Part 6: Episode V: Watch My Swimming
So welcome to the first of several trippy dream sequences Final Fantasy X likes to occasionally churn out. As indicated in the bottom right corner, we can now hold O to make Tidus swim through the air down to... well something below...
A bit of swimming through an ethereal Zanarkand later...
"...like where I was, what I'd got myself into."
"I think I had a dream."
"No groupies. No fan girls. No endorsement deals. No high fives... It was more like a nightmare."
"I wanted someone -- anyone, beside me...so I didn't have to feel alone anymore."
So say goodbye to the urban sprawl of Zanarkand. We won't be saying that place again anytime soon. Instead, a murky flooded ruin will be our new favored locale.
Tidus at least seems to have survived being atomized up into the blowhole of Sin or whatever the hell was happening at the end of the Zanarkand prologue.
Sadly, Auron did not get dumped out in the same location as Tidus. Indeed, we won't be seeing Auron again for a decent chunk of time. Like, we'll be introduced to the entirety of the playable cast before he pops up again.
So Tidus is going to have to pull a one man show for the next few updates. That is a troubling fact.
I mean even a pelican chilling out nearby couldn't take more than twenty seconds on the same rock as the spaz. Where does that leave us...?
In any case, the bird flies northward toward a rather ominous looking temple like structure. I mean the area music is even called "Ominous" for Pete's sake! This area does not receive any sort of name during the course of our visit. We only learn it upon returning as an optional sidequest in the end game. But this drowned ruin is Baaj Temple and I suppose the temple proper ought to be Tidus' destination.
Final Fantasy X is a pretty damn linear game. I mean, not Final Fantasy XIII linear. There are at least non-corridor trekking segments of this game. But most dungeon type areas just have the one path and usually the correct direction to travel is on the helpful mini-map in the upper left of the screen.
For now, it's just a simple matter of guiding Tidus north to dry land. While swimming, the player can hold O to dive underwater (well it looks less like a dive and more like Tidus' model just floats further down on the y-axis. But details...) That's not useful here. But something to keep in mind for (unfortunate) future underwater sections.
Anyhow, terra firma. Sort of. Now that we've got a chance to dry off, it's worth noting that the main menu of the game has been unlocked. Let's take a quick peek.
There's not much going on here at the moment. We've got our playtime, location, and the fact Tidus has 300 Gil to his name.
He also smuggled along ten healing potions and a Phoenix Down (revives a dead character) along on the Sin voyage. Perhaps they were for in case he got uppercut out of the Blitzball arena and shattered a rib which then punctured one of his lungs after crashing into the stands. Potions can heal that, right?
We can also take a quick look at Tidus' default stats. Luck and Strength seems to be his two key stats at the moment. I suppose that sounds about right for a sports jock. Ditto for the shit-eating smirk on his character portrait.
Well, that's about it for the menus at the moment. A bunch more crap will pop up there in the future. But that's a ways off. For now, let's just navigate Tidus over this rather precarious looking walkway suspend by...seemingly nothing at all... What's the worst that can happen...?
Oh. That... You know, I think Tidus should just avoid elevated pathways for a while. This mode of transit has just not panned out for the guy. At all.
Tidus takes a moment to catch his breath and get his bearings just in time for...
A man eating flying fantasy piranha attack! What else?
Cornered by a trio of rather grumpy creatures of the deep, Tidus remembers a key thing about Final Fantasy X's world. Water friction is a non-existent property. You can kick balls around it with just as little effort as you could in the middle of a field. So it stands to reason...
Music: Normal Battle
...you can totally sword fight underwater, right?
Welp, actually it turns out you can. One of the keynote features of Final Fantasy X is underwater battles. If you haven't noticed, this game has sort of a water theme going for it. Anyhow, underwater battles are a bit different than standard fights.
For instance, the animations are all different. It's of note that you apparently want to swim upward when swinging a sword in a submerged duel. And beyond that umm...
...well, there are only aquatic enemies in below sea level clashes. And umm... Yep. That's it. They're functionally identical to regular fights. One key difference will crop up when we gain a few more party members. Mostly the fact that they only bothered to give animations, and thus the ability, for underwater fights for three out of the seven characters available.
After Tidus one-shots two out of the three attacking fish (or Sahagin as they liked to be called in mixed company) a rather unpleasant rumbling emanates from a nearby cavern.
Music: Enemy Attack
Meet Geosgaeno, king fish of Baaj Temple. It is not pleased with all these kids splashing around on its lawn.
The remaining Sahagin attempts to flee from the latest oceanic horror and gets the shit torn out of it for its trouble. Oddly, I think this is one of only like two points in the entire game where blood is shown.
After a bit of dodging about, Tidus feels cocky and decides to take on the Geosgaeno. Not gonna lie...
...it goes poorly. Every attack from Geosgaeno halves Tidus’ total HP.
Meanwhile, Tidus can chip a whole lower end of two digits off of the abomination’s 32,000 HP.
After a couple rounds of getting his shit kicked in, Tidus realizes that this might be one of those lousy unwinnable boss battles and books it for the nearest escape route.
You’d think a giant predatory beast in its element would be able to out pace a dude in the world’s least aerodynamic swimwear.
And you’d totally be right!
Unfortunately, having the lead character torn to shreds by a sea monster an hour into the narrative wouldn’t make for a very compelling story. Thus Tidus just barely makes it into the small opening further into a temple. In addition, the creature uses the rather puzzling tactic of blowing outward when unable to fit into a tiny hole, instead of sucking water toward it. Who taught this boss how to gimmick fight underwater?
Regardless, Tidus goes spiraling deep into the inner ruins of Baaj Temple, undoubtedly suffering his second or third concussion of the day. If only his general stupidity could be explained away simply by severe head trauma...
Episode 5 Highlight Reel
Baaj Temple Concept Art
Baaj Temple Underwater Concept Art
Sahagin Official Artwork
Geosgaeno Concept Art