Part 30: Episode 14 - It's Also the Upper Part of the FaceEpisode 14 - It's Also the Upper Part of the Face
Welcome back. Now that we're done wasting time, there's no time to waste. We've got some temples to defiend. (By the way, I consider myself lucky that Firefox did not suggest "defriend" as a replacement for "defiend.")
For some reason, Shinra comes down with us too.
Installing a CommSphere. You never know when you might need a CommSphere.
A new invention of yours?
The CommSphere transmits an image back to the airship.
Good job, Shinra. You invented the Internet.
The CommSphere was already there on the airship, but Shinra won't really explain it until this plot mission.
Yuna stops to check in with Lulu first.
They're coming from inside the temple. But it's all right. Wakka and the others fought them off. Luckily no one was hurt.
Guess Your Friendly Neighborhood Gullwings won't be needed.
Any fiends they missed may still be wandering around. Wakka and the rest split up to track them down. Give them a hand.
The Gullwings are on the job. We'll even give you our special bargain price.
That's okay, it's all right. Now go. Take a look around. People in the village will feel better knowing you're here, Yuna.
Yunie! Yunie! Something's up!
Burning down the temple is going too far!
You have another suggestion? We have to do something. What if the fiends keep coming? Or maybe you don't mind putting your family in danger?
Hey! All we gotta do is stop the fiends, ya?
Wakka runs into the temple, but I don't know whether Beclem will actually wait for him to get back out.
It would be so simple to burn this place down and take the fiends with it. Praying to them never did anyone any good. You're the one who defeated Sin. You should know.
In any other universe, Beclem would be a militant atheist. Here, he's just a militant asshole.
You want to see it burn that badly?
It's for the safety of the village.
Contrary to what he says, we don't have any sort of time limit.
The Cloister of Trials is the same as ever, and all the puzzles except the one that uses the Destruction Sphere are already solved. It's a very short trip before we find Wakka.
Just a few scratches, eh? Nothin' to worry about.
There are too many. Let's get out while we can. The man was right: We have to use fire.
Whatever's controlling the fiends must be down there. Take that bad boy out...
And we wont need fire.
Wakka, stay here.
Another aeon awaits us just outside the Chamber of the Fayth. Time to prep for a battle.
Our foe is immune to most statuses, but doesn't apply any statuses either, so we're just going to be trading blows. Despite what I said in the job description, we'll actually want both a Dark Knight for offense and a Warrior for breaks. Our spare equipment slots are focused on making our numbers bigger (ignore Paine's Ribbon, I swapped it out for another Mystery Veil before I hit the boss).
No... something's not right…
Wakka, stay back! It's not safe!
You know that bit in the prequel where Wakka's got internal bleeding and tries to play blitzball anyway? He hasn't gotten any smarter.
As before, Dark Valefor has all its old attacks, but Sonic Wings now damages MP instead of adding a delay effect. It also has both its Overdrives, and unfortunately uses them much more frequently than Bahamut did; much like the original implementation of the Overdrive gauge, one of the two will get used after a fixed number of times attacking or being attacked. Both are magic attacks, though, so Rikku's first priority is applying Magic Break to get their damage to manageable levels. Yuna will use Darkness primarily to compensate for Valefor's evasion, and Paine will outclass both the White Mage and the Gun Mage at once by mixing up a
Video: Boss: Dark Valefor
I grew up here in Besaid. This is my home. I became a summoner here.
I have to protect this place.
Only that one line is an internal monologue, but I think the whole thing would play better that way. We don't need everyone reiterating the same things out loud.
I see. Glad to see you're not hurt. Or... are you? Aren't you going to be a father soon?
It's okay. What can I say. He's got a point.
"Memories are nice, but that's all they are." It's an Al Bhed saying, ya?
I guess so. But call me before you do. We'll save fire for our last resort.
True, dying isn't a good way to preserve memories, but still...
I'm sorry I suggested we burn the temple down, Yuna.
Paine being so quick to agree to burning the temple down was appropriate, though, with how quick she is to dismiss the past. Seems like she might be slowly coming around. Anyway, this last section needed a bit of editing, not for any content reasons, but just because of how redundant some of the lines are. You only need to hear Wakka dismiss the importance of memories once before you get it.
Without delay, we proceed to Kilika!
