Part 37: Episode 17 - RebuildingEpisode 17 - Rebuilding
Welcome back, and to Chapter 4. Feels good to be back aboard the airship after all of that, huh?
We hadn't heard anything in so long! We tried tossing a CommSphere into the hole, but it didn't help one bit.
Hey, it's still in beta.
Everyone's quick to attribute this failure to technology, but I'd point out that the Farplane exists outside of normal space and apparently resonates with the thoughts and emotions of people unlucky enough to find themselves inside it. Dropping a CommSphere in the same hole Yuna fell into doesn't necessarily mean they'll both end up in the same place. Even the idea of a hole leading to the Farplane tweaks the brain a bit.
So, what happened?
One fade-out exposition later, and the rest of the Gullwings are up to speed.
Yeah, the girl from the Songstress dressphere.
Sure. She wore that dress one thousand years ago.
Why didn't you tell us?
You know I don't give Paine any grief for holding back information. We've discussed that several times already. You know who I do hate for holding back information? Shinra. He was there when we watched the Awesome Sphere where Shuyin referenced Lenne. He was there for Yuna's outburst at her mini-concert on the deck of the Celsius. Don't say nobody fuckin' asked.
You know what Shinra's problem is? He's more interested in looking smart than being helpful. I've known too many kids from various gifted-and-talented programs who acted the same way.
Anyway, let's see if the combined brains of the bridge crew can figure this out.
Because of that dressphere?
I can't really say for sure.
Forget Lenne! Shuyin's the one who's wanting to vaporize Spira!
Yeah, but what can we do? Nooj and Gippal are already planning something.
Hang on, where's Paine going? We were just getting started!
Almost as though talking to Paine were a plot trigger, we can't get any more useful conversation out of our comrades now that she's gone. Walking off like that means something must be penetrating her stoicism; we ought to check on her, even if it pisses her off. But while we're going to follow her, Rikku has one last important thing to ask us.
You met Shuyin, right? Was he anything like you-know-who?
Not really. Just his face.
So it never was... him. Guess we're back to square one.
Back in the prequel, Tidus and Rikku were pretty much alone in their optimism that they could find a way to save Yuna, and they held on to that all the way up to Zanarkand. I'm glad Rikku has the same optimism for finding Tidus again, rather than declaring the search over. After what happened, though, is Yuna on the same page?
We find Paine on the deck, looking off into space. If I had an airship where people stood on the roof this much, I'd think about installing guardrails.
They say anything?
Paine doesn't say anything for a while, and it seems like her usual silent treatment. But as Yuna's turning to leave...
They're old friends.
Yevon created the Squad and started training members two years ago. It was supposed to be an elite fighting force. The best were to be assigned leadership of Crusader chapters across Spira...
Most of the candidates died. An accident. The four of us were separated then. Things happened.
But still, I don't know why it happened that way. Even now. So I went to look... for some answers.
You became a sphere hunter.
There's Paine's motivation. Some of it is stuff we already knew or guessed, but having seen the scene in Bevelle helps put this into its full context. After the Crimson Squad's suicide mission and Nooj's betrayal, Paine went looking for something to explain what happened at the Den of Woe, or what happened to Nooj, or both, something that would let her retain what remained of her innocence.
For fun, go back to Episode 10 and re-read Nooj's interactions with Paine outside the Den of Woe. What had previously seemed vaguely flirtatious now sounds like Shuyin was using him to twist the knife.
Oh Rikku, you have the worst timing.
Or is it another one of those secrets? That's all right. I didn't wanna know anyway.
Too bad. And I was just about to tell you.
Too late now.
Paine actually laughs a little at her cruelty, then gets wistful again.
I've been chasing my past for so long... Sometimes getting it back is all I can think about. Other times, I just want to forget.
This like would sound like such self-important bullshit if it hadn't been borne out over the past three chapters by Paine's consistent, if sometimes self-contradictory, behavior. They really did a good job putting the polish on her motivations.
What about you? Shuyin isn't who you thought, is he?
You're not leaving the Gullwings?
Always a possibility.
Rikku chases Paine off the deck, leaving Yuna with her thoughts.
So many things seem intertwined. But nothing leads to you.
Video: Letting Go
Now that that's taken care of, let's rejoin everyone on the bridge.
I may not look it, but I am having a good time.
What about Yuna? Think she'll quit?
Of course not!
Well I would hope the recorder of a team that included an Al Bhed would be able to speak Al Bhed herself. Anyway, the decline we started seeing last chapter has apparently accelerated.
