The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy X

by The Dark Id

Part 118: Episode CVIII: Our Dirge of Cactuar

New Music: Rikku's Theme (Piano Version)

Back to it with the Celestial Weapons grind. Only three left to go. If you cannot guess by the musical track above, we'll be knocking out Rikku's ultimate weapon in this session. But first, we'll go ahead and clean out the rest of the hidden map locations we unlocked what seems like a lifetime ago.

First up is Mi'ihen Ruins. Which are just the coastal ruins across from the first Rin Travel Agency we encountered and also where Yuna recorded a post-Sin death message to her friends. Remember when Sin was still a threat? I feel like both in-universe and as far as the LP is concerned, it's been over three years since Sin being active in Spira's world was a thing.

We obtain Sonar, a weapon for Rikku obviously, that will be tossed in the trash literally by the end of this update. Neat...?

Which segues nicely into the Mushroom Rock location. This teleports us to the bottom of Mushroom Rock canyon for a treasure box.

Down here we find GODHAND, the ultimate weapon for Rikku. This was the scene you were supposed to show up for at Mushroom Rock, you idiot girl. Auron is backstage and still pissed you walked onto his Celestial Weapon obtaining cutscene like a dipshit. And frankly, everyone on set wants you to stop pulling that stupid doggy-paddle animation. What even is that movement supposed to be?

Just to clear out everything in the northern half of the Spira mainland, Battle Site is a crater left by Sin's gravity well beam that slaughtered the Crusaders back during Operation Mi'ihen. It contains the Phantom Bangle, which allows Lulu to absorb three of the four major elemental damage types. Not bad, I suppose.

Just off the Spira mainland continent (Spira is, in fact, the entire planet. The continent is nameless) we have Bikanel Island with one extra area in the form of Sanubia Sands.

Sanubia Sands brings Tidus to a random dune in the middle of the Sanubia Desert, far off the boundaries of any known part of this godforsaken wasteland. Here, he obtains Ascalon. Go on, take a guess who gets that weapon. I'll give you a moment.

If you guess Tidus, good on you. It has Double AP, for if the player wants to grind with our dope protagonist, but wants nothing to do with any part of Final Fantasy X's Endgame. A much wiser person than I, clearly.

That's new area map clutter cleaned out, outside of Omega Ruins and the Highroad of Bevelle. Now on to the main event! Bikanel Island, former home of the Al Bhed, has been fairly underused during Final Fantasy X's Endgame. Don't worry! That's about to change rather quickly as Rikku's Celestial Weapon Sigil unlocking requirement will erode our patience for this location into a fine dust.

And I already hate desert levels, so I just love this whole bit already...

New Music: The Burning Sands (HD Remaster)

Rin's Airship Teleporter dumps us right next to the oasis where Sin had ejected Tidus following the flight from Macalania Temple. That's still the most patchwork ass portion of the game.

Starting off here is just terrific, since initiating the upcoming side quest is clear across the goddamn desert from here. It's a two minute and twenty-three second walk from the teleporter to our destination. Yes I timed it. With a No Encounter item equipped, of course. This quest takes what feels like foreeeeevvvvveeeerrrrr even without dealing with random battles. I cannot imagine fighting the same pool of about five enemy types roughly 319 times would augment the experience.

Bikanel is broken up into four regions. The Oasis, which is little more than said Oasis and a corridor of dunes leading north. Sanubia-East, which is just another twisting corridor of dunes continuing northish. Sanubia-Central, which is a massive open wasteland that has some ruins to the northwest. And here at Sanubia-West, which is just before the former location of Home. Shouldn't this desert be glassed after that nuclear explosion earlier? It seemed large...

In any case, we already obtained the Mercury Crest in one of the whirlpools around Sanubia-West.

To initiate this side quest, we need to have Tidus inspect a stone marker with a Cactuar engraved on it, not unlike the Qactuar stones in the Thunder Plains. It has quite a bit of writing on it now that we're in the Endgame of this increasingly miserable journey. It reads as follows:

= Song of the Gatekeeper =

10 little gatekeepers
play in the sand.

Tomay's gone.
Gone to fetch the water.

Be back soon.

