The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy X

by The Dark Id

Part 120: Episode CX: Our Celestial Release

This is it, folks. The final Celestial Weapon update! Our long national nightmare is nearly at its end. And I can probably go back to updating more frequently since the actual playing of Final Fantasy X no longer makes me want to drown myself in alcohol after each session.

Our final excursion will be taking us to yet another Calm Lands visit. There sure are a lot of side quests that involve this region. It's almost like they designed it first and got less ambitious as other areas were laid out or something.

Today we'll be tackling Tidus' Celestial Weapon and almost the entirety of it will involve this woman right here: The Chocobo Trainer. I mean Tidus has blonde hair. Chocobos are yellow... I mean Kimahri's thing was catching blue butterflies for the big blue cat man. At least they're staying fairly consistent. Mostly in being terrible bullshit.

Before we begin, let's take a quick trip to the farthest northwestern corner of the Calm Lands region. As it turns out, there's a little slope leading along the edge of the Scar. If we poke around there...

This random asshole is hanging out just round the corner and will immediately shoo Tidus away if he attempts to advance down the path. What the hell, dude?

“I'm not moving. Well, unless something really unique happens, that is.”

So this rando literally in the ass end of nowhere has been assigned by an unknown third party to just... stand watch on this small cliff-side crevice in the corner of those desolate wasteland and make sure nobody passes. That is his entire existence. Standing here shooing away the everyone Tidus until we hit the proper flag trigger SOMETHING unique happens. That is the laziest goddamn excuse for blocking off a critical path this game has pulled.


I write that and instantly remember the lady blocking the path to the Seed of Resurrection until we reunited that dipshit family. At least that had a small reason for existing in directing us to the random magic spore that powered up our weapons. This is just garbage. Tidus, just shove the old man into the pit, you've already directly or been accessory to no less than 50 Yevon acolyte murders. You've already reached five stars on your wanted level here and all guards will attack on sight. You cannot break the law any harder. One more dead old man won't tank your karma stat further. I mean we still need to off Mika here soon.

Ugh. Whatever. Fiiiiine! We'll return later. Back to the side quest at hand: Chocobo Training. I've discussed Final Fantasy X's End Game with quite a few people in the rather lengthy time this LP has existed in some incarnation or another. Everyone who has thrown away their sanity and attempted to climb this garbage heap of content always has one they absolutely hated and thought was impossible garbage. They also usually have one they breezed through with little difficulty. And then there's Blitzball, which is universally a 5-6 hour indefensible chore.

Chocobo Training, along with Lighting Dodging, are two that I never remotely had a problem with accomplishing. This thing is still an absolute clusterfuck of poor design decisions, bad controls, and RNG bullshit antics that you'd think any play-testers would have called out as a pile of rubbish. But here we are...

New Music: Chocobo Jam (HD Remaster Version)
(See a big dumb bombastic remix of this is pretty alright)

You'll recall we did the first part of Chocobo Training in our original romp through the Calm Lands wherein Tidus rode a drunken chicken-horse in the allotted time and that somehow gave him the ability to ride chocobos like a champ at will. Well, it's time to dig through the other trials the Chocobo Trainer lady has in store for us. First up is Dodger Chocobo.

“But watch out for incoming balls! Dodge them with < and >.”
”Uhh... did I hear 'incoming balls'...?”
“Yes. Incoming balls.”
*snicker* “Yeah, sure... Just checking.”

“Your chocobo will be stunned if he's hit, so do your best to avoid them! Let's begin, shall we? We'll shoot for 0:16.8.”

As a refresher here, we've got to make it across the course. The chocobo Tidus is riding will automatically advance forward. Our only controls are moving it from right to left. This chocobo is in AA and will run straight. Balls are involved. The controls for this mini-game, even with a non-drunk Chocobo, are still, for a lack of a better phrase, muddy. The chocobo does not turn on a dime, it sort of quickly pivots left or right and there's a curve on its turns and it is just kind of a mess. Think sort of original Resident Evil tank controls. Only the tank is stuck moving forward at all times.

And by “balls” they, of course, mean blitzballs. Apparently, the Chocobo Trainer has installed blitzball cannons at the far end of the canyon for this exercise. As such, blitzballs will fire at our chocobo mount at regular intervals in three consecutive shots with each volley.

Blitzballs, above water, evidently have sort of latent homing power, so they will straight up curve to hit Tidus's chocobo in the face if they're even a bit in their path. Which is kind of bullshit, if you ask me.

But really, this trial is pretty easy if the chocobo just banks to the right or left hard as the first ball is shot and keeps a steady diagonal course until the last ball fires. Serpentine!

Not the greatest score. But who cares, considering I haven't touched this mini-game in almost three months. This only took me three tries to get back into the groove of the muddy controls and wonky hitboxes. The nice thing about this mini-game is it only lasts about 20-50 seconds and you can instantly restart it if ya shit the bed. The same can definitely not be said about nearly any other mini-game offering in the trash heap.

