FFX Recap II: Into Spira

"My old Man" says Tidus

Sharing headspace with Dad: Tidus’ worst nightmare.

In our last recap, Tidus saw Zanarkand destroyed by photon torpedos, bugs and tentacle monsters. Then a madman in a red coat led him to the source of all that devastation and threw him into it. 

Next stop, a cracktastic dream sequence. Because Sin’s toxin. Because pyreflies. Because IT’S FINAL FANTASY. Of course there’s a trippy dream sequence. This scene made so little sense the first time I played FFX that I had blotted it out by the time the party reached the same location (ominously named “Dream’s End”) later on. [Warning: this playthrough has massive spoilers.]

“Hey!” says a man’s voice. “Hey!”

Great. Even his own father won’t call Tidus by name.

“My… old man?” Tidus says.

Yep, the man who disappeared ten years ago is waiting for him in a vision of  Zanarkand. Local landmarks include a brightly-lit but lifeless cityscape that stretches on forever, part of the deck of Tidus’ houseboat, an exploded stadium courtesy of M.C. Escher, and a flaming Abes symbol as large as Jecht’s ego. Also? Tidus is swimming in mid-air, while Dad is parked on solid ground. It’s cute how these games have to really really break the laws of physics to distinguish dream from “reality.” Otherwise, you’d think it was just standard anime physics.

If this is a dream, then whose?

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FFX Recap I: Zanarkand, Dead or Alive

Final Fantasy X Opening

(ganked from FFWikia)

Here we go! Into Spira one more time, with feeling. (Again, I’m posting emulator-screencaps from original FFX for illustrations, since PS3 FFX has screengrabs disabled. Grr. Yes, that means I’m playing each scene twice.)

The remaster’s title screen now features “A Fleeting Dream,” putting us right in the groove. Whatever one may say about Tetsyua Nomura’s belt fixation or Motomu Toriyama’s disturbing tendencies, composer Nobuo Uematsu is indelibly awesome. The remaster has done only a light touch-up on this piece. For the most part, I approve of the remastered tracks.

Bootscreen of FFX HD

My Sir Auron figure is back to babysitting the kids again. Poor guy can’t catch a break.

Expert Sphere Grid, here I come.With most of FFX memorized, I’m excited for anything new. (I’ve never played FFX international).

Savvy FFX players know to start the game before watching the oddly subdued opening sequence, since it repeats with NewGame. My sister-in-gaming Mintywolf notes that slow pacing in the prologue is a common feature in Japanese cinematography, in contrast to boom-pow-hook-the-audience-now Hollywood.

So. In a barren, blasted wasteland that I initially took for the remains of a bombed out-city, our heroes sit around a pathetic little campfire looking more bedraggled than heroic.

Yuna in prologue

She’s the one with the ginormous sword in this story, right?

The Heterosexual Leading Pair are introduced right off the bat with a shared look, a lean-in, and a gentle touch that shows genuine affection without being in our face about it. I still love the original faces, particularly Yuna’s, which is a little earthier and less dainty than her HD model.

The intro scene gave the game designers a chance to show off their new (now old) facial expression rendering software, but there’s more to this scene than “yo, look at our amazing PS2 PS3 PS4 graphics, baby!” Final Fantasy likes to fling players in media res. Just to shake things up, FFX tosses us in termina res, right near the end unless you count a bazillion sidequests.

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Let’s Play Final Fantasy X: Intro

Final Fantasy X HD Splash ScreenWoo hoo! My goal of playing all the Final Fantasy games before FFX HD was released has failed spectacularly! I had the game on preorder and started a half-arsed Let’s Play FFX  on Tumblr, but what I really want to do is post a tidied-up “director’s cut” here. Because, while it’s not my first Final Fantasy, FFX remains my favorite.

Yep, I’m the lunatic who transcribed the entire game script because there’s so much that Yuna’s party never sees.

Do you love Blitzball Kid? Do you want to know why that paparazzi in the blue sweater kept photographing Yuna? Are you curious what Kinoc and Seymour were really up to behind the scenes? Curious what the inscriptions on temple walls and Al Bhed shop signs mean? You’ve come to the right place. Please allow me to channel my inner Maechen for you.

Alas, one thing I can’t do is screengrab my PS3, so I’m gonna have to emulate FFX original for my own screencaps. For full HD beauty shots, check out Dansg08’s superb commentary/video PS3 walkthrough or DavetheUsher’s PS4 Playthrough. You’ve probably played the HD version anyway, so need for me to remind you how pretty it is.

Besides, while the remaster has given the backdrops of Spira a glorious makeover, some of the characters have suffered from their plastic surgery (poor Wakka). FFX just isn’t the same without duckface Tidus, is it?

Tidus looking like a doge

Thought not.

P.S. If you spoil the audio epilogue, I will borrow Paine’s sword and disembowel you. I’ve had most of it spoiled, and from what I’ve heard I’m not going to like it, but allow me to entertain the delusion that I still have something new to look forward to, OK?