And so begins the Village of the Cactuars side quest. See that sandstorm down below? That's the Cactuar Village and the Mercury Sigil rests below. In order to calm the sands and let us loot the place to complete Rikku's Godhand, we need to hunt down ten Cactuars scattered across Bikanel Island. That's not gatekeeping at all. But details...

The message on the tablet, Tomay's gone to fetch water, is all we have to go on. That one is at least fairly straight forward. The only water in Sanubia Desert is that Oasis. The only all the fucking way across the goddamned desert we just wasted nearly three minutes crossing to begin this quest. Really endearing way to get the player invested in completing this quest. Square truly were just masters of the craft.

It's saves almost a minute to simply run back to the nearest Save Sphere in Sanubia-Central, board the airship, then immediately teleport back to Bikanel Island again. And when there is this much pointless running around one of the most visually bland regions of an otherwise, fairly nice looking game... you shave off a minute or two where you can.

So here is Tomay, the first of the ten Cactuar gatekeepers. It's just hanging out by the watering hole.

When we approach the gatekeeper Cactuars, we're treated to a little blurb about the mascot character in question. Spoilers: They're all idiots, assholes, or have mental issues. Sometimes a stunning combination of the two.

Which brings us to the next portion of the side quest: The mini-game. Of course there is a trash tier mini-game involved. You didn't think we'd just be allowed to catch one of these fools and be on our way to further progress, now did you?

TLDR: We're playing frikkin' Redlight-Greenlight with these dipshit cactus folk. Tidus is given an allotted time and he must reach the Cactuar in question, with its back turned, within said time-frame.

As Tidus approaches, the Cactuar will scream, in Al Bhed, [Needletime!] and spin around for a few seconds.

If Tidus is moving during this period, he loses and the Cactuar will flee. We're given three shots to complete this mini-game per Cactuar. Should the player fail all three times, they're given a Loser Sphere, because Cactuars are just dickheads like that, and the quest will continue.

We're given a better reward at the end of this quest line, besides the actual objective of the Mercury Sigil, based on how many of these mini-games we can successfully complete. Honestly, it's not remotely worth the effort. But then again, the same could be said about most of the the activities we've been embarking on recently.

Upon successful completion of the Redlight-Greenlight session, we're thrust into the battle with the Cactuar. At which point, we gleefully murder the shit out of the little bastard (or just flee from battle, if you're a chump.)

Or in my case, capture it as slave labor for an old man's bloodsport. Good enough for me. Fuck Cactuars after this quest line. Glad I put that Deathtouch on Wakka's weapon.

With the Cactuar gatekeeper Killed/Captured/Left to Die in the Desert, we get a special green sphere off its corpse.

And then we have to run allllllllll the blood way back to the Cactuar Stone to begin the next phase of the quest. Uuuugh. This quest is so dull and idiotic. Every part of it. This is just busy work. Nobody had fun doing this. Not a goddamn person in their right mind found this enjoyable. Don't even post about how you kind of liked it in the thread. Just take yourself to the nearest dumpster and toss yourself in. It's fun in there too, I'm sure!

Once we slot the newly obtained Sphere into the Cactuar Stone, we're given the next clue in the side quest. Rovivea's gone walkabout... Gee. Thanks for the hint. Don't give it all away at once.

Thankfully, “Gone walkabout” doesn't mean it's randomly cruising across the entire desert. It's just hanging out in a side sand dune in Sanubia-East. Only a good two minute walk back here. Saved us thirty seconds of nothing. Thanks, FFX!

So Rovivea seems to be a Republican MRA Racist Cactuar that hates dogs. They changed the details in the translation's localization and left out all those key details. Nasty business. We should probably go ahead and kill him.

No tricks with this one. It's just a slightly longer distance to travel in order to finish the job.

Our next hint is extremely vague unless you've been clicking on every sign in the area for background fluff. There are Al Bhed markers across Sanubia Desert pointing the way to the former sign of Home. I didn't mention them when we were here proper, because who cares? Also, I completely purged the details of this side quest from my memory over the years. So too shall I once this update is posted. Though the resentment toward Cactuar will undoubtedly linger.

It just so happens there a signpost quite near by to the Cactuar Stone that has some additional writing on it, beyond just directions/monster warnings.

[Danger! Strong fiend in vicinity!]
20% Off All Travel Agency Goods!

Are you counting down the seconds you have to live, ya little turd...?