The Chocobo Trainer forks over a Level 1 Keysphere for our victory and unlocks the next challenge course. Hyper Dodger Chocobo! I'm sure that sounds much less silly in Japanese. Let's hear what this is all about...

Shit's gonna be flying at you. Dodge? I dunno. You figure it out. Our target score is 0:18.5. I'm not even sure why there is the minute digit since no target score falls over 60 seconds.

So the balls and “things” here are a bit of an understatement. Same course and length to travel. Chocobo still sober. Only instead of there being three consecutive ball shots...

...There is one shot that turns into like a hit-scan explosion of three or four blitzballs where it lands. Meaning if Tidus and his steed or within about 3-4 ball lengths from where the projected path of the ball will strike, he's gonna get hit. Now the “things” part is...

BIRDS! Giant suicidal sea gulls are diving bombing Tidus' position like the ball cannons did the previous round. Only they are much quicker, come at regular 2 second intervals, and aim directly for Tidus' position as soon as they spawn on the map edge. We need to be moving diagonally from the right edge to the left edge of the map at all times or else it will turn into Far Cry 4 up in here in short order. Birds are universally jerks, without fail.

This one can be a bit tricky as the bird's timing is not constant and a bad combination of a blitzball cannon shot, a bird spawn, and being too close to the edge can all come together for a good ol' fashioned RNG gang-bang situation. This one took me five or six tries? Again, it's only 20 seconds an attempt and if you get hit more than twice, you've done goofed so don't bother trying too hard to salvage it. Obviously I got a pretty lucky run my successful go around.

“Race me! Challenge me anytime. I love a good race. Ah, I almost forgot! Here's your prize!”
*Obtained Level 2 Keysphere!*

Now this is the real deal and the hard part of this whole side quest: Catcher Chocobo. I am not sure what they were going for there with that name... I'll let Ms. Trainer explain.

“This is the starting line. And the finish line is the far right edge of the plain over there. Yes, over there.”

“But that's not all. Each balloon you pick up along the way shaves three seconds off your final time. But each bird that hits you adds three seconds to your final time. We take the total time, subtract bonuses, and add penalties to decide the outcome of the race. So even if I reach the finish line first, you can still win if you catch enough balloons. That's all for now. Let's race, shall we?”

I feel like it's weird there were two tutorial challenges against blitzballs, which is not a factor in the real deal race, but zero for collecting balloons, which is now the single most important factor of the final challenge. Also an entirely new, much more advanced course when previously it was merely making it across a straight gap. I'm fairly certain they just designed this race and then worked backwards, half-assed it, and thought it was ehh... good enough.

Concept creation before proper implementation seems like a common theme in these shit tier side quests all around.

So the big thing about this race is that you are almost entirely at the mercy of RNG here. The balloon spawns are not static. They randomly shift into several configurations each race and we need to completely quit out of the whole affair, not just retry after failing, to get a new, hopefully more desirable spread.

That this shot above is really good RNG for us, as all the balloons are mostly directly in Tidus' path. Moving slight at all to the right or left at the opening stretch will almost certainly give the trainer the edge to get ahead and she will scoop up all the balloons leaving Tidus jack shit. The randomized layout can have almost the exact opposite and Tidus will get exactly dick for balloons since Ms. Trainer will be slightly ahead and gather them all. Fuck you. Try again.

At the bottom of the first hill is a extremely awkward turn around the bed 180 degrees. The chocobo automatically advances forward around the curve, but the actual geometry of the level means we can get slightly caught, or have Ms. Trainer scoot in front and block us if we hit it wrong. But, if Tidus is too far out, the chocobo will make a wide turn and leave us behind in the race, as Trainer always takes it fairly close in.

In this next stretch, the balloons get even more random and now completely fucking random duos of birds start kamikaze diving Tidus and (a lot less frequently) the rival trainer. There's like a second long window to react to the birds. Just moving in one direction for a second is enough to evade 'em. But there's no telling if the game will throw three rounds of birds in quick succession as we're hitting the invisible wall boundaries. There is just no pattern and the game can decide to give us the big ol' middle finger at any time. Remember, getting hit by a bird is the same as losing a balloon bonus PLUS Tidus is stunned for a good couple seconds. I guess we should be thankful Chocobos don't pick up momentum as the course goes along.

At the far end of the canyon, the chocobo race takes a hard left turn to the final stretch. The bird assault calms down slightly here. Balloons can be generous or downright spartan. Who knows! It's a mystery every time! I'm sure there's some deep analysis of their spawning patterns and some arcane diagram hidden from human eyes as to what dictates every part of this dopey game. I don't care or respect it enough to dig into its intricacies. It's some random ass bullshit and is presented as nothing more than that to the player.

Maybe it's just confirmation bias, but it seems a small mercy that the birds seem far more likely to bomb both Tidus and the trainer at the home stretch than the clear anti-Tidus agenda in the middle heat.

I won by just a hair. But remember, this is not a normal race. This is a silly nonsense race formulated by a mentally unstable woman whose only friends are wild horse-birds out in the farthest reaches from civilization. So we need to tally our suicidal bird collisions and balloon fighter skills.