Kilika Port itself is increasingly split. Some of the residents are suspicious that New Yevon is pulling a prank, but many of them are just concerned for their friends and relations at the temple.
Unfortunately, the League has closed their gate to the forest and reinforced their security since the events of Chapter 1. To get past, Yuna will need some help.
My, my, my, my... What brings you here?
We heard fiends were coming from the temple.
And you just had to come running.
Well, uh, I wouldn't say that.
I'm not even so sure there are any fiends.
You haven't checked?
I'm in the Youth League. Do you think they'd let me in the temple?
So now what? We giving up?
Let's take a look first.
You'll never get near the temple. The Youth League's blockaded the forest entrance. As they should. We can't have those temple vermin crawling into town now, can we?
Man, it's scary seeing this level of indoctrination working on a former summoner.
Sulky face… Barthello?
Of course. He's with New Yevon, so naturally he's in the temple. But then it's really none of my business.
Then we'll make it ours. Besides, I'm worried about the fiends.
If you want to go that badly, I won't stop you. But they're turning people away at the gate.
Dona is silent for a brief, wonderful moment.
I've got it. I'll distract one of the guards. That's your chance to run through.
We now have to play a one-time minigame where we try to Solid Snake our way into the forest. The guard at the gate will occasionally open it to let Leauge members through, and we have to run when that happens as long as Dona's still successfully distracting the guard. There's no real penalty for screwing up, but you get a cool item for doing it perfectly.
And even if you do get it perfect, the guard in the watchtower spots you before you get too far.
Beyond the gate, the forest is burning and people are screaming and running in panic. Um, maybe we should have come here first.
Video: Kilika Burning
Newly erected gates at various chokepoints keep us from moving forward. Not even the sneaky hidden path we used in Chapter 1 is still open. There's also a small crowd at each gate shouting at each other, and it's not clear whether people are trying to get in or out.
Once we've checked all three gates, though, Yuna remembers the tree Dona ran across that time and leaps up to it instead.
When we reach the temple steps, people are fleeing the temple in crowds and the flames in the braziers have turned blue. The temple itself appears to be in even worse shape, with the flames having burst out of their usual containing spheres.
Now that we're here, the mission proper can begin.
As far as I know, this scene contains the first instance of guns in a cutscene being used successfully against fiends by someone other than the main character. However, one of the NPCs tells us they're almost out of ammo, so we can't expect helpful backup from them.
Even sentry machina aren't enough to stem the tide.
Most everyone inside is injured or worse. It's not quite as bad as Operation Mi'ihen, but this section is actually fairly grim. Kilika didn't have a former guardian to protect it like Besaid, so things are significantly worse here.
Oh, yeah, I forgot. (That's Barthello's ass, if you can't tell.)
This is another shock for people who played the prequel, as these enemies only appeared in the Omega Ruins and were complete assholes with nasty spells. They still have nasty spells, but they're not as dangerous now with how the ATB works, and melee attackers can usually get two turns to their one. A Songstress can help as well; their first turn is always to caste Haste, which you can cancel out completely with Slow Dance, and their second turn is a third-level Black Magic spell, but when I played, it seemed to be Firaga half the time, and if you have any sort of foresight whatsoever you're already wearing Fire protection when entering the fire temple.
Once it dies, a blue flame goes out on a nearby pedestal. Nobody notices because they're worried about the neanderthal on the floor.
I'll be okay.
We're holding them off...somehow. They're coming from inside! One after another…
To get from here to the Chamber of the Fayth, we have to fight five more battles; four against one of those spellcasting enemies, and a final one against two. Each battle deletes some blue fire that stands in our way.
Lying out along the way is also our first new job of Chapter 3. We could use it for the upcoming boss, but its Magic Defense is pretty low.
In fact, let's do that set up right now.
Who we're about to fight should be obvious, so we go with the Heart of Flame grid. This will actually remove the need for a healer, so Paine will be a Songstress for this fight. I know you've missed it.
As expected, Dark Ifrit stands at the door to the Chamber.
Unlike Dark Valefor, Dark Ifrit doesn't do any of that wussy MP damage. All of Ifrit's attacks are dangerous and powerful. However, two of its attacks are fire-elemental, including its overdrive, so Fire Eater turns Ifrit into our party healer. Add Matador's Song to the mix, and the only dangerous attack left is Meteor Strike.
