Part 18: Episode 9 - Things to Do in Spira When You're UnsentEpisode 9 - Things to Do in Spira When You're Unsent
Welcome back. We've reached our opportunity to do exploration in Chapter 2. Sadly, Chapter 2 is far and away the weakest of the five. An infestation of sub-par minigames has sprung up across the world, and the main plot has been deliberately obscured in order to force us to see all of them. Most of the World Map locations have a Mission, but no Hotspot! for this very reason. Leblanc's not a compelling enough antagonist to carry the chapter through these doldrums.
So let's see what there is to do.
We can pop down to Besaid to find the Aurochs training outside the town. Makes sense; there's no random battles inside. Note that the Aurochs will all be sharing a dialogue thumbnail. They're not interesting enough to get their own.
So you gave the sphere to the Youth League, ya?
Ya, we knew you were on our side!
So you returned the sphere to New Yevon?
Why'd you do a thing like that?
What do you mean?
The Besaid Aurochs have all joined the Youth League.
Well, officially, at least. And, uh, Wakka hasn't joined up yet.
Can't blame him, ya? His kid's popping out any minute you know. Now's not the time for him to be fussing around with politics.
This is basically the attitude we'll find on Besaid. It's far enough removed from the conflict, and Yuna is enough of a hometown celebrity, that nobody gives her a significant amount of grief whichever side she gave the sphere to.
Except for this guy. Beclem is an asshole sent by the Youth League to train the Aurochs. He's an asshole no matter who you side with, he calls Yuna useless, and he challenges her to a minigame.
Gunner's Gauntlet is like somebody tried to build a first-person shooter using the SCUMM engine. Moving around, aiming, and shooting are all different buttons, and trying to play a twitch shooter with essentially a point-and-click interface means that fucks become increasingly clustered as the number of enemies increases past one. On top of that, Yuna stops to reload every six shots without any indicator to tell you it's coming or animation to tell you it's done, and if she gets hit, there's about a three second window where she won't attack, meaning getting stunlocked is a very common event.
This mission is also a bit of a dick move in that the high score you have to beat carries over to New Game +, so not only is it harder with every cycle, but also you can only win the unique item reward once. It's optional for our purposes, though, so I'm not doing it.
We can go to the Moonflow and help Tobli sell tickets to his show. This is another mission that punishes you for not buying the strategy guide. If you have the money, you can just sell tickets at a loss and complete the mission like you're the NEA. To get the full percentage, though, you have to sell every ticket and make a profit, which means you have to know exactly which ten people will buy tickets for more than their face value. We might as well do this one, because it's an okay way to get some quick cash, but it's still not very interesting.
We can hit up the Thunder Plains and help fix the towers. This involves a series of Simon Says games of varying permutation and difficulty. There are some good prizes to be won here, including a new grid, but I've already got everything I care about from here. If I want to play button-matching games, I might as well switch to Rock Band.
The one interesting diversion is, if we yelled at Cid in Chapter 1, he's here sulking.
What, ya blind? Can't ya see I'm trying to sulk?
Come on, Yunie, let's go.
I wonder what's wrong...
It's Zanarkand. He's all bent out of shape 'cause you told him off.
And on the airship, the team comments on Cid's behavior:
If Pop wants to sulk, I say let him sulk!
Like father, like daughter.
We can go to Macalania Forest and help Tobli's assistant recruit musicians for the show. This is a scavenger hunt that goes on far too long and serves no purpose except to let the dev team reuse their butterfly animations. I only do this mission to get the reward I locked in when I didn't talk to Tobli before saving his assistant. This is the only way to get a Minerva's Plate, a useful accessory for spellcasters and low-level runs.
We can pop in on Zanarkand and see how this travesty is progressing. Outwardly, the tourist trap looks to be doing very well. There's a group of Yevonites and a group of League members tooling around outside with a few different reactions to your presence.
If you find a sphere of value, please deliver it to us at once!
Miserable pawn of Yevon! Fitting that your kind devote themselves to this rotting heap of rubbish.
When the Youth League rules, the first thing we'll do is smash up Yevon's trashy monuments.
Wow, I really missed out on a lot of Hitler Youth comparisons by playing League side my previous time through.
You've got some nerve. What business do you League dogs have on Yevon's soil?
This is holy ground to people of Yevon. Not that the Youth League's miscreants could ever grasp such a concept.
The priests told me I can't talk to you, Lady Yuna.
Only those Yevon dogma jockeys could worship a pile of rubble like this.
These ruins are a testament to Yevon's folly. The Youth League would make far better use of this place.
