The Let's Play Archive

Final Fantasy X

by The Dark Id

Part 93: Episode LXXXIV: Train My Chocobo

Music: Yuna's Determination

Alright, enough lollygagging. Back to the pilgrimage. Except... 99% of The Calm Lands is just optional bullshit and the actual mandatory content is just walking west a bit, then northeast for ten minutes.

With that in mind, we'll now be heading northwest to the edge of the world...

...quite literally. Turns out the Calm Lands is not a great big open field. It's a moderate sized plateau perched thousands of feet above a sheer drop to a vast arid wasteland. If you look at a map of Spira, that low resolution skybox actually occupies about half the northern half of the main continent. This field the gameplay takes on is the other half. The world geography to in-game depiction is a wee bit off-scale.

Oh yeah, there's an Al Bhed Primer left behind by some unfortunate soul that undoubtedly toppled off the side and cratered below. It states that [F = W]. Fydlr ouin cdab.

A bit to the east of the Al Bhed Primer we find an asshole of a woman strutting about on a chocobo and chastising Tidus on being a chocoboless peasant. That is just rude, lady!

”I wanna ride that chocobo.”
"Well, these plains are home to lots of wild chocobos. First we must train them to be dependable mounts. I'm training some chocobos now, but they're not quite tame yet. I'm sorry I can't lend you any. Walking might be faster than waiting for one of my chocobos."
”Put me in coach, lemme train that chocobo!”
"That's easier said than done. It's not that simple, you know. You're sure you want to try?"
”Gas 'em up with the greens and let him go. Stand back, stand clear as he puts on a show! So cute yet fierce, is he from hell?! I cannot tell, yet I don't even want to know!”
“Is that a yes...?”
“Are we in hell? I don't know... to the dirt, let's roll!”

"All right. Come with me."

Music: Brass de Chocobo

“Just get from where you are to where I am before time runs out.”

“Press (D-pad left) and (D-pad right) to steer it between my chocobo and me. Keep and eye on the clock and try not to miss the finish line. Don't hesitate to ask me about chocobos if you need help, okay? Let's begin, shall we? We'll shoot for 0:12:8. Ready?"
”Whaaat? You're like a half mile away, lady...”

Alright. So who is up for a shitty mini-game? Well, it's Final Fantasy X so it's shitty mini-games all the way down.

This one is a real fucker. As the chocobo trainer woman said, this chocobo is wild. So while it will automatically advance forward down the course, it will also veer off whatever the hell direction it feels like at any time. It's up to Tidus/the player to steer it back in the right direction while getting below par on the time.

Hitting any of the balloons at the edge of the course will penalize Tidus and cause him to fail the trial. Since training an animal is a binary activity with a fail state. That's how it works, right? The chocobo trainer just yanks this untamed chocobo out back and puts a Yevon sanctioned rifle round in the back of its head before Tidus tries again with a new chicken-steed. Fucked up, I know...

Music: Victory Fanfare

In any case, I managed to complete the training challenge my first try with 3/10ths of a second to spare!

There's a bunch more to this chocobo racing course mini-game but fuck that noise for now. We've got a chocobo to ride and negate the overly high random battle rate in this area. That's good enough for today. We'll be back some other time. Probably with a fresh bottle of bourbon by my side...

The key thing is that from now one we can talk to the chocobo trainer woman at any time to ride the Calm Lands with style. Well... as much style as you can muster with a chicken-horse. Now that we don't have to worry about being bombarded by random battles every five steps, we can properly explore the rest of the Calm Lands.

If we head to the central most northern point of the Calm Lands, control will be wrestled away from us as a random NPC with no function but to tell us about this cliff landmark will err... well... tell us about this cliff landmark.

Music: Someday the Dream Will End

I feel like there was supposed to be a longer, more dramatic scene here considering the music and every trotting out to get a gander at The Scar. But nope. The party just takes the time to zone out for a spell and we're off again!

If we speak with the fellow giving exposition for travelers in the middle of nowhere again, he'll mention corpses in the Calm Lands just get dumped down here since any summoners out here got better shit to do. He speculates there might be a mess of fiends at the bottom. Nothing ever comes of that in the original version of the game. The super boss unlocked by defeating all the Dark Aeons, Penance, is chilling down there in further revisions of the game.

But that's nothing we're going to worry about about cuz fuck the revisions! Keeping it real with the OG Final Fantasy Xperience!

Our next optional destination is due east – well east...ish. The Calm Lands is poked with obnoxious invisible walls cracks in the earth that make travel on the northern parts difficult. Dismounting our chocobo (we trained it remember? It'll stay put) here will let us travel to a side section splitting off from the main area.

