A poster replied that it was due to the scourge of sequels, starting out at level 1 no matter how powerful you were before.
Which set me off:
*Lulu drags herself back to Besaid after her first pilgrimage and marches into the forest to kill a few flans.*
Chappu: Uh, Lu? It's dangerous out there! Don't you want an escort?
Lulu: Not. NOW. *glare* I need some time to think.
Chappu: Uh, okay...
[A few hours later]
*Sir Luzzu finds her out in the jungle utterly frustrated, plinking away at flans*
*KKZAAAPT.* *SIZZLE* *BOOM*
Luzzu: Something wrong?
Lulu: *nearly takes his head off* WHY can't I torch them with a thunderbolt? Where'd my Thundara go?!
Luzzu, sympathetic: Ah, sometimes it happens like that. After you finish each operation, you're back at level 1 again.
Lulu: *Ka-BAAMM.* I'm going to kill the game designers.