Friday, March 28, 2014

Final Fantasy X: Blitzball

Blitzball is the primary mini-game in the Final Fantasy X universe, replacing the card games from FFXIII and FFIX. It's essentially an underwater soccer game where you have a team management aspect, a leveling aspect, and a game playing aspect. You can wander the world recruiting players for your team. As players play games they can earn experience and level up to get better stats. They can
also learn abilities by playing against opponents who use those abilities in a game. The games themselves are longer than a card game from the previous games but still reasonably short and it's not hard to start playing, lose track of time, and have played through a full tournament.

As an aside, I don't think they ever explain the physics of the game. You've got a bunch humanoids who walk on land and breath air who suddenly get completely submerged in a crazy magical sphere of water. Do humans in Spira have gills or something?

Anyway, I've been playing some blitzball. I lost the first story game, barely, 4-3 in overtime. I lose because I forgot how that first game worked and turned the ball over in the first half when I went up for to score and didn't realize you can't actually equip any abilities until the second half. If I'd played safer I would have won easily. So I reset and did it again and won 4-1. Woo!

I know the first time I played the game I didn't learn Tidus' best shot because I failed the quick time event on the boat and didn't know I needed to succeed. I still played a ton of blitzball in that playthrough and had a lot of fun. This time I beat the quick time event (first try!) and as such learned the Sublimely Magnificent Jecht Shot Mark III. It's stupidly powerful. Most people with good strategy can score against one defender, maybe two if they get lucky. With Jecht Shot you can trivially score against two defenders without any thinking at all. Scoring on three defenders is pretty easy, and four is entirely plausible. Considering you play 5 on 5 and the AI likes to actually cover the rest of the team too... Every time I get the ball I'm basically guaranteed to score.

When I first started out my team was so bad the AI was basically guaranteed to score whenever it wanted to as well. But sometimes the AI decided it didn't want to score. Instead of swimming the ball up right beside my net and scoring they'd shoot from mid field through a defender or something stupid and give me the ball. So I'd still win, because I score every time I get the ball, they score only some of the time they get the ball, and you alternate possession after someone scores.

And then my guys started leveling up, because it turns out you earn more experience when your team is doing things. So even though my team started with a bunch of losers (and a ringer) it's become a ridiculous ringer and a bunch of pretty ok dudes. I can expect to pass the ball through one defender now so I don't need to abuse the AI in order to score with Tidus. And sometimes I even force a turnover on the opponent because my defenders have gained 9 levels and their scorers have only gained 3.

In short... The game has become pretty trivial. There isn't actually anything anyone can do. I don't need to play perfectly to win. Not terrible is good enough. I thought I was going to play a ton of blitzball this time playing the game but I'm starting to feel like I'll probably just look up what exactly I need to do to get Wakka's ultimate weapon and do just that.

For now I actually can't play anyway. My worst player had his contract expire and I gave him the boot so I could go get someone new. But now I don't have enough players on my team, so I can't play any games. I need to find someone, anyone, to sign to a contract before I can play again. Oh well.

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