And results are in, you got fuckin' smoked lady. Your chocobo is deep-fried now, it got so badly burned. Suck it, lady! This trial took four shots maybe? One being a total wash due to bad RNG, a couple I beefed with birds, and winning run.

For winning the fourth and final challenge, we receive a Level 3 Keysphere to go along with the previous two. A whole set!

But that's not all. Final Fantasy X fails to inform us, as it has stopped caring about any players who have failed to purchase an official guide for $19.99 and visited for the hottest Squaresoft tips. But something has changed with our recent victory.

Much like the Macalania Star Road herald vanishing from this mortal plain after the side quest involving her obnoxious blocking of our path, the loser barring progress back in the northwestern part of the Calm Lands has gone AWOL. I can only hope he toppled over into the Calm Lands Scar below to join the corpse pile of failed summoners at the bottom. I mean the alternative is a passing Marlboro found him and violated every orifice on his body before devouring him whole. And it's not like this side quest is over yet or anything.

In any case, at the bottom of this hidden path, we find a glyph that reacts to the trusty Celestial Mirror.

Might I add that the supposed Celestial Mirror looks not a goddamn thing like any sort of mirror, now that we finally get a close look without its setting off a flash grenade in everyone's faces. Thankfully, this is the final time we ever need to use this mass of glass and menu prompts for all of Final Fantasy X!

The glyph reacts in turn and vanishes, depositing the... Caladbolg...? Excuse me...? That's the name you're going with for the main character's ultimate weapon? Saladborg? What does that even mean...?!

Final Fantasy Wiki posted:

Caladbolg ("hard cleft"), sometimes written Caladcholg ("hard blade"), is the sword of Fergus mac Róich from the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. It was sometimes used in plural to mean "great swords", and might also refer to Excalibur. It appears in Welsh mythology. In some legends it is said to slice the tops off hills.

...Right. Tidus doesn't strike me as particularly Irish. This was just called Ultima Weapon in the Japanese version and quite a few other regions' localization. Not sure what possessed them to alter it into something so dumbass sounding. Alas, I'm fourteen years too late to find a woman at fault to go lead a harassment campaign against for molesting my video game weapon translation in such an unspeakable fashion.

We already got the Sun Crest back in Yunalesca's pocket dimension after we slew her in Zanarkand. Are you playing the PAL or HD Remaster Versions? Tough luck, you need to battle Dark Bahamut now before it'll spawn. I guess they felt the Sun Sigil was quite tedious enough for FFX Endgame standards.

You may notice we're back at Ms. Chocobo Trainer. While we have completed all of her challenges, we still have one more objective we need to burn through for her. Just beating her in a Chocobo Catcher race is one thing. In order to unlock the Sun Sigil, which is also found in this side quest, we must utterly destroy her in a race. Time wise at least!

In order to obtain the Sun Sigil, we need to win Chocobo Racing with a time of 0:00.0 seconds. This means finishing the course in 36 seconds, collecting at least 13 balloons along the way, and hitting no more than a single bird. That's the bare minimum need to get a score of 0:00.0. The actual time must be -0:01.0 though the timer doesn't go under 0:00.0 Hitting 0:00.0 on the dot doesn't count in the original Japanese and NA version because fuck you!

My time was 0:35.1 + 3 seconds for the bird penalty.
0:38.1 – (16 * 3) = -0:10.1 second. Not too shabby bad! That took ehh... six or seven tries? I've got my winning run down at the end of the update. Give it watch. For breaking our personal best score, we get a Turbo Ether. But more importantly...

“Wait! I have something special for you. I never thought I'd see the day that someone would actually achieve a perfect time! Here you go. I don't know what it's for, but I've heard it's priceless.”

And here we have it, ladies and gentlemen, the final Celestial Weapon Sigil! Behold its majesty, as our long national nightmare comes to an end. That entire side quest only took me about 40 minutes. I'll take it!

I'll also never have to ride a chocobo again. In Final Fantasy X, at least. Spoilers: I'll never play any part of this game ever again once this LP is finished.

With the ugh... Caladbolg and both sigils in our possession, it's time for one final stroll back to the Seed of Resurrection for some menu prompt selecting and ultimate weapon augmentation!

Ooooh yeah. That's the stuff. Look at that screenshot. Just fucking look at it! It's beautiful! I am DONE with the Celestial Weapons side quests! It's finally fuckin' over! Ohh sweet release...

Tidus' Ultima Weapon Caladbolg comes with the usual Break Damage Limit and Triple Overdrive. He's also got Evade and Counter and a new one, Magic Counter. Pretty much if Tidus ever gets hit and is still breathing, he'll counter attack from now on.

Same damage calculation as Wakka/Kimahri/Rikku's weapons:
(10 + [100 * Tidus' current HP ÷ Tidus' Max HP]) ÷ 110

That's it! There is now light at the end of the tunnel! It's just the Omega Ruins, which are a big fat nothing, and we can finally get back on course to Final Fantasy X have a plot again! I don't know about you fools, but I'm excited!

Stay tuned!

Video: Chocobo Catcher Race
(Recommended Viewing)