Who diagnosed this Cactuar with ADD? Is there a Cactuar Psychiatrist out in the desert? This opens up so many questions...

Chava is the first of the semi-gimmicky mini-game Cactuar. Having attention deficit disorder translates in gameplay terms to it constantly turning around and turning back during the 13 seconds we have to sneak up on it. Sadly, Chava will not be learning how to count to 51.

Next up is a twofer and a fairly easy hint, seeing as there are only one ruins in all of Sanubia and the rest is the same endless brown sand texture for miles.

We find these two knuckleheads running around the ruins of Sanubia-Central.

So are Cactuar... birthed? I hadn't considered such a thing and I did not need that mental image in my head... Ugh... Let's just kill these guys and move on.

Alek and Aloja, despite being two jerks to contend with, really do move in-sync. So the mini-game portion isn't much trouble.

The real trouble is that the Cactuar brothers automatically get initiative in the battle against them and will immediately murder two of our party members with 10,000 Needles. Getting a party wipe against the side quest Cactuar still counts as a Game Over and they use 10,000 Needles every time they get a turn. Rude, is what that is...

I had no qualms with running Alek through with Tidus as his younger brother watched in horror before being struck down. If I had my way, I'd have Cid drop another missile barrage on the entire Cactuar Village. No one would miss them.

Next hint: A bit vague. So besides the sky, what is shining and blue in this endless expanse of early 2000s brown?

If you guessed, the Save Spheres then you are a clever fella. However, Final Fantasy X specifically wants the Save Sphere all the way back in Sanubia-East because fuck you.

We'll just gonna go ahead and save our game. We need to engage with the Save Sphere to trigger our objective. Pfft. Yeah, I wish I had only wasted 51 hours and change on Final Fantasy X.

As soon as we exit the Save Sphere menu, we're greeted by this asshole, Vachella.

Vachella is by far the biggest pain in the ass to successfully complete the Redlight-Greenlight mini-game on because the little prick is almost constantly facing Tidus with second to half second long intervals where it will face away. This requires the player be damn well near frame perfect on advancing and stopping.

You're allowed to screw up a single one of the mini-games and still get the best prize. I'd suggest taking a dive on this one. I think they made it as assholish as possibly simply because it's triggered from a save point and you can quickly reload. I know it took me a good 20 tries and I had a save state at the start of the event to speed-up replays.

Next up we have... err... I hope this isn't some kind of weird sex thing... I'm not pulling a Cactuar out of some pervert Al Bhed's anus... I have my limits.

The cryptic hint is actually referring to a treasure chest way on the far western end of Sanubia-Central.


Yep... Yeah... this totally was some fucked up sex act gone awry. “Needletime” is actually this Cactuar's safe-word.

Robeya's only gimmick is there are treasure chests on the field. They all contain garbage vendor trash contents and hell if I am prolonging this side quest any more than required.

Not sure what the fiery inscription part is about, but the only place with holes in Sanubia Desert is the whirlpools here in Sanubia-West.

Unfortunately, since Final Fantasy X is such a well put together game (can you tell my opinion of this dumb RPG has been bottoming out here in the Endgame yet ), the newest Cactuar gatekeeper won't spawn into the area until Tidus exits and re-enters the region so it can properly load in.

Really, Square? You couldn't just stick a trigger flag at the bottom of a sand trap? You straight up just did that for the sign in this same area twenty minutes ago.

Translation: Issra is a pothead. Full stop.

This Cactuar keeps turned around for a solid 8 of the 15 seconds we're given to reach its position. Which is simply not enough time to do this the normal way.

Instead, the trick here is that the two whirlpools on the field are connected by an invisible tunnel, which allows Tidus to sneak in close undetected before going in for the kill. I like how the quicksand here amounts to little more than a moving texture and not any manner of actual hazard.

Now it's time for a pain in the ass. Elio has left on a journey is not much to go on.

But if we return all the way back to the Oasis at the start of Bikanel Island (no cheating skipping ahead to the airship this time, it can messes up the trigger and forces you to exit and re-enter the area), then we'll find our wayward Cac—

Hey wait! Excuse me?! That little shit did not just fucking stowaway on our airship!

GodDAMMIT! I am sick and tired off all these Cactuar!