New Music: Brave Advancement

Welcome to The Monster Arena! Another big, awful time sink of Final Fantasy X's end game. This withered old man will explain. So I'll let him take over for a bit.

“You can hone your battle skills here by fighting fiends gathered from all over Spira! But... the fiends all got away because I, uh, screwed up.”
”Don't like where this is going...”
“I'm too old to gather fiends now, so I'm in quite a fix... So, that's where you come in, sonny! Can I ask you to round up all the fiends for me? Of course, I'm not asking you to do it for free. There'll be nice, fat rewards! On top of that, you can hone your fighting skills anytime against the fiends you bring back here! In addition, any items you win during training are yours to keep for free!”
”...Real generous, man.”
“But, there will be a small fee for each training session, so bear that in mind. How about it? Not a bad deal, eh? You won't regret it!”
“Hold up a sec, I'm gonna go get Auron to glare at you.”

So hey, you know how Final Fantasy X has a shit pool of random encounter enemies they've just been palette swapping more shamelessly than an 8-bit game to save time/effort? You'd think they wouldn't draw attention to the fact they got lazy as shit in that department jumping to the next generation of platforms. Maybe don't put a light that even Final Fantasy VII had more random battle enemy types than this game. But here we are with Final Fantasy X during the peak of Square's hubris before it all came crashing down.

So how does going back and murdering capturing one of every single type of lazy copy and pasted with a new set of paint creature in each region we've traveled thus far sound? Like a terrible idea that belongs in some shitty MMORPG that got shut down a couple years back? Right you are! But here is Final Fantasy X thinking this is a capital idea. But wait! There's more!

“But I've one more warning before I can let you go. To catch a fiend, you have to defeat it with a special kind of weapon! But not to worry! I'll sell them to you for a special low price! Also, this arena can only hold ten of each kind of fiend. There won't be any bonuses for capturing more, so keep an eye on your totals! I need you to start by collecting each species in the Calm Lands. I can't reopen the arena without having some fiends, you know. By the way, there's a total of nine species in the Calm Lands. I'll give you a bonus when you get all of them.”
“...Nah. I'm good...”
“Oh! Before I forget, you have to use a special kind of weapon to catch them! I'll sell some to you at a special price! No, no! No need to thank me.”

In addition to being just the busiest of padded busywork this side of any given open-world Ubisoft game's sidequests, you've got to drop 9075 per character to even acquire a weapon capable of capturing monsters. This is the only place in the game to acquire weapons with the Capture ability. They all only have a single additional ability slot. So they're all basically equivalent to the party's default weapons. Weaker in some cases since Auron or Kimahri's ones lack the Piercing ability that 99% of these two character's weapons have by default.

Yep, no Pokeball or magic spells to capture fiends. You've got to weaken them enough and then land a killing blow with one of these overpriced unique weapons to do the deed!

Fuck this side quest and fuck this old man! We're out of here!

If that wasn't enough tedious side quests for your tastes, don't worry! There's even more! The Calm Lands are the epicenter of bullshit in Spira. Clearly, most summoners lose their way simply by seeing all this end game hot garbage and going “Fuck this noise! This world deserves Sin.”

With our newly acquired chocobo, we can return to the south by the road to Macalania/Bevelle and use the chocobo's limited flight capabilities to pass a broken bridge to yet another optional area.

Remember Belgemine mentioned she was going to go hang out at Remiem Temple after our last aeon duel against her? Well, welcome to Belgemine's pad! I guess wandering aeon exhibition duelist summoner pays pretty well.

For a near launch PS2 title, this temple does have some fairly impressive looking architecture. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay content of this locations leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Crossing the bridge to the temple proper, we've given a save point and paths stretching east and west. Well, in relation to this map at least. I'm fairly sure to the left of where we're facing is north. But details... There's no random battles in this location. So we can explore at our leisure. Let's take a look to the left first. Always start left.

Here we find a chocobo idling by a goal post. At its feet is a audio log sphere. That's a bit ominous to find in an abandoned temple, if you ask me. But let's take a look...

“You, who are listening to this, you have been accepted as a true rider. It is a chocobo custom that one must have a rider to challenge the champion chocobo that stands near this sphere. Mount the bridled chocobo waiting on the opposite side of the temple. Once you are astride the challenger, the race will begin!”

Right... So there's another chocobo race in the Calm Lands. Who set this up...? Did the chocobos do it themselves? Have they gained sapience? Should Spira be worried about a chocobo uprising after centuries of enslavement as beasts of burden? The answer to this and more is: this is just a poorly thought out mini-game. Don't worry about it.