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Final Fantasy Dimensions: A Half-Assed Playthrough

I have unfinished FFVII and FFX Let’s Plays, I haven’t gotten to Lightning Returns, I was wasting time playing Kingdom Hearts for the first time, and I’ve fallen hopelessly behind in Final Fantasy fan discussions and game commentary on  [community profile] moogle_university. My FFX novella, Love Her and Despair, is languishing with the last five chapters in a messy and forgotten state.

What a PERFECT time to start a new game playthrough!

FF Dimensions Title Screen

Zencribnotes on Tumblr inspired me to try Final Fantasy Dimensions again. It’s an iPad/Android native Final Fantasy game that came out in 2010.  When I last tackled it, I couldn’t fully appreciate how much it was a homage to the early FFs. Now, by golly, I’m going to play Final Fantasy Nostalgia Bingo, because that’s the main virtue of this game.

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FFXII: My Map of The Great Crystal

“I’ve heard of some people trying to map out the Great Crystal during their XII playthroughs so as not to keep getting lost, but such a task would be long and frustrating and definitely not worth the trouble.”

Livvyplaysfinalfantasy during her current insightful FFXII playthrough

The great crystal

Yes, the in-game map is nearly useless. However, notice “A Prama Vikaari” at top. It tells you exactly where you are, if only SOMEONE would make a map…

I love making maps, and I took Livvy’s comment as a challenge. Here’s the fruits of a week’s labor.

I’ve divided my Giruvegan Great Crystal map into two parts, one for the lower levels which you have to traverse for the plot, one for the upper levels that masochists explore for valuable and unique items and prey, including Excalibur, Ultima and Omega (Mark XII). My notes below will help you find all the treasures and understand the naming conventions of the rooms so that they’re not just gibberish.

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Final Fantasy VII, Ep. 10: Let’s Do the Mind Screw Again

“The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths.” ~ Aleksandr Pushkin

In the most recent two episodes, Cloud has given Sephiroth the Black Materia, punched Aeris while possessed, nearly cut her in two while possessed, and stood there like a man frozen in corbomite while Sephiroth performed Death From Above.

Let’s pause for a moment to celebrate the hoary Final Fantasy tradition of playing into enemy hands.

I'm sorry I deceived even you, Leo

But now that we’ve handed Sephiroth the Black Materia on a platter and let Aeris die, there’s no way we could screw up anything else, is there? I mean, it’s not like we could give him the Black Materia again, right? Ahahaha.

Well then. While Cloud was angsting over Aeris’ bloodless body, Sephiroth idly mentioned his upcoming journey to the Northern Crater. Naturally, we must accept this veiled invitation.

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Final Fantasy VII Recap, Ep VIII: Saucer Date and Pyramid Power

Ragtag party assembled, it’s time to break into the Temple of the Ancients. But first, we need a key to unlock the Path of Plot Advancement.

We drag our reluctant tails back to the Gold Saucer. Speaking of which, I missed a spiffy FMV during our first visit, when I was trying to take Aeris around for a date. Check out the Gondola ride starting around 11:00.

Sorry, Aeris. Let’s pretend my Cloud took you on that date earlier, okay? You’re allowed to call me cheesebrain.

All right, back in the present…

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Final Fantasy VII Recap, Ep VII: Rocket Science and Ninja Hijinks

Last time on Let’s Play Final Fantasy VII, we picked up a ninja in a random encounter and stuffed her in a Bag of Holding, cruelly refused to tell Zack’s parents what happened to him, visited Nanaki’s people and had our hearts wrenched, visited the hometown of Tifa and Cloud and had our heebies jeebied, and picked up one of Hojo’s lab experiments taking a nap in a casket. (As opposed to Morgan Freeman’s Vincent taking a bath in a casket.)

Then we headed into the mountains north of Nibelheim where—

Use Trine on this
AUUUGH I haven’t saved in an hour blammmity blam blam flail flail hack slash bite maul… oh. Oops. There was a really powerful blue magic spell that we could’ve learned from this thing, wasn’t there?

Moving right along…

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Final Fantasy VII Recap, Ep VI: Gongaga to Nibelheim

So, last time on Let’s Play the Most Famous Final Fantasy Ever, we dorked around in a soldier’s uniform, stuffed Barret into a sailor suit, got shafted at the Gold Saucer, and adopted a self-described “Fortune-telling machine” in the shape of Felix the Cat riding a blancmange. Also, Barret taught us that the best way to deal with catastrophic loss is to claim all the blame so that you can pretend you had some control over the situation.

The most recent “Sephiroth went thataway” npc told us to seek Gongaga. Or maybe Dio thought we’d “gone gaga” when he saw we’d let Caith Sith into the party. En route, we’re pounced by a leggy girl with a ginormous throwing star. Because, up until FFVIII or so, Everything Is Better with Ninjas.

Bets on whether her fireball-chucking, spark-casting abilities will disappear once we recruit her?

Yuffie random encounter

(I was trying to pick HER pocket. Silly me. She’s the thief.)

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