Not able to find it at work, but I’m pretty sure the calm prior to the game starting was 10 years. Tidus was a small child (guessing 5-6 ish) when Jeckt left him and is a teenager (15-18 ish) during the game.

          I also seem to remember that the calms were getting shorter, meaning previous would have lasted longer. That’s a more vague recollection, so that might be wrong.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            But is time passing at the same rate in that place where tidus is from and the real world?

            1. Taellosse says:

              No reason to believe it isn’t. Tidus’ Zanarkand is a physical place, in a remote location of the Spiran ocean, not some woodjey spirit plane.

          2. KarmaTheAlligator says:

            No, the Calm happened 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it lasted those 10 years (case in point, Father Zuke and Lady Ginnem going on pilgrimage a few years ago, no need to do that if Sin isn’t around, is there?).

            The Ultimania specifically says that Calms last only a few months, but nothing about them getting shorter.

            1. SKD says:

              It’s been a few years since my last playthrough but I do remember it being stated specifically in-game that the previous Calm had lasted for 10 years. I would assume that there are always Summoners in training and either going on long-term Pilgrimages, Pilgrimages that do not include Zanarkand, or only receiving the Aeon of their home temple and only going on Pilgrimage to Zanarkand when Sin returns. It only makes sense that there are always summoners around and only a few ever seek out the Final Summons except when it is time to fight off Sin. After all, if every Aeon was originally a summoner’s guardian then there have been at least 8 which were never used to fight Sin, so either the summoner made it through to Zanarkand and never went on to face Sin after sacrificing their closest friends/loved ones or they were made during Calms and Sin did not reappear in the Summoner’s lifetime.

      2. Syal says:

        There are only five named High Summoners, but I think there are only four statues in the temples. Presumably they only have statues of the most recent ones so there could have been more than five.

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          Actually Yunalesca has a statue, too (along with Zaon), but it’s huge and built-in the building, above the side doors.

      3. The Rocketeer says:

        In the word’s of Archer: “Just ignore it, it’s not diegetic.”

    2. Syal says:

      They even comment in the Moonflow, “summoners are disappearing here. Could just be fiends, but not so many so quickly.” So there’s a lot of summoners on pilgrimage at once.

    3. Xedo says:

      This is actually a cool plot point that is never revealed in the game itself, and adds a lot to the desperation of this journey. I believe it comes from the FF Ultimania books, which I haven’t read, so take this as secondhand knowledge:

      Calms get shorter each time. The first calm lasted 500 years. The next was, maybe 100 years? By the time the fifth rolls around (Braska’s), it lasts for less than a year. This makes Yuna’s journey feel a lot more hopeful/desperate – MAYBE Sin dies forever! Maybe he comes back next month! She’s so desperate to save the world that she’s willing to take those horrible odds despite the possibility this whole adventure will be in vain.

      The fact that they could not be bothered to have an NPC mention this anywhere in the game is one of their biggest storytelling flubs. It’s such a great and important detail, it deserved to be in the game itself and not in a companion book.

      (Edit: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Calm_(Final_Fantasy_X) says this was revealed in the Final Fantasy Ultimania Omega guide).

      1. Syal says:

        That seems to contradict Braska saying maybe Sin won’t come back this time. I always got the feeling the Calm was a random length.

        1. Locke says:

          I like the fan theory tossed around in earlier post comments that Jecht intentionally cut the Calm short in order to be able to influence Spira, contact Auron, and scheme to break the cycle, none of which would be possible if he hid in the deepest depths of the ocean for as long as his willpower could hold against Yevon.

        2. Syal says:

          Oh right: Mi’ihen formed the Crusaders 800 years ago specifically to fight Sin, so Yunalesca’s Calm didn’t last 500 years.

        3. Jakale says:

          I don’t know how it contradicts Braska. Braska believed in Yevon’s teachings, meaning you beat Sin and if the arbitrary atonement level has been reached, Sin doesn’t come back. So does Yuna and her Besaid guardians, up to the point where they ask Yunalesca and she says “Nope.”

