The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow

Part 1: Let's Not Go To Balandor, It's a Silly Place

Just so we all known who to blame once the shit really hits the fan. Sony published it...

SCE Japan Studio helped craft it...

D3 localized it...

And Level-5 made it. This game was the brainchild of a man named Akihiro Hino. Remember his name, you'll be hearing it a lot over the course of this journey.

And on that note, Let's Play White Knight Chronicles I & II.

Listen to my story… Wait. This seems familiar.

Tidus: Listen to my story…



Ew. Okay, fuck that noise.

Hello there. My name is Orren, and this is my story… Dammit! Just come here and let me tell you how I got here. It’s the story of a great adventure starring a bunch of not-so-great people.

Myself excluded, of course. I’m just along for the ride.

This is the story of a boy, a girl, and a magic suit of armor, and the fate of the world. And failure. Lots, and lots of failure.

This is the White Knight Chronicle.

Gods help us all…

Aaaagh. Fucking loading screens.

CUTSCENE: “General, I give you Balandor…”

We open our little adventure in a peaceful, sunlit valley high in the mountains. The birds are singing, the butterflies are fluttering, the wind is blowing peacefully…

…And the warhorses are charging.

A strange group of ominous-yet-still-silly-looking men thunder through the valley on horseback, led by a man in curiously spikey black armour, a dwarf with a silly haircut, and a pale thin guy with green hair, horns, elf ears and an eye patch.

We haven’t hit peak anime yet, but we’re closing in on Robert Jordan territory real fast and we’re not 10 seconds into this game.

The horses come to a stop on a cliffside and we get our first look at this mysterious man in the impractical black armour and his creepy red-eyed death horse. I wonder if this guy is kind of evil? I think he might be evil. What do you think?

Spoiler alert: He’s totally evil.

His trusty death-steed reares up and whinnies for no good reason...

We see a castle town down below in the distance… Oh crap! I think these guys are scouting out an attack on Disneyland!

Belcitane: General, I give you Balandor.

Oh, nevermind, it’s just Balandor.

General Dragias: (Not impressed…)

You and me both, buddy.

I should probably introduce this group of a-holes, shouldn’t I? The skeevy midget with the crazy eyes and stupid hair is Belcitane. As you can tell by his clothing and shoulder armour, he appears to be some sort of military leader.

The Darth Vader-looking guy is General Dragias. As you can tell by his title, he is a military leader of some sort. He has even worse fashion sense and modesty than Belcitane does. When you dress like that, you just don’t give a damn about anything.

The guy with the horns and green armour and green hair and eye patch and elf ears who we’ve only seen in long shots and from behind so far is Shapur. I’m only pointing this out because he won’t become relevant to the plot for another 14 chapters.

But it’s nice that they felt the need to stick him in there somewhere so he doesn’t just come out of nowhere when his time finally comes…

…Unlike a lot of other stuff in this game.

Belcitane: Heh heh heh. Yes, General Dragias.
Dragias: I didn’t say anything.
Belcitane: What? You honestly expect me to pass up a chance to get a good monologue in? I’m not that kind of guy.
Dragias: Should I even…? Never mind. (You know what? I’m just going to pretend you’re a giant anthropomorphic duck or something every time you speak to me from now on. Yeah, that’ll help me get through this.)
Belcitane: I think tonight’s celebration will be one to remember.

Dragias: (Perfect.)

I have a bad feeling about this, kids.

I’m talking about this game, I mean.

Okay, enough of the prelude, let’s get on with this horror show. Title card me!

No, I meant the game’s title card!

…What do you mean ‘Not until Chapter IV?’ What is this, Kingdom Hearts II?


CUTSCENE: The Hooded Man
CUTSCENE MUSIC:The Kingdom of Blandor” (Unreleased Track)

Anyway, this is the Kingdom of Balandor, with its castle so unnecessarily decorative that the Walt Disney Corporation sent them a letter saying “guys, tone it down a little.”

