A little discussion on Final Fantasy X.
The Tale of the Fall of Dark Yojimbo
I finally brought down the last of the dark aeons, an act of triumph and ultimate victory.
For several months, I have been attempting to finish Final Fantasy X. My last remaining trophies to acquire consist of maxing all characters on the sphere grid and defeating Penance. In order to unlock the fight with Penance, I first had to defeat all the dark aeons.
While some view this as a challenge to work on the stats and gear of your party as much as possible, I just took the cheap way out. Yojimbo, both dark and standard aeons, has an ability called Zanmato this is an automatic defeat on all enemies, bosses, party members, or anything you might successfully use it on. There are several factors that determine whether Zanmato is used, but with a full overdrive bar, a high affinity with Yojimbo, and an offer of something over 500,000 gil give pretty good odds.
For most dark aeons, it doesn’t take long to set up a situation in which I have excellent chances for victory: max out an overdrive bar for Yojimbo, save when everything is in place, and fight the aeon until I get Zanmato on the first turn. As soon as one dark aeon is dead, I put a notch in Yuna’s staff (figuratively. You can’t literally put a notch in Yuna’s staff to mark dead aeons, but it would be a cool feature) and prepare for the next one.
With only 10 aeons, 3 of which (The Magus Sisters) can be gathered into a single fight and taken down with a single Zanmato, this shouldn’t take long. The issue arises, as the title of this segment indicates, with Dark Yojimbo. Only 2 of the 10 aeons must be fought multiple times. Dark Ixion must be fought twice, and the player can save between fights. Fight it once, prepare, save, and fight it again; if the second fight is a failure, the last save isn’t far away. Dark Yojimbo, however, must be fought 5 times without saving between fights. Perhaps that isn’t the best way to phrase the issue… the player can save between fights. The issue is that the player must start over at the first fight after a soft reset or after leaving the area in which Dark Yojimbo is encountered. Saving simply guarantees that you keep any spoils of victory so far, and that any money spent on Zanmato is permanently gone. It is useful to at least touch a save sphere to refill health and MP, but that’s about it.
I have fought Dark Yojimbo quite a few times to no avail. Most attempts would result in 2 or 3 victories, with the 3rd or 4th attempt failing and getting me killed. I even got 4 sequential victories once, and then stepped outside because I wasn’t aware that one of the encounters can be accidentally missed. Stepping outside, of course, reset the count and I was no closer to fighting Penance than before. After something along the lines of 30 individual battles with Yojimbo, I temporarily gave up on that goal and worked on maxing out the sphere grid for all characters.
Working on maxing the sphere grid is a very tedious process, so I eventually decided to go back to the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth where Dark Yojimbo resides and give the fight a few more shots. Of course, there were some undeniable failures. I did notice that with Yuna’s improved stats, my Yojimbo did have a chance of sustaining one of Dark Yojimbo’s attacks and making a second attempt at Zanmato. The odds weren’t vastly better for 5 straight victories, but it was an improvement.
This attempt started like any other: load the game, run inside the cavern, use the teleport pad to go to the back of the cavern, run back toward the entrance, watch the cinematic entrance of Dark Yojimbo, and start the fight. The initial battle is always an ambush, so I keep Auron in the party with his ultimate weapon equipped so that he gets a First Strike attack when the battle starts. I switched Auron out for Yuna and used her overdrive to Grand Summon Yojimbo. When Yojimbo entered battle, he didn’t automatically use an attack (good for my purposes, since auto attacks from Yojimbo don’t accept money and thus have a far lower chance of being Zanmato). I paid him 525,000 gil and watch for his reaction. Sure enough, he gives me a little nod, a definite sign that he will use Zanmato. First fight in the bag, awesome.
After the cinematic for the end of the fight, I ran around until I encountered a random enemy. With Yuna’s overdrive mode set to Ally which gains overdrive on each turn, I simply defended until her overdrive was completely refilled and then escaped the battle. I made my way toward the location of the second fight and got the cinematic. The battle started and I Grand Summoned Yojimbo again. As soon as he stepped out, he started to attack. Bleh, of course, may as well call this one done. It wasn’t Zanmato and Dark Yojimbo got an attack in. Oh, wait, what’s this? Dark Yojimbo’s attack did not kill Yojimbo and auto attacks do not use up Yojimbo’s overdrive bar. I paid him the typical 525,000 gil and got that satisfying nod which signifies the impending doom of any who oppose me.