First things first, another Al Bhed Primer. It turns out [Q = X!] Drec ibtyda duug y frema palyica E druikrd ypuid fnedehk ypuid kutyfvim sehe-kysac eh dra Lyms Myhtc yht zicd tavmydat, ubdehk du tu cusadrehk vih ehcdayt. Oygiwy 5 ec kuut. Ku bmyo dryd ehcdayt uv drec creddo kysa.

On the far side of the scenic Remiem Temple balcony, we discover Tidus has become a Chocobo Whisperer and communes with the beasts.

Tidus asks the chocobo itself directly for instructions on how to perform this mini-game. It's all text, but I like to imagine the chocobo just WARKing in Tidus' face repeatedly while he strokes his chin and nods.

Music: Brass de Chocobo

So it's a race to the center of the the race maze beneath Remiem Temple between Tidus and his chocobo versus the rival chocobo on the opposite side. Getting treasure chests along the way (while still winning) will result in better prizes. Hitting poles will negate a treasure chest. Blah blah blah.

It sucks. The mini-map is useless. There's no tricks to it other than knowing beforehand exactly what to do and executing it properly. It's a dumb mini-game. But thankfully you don't really have to engage with if you don't want to.

Yay. I won. I did it. I am the superior chocobosman. Winning just the one time with no treasure chests involved gets the only particularly relevant prize:

The Cloudy Mirror. What does that do? Well, we've run into a couple mirrors and sigils in-game so far and they're all involved in end game super weapons business we're not getting into on this day. We'll just remember it's in our possession and never touch chocobo racing again. Unless you're one of those sad souls that feels compelled to platinum trophy games. They locked one behind getting every single treasure in this race shitshow. Good luck with that, you damned souls you... I'm out!

With Remiem Temple's chocobo racing out of the way, let's take a look at the temple proper. There's a big flashy light show upon entering the temple. But eh... it was just there for show for visiting pilgrims back in the temple's heyday. We're free to waltz right on in when it's over.

Music: Fog Sea

“What is this place?”

“Once a great religious center in the Calm Lands, lost after the battle with Sin.”
*crosses arms* “And this is your home? What, you got something against company?”
“It’s a long story. Easier, perhaps, to show you?”
”You sure you're not going to go with vague allusions...? Seems to be popular in Spira.”

”Is everyone in Spira gonna turn out to be dead? Is that gonna be a thing? Are you all dead? Is this a ghost land with like different tiers of ghost folks..?”
“Don’t send me just yet. There is still one thing left for me to do here. With the help I can give, a young summoner might just be able to defeat Sin. Well, Yuna?”

So this is yet another sidequest! Like I said, the Calm Lands are lousy with 'em. Belgemine will now have an aeon duel with each of the aeons Yuna has collected up to this point. This is sort of a two-parter sidequest that feeds into another larger quest.

Right now we can take on upgraded versions of Belgemine's Valefor, Ifrit, Ixion, Shiva, and Bahamut. If Yuna can defeat all five of the default aeons, she'll win a prize that is one of three keys to unlocking this temple. Yes, we've hit all the official pilgrimage temples and are on our way to Zanarkand. But that doesn't mean that is all the aeons in Spira.

Frankly, Yuna (and by extension her aeons) are not strong enough to take on this sidequest just yet. At our current level, Trogdor was barely able to tank just Valefor long enough to pop off Megaflare and Valefor is terrible. To make no mention of trying to have Shiva Nora take on a well leveled Bahamut.

For now we'll make do with just initiating the quest and remembering it's here. There's no reason to bang our heads against it now. The rewards are just mediocre crap and no AP. The undead Belgemine forks over four Lightning Gems and will wait patiently for us to return another day to meet her challenge.

The reason we want to eventually defeat complete the ghost zombie summoner's boss rush is that it will unlock one of three keys sealing Remiem Temple. Behind that door is a hidden fayth that will grant Yuna the final aeon (as in last obtainable, not the one in Zanarkand. Totally different!) in Final Fantasy X. There are two other optional aeons we'll need to track down at a later date as well beforehand. And that is partially another bit of the extensive end game trainwreck.

Anyway, that's a wrap of Remiem Temple and the greater Calm Lands sidequest misery tour. Feel free to discuss how much you love all this content in the thread.

With that whirlwind look at some of the worst content in Final Fantasy X, let's continue north! Where plot progress and a forgettable filler boss monster-of-the-day challenger awaits!

Episode 84 Highlight Reel

Calm Lands Rock Formation Concept Art

The Scar Concept Art

Remiem Temple Concept Art