Balandor is the home of a good chunk of our main cast. The city of Balandor is the capital of the Kingdom of Balandor (real creative there guys), one of three great nations on the continent of Nadias in the world of… the world. This place doesn’t really have a name, and even the name ‘Nadias’ doesn’t appear in-game, only on the soundtrack. The overworld theme is literally called “The Continent of Nadias.”

The city is bustling with activity today. Travellers and merchants from all across the kingdom are flooding into the city for the 18th birthday festivities of Balandor’s royal heir, Princess Cisna.

Make your Cis-whatever jokes here before Blind Sally does. Please.

I’m begging you…

Amid the bustling crowds, a rather conspicuous-looking man in a hood and robe wanders in to the city cradling a long, curiously wrapped object that’s not at all suspicious or anything.

I mean, look at him. He’s probably a monk or something. He’s harmless. I bet that thing is presents for children. Long, thin presents for children. Or a painting set. Conspicuous, suspicious-looking people with painter’s tubes always carry only art supplies in them, right?

Guardsman: Hey, you with the hood! Not so fast.

Luckily, this guard shows an ounce of sense, a rare commodity in this game, and does his job properly, stopping and frisking the weirdo hooded stranger. …Well maybe not frisking. I mean this isn’t New York.


Hooded Man: Hm? You wouldn’t be talking to me, would you?

Hooded Man: Surely you’ve better things to look up than the pockmarks and wrinkles of a tired old man, no?
Guardsman: Yeah yeah, you know how many people try to use that ‘tired old man’ excuse? You could be a wizard for all I know! Are you a wizard? Let me see your Wizard Card.
Hooded Man: …Oh, bollocks. NIIIIIIIIILES! Did you pack my Wizard Card?!

Guardsman: I said, take off the hood and show me your face!

Guardsman: Oh gods! Never mind! Stop showing me your face! STOP IT!

But of course, if there’s one thing White Knight Chronicles can’t stand it’s competence. The horrifying red glow in the hooded man’s eye suggests something foul is afoot.

I knew this was too good to last.

Guardsman: Hurgh!

The guard drops his spear and staggers about in a daze. When he speaks again, it’s with a muttering, half-vacant voice.

Guardsman: …Good enough. Proceed.

Hooded Man: Oh, many thanks. You soldiers are truly a credit to your king.
Hooded Man: (Whizaaaaaaaaard).

Guardsman #2: Hey, you sure? I don’t like the looks of him…
Guardsman #1: Urgh…
Guardsman #1: I think I peed a little.

With his entry into the city secured, our elderly hooded miscreant now appears free to carry out his plans unimpeded.

Because the second guard that wasn’t brainwashed at all just let him walk away didn’t try to, you know, stop him, or question why his partner suddenly turned into a braindead husk of a man, or even pass along word that a strange man in a very conspicuous hood and robe carrying a giant wrapped… something-or-other somehow made it into the city and is clearly up to no good.

See what I mean about competency? It has only just begun to die a slow, painful death in this game.

Hooded Man: Any moment now. The prophecies were very specific about where it would begin.
Hooded Man: Thank the gods it was one of those rare explicit prophecies. It even came with directions here to Balandor too.

CUTSCENE: The Princess & The Peace Treaty
CUTSCENE MUSIC: “Recollection”(Disc 1, Track 14)

Meanwhile, at Sleeping Beauty’s castle…

Presenting Her Highness, Princess Ashelia B’nargin Dalmasca—oh, wait. Wrong Kari Wahlgren princess character.

This, good little children of the Internet, is Princess Cisna, the young woman whom all the day’s and night’s festivities are in honour of. Here she stands, looking out over her kingdom, thinking of all the sweeping changes she’s going to make once she has her father assassinated and assumes the throne…

Wait, what?

Speaking of her father, here is His Grace, King Valtos of Balandor, and his manservant Sarvain. I mean, his chancellor Sarvain.

King Valtos: Cisna…

Get ready to hear that name a lot, folks.

Sarvain: Your Grace? How does our young princess fare today?
King Valtos: Look at her, Sarvain. She’s the picture of her mother.

