Part 104: Episode XCIV: Our Old Neighborhood
Music: A Fleeting Dream (HD Remaster Version) (You should listen to this.)
Alright folks. We've stalled long enough in the narration zone with the Tidus Campfire Tales session. Time to gather our party and venture forth into Zanarkand proper.
You'd think Tidus would be a less upbeat looking about the final long march to Yuna getting a super aeon to kill his space whale dad and dying in the process. But I guess after a solid 37 hours of gabbing, according to my game clock, he's happy to finally get up and stretch a bit.
Welp. This is it. We've finally gone To Zanarkand. We do have a specific location in the heart of Zanarkand we're pressing toward. But the actual road itself has little of note beyond being gorgeous for a game from 2001. As such, I provided a video of the road into Zanarkand below. Give it a watch.
Video: Zanarkand Road (Recommended Viewing)
Of course, the road through Zanarkand is not without its perils. It is worth noting that the music isn't interrupted during this portion of the game for token random battles. The game rarely does that outside of danger set-piece segments like the raid on Home or Yuna's wedding raid. It kind of makes me wish Square had shown a bit of restraint and not blown the first use of the Someday the Dream Will End/A Fleeting Dream track on some bullshit cutscene back on one of the Kilika ferry rides.
As for the actual encounters of the Zanarkand Overpass, as the menu calls this location, it's just some of the higher end encounters from the Gagazet filler caverns pulling double duty. Nothing new to speak of here.
After a bit of a jog through the rubble of Zanarkand, the game briefly wrestles away control for a scene to reiterate that this area is indeed very nice looking. Just in case you hadn't noticed.
Looks better than Fallout 4 at least. Amazing what having
Anyway, as I said the menu refers to this place as the Zanarkand Overpass. Which makes sense for a road leading through the heart of the city, no matter how poorly maintained it may be. But, you know we've actually been to another Zanarkand Overpass. And our final destination... well...
...we may have been here before as well. Kinda. Welcome to the final stop on the pilgrimage. If you don't recognize it, in Dream Zanarkand this was the Home of the Zanarkand Abes! Its function in the actual Zanarkand was a wee bit different. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The party approaches the ruined Zanarkand Dome...
"I am the summoner Yuna. I have come from the island of Besaid."
Oh lovely place this time of year. How is the Valefor Fayth getting along?
Oh... Fine. I suppose.
Psst. What's a 'Valefor'?
*shrug* You're asking me?
Wait was that the rad bird aeon? Oh man... I forgot all about riding it.
*approaches Yuna* "Your eyes, my dear. Show me the long road you have traveled. Very good. You have journeyed well. Lady Yunalesca will surely welcome your arrival. Go to her now, and bring your guardians with you. Go."
Music: Inflexible Determination
And with that Ghost Grandpa walks into the screen and fades away. Who was that guy? What was his deal beyond some sort of ghost-zombie unsent doorman? Hell if I know! We never see him again. Onward we go!
Welcome to the Zanarkand Dome. Between scenes the lead cameraman for Final Fantasy X got drunk as fuuuuuuuck so the directing in these upcoming scenes is... interesting.
It is the highest honor for which a guardian might ask.
Lady Yocun was mentioned not long ago by the remnants of the Crusaders back at the Calm Lands. We may have nicked her old sword for Auron's use later on down the road. Yocun was an old leader of The Crusaders and the last high summoner before Braska.
There actually is concept art for Lady Yocun (and I'm sure she showed up in one of the Yevon temple statues.) The actual cutscene depiction got a bit lazy and just reused old Crusader models from Operation Mi'ihen for Yocun and her guardian. Which is fair since they only appear for ten seconds in this ghost cutscene.
Cameraman. Stop starring at Rikku's breasts. C'mon, she's 15. Not cool, dude!
"She said 'Lady Yocun,' didn't she?
Cameraman! Knock it off! Who hired this guy?
"This dome is filled with pyreflies. It's like one gigantic sphere. People's thoughts remain here. Forever."
Welp. Add exposition ghosts to the myriad of abilities pyreflies can concoct as the plot demands.
So the Zanarkand Dome is the dungeon proper of Zanarkand. Like every other dungeon it is... well just the one path and we'll probably make our way with little incident in this 1,000 year old crumbling ruins.
But of course, it wouldn't be a dungeon if it wasn't full to the brim with random encounters. And boy the encounter rate here is high and rather obnoxious.