Video: Boss: Dark Ifrit
After the battle, we find another mysterious hole where the fayth should be.
Another hole. Hmm...
The crisis isn't completely resolved, but the blue flames have died down to their usual orange, and that's good enough for me.
I don't get why Dona has to be so stubborn in front of other people.
That hole. Where could it lead?
At least Yuna's not suggesting they blindly jump down that one as well.
Now that we've completed the missions at Besaid and Kilika, a scene is supposed to play which sets up our next Hotspot!. However, there are two good reasons not to do that mission right away, both of which are related to the human capacity for pattern recognition. The in-character reason is that, having confirmed that fiends and aeons are appearing in the temples at Besaid, Kilika, Djose, and Bevelle, we have to presume that the rest of the world's temples are similarly infested, and we would be remiss in neglecting them. The meta reason is that the next plot mission is obviously a point of no return, and we're not done placing CommSpheres yet. I think the scene plays better out of order, so I'm delaying it until then.
Baaj Temple and Remiem Temple, the temples of two of the optional aeons, aren't accessible in this game, but we can get close to Macalania, and it looks like that's close enough.
Must be from Macalania Temple. The fact that it's underwater doesn't seem to matter.
We can worry about why later!
We have to help them!
Did I accidentally equip Paine with the Ice Queen grid?
I'll pay you myself. How's that?
This mission is pretty simple, a marathon of six fixed fights; two against an Eye and a Chimera, two against a Helm and an Ice Flan, and two against three Helms. The Eye-Chimera fight is the most dangerous, but still not so bad. Incidentally, when doing this segment on one of my save files, I completely forgot to re-equip from the Ifrit fight, including forgetting to assign someone to a job that can heal, but it turned out okay because the Chimera's most dangerous attack is Megiddo Flame, which... yeah.
How're the people inside?
Unfortunately, we're a bit too late.
That huge shape, deep within the lake. A fiend... machina?
That sounds like Vegnagun. Could it be creating fiends? Why? And how?
Don't talk. Save your strength.
Rikku's concern is moot. The Al Bhed man hands us a sphere he found and dies.
Let's leave Rikku alone for a little while.
Rikku takes the death of those Al Bhed pretty hard. That might seem a little incongruous, considering how glib she was at the destruction in Kilika, but she didn't have to watch anybody die herself, and this in particular probably brings up flashbacks of the destruction of Home. Still, it's kind of subversive for a non-linear game to berate us for an inability to be everywhere at once.
With a newfound sense of urgency, we continue on to the Calm Lands.
One of the Calm Lands agencies, apparently seeking to expand into businesses not exactly duplicated by their competitor, thought it was a good idea to turn the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth into an attraction.
To be honest, I'd had enough. I wanted to blame them for turning a place like this into a tourist attraction.
Tempting as it is to say that this is natural selection at work, we don't have time to feel superior.
This mission is like one of those fox-chicken-egg puzzles. There are fifteen people trapped inside, some of them in groups of two or three, and we have to lead them out without annoying them enough to leave. It's not as hard as it thinks it is unless you forgot to buy a Charm Bangle, and the only thing you have to remember is that one of the schmucks won't join you if you're alone, so don't save him for last.
They'll also give you energy cores to power up the cave's teleporters, and the Besaid Key if you didn't pay for it back in Chapter 1.
The reward for saving all the tourists is some elemental accessories, but to finish the mission you really only have to save enough to get into the Chamber of the Fayth. We know what's coming, so let's prep for a boss.
Yuna's going to play with the new Berserker job this time around. It's kind of cheating, since we wouldn't have all those auto-abilities if we were playing first cycle in this order, but we could have easily done the Macalania mission first thing in Chapter 3, so it's not that unreasonable. We also have access to one of the key ingredients to a generic auto-AP grinding loop, but I'll cover that next update. Anyway, the Berserker will allow us to output damage with great efficiency, and the Glass Buckle protects against poison. The Alchemist is also vital for this boss, as it is a healing class that does not depend on MP, and it's not hard to have earned 170 AP by this point, which is all you need for the Mega-Potion Stash ability.
As expected, a Dark Aeon awaits.