King Valtos: Ten painful years since that day and my Cisna speaks not a word.
Sarvain: Oh gods, not this story again…
King Valtos: You asked how she’s feeling, so I’m going to tell you, dammit.
Sarvain: Exposit, you mean.

The scene shifts to a great battle many years ago at the height of the War of the Two Kingdoms. Archduchy of Faria, a nation equal in power to Balandor from the far west lays siege to Balandor Castle. As you may notice, the Farians all have horns and elf ears not unlike our old friend Shapur does.

Yep. Shapur is a Farian. And the Farians are this game’s version of elves. Wood elves, to be exact.

Also note, another little nice touch of foreshadowing / uncommonly deft storytelling for this game: the guy in the centreframe with six horns on his head instead of two, that’s Archduke Dalam, the leader of Faria, whom we will be meeting in the flesh momentarily.

Things take a turn for the unbelievably terrible as the Farian army breaches the city garrison and pours in to the castle itself.

Meanwhile, inside the castle…

An assassin has snuck in to the royal chambers using the attack as a diversion and has killed Queen Floraine, Valtos’s wife, and Cisna’s mother.

…Right in front of Cisna.

Well, shit.

No wonder why she’s a mute.

Young Cisna gasps in horror as her mother collapses before her and breaths her last.

King Valtos, having successfully driven off Archduke Dalam and the Farians, comes bursting into the room just in time for the horrific aftermath.

The assassin, his job done, turns and makes his escape…

Right out the goddamn window like a champ. This guy just fell like 500 feet straight down, most likely to his death… Or did he? That big honkin’ nose suggests otherwise, if you know what I mean.

Valtos, aghast at his wife’s death, collapses in front of her.

King Valtos: Floraine! Oh, gods, no… FLORAAAAAAAAAAAAINE!

Aaaaaand we’re back to the present.

Sarvain: Are you certain we should proceed with the ball? Presenting her to the people now might only add to their alarm.
King Valtos: Oh, what nonsense. None of those attending expect Cisna to speak. Her presence and her composure will suffice.
King Valtos: (I just hope she doesn’t wet herself again like she did at her quinceañera.)

King Valtos: Still… I would give all my riches to see a real smile cross her face again.
Sarvain: You know, sire, I heard her say just the other day that the one thing that would make her truly happy was if you gave all your wealth to me.
King Valtos: And just what did she sound like when she said that, Sarvain?
Sarvain: Well, I tried…

King Valtos: Floraine, she would know. She always knew how to make Cisna laugh.

Sarvain: Sire… Forgive me, but the princess’s heartbreaking condition begs the old question. Why in creation are we making peace with the same people who robbed her of her mother?
Sarvain: Allegedly…

King Valtos: My wife is gone, Sarvain. War has taken her, just as it has taken so many before her. But war will not give her back.

King Valtos: The Farians speak out tongue. We ought to trade words with them from now on, not lives.

Sarvain doesn’t seem to think this is a good idea…

Sensing a pause in the exposition, Cisna toddles over to present herself to her father.

Princess Cisna: (Gods, is he telling that story about how Mother died again? He needs to get over that.)

King Valtos: Oh, Cisna! You look radiant. That dress suits you beautifully.
King Valtos: And, um… Your hair. Yes! Your hair is… long. Um… How about those Cowboys?
Sarvain: Father of the Year, ladies and gentlemen.
King Valtos: I have the power to exile you, you know. I hear Albana is absolutely dreadful this time of year.
Sarvain: It’s dreadful ANY time of the year thanks to that damn frog.

She’s trying not to laugh at her father’s ridiculous crown. And probably picturing what her own crown is going to look like.

Princess Cisna: (…I want something flashy, something that says “I own you. I own everyone in this room.” Yeeeah.)

However, before Cisna can spring her regicidal coup, a Castleguardsman arrives, bringing the King the news he’s been waiting all day for.

