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just last week I was able to get to 45 using the water ball trick and 75 using the crater trick on my first run through of Thunder Plains. This is on the remaster edition, on an HD tv, and without a 'no encounters' equipment.
I do this all the time now. Why I find it interesting/relaxing I don't know.
It is absolutely bonkers having that amount of stat acceleration on hand (if you do it) that early, especially if you NSG up to that point.
The drops can be useful and more EMs only makes the task easier as you go along.
Can only do a single Quac stone though. Got greedy once and boy did the probability gods punish for that hubris.
^That comment interested me so I went and compared their sphere grids. On the HD standard grid, Lulu has higher magic only between 4 and 10 sphere levels in. Yuna has an advantage at 11 levels in (which is probably only like Kilika) and she holds it for the rest of the game. It peaks when you're getting the -aga spells and Yuna will have +23 more magic. So once you start getting Black Magic Spheres after Macalania, it's almost like Lulu's only good use is to go fetch the -aga spells for Yuna.
With some creative use of key spheres you can get Rikku into the -agas around Bikanel Island, making Lulu even less useful.
I have not the heart to tell you, for me the pain is still too near.
If you go back and get the early Wizards Ace ball and then detour Wakka into the end of Lulus path (only needs a Lv2 Key sphere and a return sphere), he ends up making her completely obsolete. Not only because he gets early access to flare, but his Drain ability also gets pumped up considerably if you gather that +12 cluster of magic at the end of her grid. He doesnt have to sacrifice his skills as an attacker either, since his base accuracy is already super high and he gets a +14 STR/+9 MAG boost right in the middle of his own grid well before heading into his overloaded end section thats full of max level bonuses
This is really cool, I'll have to try this one of these days.
I go even further and play a Blitzball league and tournament for a Teleport Sphere and Return Spheres.
Lulu is outclassed by Yuna having the Aras somewhere around the Thunder Plains, then Kimahri gets Holy and there's no need for Lulu at all. Combine that with this Wakka path and you'd never even miss her.