The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy X

by The Dark Id

Part 113: Episode CIII: Our Spirit Breaking Lance

Lulu is all hooked up with her Celestial Weapon. It's going to kill me to do it... but while we are in the area, there is another Celestial Weapon we can knock out now as well. Ugh... Let me find a bottle of bourbon for this one...

Music: Thunder Plateau (Piano Version)

First of all, we'll be heading back to the Thunder Plains.

For thankfully, the last goddamn proper time in this entire game. Remember that whole story bit where Rikku was afraid of thunder and lightning? Yeah, me neither.

So I didn't point it out our original venture through the Thunder Plains, but those with an eagle eye may have spotted 'em in the background. There are several Cactuar, or rather “Qactuar” stones. Qactuar are Cactaur's asshole cousins, which the High Summoner Gandof herded into the Thunder Plains and then somehow sealed into magic stones like this one. Dude just really hated little cactus dudes.

There are eight Qactuar stones scattered across the Thunder Plains. Two in the southern half. And six in the northern half. We only need to bother with one of 'em up north. If left alone and a little bit of distance kept (i.e. Tidus is not standing directly next to it), eventually the Qactuar Stone will light up.

If, while it is glowing, the player presses SQUARE (not Cross to confirm selection like everything else in the game) then Tidus will perform the Yevon prayer and activate the Qactuar Stone. I still have that No Encounter armor on and hell if I'm taking it off until we reach a new part of the game. Normally, there's an extremely high random battle chance for a Qactuar following the activate of the stone. But, with no encounter armor, we can just mosey on.

Qactuar are literally just Cactuars with a different name and weaker stats. They didn't even both with a palette swap or a sweet mustache or anything. You're missing nothing here.

Now we're going to head down to the southern half of the Thunder Plains to go hit up the two Qactuar nodes in this region.

One is tucked in an out of the way corner of the map to the east, that would be hard to find... we're it not for the omnipresent mini-map pointing it out. Regardless, I'm sure some people still had difficulty picking it out. Never underestimate the power of idiots playing video games to get lost.

The final necessary Qactuar Stone is near the entrance to Guadosalam, a bit to the west, past the first save point. We have Tidus pray to this one and...

We release a Qactuar spirit from its prison. It seems it wants to show us something. Let's maybe call a Witcher in after we leave? I'm not sure I'm keen on sentient cactus men spirits roaming a plain of eternal thunderstorms freely.

If we follow the little bugger across the road, he'll bring us to a derelict lightning rod tower. Here too, Tidus can use Square to pray.

I honestly have no bloody clue how you're supposed to know to use Square to activate these markers. Maybe there was something back in the Al Bhed Travel Agency? Maybe there was a stone etched somewhere in this gray forgettable Drakengard 1 battlefield-esque crapsack of an area? You got me. I suppose I'll simply chalk it up to another counter-intuitive bit of terrible game design – the type that Final Fantasy X rolls around in like a pig during the Endgame.

Praying to this piece of engineering decay will call an treasure chest from the ground. Nifty. Thanks Qactuar spirit. Don't go devouring children or slaughtering peasants in our wake. Unless it's in Guadosalam. Go to town on those lousy tree elves if that's your vengeful spirit kink, cactus dude.

In any circumstance, Tidus can now use the Celestial Mirror to unlock the second (un-powered) Celestial Weapon... empty chest. Huh.

Sorry, Kimahri. They couldn't be arsed to make you an ultimate weapon. Let's be honest here, it would just be a waste of everyone's time.

The following scene is dumb and a waste of time. But I saw this screenshot and could only think one thing...

Order your prints today! Limited supply only!

Kimahri's wolf shirt like presence causes the Thunder Plains to completely flip their shit. They strike the empty chest...

And all around the chest. And really everywhere except for right on top of Tidus' head, which is a small miracle in and of itself.

But whatever. The lightning eventually subsides to reveal Kimahri's Spirit Lance. The un-powered version, of course. Sheesh, Kimahri gets all the fanfare for his Celestial Weapon while Lulu's was found shoved under some stones in a water full of dead fish chum.

So we've already obtained the Saturn Crest. It was located in a chest right after Seymour Natus was defeated but before the lengthy segment where we learned Tidus was a dream construct. So that's one step down. Now onto the hard part: The Saturn Sigil.

Music: Macalania Forest

For this portion, we're heading back to Macalania Woods. But not to power-up Kimahri's weapon just yet. Oh no. We have a mini-game to play in this neck of the woods. Everyone who has run the Final Fantasy X endgame gauntlet has the one mini-game they loathe. And this is the one for me. This is the one I fucking hate!

The Butterfly Catching Mini-Game! Chief Parrot Head here explains, but I cannot be arsed to make him a proper avatar and transcribe his dialog because I just want to get this over. Besides, his explanation is cryptic and dumb, just like his character design. Nomura. You fuckwit! What even is this thing?!

Bah! Staying on track. Butterfly Catching. This mini-game requires Tidus to run a race from one end of the area in Macalania Woods to the other in 30 seconds. All the while, Tidus will be collecting seven BLUE butterflies along the way.

A treasure chest will spring into the area as Tidus slams his face into the desired blue butterflies.

Since Final Fantasy X abhors anything being easy, along the way there are scores of RED butterflies. These are heralds of your impeding failure. Hit one of these and the party will be thrust into a battle (normal random battles are thankfully disabled even without No Encounter armor.) If this happens? You've already lost the mini-game. You cannot recover from this. It takes Tidus about 3 second time to bend down and begin the battle and you need almost down to the wire time wise to finish this shitshow.

Oh by the way you cannot just run from these battles. Just as an an extra little fuck you.