Castleguardsman: Your Grace.
King Valtos: What is it?
Castleguardsman: Archduke Dalam of Faria will be arriving shortly.
King Valtos: Good. See that he is given a proper welcome.
Castleguardsman: Boiling oil and a rain of arrows?
King Valtos: No! We don’t do that anymore. …Except when Count Drisdall and his hippie son show up. Guy’s a dick.

Castleguardsman: Yes, sire. Also, a group calling themselves the Marcus Revellers are outside the gates. They say they wish to perform in honour of Her Highness’s special day. Shall I turn them away?
Castleguardsman: Shall I ready the boiling oil and rain of arrows?

King Valtos: A circus, today?
Sarvain: A gift! What day could be more deserving of a little extra celebration?
Princess Cisna: (My coronation, maybe?)

Valtos looks to his daughter, taking her apathetic thousand-yard stare as a sign of approval.

King Valtos: Very well, let them into the city then.

Sarvain: Yes sire.

Look at this smirking son of a bitch. LOOK AT HIM!

Sarvain: (Everything is going according to plan…)
Princess Cisna: (Everything is going according to plan…)
King Valtos: (Everything is going just great! Gods, I hope that circus has hotdogs. It’s been years since I had a good hotdog. Not since… Oh gods, FLORAAAAAAAAAAINE!)

Also, I think this is the last time a dutch angle is used properly in this game. I might be wrong though.

CUTSCENE: Archduke Dalam Arrives

Meanwhile, just outside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle…

Sir Cyrus, Captain of the Castleguard, swaggers up to the main gate in preparation for Archduke Dalam’s arrival.

Cyrus: Anything to report?
Castleguardsman: No sir.

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Farian March” (Unreleased Track)

And what an arrival it is, folks! A raucous procession comes thundering into the city.

Farian banners held high, confetti falling from… The open sky, I guess.

Exotic beasts, palanquins, colourgards, half the damn Farian army. The Archduke doesn’t exactly travel lightly, one assumes.

In fact, this kind of reminds me of something…

The Farian Army: Prince Ali, mighty is he, Ali Abab—
Archduke Dalam: Stop it! I am not getting sued again because of you people.

That, and there’s already been enough Disney jokes in this post.

The Archduke’s arrival has drawn quite a crowd. It seems as though all of Balandor is out in the streets to welcome the man… who nearly razed their city to the ground the last time he was here.

Yaaaaay, peace talks!

Then again, no one really wants to try and pull the ‘uppity war victim seeking petty revenge’ thing with the Farian Red Guard crawling all over the city streets. These guys look silly, but they’re deadly at any distance.

Don’t ask me how they got those helmets on their heads with those barbed horns…

And here he is, the man himself.

And because Faria’s thing apparently is horns, Archduke Dalam has decided to just embrace it completely, and arrives in town on a palanquin made out of what I can only assume are the antlers of some great majestic Miazaki-esque Forest Spirit creature that the Archduke personally killed, dressed, and de-horned himself. All in the name of creating the image of a man who’s bloody chair says “I am not to be messed with.”

Castleguardsman: That is quite a procession.

Cyrus does not seem to agree.

Cyrus: I hope the Archduke has enough pillows. Warmongering Farian scum.
Cyrus: I mean, he’s got nice taste in chairs, buuuut half my soldiers are orphans because of him. So… It’s kind of a wash.

Archduke Dalam of Faria, ladies and gentleman. A man exhibiting the perfect blend of “I’m a living god,” and “I look ridiculous, don’t I?”

Suddenly, Dalam calls a halt to the procession in front of Cyrus. Oh dear, I think he heard Cyrus smack talking him.

Archduke Dalam: Who are you?

And does Archduke Dalam need to smack a bitch up?

Cyrus: I am Cyrus of Balandor. Captain of the Castleguard. Your Excellency, we are most honoured by your visit.

Archduke Dalam: Hmm. Are you now? Tell me, sir. How is His Grace? Is he doing well these days?
Cyrus: He is doing quite well, Your Excellency.
Archduke Dalam: Is he now? That’s good to hear. Now then, if you will excuse me.
Archduke Dalam: Bitches.