          The Calm period getting shorter each time also fits into the whole Spira/spiral theme in the sense that spirals do smaller and smaller circles with each rovolution.

      2. Abnaxis says:

        While I didn’t know it in as much detail, I think I picked up the “Calms are getting shorter thing” somewhere in the game before…

  2. Solism says:

    It would seem that Auron is trying to save Jecht before Sin takes over completely. I mean, why else would he drag his friend’s kids on a dangerous journey?

    I think Donna is used to being the center of attention. She sees Yuna, Auron (who her boy-toy fawns over), and four others. Must sting. However, when Donna leaves, she criticizes the party and Yuna takes this to heart. She tries becoming more self-reliant (and withdrawn and secretive). This ends up having some consequences down the road IIRC.

    1. Darren says:

      At the beginning of the game, he asks Sin, “Are you sure?” Jecht still has some small measure of control deep within Sin, and he and Auron seem to agree that it takes someone from outside the Sin cycle to disrupt it (just as Jecht spurred Auron to question Yunalesca’s scheme). It’s too late to really save Jecht, but with the proper motivation it may be possible to end the cycle for good.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Look at these two. Isn`t Donna supposed to be some kind of magic user? What happened to good old-fashioned mage robes?

    She is wearing the classic sorceress garb.

    1. Dev Null says:

      Yeah; pretty standard for the genre. Male wizards wear robes; female ones wear lingerie. I’m sure someone has done the parody where there is an actual explanation for that, like they all get their powers from a god with the personality of a 14-year-old boy or something.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well sorcerers use cha instead of int for spells.For guys,that means suave talking,for gals that means skimpy outfit.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          One of my personal favourite throw-away lines in one of The Witchers is that sorceresses (at least ones of the Lodge) tend to magic themselves to look as beautiful as they always wanted to be.

          1. Dev Null says:

            Well and if that worked, I’d expect most male sorcerers to be good-looking too. But not necessarily to also run around in their underwear.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              If a sorcerer could turn himself into a hunk of meat,I wouldnt be surprised if he decided to walk around like this.

              1. Dev Null says:

                I guess? But lets face it; _that_ guy almost certainly doesn’t walk around like that in his day-to-day life. Maybe that’s it; it’s not that sorceresses wear their underwear everywhere, it’s that adventuring is the pseudo-medieval equivalent of Spring Break in Florida…

            2. Ringwraith says:

              Very few male wizards show up, but they don’t do that, which does make it odd.
              However, you generally only see the Lodge of Sorceresses go all-out on making sure they’re very nicely dressed at all times, and they’re the most politically active, and it makes a certain amount of sense they’d like to maintain an image.
              The rare magic-users who’d prefer to be beneath notice don’t seem to worry as much about their appearance. Although fancy dress would look out of place in a crummy village (where most of them end up laying low).

          2. Lachlan the Mad says:

            I’ve been playing The Witcher 2, and as far as I can tell from the bathhouse sex scene with Triss, sorceresses use magic to make their boobs perfectly static at all times.

  4. Zak McKracken says:

    Soo many characters!

    Also, after watching that video you linked to: Do you actually have to run towards the player half of the time, or could you also rotate the view and see where you’re going? This looks pretty weird to me.

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      In-game camera cannot be moved, so sometimes you run towards the screen, sometimes away, sometimes sideways.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Camera:The most dreaded enemy of a slew of 3rd person games.

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          Especially in FF games because for some reason Square just has to change the fixed camera angle every freaking screen. It’s maddening.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Square has running camera issues, even when it’s not fixed. FFXII featured full camera control, but its horizontal orientation is anchored to the reverse of most games. We recently started a replay, and my hands get screwed up constantly.

    2. GloatingSwine says:

      There are a lot of characters, but because they are all doing the same thing as you, you talk to the same few characters at every waystation along the way so you get slightly more attached to them.

      (Also it saves on voice actors because this lot are most of the voiced cast.)

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This is why you shouldn't bring a ten year old with you on a dangerous quest, dumbass!