Here's the butterfly positions and the route you have to take to successfully navigate this mini-game. And I do mean have to take. You've got about... 2 seconds tops of wiggle room to fuck up or you will not have enough time to finish this course. Hitting a red butterfly will take 3-4 seconds. You done goofed. And of course, this map is a flat overhead view. Final Fantasy X offers no such luxury in camerawork.

Let's take a quick look at the course, shall we...?

First two butterflies are simple simple stuff. Just a slope to contend with. Did I mention the butterflies all have a really unclear hit-box since they sort of lazily flap about circling a general area? Yeah that one that looks three feet to Tidus' left and floating out of bounds? Nah. Close enough. Got it. This also applies to the red butterflies.

The camera takes a wild swing as we reach the bottom of the slope and evade four nasty red butterflies on our goal to blue #3.

After that it's up a slope and around another bend. Are you have trouble ascertaining the distance in the foreground and background of the red butterflies at this point? Especially when they cast no shadows and the area is purplish hues? Yep. Good stuff. Keep in mind these screenshots are much clearer than playing the game on an actual PS2. Just imagine the above image stretched out several times and blurred to hell while you are across the room from a television set like was intended.

Butterfly #4 is at the top of the slope as it curves. You can get caught on that jutting out branch's geometry quite easily here and fuck yourself out of a second.

Around the bend is butterfly #5 and if you don't have 10+ seconds left at this point, you're fucked already.

At the top of the hill, around a bend using your not altogether accurate early PS2 analog controls, Tidus needs to thread the needle through a mass of five tightly grouped motherfuckers while contending with the camera shifting slightly as he does so. Not to mention a blind run south avoiding two more. Less than five seconds here and you're toast. Plus there's butterfly #6 that drifts dangerously close to a red companion. Cuz that's great design.

Finally, you've got to make it around the corner just in time and STOP AFTER YOU GET THE CONFRIMATION YOU WON!!! Here's me completing the challenge with 0.4 seconds remaining! By the way, they stuck the exit to the area right there. If you happen to accidentally rush out it in your haste? Guess what? Fuck you! The challenge resets.

Oh, and by the way. We're not done here. That just netted us a Teleportation Sphere.

You see there's actually two Butterfly Catching mini-games in Macalania Forest. And we need to complete both to unlock Kimahri's Celestial Weapon's full potential. Kimahri... Again. We're doing all this bullshit for fucking worthless, who I am literally never going to use, outside of getting AP for from boss battles, Kimahri...

Here's the map for round two. Both makes are courtesy of the Final Fantasy X Ultimania Omega aka the giant Japanese guidebook these colossal shitpiles of obscure time sinks and arcane bullshit exist to sell. Was there just never a Japanese GameFAQs?

The map for that one might be somewhat difficult to parse initially. There is a blue butterfly dead ahead of where Tidus begins. But there's also another blue butterfly spawning several feet BEHIND where the race begins. Did I mention there's a couple second lag from race to start to the actual butterfly models spawning in? So you could easily just take off not seeing it and be fucked from go?

I suppose I should also mention a red butterfly spawns directly behind you. So if the player immediately zips around to get the late start blue butterfly, they will run face first into a yet to spawn into view red butterfly, hitting a battle and screwing over themselves that way?

Fucking aces design all around here, Square. Round of applause. How did you ever nearly go bankrupt within the same year and need to be bought out and merged with Enix? Truly baffling. By the way, did you know Phantoms are GHOSTS?! Steve Buscemi was just as surprised as me!

Up another slope, there's a rather tight squeeze between some gross red insects and lovely blue ones. Also more geometry you can get caught up on around the corner. They tested this course so well.

One of the hardest parts is probably right here. Sure, there's a map above giving the answer. But you don't have that in-game. At a glance, can you tell which one of these is in the foreground and background? Don't be wrong or you're done.

Don't get caught on the camera shifting again and some weird geometry poking out behind that tree. You need to be at the bottom of this next curve with at least 10 seconds or you're boned.

The next blue boy is up ahead, along with a sharp 90 degree turn and a red butterfly with a wide hit box hanging out if Tidus takes a couple too many steps. Also again, geometry tripping hazard on the turn.

And here's the hardest part at the final stretch. There are four red butterflies on screen right now. Can you see them all? No? By the way six seconds left and the final one is at the end of that curve at the bottom.

Here's me running out of time my uhh... eighth attempt? Ninth? On this particular course. Literally took one-tenth of a second too long. I couldn't cheat past this one. The emulator will take a shit if you mess with the time. Did this whole fucker legit, besides making a save state at the very start of attempts to save myself 20 seconds.

Here's the run where I actually made it. With indeed 0 seconds to spare just as I hit the final butterfly. I'll fucking take it!

That was about 16 attempts for the first round. 12 for the second race. Good solid hour of cursing the name of this game. Alongside wishing a violent death and a shallow grave for everyone surrounding its design.

C A T C H I N G ! ! ! !

And all of this effort was just for a lance on Kimahri. I sent Kimahri down Rikku's Sphere Grid for most of the game. He hits slightly harder than an old woman with a bad back wielding a purse.

This one too has another dumb formula to it. It's stronger the closer Kimahri is to his max HP:

(10 + [100 * Kimahri's current HP ÷ Kimahri's Max HP]) ÷ 110

Also Ixion Thorse has his level cap removed from the Saturn crest. So that's neat. I've only used Thorse like twice ever.

Whatever! We're done here. Congratulations, Kimahri. Now get back to warming the bench with Rikku and Lulu. Next time we're doing something that isn't the godforsaken Celestial Weapons.

Video: Episode 103 Highlight Reel