With that digression to establish how big of a bug Cyrus has up his ass about Faria out of the way, Archduke Dalam of the Awesome Chair orders the procession back on its way toward the castle.

Castleguardsman: Does His Grace really hope to make peace with these people?
Cyrus: Peace with the Farians? The idea makes my blood boil. Has the King forgotten so soon?
Cyrus: I don’t care how cool their chairs are. It’s the principle of the matter!

Or maybe you’re just racist, Cyrus. Did you ever think of it that way? No, I bet you didn’t.

I mean, Dalam seems like a pretty chill guy. His army’s not setting anything on fire… this time. And he was genuinely interested in the well-being of King Valtos and was pleased to hear he was doing quite well. The fact that he’s even here right now under peaceful pretenses says a lot more about him than you grumbling about it does about you.

Hell, I bet you could pull any Farian soldier out of Dalam’s needlessly spectacular honourguard parade and he or she would probably have an equal amount of horror stories about what Balandor did to Faria over the course of the war. War is a two-way street, dude, and the old saying goes "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."

Look, I like the guy and all, but Cyrus is bit of a dickhead.

So with the ominous images of the asses of giant fantastical beasts sauntering through the castle gates, we now shift scene again to meet our actual main characters.

God, this prologue goes on forever…

CUTSCENE: Leonard & Orren ~ Departing for Parma
CUTSCENE MUSIC:Rapacci Wine Company” (Disc 1, Track 3)

Meanwhile, out in the merchant quarter of town, the echoes from the fireworks being shot off by Archeduke Dalam’s “look at me plebs!” procession foretell a momentous happening only seconds away now.

We come now to Rapacci Wines, an otherwise unassuming wine shop here in Balandor. They say big things have small beginnings. Well, you can’t get much smaller than this.

…Unless you’re a Papitaur, or Belcitane, maybe.

Orren: So there I was… Holy shit! There I am!

Our main character and colour commentator, ladies and gentlemen! Know him, love him, draw lots of fan art of him.

And here we also meet Rapacci, the owner of the creatively named Rapacci Wines. Business is kind of slow today, apparently, seeing as how he’s got Orren off in a corner doing an inventory on a wine rack Rapacci already knows exactly how many bottles are in. But that’s just him.

Now, Rapacci himself is a minor character in the grand scheme of things, but he’s also one of the first non-human, non-Farian characters we will be meeting. Rappaci is a Warg. Wargs have this bizzare TV Tropes-style sexual dimorphism thing going on. Male Wargs look all ogre-ish, like Rappaci here does. Female Wargs just look like normal human females with cat ears.

…Oh White Knight Chronicles.

Oh, and this guy’s here too.

This is Leonard. He’s our hero. …Or, he’s going to try to be.

His appearance is met with what is going to become a natural reaction to whenever he appears in a scene: irrational anger.

Rapacci: Dammit, Leonard!

Leonard: Woah!

Rapacci: Where the hell have you been? You better not have forgotten what today is!

Leonard: Yeah, I know.

Leonard: Today is the Princess’ ball. She’s introduced to society and we step into the big time, got it.
Rapacci: So why the hell are you seven hours late for work?
Leonard: What?
Rapacci: It’s one o’clock in the afternoon! You were supposed to be here at SUNUP! Hell, the intern got here on time, and I’m pretty sure he’s mute!
Orren: We had a two hour conversation this morning about how much you hate this ‘Leonard’ character. Hell, you INTERVIEWED ME before you hired me! I am capable of talking.
Rapacci: You’ll keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you, boozeslave. Now, as for you!

Leonard: Whaaaat?
Rapacci: This is a momentous day for Rapacci Wines! The court picked us to supply wine for a party at the castle! We gotta do it right and earn the shop a bona fide royal commendation!
Orren: Wait, does Latin exist in this world?
Leonard: What’s Latin
Orren: Umm…

Rapacci: Ah, I’ve worked my fingers to the bone to get this far…

And he starts crying…

Orren: …I should have applied at the armour merchant’s.

Leonard: Look, I’ll leave for the Parma winery now, and I’ll be back with time to spare.

