Part 5: Ballroom Blitz
Featured in this chapter: murder, depression, classism, violence, skullduggery, abandonment issues, more murder, and Kevin Bacon.
Not featured in this chapter: kick-ass guitar solos.
CUTSCENE: The Wine Delivery
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Watching the Permenance Band (Disc 1, Track 9)
We return to the action in the midst of the circus. The Marcus Revellers are putting on a show for the crowds outside the castle.
And for the most part, they seem to be enjoying it. Then again, these people would probably have this reaction to a public beheading. Also note the impractical and just flat-out weird design of the portcullis in the background.
How does that even work?
Oh, hey, theres our heroes too.
Yulie seems enthralled with it, at the very least. Leonard and Orren? Not so much.
Yulie: Look! Somethings going on.
Leonard & Orren: Seen it.
Raus: Ooh! I just love festivities!
Orren: I seem to recall saying something about you not talking.
Leonard: Wonders aplenty and sights unlike any...
Leonard: Sorry folks, the castle delivery comes first.
Well at least hes being responsible for a change. Thats something.
Wow, she is really disappointed by this whole not getting to see the murder circus thing. Either that or shes resigning herself to the fact that she just cant get the hell away from Leonard, even for a moment.
The wine wagon finally saunters up to the castle gates, well into what Im assuming is the next morning at this point.
Im sure the guards are going to be very patient and
Look at that face, you know exactly what their reaction is going to be. Look, even Orren can see how screwed they are. Hes not even bothering to fake a smile like Yulie at least is.
Leonard, meanwhile, is legitimately pleased as punch that he actually made it to the castle.
Again, we also see the wonky character rendering in effect. Orren is 61 and Leonard only comes up to his chin. Leonard is the same height as Yulie. All three of these characters are 18 years old (the Avatar can be any age you want, but for the sake of the LP, lets just say Orren is about 18-20 because that was how I designed him to look.) You would think Leonard would be at least taller than a girl his own age, but nope.
This is where designing a tall Avatar has its disadvantages. At this point in the story where Orren is a semi-prominent character (read: prop), he sticks out because hes a frickin giant compared to Yulie and Leonard, yet from here on out the only reason youre going to notice him in scenes at all is because he is so tall he actually appears over other characters shoulders enough to be visible.
Oh yeah, theres story to be done
Castleguardsman #1: Who are you then?
Leonard: Rapacci Wines, sir.
Here to guarantee Rapacci goes bankrupt by the end of the month by bad word-of-mouth.
Castleguardsman #1: I thought we ordered Dominos?
Leonard: Were here to deliver tonights wine.
Castleguardsman #1: Oh, the booze.
Castleguardsman #1: Alright, weve been expecting you.
Castleguardsman #1: though you were supposed to be here hours ago.
Orren: Hah. Tell me about it
Castleguardsman #2: Where the hell have you been? Merchants shouldnt keep the castle waiting!
Orren: Yeah, nice dig at the working class there, champ. We can turn around and leave if you want.
Castleguardsman #1: Fantasy-Jesus, Garreth, calm down.
Castleguardsman #2: Hey! You know what they call a party without alcohol, Donnel? A crappy party.
Leonard tries to explain the situation in his own special way
Leonard: Well, you see, we were attacked by a monster on the way to the warehouse and
Orren: You dumbass, thats not what happened. We ran into a troll on Balastor Plain and we kicked its ass. Probably took a minute to kill, tops. Go check, Im pretty sure its corpse is still out there blocking the path to Parma. We were late because this goober
Raus: Is that my cue?
Orren: Shut it! We were late because this goober drives his wagon like a snail runs a marathon.
Our angry bourgeoisie-bootlicking guardsman doesnt care and yells at Leonard to do his job properly. Note: this guy is only a dick because hes a snob, otherwise hes 100% in the right to be pissed off at Leonard right now.
Castleguardsman #2: Stuff the excuses and get that wine inside, now!
Castleguardsman #2: Dont make me shove this spear up your ass!
Yulie handles the situation with some rather uncharacteristic dignity and poise, however.
Yulie: Yes sir. We at Rapacci Wines look forward to serving you again!
And were walking
Yulie: Humph. Jerks. Have a heart! Sure, Ill serve them again. If its a boot in the face!
Ah, theres the Yulie I know and love.