    You know,compared to that,and the other two,it seems like only yuna was serious about this whole thing and thought it through.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Which is actually pretty easy to imagine. It would just be this giant angry mass of black leather, fur, and belt buckles.

    And boobs.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        That is awesome!

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          And very creepy seeing it up close.

      2. Phantos says:

        Someone needs to mod the Pwyrdwin or whatever in Fallout 4 to look like that.

    1. Felblood says:

      Thank you for beating me to that joke.

  7. shpelley says:

    What’s great is that, even with all these characters, it’s actually fairly easy to follow along with the plot (by JRPG standards especially). Everyone who needs characterization is done so, while not resorting to crazy exposition dumps most of the time*.

    I never ran into a part of the story where I was like “what the hell am I doing and/or why?” Part of this clarity is due to the very linear design of the game, and leaning on the strengths of said linearity. Years later, FFXIII would attempt the same thing, but tried to tell a confusing, sprawling narrative through the narrow lens of, what amounts to, a big chase scene. It’s why the same people who decry FFXIII’s linear design can also enjoy FFX for the exact same linearity.

    * Hell, they even have a character specifically designed to lampshade that – Maechen. And even he gets character development in FFX-2.

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      I can only assume it’s better if you play through the game, but I’m finding it hard keeping up with all the different characters, place names and stuff just from reading this! (The actual main plot seems relatively straightforward, or at least well explained, but remembering which character is which and what they do… nope).

      1. GloatingSwine says:

        The characters you meet are all doing the same pilgrimage* as you, so you keep meeting the same people over and over again at each location. That means they get this slow burn character development as the game goes on.

        * the structure of the game as a pilgrimage helps to justify the fact that it’s basically a one screen wide straight line for sixty hours. People are going to a specific place following a religiously prescribed route so there’s no room to deviate.

        1. Syal says:

          They’re also all introduced individually in the game. There’s six eight summoners besides Yuna in the game, but they all show up alone, and they’re mostly introduced through their attitude toward Yuna who’s been well-established by then. Same with the party members; Lulu and Kimahri are the only guardians introduced at the same time, and when they’re introduced Lulu is the only one who talks, and her whole conversation is directed at Wakka who’s been well-established by then.

          But, if we introduced them individually here the analysis would take as long as the game plot.

          1. shpelley says:

            It also becomes a lot easier to remember who-is-who in the party simply because there are a lot of other things that can’t really be expressed through Shamus’ description of them. Between their *wildly* different appearances, you have their voices, inflections, gestures/”body language” and all the normal stuff, and you deal with them and hear their views all throughout the game.

            …and all the non-party characters are established over the course of hours, and not paragraphs, are repeatedly viewed if they are important, and are generally a collection of easily identifiable tropes.

  8. Darren says:

    Wow, harsh perspective on Final Fantasy X-2. As a game I like it a lot more than FFX, though as a sequel it assumes you are already familiar with the world and the characters. While it doesn’t delve into their backstories, it does flesh out Donna and Isaaru, and it actually explores what happens in a JRPG world after an all-powerful church is revealed to be in league with the devil.

    Back to the matter at hand, there are a few holes in X’s plot. How do summoners get to the Calm Lands after accepting Yunalesca’s deal? If they just walk back down, won’t the Ronso notice that they are missing a guardian? Wouldn’t the Ronso be likely to give any remaining guardians shelter while the summoner goes to the final battle? I agree that Yunalesca most likely ties up any loose ends, but it does seem like she has limited options for when to act. And I can’t remember exactly how it goes down, but doesn’t Auron confront her? She’s definitely the one who killed him, I just can’t recall exactly when in the timeline this happened.

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      It’s never explained how they get there after getting the Final Aeon, but I always assumed that Yunalesca did something (both to lure Sin and transport the summoner and the FA there) *because* it’s never said that the Ronso know something (meaning they get bypassed somehow).

