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Blitzball: An Exercise in Frustration

Last night, for the first time, I got pissed off at Final Fantasy X.

It all began with the championship Blitzball game at Luca Stadium. All throughout the beginning of the game, the player is taunted with the concept of Blitzball, a sort of combination of football and basketball that’s played underwater, and was the former professional sport of choice for our main character, Tidus. You keep wondering when you’re going to actually play this Blitzball, and then finally it happens — you’re thrust into the make-or-break game in the finals, and the goal is to bring your team to victory. (Your team, incidentally, sucks so bad that they haven’t made it past the first round in twenty-some years.)

So anyway, after a very lengthy tutorial in which you learn Blitzball strategy and techniques, which is a pretty sizeable minigame in and of itself, you’re thrust into this game with a team full of mostly incompetents, going up against a powerhouse gang of goons on the opposing side. I soon came to realize that statistically, the match-up is nigh impossible. While your team has a couple of good players, the overwhelming majority have no passing accuracy and no endurance to speak of. The opposing team busts through their tackles, shoots goals and basically goes to town, all while you have literally no chance of stopping it because you haven’t even gotten the ball yet, and in defense mode the computer uninterruptably moves all of your players for you so you can’t even try to steal. Then, when you finally get the ball, the opposition triple- or quadruple-teams before you can even pass it, so you’re stuck with some 3-endurance doofus going up against four guys with attack ratings of 12. You can’t break through, you can’t pass and you can’t shoot.

Worse, the computer seems to respond with horrifying slowness to your commands. I eventually realized that “automatic” movement mode on offense was murdering me, so I switched to manual. But even then, there’s a full second delay between when I push the command button and when the command window actually appears, during which some opposing players usually rush me and block me in as usual. I keep trying to pass the ball before I get triple-teamed, but the damn computer won’t let me execute that command until it’s brought the opposition right up in my face!

Honestly, are you supposed to lose this game? From what I gather, you don’t have to win it, and it’s not really even likely that you will, but God — I’d really like to win the damn thing if I could, but nothing is helping. I even found a “cheat the system” strategy online, in which you make certain moves that are so ludicrous, the computer AI basically gets confused and makes a critical error. Not even that worked.

What’s the worst part of all? Each time the game ends up not going my way, I have to reset the PlayStation to load my game and try again. And then I have to sit through over five minutes of un-skippable cinematics and conversation before I can get back into it. I THINK I WILL SCREAM IF I SEE THOSE SCENES AGAIN.

I’ll try it again tonight.

9 thoughts on “Blitzball: An Exercise in Frustration

  1. Oh, God, I hated Blitzball the first time I played it. I, too, must have gone through those stupid unskippable cinematics a dozen times at least (not to mention the part where Wakka comes out from the locker room to replace Tidus in the second half) because I was hellbent on winning. RAGE. In the end, I ended up finally winning the game 1-0 on a very late goal by Wakka (and a whole lot of dumb luck, I’m sure).

    Later on, though (read: once your team becomes decent), blitzball is pretty fun (and necessary if you want Wakka’s ultimate weapon and his higher level Overdrive attacks). It got to the point that I was routinely beating all but the best teams 8-0 or so (but this is far far later in the game, near the end when you finally get the airship).

    But yeah, that first match is BRUTAL. And, as you pointed out, the controls suck big totem. I especially hate the “press the square button, and maybe get a response five seconds later” for the command window. And having full auto is out of the question if you want to even have a chance to win.

    Another thing that will help is getting Tidus the Jecht Shot (if you haven’t already). It’s available by pressing X on the blitzball that was on the deck of the ship from Kilika to Luca (after doing a little button-pressing mini-game that I completely failed the first time, natch); don’t sweat it too much if you don’t have it now, since as it stands Tidus can only use it once in a great while at that point anyway (I think you can go back on the boat later and get it if you didn’t get it on that initial boat trip). When you get to play tournaments and seasons later on, though, it’s invaluable since it knocks out two defenders for every shot you take with it, and the fact that Tidus is an absolute beast when he’s leveled up a bit.

    Now, blitzball in FFX-2? HATE HATE HATE. You don’t even get to control anybody in that. At all. Instead, it’s like a shitty blitzball simulator where you get to try and improve your team’s individual stats…and watch them lose anyway (though it’s funny to see Yuna and Rikku playing blitzball). To be fair, though, I haven’t given that much of a chance yet. It may yet prove to be a little fun. But I doubt it.