Rapacci: Ha! You better! I rented a beastwain at the village for you. Use it to cart the wine back here like your life depends on it.

Rapacci: ‘Cause it does!
Rapacci: I’m serious, kid. I will fucking murder you if you screw this up.
Orren: …I know how to dispose of a body!
Rapacci: See, I knew I hired you for a reason.
Leonard: Who is that guy, anyway?
Rapacci: And while you’re at it, that’s the new guy.

Rapacci: Take him with you.

Leonard: Hi there, I’m Leonard.

Orren: Orren. I’ve heard… um… stuff about—

Suddenly, a frickin’ mug comes flying through the air, aaaaaaand…


Leonard: OW!

Rapacci: Just get your butts moving! You can talk on the road!
Leonard: Alright, gods…

Leonard: Let's see... We have to fetch the barrels from the Parma warehouse using the beastwain.
Orren: I know what the angry ogre wants us to do.

Leonard: That is a lot of work.
Orren: Yeah, jobs usually involve that sort of stuff.
Leonard: So what did you do before Rapacci hired you, anyway?
Orren: Bounty hunter. It’s where I got this sweet jacket from.
Leonard: Really?
Orren: I’ll let you decide if I’m telling the truth or not.
Leonard: About the jacket or…?
Orren: It’s gonna be a loooong walk to Parma, isn’t it?

Leonard: Well, let’s get going.

CUTSCENE MUSIC: New Allies” (Unreleased Track)

No, actually, the party just joined Orren.

AREA MUSIC:Balandor Castletown” (Disc 1, Track 4)

So now, a full ten minutes since you clicked the “New Game” option (or New Game+, in this instance), we finally get control over our party and are free to roam around Balandor.

There’s not much to do right now, given the linearity of the game, so we’re just going to run to the next cutscene.

Leonard (and Orren) run down the somehow completely empty main street of Balandor castletown, despite there being like 1,000 people here just a minute ago.

CUTSCENE: The Marcus Revellers

And look who’s coming along to meet them…

Orren: ...So then he says, ‘the clown can stay, but the Ferengi in the gorilla suit has to’—are you even listening to me?

I need an adult…

Hooded Man: Behold, the ravages of age…

Leonard just looks like he crapped every pair of pants he has ever or will ever own.

Leonard: Huh?

The hooded man passes along on his way, leaving Leonard somehow feeling violated, most likely by his repugnant Old Man Stench.

Not a care was given about the encounter by Orren.

Leonard: Gods, I’m gonna smell that in my DREAMS tonight…

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Watching the Permanence Band” (Disc 1, Track 9)

The duo suddenly find themselves in the midst of a throng of people all rushing toward the city gates to see what the new commotion is about.

A crowd is blocking the view, but luckily, Orren is tall enough to see over most of it. Leonard is not. He is tiny.

Even MORE strange beasts come thundering into the city, hauling…

A mobile stage… Oh hey, it’s that circus thing. But who’s that comically squat guy standing on it waving his arms about?

Someone Who’s Totally NOT Belcitane: Ladies and gentlemen! Young and old of Balandor! In honor of Her Highness’ coming-of-age-day, I give you wonders aplenty and sights unlike any!

Someone Who’s Totally NOT Belcitane: Step right up, the Marcus Revellers have arrived!

…Oh shit.

The ‘Marcus Revellers’ begin to put on their show for the crowd.

You know, for an incognito army, these guys are pretty dedicated to their craft…

Leonard: I’ve never seen a circus. This is gonna be some party.
Orren: Eh, I used to be in a circus. It’s not that glamorous.
Leonard: Why’d you leave?
Orren: This crazy princess showed up one day and we put on a special show for her. She kept making our star acrobat do more and more dangerous stunts. I think she might have been trying to blackmail her into something, but we never found out, because after her costume caught fire… Oh that poor girl.
Leonard: Still, was it as fun as they say it is?
Orren: How far is to Parma?

And there, finally, is the end of the story section for Chapter I of Let’s Play White Knight Chronicles I & II.

Next stop, Parma.