    2. Syal says:

      Auron confronts Yunalesca after Braska defeats Sin, then makes it back to Gagazet, where the Ronso did give him shelter I believe. Ronso might just think the guardian attrition is for the same reason so many summoners die on the mountain. Or they might know and just not tell people like the Maesters.

      though as a sequel it assumes you are already familiar with the world and the characters.

      I found it expected me to be familiar with the world while not being familiar with the characters.

    3. GloatingSwine says:

      If you’re totally into the worldbuilding of FFX then I can see how you wouldn’t like FFX-2. It is a silly place full of melodrama, camp, and cheese.

      It is, however, my favourite Final Fantasy* game from a mechanical perspective. I love the way they updated the ATB system to have variable cooldowns to mirror the turn tracker in FFX/Tactics, I always liked the job system, FFX-2 has a really good version of it with different jobs feeling really different and having slightly overlapping capabilities so there isn’t just a single answer to each encounter, and I like the way you can switch jobs in battle to bring in new sets of capabilities.

      * My other favourite is Bravely Default, but that becomes more broken than FFX-2 when you job up hard enough.

      1. Darren says:

        I don’t even think the world-building is bad. The dress spheres are clearly based on the same technology that is used throughout the world–like Seymour’s replication of Zanarkand–the oversoul system expands on the way pyreflies function in the world without contradicting anything, and the plot (which I admit is weak) addresses the other side of the mega-war that brought about the creation of Sin and destruction of the ancient civilizations. The international version even includes a monster-hunting sidequest that directly confronts the idea that fiends are formed from the souls of people, and I’m pretty sure the Via Infinito goes into more detail about the Yevon conspiracy.

        No idea about Final Mission, though, which I’ve never gotten around to.

        1. GloatingSwine says:

          The worldbuilding things is more that I don’t see how the social and political structure of Spira goes from what it is at the end of FFX to what it is at the start of FFX-2 as smoothly as it does within only two years, given that the entire foundations of their society have been shown to be a lie perpetrated on the populace by an evil god and a church of zombies.

          (Also it’s super tonally different)

    4. shpelley says:

      FFX-2’s gameplay is definitely more action-oriented and is actually pretty nice if you enjoy that kind of game. You can actually see the evolution of FFX-2 dress spheres -> FFXIII paradigm system pretty easily. I enjoy both for the fact that it turns itself into a pseudo-rhythm game once you get into the flow of things.

      FFX-2’s aesthetic I think is where most people have a hard time getting into it. It’s very much Charlie’s Angels and some people just didn’t want “their” Final Fantasy game to go in that direction. For a thematically different, one-shot “sequel,” I enjoyed it for what it was.

  9. King Calamity says:

    After Bikanel, Donna talks about how if she quits, people back home will resent her for it, which I imagine is true for any summoner, but it gave me the impression she was actually pressured into it somehow, like how Yuna is the daughter of Braska.

    Side note, you guys skipped the butterfly hunt (which I understand), but did the lightning dodging!?

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Lightning dodging only takes time and patience. The Butterflies take a lot of luck, especially with the camera the way it is, until you understand how it works.

      Anyway, pretty sure Donna actually says that “people wouldn’t forgive a summoner who quit halfway”, not just her (even Father Zuke says something about it).

      1. Mike says:

        Also, if you turn off the sound the lightning dodging becomes 100x easier. Just hit the button to jump whenever the lightning flashes. The audio is out of sync just enough to screw up the player’s rhythm.

    2. The ultimate weapons are such vicious timewasters, and each in their own frustratingly different way. I personally didn’t mind the butterflies too much, I save-stated through the lightning cause I wasn’t doing it otherwise, but was just unable to bring myself to play that many consecutive games of blitzball.

      I’m frankly amazed the localization is coherent at all given a recent gamasutra article. They had to match the timing of the Japanese VO or the game would crash.

      1. Decius says:

        Butterflies was easy for me. Lightning dodging was hard.

        Blitzball was easy once I figured out the trick: reset the setup repeatedly until the prize you want comes up, then recruit Wakka, spend the first half of the first game passing the ball to Tidus and Wakka, leveling them up enough to score.