  2. Hehe, ah good, I see I am not alone in my impressions of the initial game. Now, this hasn’t soured me on Blitzball completely, as I figured that (as you said) it will get easier later as your team levels up. But jeeze. I guess I’m going to keep attacking this game until I can stomach it no more, and hope I get lucky like you did and win the match. I did manage to get Tidus to score a goal once, but only once in four games. Pretty sad.

    Yep, I got the Jecht Shot. Even used it a couple times (I liked how it knocked two guys completely out of the way), but the goalie still caught my shot because I was too far away when I used it. The hard part is just trying to get the ball to Tidus, or anybody for that matter, without one of the Goers intercepting it.

    Yuna plays Blitzball in FFX-2? Now that sounds worth seeing, hee. It’ll be a while before I’m playing that one, I’m sure, but…WTF, you can’t control anybody? Sounds like one of those “SimBaseball Manager!” games. Weird.

    They really need a “skip cinematic” button! Like if you hold down SELECT for three seconds or something. Geesh.

  3. “They really need a ‘skip cinematic’ button! Like if you hold down SELECT for three seconds or something. Geesh.”

    Actually, that’s one of the things I like about FFX-2 (and Xenosaga) — if you pause the game during the cinematic and press the triangle button, it will skip the cinematic completely. 🙂 It’s nice (especially in Xenosaga where the cutscenes almost ARE the game).

    Yeah, Blitzball in FFX-2 sucks. It is a lot like those sim games (which I usually like playing, but not in this case). Like I said, it might be better if I play it more.

  4. Hmm, so there is a way to skip the cinematics in FFX-2? I wonder if that works in FFX as well; have you tried it?

    To wit, I could have sworn I managed to skip a cinematic once by mashing on the keypad, but couldn’t ever reproduce the effect after that.

    Almost time for work day to end! Then I can get back out on the sphere again. 🙂

  5. Though I never tried it, I don’t think it works in FFX. I say this because in FFX-2 and Xenosaga, when you pause the cinematic, there’s the “PAUSE” message onscreen, and another that says “Press (triangle button) to skip”. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But since all that blitzball crap isn’t a “true” cinematic (i.e. it’s rendered with the game engine, I believe), I don’t think you can skip it (believe me, I tried when I kept repeating that damn championship game over and over).

    And not to spoil anything, but if you think winning that blitzball game is hard, just wait until if you decide to get everybody’s ultimate weapons and getting them all powered up (which I mostly did, since it enables your characters do go over the 9,999 HP damage limit). “Excruciating” and “rage-inducing” don’t even begin to describe it, especially for Lulu’s ultimate weapon items, as well as those for Tidus and Khimari (the latter two I never ended up getting because I ended up saying “screw it”).

  6. Heh, not FFX related, but I think I know why we all seem to remember PS1 games looking far better than they do now — the PS1 anti-aliases the CRAP out of everything. When I was having my FFVIII problems, I pulled out the old PS1 to see if that had any luck playing the game (HA!). The first thing I said when the game loaded up? “Damn, this is ridiculously blurry!” Whereas the pixels are very sharp and noticeable on the PS/2, even the goddang text was blurry on the PS1. That could be why all the PS1 games look like EXTREME crap now when we play them.

    As for the frustrations ahead…yeah. 🙂 You might need to consult some online walkthroughs if you really want to do that stuff I mentioned about the weapons and stuff. Dodging a couple of hundred lightning bolts can be very trying indeed…

  7. Well, the good news is that on my first (re-)attempt at winning the opening Blitzball match, I walked away with the win, 2-1. Even the Jecht Shot helped me out. Woo woo! Now it’s back to walking around and beating up on fiends, for now.

    Aha, so the PS1 just munges all the damn jaggies to the point where it’s a fudgy mess, and so then at least we wouldn’t say, “Damn, looks like an Atari.” Clever, clever.

  8. currently on attempt 9 basically reset the game if luca scores more than once in the first half, since theres 0 chance of recovery by that point and considering how i PAUSED THE GAME and said -exactly- what the first play was going to turn out and then big shocker i was spot on yay for future sight, (“ok, luca gets the ball, moves forward,2 man breakthrough,pass,((success)) catch on RF moves forward 1 man breakthrough shoot goal”)
    all before i even was able to touch the damned ball >.>

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