Two fights down, 40% of the way to success. I immediately made a beeline to the save sphere to restore Yojimbo’s health from the hit he took. I ran around, got another random encounter, and maxed Yuna’s overdrive again. The third encounter is the one that isn’t on the beaten path, so I made absolutely certain to go straight to it. When the battle started, I was tentative about summoning Yojimbo. I got lucky with the second fight, but I might not be so lucky this time. Finally, I did perform Yuna’s Grand Summon and successfully summoned Yojimbo without his auto attack. I made the standard offer of 525,000 gil and like clockwork, Yojimbo gave me his little nod and slashed right through Dark Yojimbo for an instant kill.
Three wins in a row is rare, but I was feeling good about it. Since Yojimbo didn’t take any damage from the last battle, I found a random encounter to max Yuna’s overdrive and went for the fourth battle. Much like the third fight, I Grand Summoned Yojimbo without an auto attack and paid him 525,000 for a Zanmato. Four wins straight, something I had only accomplished once before. I was ready for the final showdown.
I ran around for a random encounter to refill Yuna’s overdrive one more time and marched confidently toward the last remaining fight with Dark Yojimbo. I Grand Summoned Yojimbo at the start of the battle and paid him the agreed upon sum of 525,000 gil and waited patiently for his confirming not. I waited for his acknowledgement of sufficient payment. I waited for his… oh dear. The nod never came. Of course, Yojimbo did not obliterate everything with Zanmato. With this being a paid attack and not an automatic attack, the overdrive bar was spent. Not only that, but Dark Yojimbo would get an attack in response that may very well kill Yojimbo. When the dust cleared, Yojimbo was still alive. He didn’t have enough health to survive more than one more guaranteed attack, but he was alive.
I was forced to a conclusion. I had two options: pay another 525,000 gil immediately and hope that I would still be lucky enough for a Zanmato despite not having a full overdrive bar, or I could dismiss Yojimbo for now and try to sustain enough turns with Yuna to build up another full overdrive bar and try again. Considering that my chances would be better with a full overdrive bar and I would be sacrificing 4 previous fights if I lost now, I decided to dismiss Yojimbo. After doing some quick mental math, I reasoned that Yuna takes about 8 turns to reach full overdrive and she can probably get in 2 turns for every 1 turn by Dark Yojimbo. In order to shield myself from his attacks, I could always use Yuna’s last turn before Dark Yojimbo to summon another aeon who could take a hit. Logistically, the plan seemed sound. While trying to build Yuna’s overdrive, I began double-casting Ultima with Rikku and Tidus just to pump as much damage onto Dark Yojimbo as possible. Even though I was banking on a Zanmato which doesn’t depend on any damage, I could always try for a damage kill and I wasn’t going down without a fight.
I started will summoning Valefor to sustain Dark Yojimbo’s attack. Poor Valefor, we had been through so much together. Oh well, take one for the team. When Valefor fell, I resumed my Ultima casting and waiting for Yuna to reach full overdrive. Her last turn before Dark Yojimbo came up and I summoned Ifrit. Again, some deaths must come for the greater good. This cycle continued until Dark Yojimbo got a full overdrive bar. That bold, bright, orange bar of certain doom. Unlike Yojimbo’s overdrive that simply improves the chance of Zanmato, Dark Yojimbo is guaranteed to use Zanmato when his overdrive bar is full. When I saw that full overdrive bar, I panicked. As much as I had a gut feeling that Dark Yojimbo wouldn’t break his attack pattern in order to use Zanmato, I didn’t know for sure. What if he uses it as a counter attack? What if his agility somehow changes and it sneaks up on me before I can use Yuna to summon a meat shield? I broke my concentration and summoned Bahamut, just to be safe. When Dark Yojimbo’s turn came, Bahamut took Zanmato like a champ and died valiantly.
Very soon after Bahamut died, Dark Yojimbo took on the critical health stance. Though his HP count was hidden, this stance meant he was well below half health. Though I wasn’t expecting a damage kill initially, it looked to be possible with the consistent damage I was dealing. I kept up the Ultima casting for a few more turns, still expecting Yuna to reach full overdrive before I could kill Dark Yojimbo. Finally, after casting Ultima, I saw Dark Yojimbo double over in defeat. I saw his majestic form begin to fade into pyreflies as his faithful dog continued to stand, ready for battle. I had successfully bested him 5 times in a row. I was finished.
As I left the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth and traveled toward Penance, I felt a supreme sense of accomplishment. Though I went into the Dark Yojimbo fight expecting to take the easy route and depend on Zanmato for every kill, I left having defeated him once with my own skill.