        You have to play roughly five seasons to get all the unique things.

        1. Syal says:

          And play a game or two at every save point so you don’t have to do them all at once.

          Especially after Operation Mi’ihen. If you don’t immediately follow Sin destroying the Crusaders with a round of blitzball you should seriously re-examine your play style.

      2. Ringwraith says:

        It’s nice there’s an article on it in significant depth finally, as it’s responsible for weird stuff like voice lines seeming way too fast.
        The issue was fixed as of X-2 for the most part I think.

    3. King Marth says:

      Butterflies were okay, they’re always in the same spots so it’s just repetition. Lightning dodging is also fine, between No Encounters and looking up the locations with frequent bolts (plus maybe muting sound as someone said here?); I basically ended up with a geometric series when trying it, after getting ~3 in a row I ended up doubling my streak each time until my winning one around ~220. In each case there’s a clear sense of progress (or at least there was for me). I wrote off Blitzball because I hated Wakka, but that also has some game to it, distorted as it may be.

      I just don’t understand why Tidus’s chocobo race doesn’t get targeted more in these rants. I tried that one many times and just got more and more frustrated at the chocobo tripping over invisible things and randomly switching direction into timewasting obstacles. I suppose the downside to a broad spectrum of minigames is that at least one of them won’t appeal to you.

      1. Syal says:

        I target Chocobo Racing in my rants.

        After ten years of bad memories of that minigame, I played it again recently and it was far worse than I remembered.

      2. Ramble says:

        Urgh the chocobo race was just awful.

        A friend and I did all the ultimate weapon side quests between us, he was better at the butterfly hunt and managed to do it quite quickly. I was stuck doing the chocobo race, over and over again just trying to get that last 0.1 of second. Stuff of nightmares!

    4. shpelley says:

      Basically, once a Summoner *starts* training, stopping probably has a terribly harsh “taboo” nature about it. It means all the time/attention/training you received was for naught, you are selfish, etc. The peer pressure would be insurmountable most of the times.

  10. Ivellius says:

    I just want to say that the image captions for this entry are fantastic.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      So I herd u like mage robes…

  11. Phantos says:

    The only super weapon we never got was Kimari's,

    …Wait, does that mean you got Lulu’s??

    The one where you have to dodge lightning strikes four million times, and if you screw up once you have to start all over?

    1. Shamus says:

      Yup. We did that. TWICE.

      I really can’t explain why. It’s a horrible minigame.

      1. Decius says:

        It takes only 15 minutes to win, once you get No Encounters.

        1. Syal says:

          Yeah, that wasn’t particularly hard back in the day. I tried it again last month with a flatscreen, wireless controller and eyes that want to wander after a minute and… Lulu’s just gonna get benched I think.

          1. Decius says:

            Input and display lag make that kind of thing much harder.

        2. Retsam says:

          The rerelease (at least the steam version I’m playing) has the option to turn off encounters built-in. I believe it’s like F4 or something like that. (Though if you’re trying to avoid fighting things, I think Alt-F4 works, too)

      2. Abnaxis says:

        It’s even worse on a hi-def TV with screen lag.

        Totally going go cheat-engine that crap when I get around to it on PC. I’ll take comfort in knowing I was able to do it back in the day when FFX was still new and I had a CRT.

  12. Kylroy says:

    Let your brother know I miss his site. Was cool seeing another Young brother’s perspective on things.

  13. Joe Leigh says:

    I’ve noticed a couple times in this series you’ve mentioned only Tidus can hit fast enemies, but Wakka has a far higher accuracy (and thus is better at hitting fast enemies). Without Tidus in the party, they still would’ve been fine. Presumably without Auron around to steamroll everything, Kimahri would be less redundant and would toughen up enough to help them with the armored fiends.
    Also, I believe “Sin” as an entity doesn’t body-hop to the Final Aeon. Rather, the Final Aeon defeats “Sin,” then Yu Yevon, seeing there’s a new most powerful aeon in the world, does his “assuming direct control” thing on the Final Aeon. He then does some brainwashing stuff to it for a while (during the Calm) before unleashing it on Spira. The people of Spira just see another giant monster and say “oh, that must be Sin again.” That’s the whole point, right? Sin isn’t really a big demon that’s come to punish the people of Spira, it’s just a huge Aeon controlled by an insane immortal summoner from a thousand years ago.
    Also also, Lulu was also Father Zuke’s guardian (not just Wakka), making this her third pilgrimage.