Chiefly because of this asshole: Defender Z! Yes the mid-boss so great they immediately made him a common enemy for two out of the three next major areas. This final in the Defender series comes packing 42,300 HP and all of his stats boosted another level. He's got armor and magic defenses like his predecessors that Auron will need to strip to do any sort of decent damage. So that's fun if you like fighting a wall of hearty hit points every five steps.
Unlike the common store brand Defender, the Provoke strategy from the original boss Defender X version of this enemy is once more valid. Having Tidus (or anyone else that has Provoke) use the technique will just result in it halving their HP fruitlessly while the rest of the party goes to town. Z-series is also weak to Demi, with it likely hitting the level cap the first couple of turns it is cast.
Either way it takes way too long to beat for a random encounter and given what limited an enemy pool there is in the Zanarkand Dome, I ended up fighting like five of these pricks in a row at one point. Fuck all the Defenders. They are the worst.
Other than Defender Z, there are YKT-11 (kung-fu kick bots) and YAT-97 (artillery bots.) Zanarkand did get wiped out by hordes of Bevelle's machina after all. It stands to reason a few of 'em would be floating around the ruins of the dead city after the job was done. These are straight up identical to the ones back in Bevelle with just maybe an extra thousand HP. At this point they can almost certainly all be immediately one-shot.
Technology stagnation is a terrible thing.
Last and definitely least... yeah they mostly just copy and pasted the enemy list from Yuna's wedding. Zombie versions of the Yevon warrior monks are present in the dome. They have the same exact stats and attacks as their living counterparts. Only these ones have a chance to inflict Zombie with their attacks. They don't have any way to capitalize on a zombified party member's plight so... not sure of the point.
Being Zombie status afflicted enemies, Yuna can one-shot any of them with Life or Curaga. But really, near any decent attack can fell them at this point in the game.
I hope you like that handful of enemies as they're all you're gonna see for the fifteen minute walk through this wreckage and any subsequent grinding you might do in preparation for future inevitable boss encounters.
A bit of cardio in the roundabout route through the bizarro-Zanarkand Abes home and we come to another Pyreflies Exposition Ghost. Let's see what nuggets of information from the past they want to dredge up.
Use me and defeat Sin. Only then will the people accept you."
"I don't care about them! I need you, Mother! No one else!"
And with that the Exposition Ghosts vanish.
"Hey, wasn't that...?
Ahahaha! Oh please tell me one of you recorded that on sphere or however that works. I wanna play that back next time we see that dingus. 'Waaaah. Oh no mommy! Don't turn into a summon monster so the other boys stop giving me wedgies and stuffing me in lockers! Waaaaa!' Hahaha!
...Wait how did his mom turn into an aeon? You can just do that.
Wait is that crazy ass heavy metal album aeon thing Seymour's frikkin' MOM!?
I... got enough on my mind right now without thinking about that.
Ya... Ya let's just go... Ya...
Further into the ruins, we run across another trio of Exposition Ghosts. Heeey! I recognize those clowns! It's the Braska Pilgrimage Bunch. What are those knuckleheads up to in the ghost past?
"Hey, Braska. You don't have to do this."
"Thank you for your concern."
*crosses arms* "Fine. I said my piece."
Oh... That was all?
Yeah... What man? You said this place like made ghost talk people like a big recording sphere thingamabob. I'm on record saying you didn't have to do this. This sucks.
Lord Braska, let us go back! I don't want to see you... die!"
"Yes, but I... I cannot accept it."
"Hehehe. Auron, I am honored that you care for me so. But I have come to kill grief itself. I will defeat Sin, and lift the veil of sorrow covering Spira. Please understand, Auron."
Ghost Braska continues his death march toward Yunalesca. Ghost Jecht and Young Auron linger a moment before rushing after him.
Well at least we know we're heading the right way. Would be a real bum deal if a piece of overhead concrete gave away during the past decade and blocked the only path. It's not like Zanarkand has an unsent team of civil engineers.
Uuuuuuuugh! Alright can I revise my bailing on this trip pitch? Man...
*slouches* "Here, too, huh? Gimme a break. I was expecting, you know, parades and... fireworks!"
Where's the strippers and fawning fangirls? Last rack I saw was on a blue cat lady... Man... What am I even supposed to do with something like that?!
Right... So one final Cloister of Trials, huh? Yeah... Yeah I'm gonna save that for another day. No thank you, Final Fantasy X. I just got home. I'm tired. I do not have it in me for this bullshit right now.
Episode 94 Highlight Reel (Recommended viewing for avant-garde drunk cameraman)
Zanarkand Ruins Overpass Concept Art
Zanarkand Dome Exterior Concept Art
Zanarkand Dome Ruins Concept Art