Also, depending on our choices, this guy might mention that Cid is sulking.
Just outside the dome, however, it seems that things aren't going as well as they seem.
It's a never-ending struggle. As you can see, the monkeys are multiplying. They were harassing the tourists. We had to close down.
If we yelled at Cid, the next line is this:
But if we didn't, Cid's absence is explained by this:
Well, I must be going.
Rikku has a horrible, horrible, idea. And Paine thinks so too:
Anyway, now we have an unofficial mission to pair up monkeys in
There's no Mission Complete here, but you get this narration and an accessory when you're done.
Finally, we can also crash a newscast coming out of Luca, hosted by Shelinda, another returning nobody. It's mostly exposition we already know, but we get an item and percentage points for sitting through it, and we can run around during the beginning and mess with the cameras without anyone telling us to stop. If you're really interested, watch the video, but I think this was mostly put in to give Shelinda something to do and in case you plowed through Chapter 1 by accident without doing any of the expository sidequests.
Video: Spheretainment Tonight
Okay, now we're down to the meat of the update. It's time to look for chocobos on the Highroad.
One short diversion before we get to the mission, though. Taking a hover from Mushroom Rock to the Travel Agency gives us this scene where a hover attendant forgets to put the hover in park and it hovers off a cliff. I hope there was nobody on the Oldroad.
We can also see some Leblanc goons running off into Mushroom Rock, but that's kind of a red herring.
Okay, I lied. This is the last time we're going to be tested on our memory of unimportant NPCs. On the one hand, this is the most tricky version of this test, since Calli has actually grown significantly since appearing in the prequel for all of five minutes. On the other hand, it's still not hard; the answers you're given are always "Yes, I remember you" or "No, I don't," and the correct choice is never ever "No."
She asks us to catch a wild chocobo that runs by. This section is really boring and goes on way too long, despite a humorous voice clip of Paine out of breath, which is about the most expressive she's been so far. It also doesn't matter at all, since Calli runs off to find her own bird and promptly gets attacked by a Chocobo Eater. So instead, through the magic of screenshot editing, let's just pretend that's all the mission is.
Calli's cornered on the Oldroad, and Yuna's about to make a really stupid jump after her when Paine gets in her way.
But there isn't time!
We'll try and buy you some time! Lady Yuna, please hurry!
Wow, Clasko manages to do something useful with his Chocobo Knight training. Thanks to him, we have two and a half minutes to take the long way down to the Oldroad.
That gives us enough time to check on Prophet on the way there. He's acting a little suspicious.
The timer doesn't matter that much, though. If we make it in time, chocobos fend off the Eater and Calli will have a chocobo at the end of the mission. If we don't, Calli doesn't get her chocobo, but machina step in to protect her until we get there.
Chocobo Eater is really just an opportunity to play around. Anyone who's been faithful with Black Mage should have at least one girl with second level Fire, which hits Eater's weakness. Silence and Matador's Song neuter all its attacks.
Video: Boss: Chocobo Eater
Anyway, assuming we saved her in time, Calli gets her chocobo and asks to come aboard the airship. There's alternate scenes if we didn't, but it's not worth showing off. Generally, I'll only show branching paths when something unique happens along them. "If A, B, otherwise C" is worth showing, "If A, B, otherwise nothing" is not.
My legs are gonna fall off if I keep running around the Highroad like that!
If only catching chocobos were as easy as dispatching fiends...
Our last stop is the Calm Lands. Clasko decides this is the place for him.
His plan to move into the abandoned Monster Arena runs into a snag in that the Arena isn't actually abandoned. Fiends have taken over and we have to clear it out for him. This is a short series of battles artificially lengthened by having to hunt for them; for some reason, most of the fiends are illusory, and we have to run all over the place to figure out which one is real before fighting it.
The mission is interesting not by virtue of its gameplay, but its rewards. The Highwind Cids grid gives First Strike to anyone using it, which is an overwhelming advantage in short random battles, and Alchemist, the first new job of Chapter 2, will become an powerful alternative to the White Mage when fully upgraded.
I'm going to start a chocobo ranch!
The other benefit is that we can start catching chocobos in battle for Clasko to raise. Those are important later on for uncovering optional dungeons and getting rare treasure. The Highball Drinks grid is given to us now so we can act before the chocobos do and keep them from running away.
So, are we going chocobo hunting?
I don't think "self-reliance" is in Clasko's dictionary...
We're not going bird hunting just yet, though. Next time: mutually exclusive actions have mutually exclusive consequences.