    1. Decius says:

      “Fast” enemies have quick attacks, not high evasion. Wakka has a special bonus vs flying, as well as high accuracy.

  14. SlothfulCobra says:

    All I can think about with Donna’s party is the Donner Party.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Yeah, that immediately came to mind for me too. Just from the sound of the words, mind you, not any thematic similarities.

      1. Yerushalmi says:

        I haven’t played the game, but didn’t Shamus point out that she has only one guardian (left)?

    2. Grudgeal says:

      So what you’re saying is, that party has a lot of… dining going on in it?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGrvQ1c5khU

  15. The Rocketeer says:

    Seymour’s mother being Anima doesn’t actually make any sense. So, she dragged Seymour to Zanarkand, saw Yunalesca, got blinked into the aeon Anima, and then… somehow ended up as a fayth in Baaj Temple, on the other side of Spira. Um. Nevermind that Seymour Guado, leader of the Guado and Maester of Yevon, apparently went on a secret pilgrimage that no one ever mentions and then never fought Sin.

    It appears Yunalesca is the only being knowledgeable or capable enough to create new aeons or fayth. From what Bahamut’s li’l fayth dude says, it seems every other fayth is a relic that dates back to the war with Bevelle. If the Temple is aware of a way to make new fayth- and therefore new aeons- they certainly never indicate it, and the concept runs counter to every other portrayal of how the Temple and the Pilgrimage operates.

    But nonetheless, there’s a fayth bearing the image of Seymour’s mother, which her soul inhabits, granting the Aeon that she was made into by Yunalesca, at Zanarkand, on the other side of the world, in a process that doesn’t seem to require or produce a fayth, or uses the ancient fayth in Zanarkand Temple.

    1. Syal says:

      Seymour and his mother both had a profoundly bad sense of direction. No one talks about it because it’s a huge embarrassment.

      Baaj Temple used to have someone who could make Aeons too. Seymour created his Aeon with the help of Baaj’s Lady Yenalucsa, who died immediately afterward in presumably unrelated events.

    2. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Yojimbo’s statue was moved, so it’s not that far fetched to think that that’s what happened to Anima’s.

  16. Metheos says:

    To this day, I never figured out why they have only one to four people protecting a summoner instead of large convoys of guards with supplies. It just seems ridiculous that it isn’t the first thing the story addresses. This is especially bizarre after operation Mi’ihen. If they devoted half those resources to escorting a summoner, it’s easy to imagine the success rate wouldn’t be so ridiculously low.

    Also, the drama over the summoner losing their life didn’t move me the way the story wanted it. First, if the guardians are good enough, there shouldn’t be any reason why the summoner can’t be a slightly older individual who’s had an enjoyable life already. Second, the real world is full of people who’d gladly give their lives with a lot less angst than you see from any of the summoners here, and with far lower stakes on the line to boot. Heck, any military will have a ton of such people. Combine this with the “why are all these cities built near the shore” stupidity mentioned earlier, and the story in this game pretty much loses me.

    1. Locke says:

      Some of the people maintaining the system have an incentive to make sure only small groups of people make it to Zanarkand, thus maintaining the secret. It’s not hard to see how these people could wield enough influence to prevent large convoys from forming, since it’s hard for a large convoy to sustain itself in opposition to the government and society. It’s kind of hard to imagine how they’d manage this for a thousand years, but the thousand year timescale is about six hundred years longer than it needs to be in almost all respects, so.

    2. MechantPuffin says:

      The pilgrimage is supposed to be a trial. If the pilgrimage is too easy, the summoner might not be hardened enough to fight Sin.