Hey, did any of you brain-dead muppets see a walking cactus dart through here? It was about two feet tall, bright green, had all of five frames of animation...? No? Nothing? Thanks a bunch, crew. Glad you're all on the ball.

Yeah, that's great Kimahri. I'd like to do nothing better. But there's a rogue cactus monster on board and we do not want those little bastards spreading to the Spira mainland.

If we travel all the way to the top of the Fahrenheit and clamber out onto the ship, which has taken off and begun flying in circles for no readily apparent reason. Good thing our airship has infinite reserves of fuel. Wouldn't want to begin searching for alternate energy sources like say the spirit energy of the dead floating all over Spira. That would be... unfortunate.

Well, well, well... Who do we have here...? Tickets please, sir.

Ugh. You don't even want to see Elio's Deviantart page. 10,000 needles has a much different meaning in its fan-fictions.

This penultimate Cactuar's gimmick is every time it says [Needletime] and turns, the Fahrenheit tilts wildly with a eye-straining blur effect. Apparently, Elio slipped something into Brother's drink on the bridge and that idiot is fucking for an aerial DUI at this rate. PUI? Is there a term for getting arrested for drunken piloting?

Have a nice flight, shitlord!

Returning the Elio Sphere to the Cactuar Stone gives us our final hint: Flaile is always behind. That sounds ominous.

Ugh. Goddammit! Who left the door open and let Flaile in here again?

Unlike the last few Cactuar, Flaile doesn't have any sort of gimmick. It just is fairly rapid with its turns and talking about how much it likes The Big Bang Theory.

That's enough dealing with Cactuars for one lifetime, thank you very much.

With the last of the Cactuar Gatekeepers sent off this mortal coil, we can now complete the Cactuar Stone. It reads back all the hints we'd been given. Previously it would say things like:

Rovivea's gone walkabout. Be back soon.

Now it reads:

Rovivea's gone walkabout. Gone for good.

And the corresponding sphere's light dims on the Cactuar Stone. I spare you all going through all nine (and like fifty button presses) to make it through this sequence of Final Fantasy X: Dirge of Cactuar.

With the passing of the Cactuar guardians, the sandstorm over Cactuar Village dissipates and the path to finishing this side quest (and getting the hell of Bikanel Island forever) is at hand.

Despite the claims of this being a Cactuar Village, it's really only a valley with a load of standard cacti and the random encounter pool being switched entirely to nothing but Cactuars. You'll just have to use your imagination as to the daily life and strange sexual deviancy performed in this village under normal circumstances.

The Mercury Sigil, the last piece of Rikku's Godhand collection, is now ours.

And capping off the Cactuar Village side quest, a second treasure chest contains our prize for our efforts. I eventually after many save state restarts managed to collect all nine Cactuar spheres, so we got the best prize of... a Friend Sphere. This lets a character teleport to any other character's position on the Sphere Grid.

Yep... That was 100% not worth all the effort. For the record, the prizes are as follows:
Again. Very much not worth it to bust your ass on...

Now then, let's take yet another trip back to the Seed of Destruction and complete Rikku's Celestial Weapon.

Rikku, steadily approaching the end of Final Fantasy X wherein all her intelligence goes straight out the window and she becomes Nowe levels of a spastic dumbass by Final Fantasy X-2, decides wearing her Celestial Weapon and holding it up on one leg for twenty seconds is the best method to power it up.

The weapon will just float up and receive its upgrade, you dunce. We've done this no less than four times already.

Alongside the usual Triple Overdrive and Break Damage Limit, Rikku's Godhand also gets double the AP and Gillionaire, which will double the amount of Gil earned in battles Rikku participates in. I suppose that make sense of the Thief Class stand-in character.

Rikku's Godhand damage modifier is the same as Kimahri's Spirit Lance:

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

Unlike most of the crests, the Mercury Crest was not used to break any damage caps for Yuna's aeons. It's solely used for powering up Rikku's weapon since Bahamut already had his damage cap raised by default.

That does it for yet another Celestial Weapon. Only two remain. They both suck! Not that any of them have been within the same timezone as good so far. Stay tuned for more trip reports from the purgatory I dwell within known as the Final Fantasy X Endgame...

Video: Episode 108 Highlight Reel
(Recommended Viewing)

Cactuar Concept Art