In fact, things have gotten so bad that the chapter is entirely linear! Breaking from its established formula, there are no sidequests or optional missions for us to do. We won't even have control of the airship for the duration of the chapter. The implication, I think, is that we simply can't afford the travel time; by the time we get there and finish sorting monkeys by color or whatever, somebody's going to have started a civil war.
Well, that's an exaggeration. The gameplay for this chapter is entirely linear. The cutscenes, however, are not.
The one thing we do have time to do is give people a call on the CommSphere network we set up last chapter. Right now, the game wants us to check on four plot-relevant locations, but in a minute, we'll get access to the whole list, depending on which ones we remembered to place. There's some good scenes hidden in this mechanic, and some scenes that are worth completion percentage, but the two don't necessarily correspond, and the sheer amount of waiting involved makes it the most banal aspect of a 100% game. The video signal hurts my eyes, too. They'll get shunted over to an update of their own so people who want to keep their distance can do so.
First things first, though; we have some "wills" to watch.
This is it.
Don't give up!
The team seems to be fighting fiends in Bikanel. But while Baralai and Gippal are giving their all, Nooj is just... standing there, staring a beast down. Also, their dialogue sounds kinda like they have their own little in-battle quotes just like we do.
Eventually, the sphere fades out and picks back up after the battle.
Nooj. Word has it you're searching for a place to die.
You were ready to give up back there. Ready to die.
Very perceptive. You'll be a legend among recorders.
You're a legend yourself. The Crusaders won't soon forget "Nooj the Undying." So why?
It's my life to throw away.
And Nooj just walks off.
Video: Crimson Record 2
With a weapon like that it's gotta work, right?
Oh, dramatic irony.
It's that powerful? A machina that can topple Sin... Wow... that's a little scary.
Machina this, machina that. There's nothing to worry about if you use them right.
I was going to photoshop Gippal into a "machina don't kill people, people kill people" bumper sticker except that the original is almost impossible to find amongst all the "hilarious" parodies.
So, once we get Sin, the Calm'll come. Got anything exciting planned?
Hadn't really thought about it.
First he wants to drop dead, and now he's looking for excitement.
Guess we'd better think of something fun to keep Nooj entertained, eh?
Video: Crimson Record 3
Okay, we'd better get our heads back in the present.
Well, not too bad. How are things in Besaid, Wakka?
It's okay. It's been pretty quiet, ya? No more fiends in the temple.
That's what Beclem says, and he patrols the place every day.
He's a dedicated man.
Yeah, but he's gonna be leaving the island pretty soon. Youth League's having some trouble or something, so they called him back to headquarters. On top of that, word around here is the New Yevon praetor's gone missing. Not sure what it all means, but things don't look good, ya?
Yeah, it's a bit crazy all over.
Listen. I dunno about the rest of Spira, but Besaid's in good shape. I got this place covered.
The next place with a functional CommSphere is Kilika.
And the sphere appears to be... being carried?
Oh cool, I guess we got a tour.
From the moment Nooj disappeared, everyone's been running around in circles. Just look at them. No one knows what to do without someone barking orders at them. They've already started looking for a new leader. In fact, they even asked me. Figured a former summoner would make a perfect leader for the town.
Why don't you?
Too busy looking after myself, dear. Of course I'll do what I can to keep things from getting too far out of hand, but... Until Nooj gets back, things are not going to be the same.
Next is Mushroom Rock, and branching paths make their reappearance.
If we're on the Yevon side, we'll never be able to connect to Mushroom Rock.
Actually, we've received some unconfirmed reports of trouble brewing in Bevelle. It seems a unit of New Yevon's troops have been gearing up for a raid. With Nooj gone, they're hoping to strike quickly and catch us off guard. But don't worry about us! We won't be so easily trapped! We're planning to launch a preemptive strike before they can attack. As soon as our preparations are complete, we move on Bevelle!
But you're not even sure they're planning an attack, are you?
In war, victory favors the bold! I must be off! Farewell!
This is why we don't have time to dilly-dally in Chapter 4. Even people we'd normally expect to be reasonable are on board starting a war based on rumor and speculation. Last place to check is Bevelle.
Hey, that's not a Yevonite. Actually, I don't think there's any named NPCs left in New Yevon at this point.
Well, for one, I'm running reconnaissance on New Yevon. The praetor's gone, fiends are on the loose - New Yevon is upside down.
I overheard some priests talking a little while ago. They said, "In times like these, we have no choice but to seek the high summoner's aid."
But, what do you think I can do?
Well, if the Gullwings were on our side, I'm sure we'd be saying the same thing. This is just between you and me, but the Youth League fell to pieces the moment Nooj disappeared. Both groups are getting what they deserve for relying too much on their leaders.
Fortunately, security is lax, so even Youth League members like me can walk around in the open.