      There’s also a lot of tradition involved in that, with Yunaslesca only having Zaon has her guardian. Remember that the whole point is to perpetuate the cycle. Religious authorities have zero incentive to make more people involved in this business as it is necessary.

      The first encounter with Yuna in the Besaid Temple shows us that the process is very draining, more so because she’s very young for a summoner. I suppose the ideal summoner would have to be physically and mentally mature while still in their physical prime. They still have a mountain to climb after all.

      Soldiers in the real world know they risk their lives, but they expect to survive. Summoners in FFX know they will die. They know how and they know when. Would the game be more interesting with serious Navy Seals types who know no fear?

      And villages and cities are built on the shores for the same reasons they are in the real world. It’s not stupid and it’s rather insensitive to suggest such a thing when people perish in natural disasters each years.

      Also Sin can fly.

    3. Syal says:

      There are a lot of summoners and a lot of pilgrimages at a given time (Yuna runs into four in the first two temples and doesn’t bat an eye at it). You would have to decide ahead of time which of them are worth protecting, and the rest would have to make due with their friends. Then your number of guardians become a class symbol, and folks like Yuna with a lot of them get treated like swaddled children, which combined with folks like Yunalesca succeeding with only one guardian creates a cycle of peer pressure that keeps guardian counts low.

      Plus people don’t know it, but the Final Aeon is built on how close you are to your guardians, so the more you have the less likely it is that you can actually beat Sin.

    4. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      You’re forgetting the fact that actually making it to old age (or an age where the summoner would have had an enjoyable life) is extremely difficult (Rikku mentions that people marry young, as in 14, and have kids as soon as possible because they never know what’ll happen), not even counting that it apparently takes years to become a summoner. They can’t just decide one day ‘oh, I think I’ve lived long enough, I’ll become a summoner’.

    5. Tohoya says:

      Kinda the difference between being a soldier and being a suicide bomber. Knowing that you might die in the course of duty is one thing. Knowing that a necessary part of your duty is dying is something else. Not strictly utilitarian or consequentialist but people aren’t strictly consequentialist.

  17. Guile says:

    >This is why you shouldn't bring a ten year old with you on a dangerous quest, dumbass!

    The other summoner parties just can’t run into the same level of difficulty Yuna’s party does. More Shoopuf rides, less endless Highroad basilisks. Isaaru and Donna don’t make sense otherwise.

    I suppose Isaaru couldn’t bear to be parted from his brothers until the end, and that even if the end was always going to be a shit sandwich he was hoping that the experience of their (last) trip together would stay with Pacce and help him during the dark times afterwards.

    If you were 10, would you rather your brothers left you with a neighbor (or whatever), went off and you never saw them again, or would you rather walk with them to hell? Spira is kind of hardcore that way.

    1. Syal says:

      More Shoopuf rides,

      I’m imagining a pilgrimage that just spends a whole week riding on the Shoopuf back and forth.

    2. tremor3258 says:

      Isn’t being left at 10 with a neighbor more or less why Yuna’s so unassertive at the start?

  18. Abnaxis says:

    During operation Mi'ihen, Maester Kinoc asks Auron if he's been to Zanarkand. I've always assumed this line was to show Kinoc was worried that Auron was in on the Big Secret, and that he might spill it.

    Ohhhhhhh! That mention never made sense to me, because I thought he was talking about the “spirit” Zanarkand, it never occured to me that Kinoc was talking about the Zanarkand ruins!

  19. John the Savage says:

    My favorite running gag of the Two Best Friends LP of this game is how they keep referring to Yuna’s party as absurdly large bands, like Slipknot or Bang Camaro.

    Also, I’m pretty sure father Zuke was guarded by Lulu as well as Wakka, meaning that Yuna’s pilgrimage is Lulu’s third time as a guardian.

  20. Theodore MacAulay says:

    You bailed on the butterfly hunt but not on the blitzball, chocobo “race” or the lightning BS? The butterfly hunt takes 5 minutes between all trials. Of all the terrible sidequests the game had to offer it seemed the most tame

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