Please, tell me! Why is this happening?
I like doing this mission last, because I like the idea that Yuna is so fed up she's finally trying to ask the aeons what the fuck. However, our friend here will have none of it.
Dark Yojimbo is about as annoying an enemy as it was an ally. Its dog attack and Wakazashi still do straight damage, but Kozuka now deals MP damage and inflicts poison. We have to be careful about the poison in particular because of Zanmato, an attack I personally didn't see until this game because the US release of FFX has horrible compatibility formulas. Instead of an instant-kill, though, Zanmato reduces both HP and MP of the whole party to 1. The Mega-Potion ability is vital for getting the party back on its feet, but if you have the chance, you might want to spend a real Mega-Potion so the dog doesn't get to you first. Yuna keeps herself berserked for most of the battle to minimize the time between her attacks, and her counter abilities occasionally allow her some damage multipliers.
It's an annoying but manageable battle. But since we're here, and since we were going to Berserk Yuna anyway, let's deconstruct the battle strategy a bit.
What does the Bloodlust accessory do? Well, it berserks the user, which saves me a step. It boosts Strength, which will end the battle faster. It inflicts poison, but that's canceled by the Berserker's Auto-Regen, and it renders Kozuka moot. It lowers HP and defense, but Zanmato reduces everything to 1 regardless, so that doesn't matter at all. The only thing we have to worry about is once we're down to 1 HP, and there's a 50/50 shot that a poison clocktick will resolve before a regen clocktick and kill us.
Similar arguments can be made for the Wring. Turbo Black Magic, combined with Auto-Haste and the Black Mage's innate Magic Lv. abilities means spells come out almost instantly. Poison can be canceled with one of our Recovery Bracers, and MP Absorb will nullify Jim's MP damage and take some pressure off of the Alchemist to keep her topped off. Same thing about HP and defense applies.
Sounds like a winning strategy. I didn't get screenshots of the setup, but imagine Yuna with the Bloodlust instead of the Glass Buckle, Rikku as a Black Mage with the Wring instead of the Heady Perfume, and the whole party at level 24 instead of level 32. Turns out they finish the fight a little faster than the first approach, but they die a little more, which is sort of what those accessories are all about. Check out the blow-by-blow below.
Video: Boss: Dark Yojimbo
Our reward is another big hole.
And outside the attraction operators swear they're done exploiting dangerous historical sites for profit.
I could've sworn I heard something moving at the bottom of that hole!
Please. Nothing's gonna hear her from way down there.
Our last stop before moving on is Zanarkand. It's not exactly a temple, but it's close enough to be worrisome.
Outwardly, though, things seem quieter. When we get to the dome, Isaaru fills us in.
Do you know anything?
They're coming from the Chambers of the Fayth.
It pains me to hear that.
There are fiends, as always. No more, no fewer.
Well, at least that's one fire we don't have to put out.
But the ruin tours are another matter. The only things thriving here are the monkeys.
Depending on whether we told Cid off, Isaaru says one of two lines next;
To make matters worse, Cid ran off a while ago and hasn't come back.
And Cid lost interest in the business and quit. I haven't heard from him since.
Well, time to do some defending. Until next time.
Note that this scene plays even if you haven't started the monkey matching mission. Biology, it seems, doesn't really need Yuna's help. We should make a note to check on Cid when we have the chance, though.
Now let's have that scene I moved. The team assembles on the bridge to try to make sense of what they've seen.
The fiends didn't come from the temples. They came from the Chambers of the Fayth.
Right, exactly! But why?
I'm just a kid.
The holes in the Chambers of the Fayth - were they there before?
But that one was made by Vegnagun, wasn't it?
That's true, but they're connected somehow.
Yes, but it's more than just that. Somehow I think there are deeper connections.
At least this can be chalked up to a language barrier.
Djose? Is it Gippal?
Hmm. Looks like they got into some trouble trying to clear out the fiends.
Right! Here's the order! Gullwings! Forget it! Let Gippal save himself!
Gippal gets all the action.
Gimme a break!
Buddy gives no fuck.
Well, we'll just have to charge him a little extra, then. Gullwings, let's go!
Aw, can't we give him a discount?
Inevitably, Gippal seems to have overestimated himself. But we can't get to his distress signal just yet. Next time; clean up on