You there! What are you doing!
Took them long enough. So long!
Maroda gets run off by some guards...
...and if we're on the League side, we have the added bonus that the CommSphere gets shot out of commission.
The Gullwings would probably be better off without its leader. Right, Yunie?
What are the guys planning... If Vegnagun attacked now... Let's not even think about it.
As usual, we have to talk to Buddy to advance the plot; we just don't get to do it through a world map.
Spira's three leading big shots have all gone AWOL. If I was one of their followers, I'd be pretty worried - and scared.
Tension between the two groups is getting volatile. It won't be long before things get very ugly.
And Vegnagun's on the loose. You can bet Shuyin's controlling that thing.
I wonder if Gippal and the others are trying to destroy it...
If they try to get near it, it's likely to become even more dangerous.
Ooh, nothing makes sense anymore. I mean, just what the heck are we supposed to do!
Nooj spoke to me on the Farplane. He told me to take care of things topside.
There's a pause, and then Yuna seems to get an idea.
I changed my mind. I want to do something. Nooj asked me to help and that's what I'll do.
Yes, this is the Yuna that I know. Alrighty! Let's smash that action figure! We'll risk our lives and protect Spira from Vegnagun!
No, I think... there has to be something we can do besides fighting.
Maybe we can bring people back together.
Here's what I like about this chapter. We basically have two RPG protagonist adventuring parties in play (YuRiPa and... um, GiNoBa) and two problems to solve (Shuyin/Vegnagun and impending civil war). GiNoBa's strength is that they have two years of study and experience with Vegnagun, and Nooj has unique insight into Shuyin. YuRiPa's strength is Yuna, who is basically the only person that everyone in the world might listen to no matter whose side they think she's on.
Not only does this distribution of labor really make sense given each group's capabilities, it's also a bold move peeking out from underneath the surface of focus-group market testing. In any other game, at this point we'd be seeking out the 17 Mystical MacGuffins to re-empower the Sword of Destiny that can defeat Vegnagun once and for all. But it's not what these characters would do, so it's not what we're doing. The idea of controlling the people in charge of holding society together while the heroes go do their thing is subversive to our expectations of video game design, but this is Yuna's story, and this is what's important to her; protecting the peace she sacrificed for two years ago.
This is why I respect X-2, despite its occasional bad gameplay decisions. It's obvious that the development team actually gave a care about the characters and the plot, which, in addition to being a welcome departure from the industry standard, makes it that much easier for me to care too.
Yeah! Yeah! Great idea there, Yunie! So like, what are we gonna do? Huh?
Oh Paine, you did not just say that within earshot of Brother.
All of Spira will be the captive of Yuna's singing and dancing!
I can handle the techie stuff.
I know! I know! I bet Tobli would help!
Where is he now?
Yuna's about to object, but it's a good plan. Funny, though, to see her more reluctant to sing in public than she was to, you know, die in the prequel.
I began this journey hoping to find you. But I know now that may never happen. Still, I will keep walking these roads. I have to find where they connect.
One thing I hate is how this chapter gets summarized. When you watch all these scenes, in context, and after seeing how Yuna's name can draw a crowd in the intro mission, this is a solid plan. But when it gets boiled down to a nugget you tell your friends, that gets stripped away, and what comes through is usually "herp derp let's save the world with a pop concert," which is a shame.
Anyway, Paine has some words for us before we head off.
I sang, too. At the time, my friends were scattered and I was alone. But during the Hymn - for just a little while - I felt connected again.
Okay. Let's go save the world with a pop concert.
Yikes, sorry! Must've dropped you off at the wrong place. As long as you're there, why not take a little stroll?
What an obnoxious attempt to pad out the gameplay of this chapter. Tobli's on the run from debt collectors (a plot device we've seen already in this game) because his show was a bust, and we have to chase him up and down the Moonflow for a while.
Since I'm leaving my Charm Bangle on to keep my levels low, all this mission is is running around punctuated by some scripted events, and we can pretty much fast forward to the point where we catch up with him just outside Guadosalam.
A minor detail. Where oh where should it be?
Well, the more people we can gather together, the better.
Aha! Then how about the Thunder Plains? Yes! You could practically pack a plethora of people in that place.
Now, how do we get people to come?
Simple, simple! Leave it to me! My power PR team will push it pronto! Oh, boys!
Grab everyone you see! We do not want anyone in Spira to miss this!
Leave it to ush.
Will they be all right?
They've got guts.
Hypello are aquatic, so I guess if they aim for water, they should be okay. I hope.
Achtung, baby! To the concert grounds!
There's no backing out now. Next time; we watch four hours of reality television.