Hopefully the actual staff will be a little pleasanter to deal with.
Leonard: Good evening, maam. Heres your wine order.
Castle Stewardess: Thank you, lad. This will do fine.
Leonard: Right. Well be off then
"CUTSCENE MUSIC": Quest Complete (Unreleased Track)
Jobs done. Lets go home.
Nah! Im screwing with you. This is White Knight Chronicles
Weve got mountains of stupid ahead of us. Look at that face. Something stupid is brewing as we speak.
Leonard, being a nosy idiot, just wanders right up to the front gate of the castle and peeks his head in to try and get a glimpse of how the other 1% live.
Yulie: Woah! What are you doing?! You cant go in there!
Leonard: Whats wrong with one quick peek?
Orren: If were lucky, detention and summary execution.
Yulie: Thats a little morbid.
Orren: And while youre chewing me out, Leonards already snuck inside the castle.
Yulie: Oh, son of a WHORE! Im gonna kill him!
Finally, however, something good happens. Stare long and hard at this image, folks. This is the last we see of Raus. Ever. Look at him standing there all confused and alone and comically tiny in the moonlight.
Good night, sweet prick. May flights of assholes sing thee to thyyou know what, youre not even worth using a joke I stole from the goddamn Nostalgia Critic for on.
Just, go away
Raus: Oh dear. Miss Yulie, Chief
Raus: Angry tall foreign guy
Raus: Ooh. What am I luggage?
Moments later, the wagon beast ate him.
CUTSCENE: The Royal Ball ~ Leonard Remembers
CUTSCENE MUSIC: The Royal Dance (Disc 1, Track 10)
Meanwhile, in the lap of luxury
Leonard: Woah. Cool.
Orren: (Somewhat impressed.)
Yulie: Seriously though, why havent we been stopped by anyone yet?
I want to pause to examine this point for a moment. Valtos and the men serving under him are really bad at this whole security thing.
In the brief time weve known them, they have let into their city a blatantly obvious mind-rapey old wizard, and an uncredentialed circus that no one has ever heard of before full of soldiers in disguise on nothing more than the word of some schmuck in a suit of armor that they wanted to perform for Cisnas birthday celebration.
And now they have let three teenage commoners of unknown backgrounds and affiliations just walk right into the single biggest cultural and diplomatic event for Balandor as a nation in the last 50-some years. Sure, we know them from being stuck with them for the last two chapters, but nobody here does. They could be assassins for all anyone knows, here to murder King Valtos and Princess Cisna, or Archduke Dalam and any of the 5,000 Farians hes brought with him in his entourage, or maybe theyre here to kill one of these nobles or just cause havoc in general. Maybe theyre aggrieved war victims so opposed to the idea of peace with Faria that theyre willing to kill someoneanyoneto prevent it from happening? Who knows?
Its a plot contrivance. Leonard has to be inside the castle for Reasons, so well just have him sneak in and not get caught or questioned by anyone. Yet it just goes to further cement Balandor as a generally idealistic Disney kingdom of good guys thats steeped in naivety. Im pretty sure this party at the castle is by invite only. There arent any other commoners here at this ball, only our three player characters, and Im pretty sure No, its cool, were the guys who brought your wine tonight is not a valid enough excuse to give for why youve been found in the middle of a formal ball youre not supposed to be at. Then again, its bad on the Castleguard for letting them get this far.
We are witnessing a total systematic failure to security on the part of the Kingdom of Balandor as personified at this moment by Leonard, Yulie, and Orren.
Im going to be blunt here: Balandor deserves everything that is about to happen to it in the next twenty minutes.
The king who doesnt know how do internal security doesnt get to stay king for long.
Inside the grand ballroom, the orchestra is playing a waltz, the nobles are dancing
AndJESUS! What is this, Final Fantasy VIII?
Pictured: A visual summation of the Avatars role in White Knight Chronicles I & II
Oh, hey, theres the King.
King Valtos: I have to pee
Fuck the King.
His gaze is caught by something. The smile that crosses his face suggests that Princes Cisna is making her grand entrance.
Princess Cisna is making her grand entrance. Shes flanked by two members of her elite Queensguard, women warriors trained in the art of killing and loyal to their monarch-in-waiting to the death. Here they are disguised as a pair of handmaidens.
The time of Cisnas decapitation strike draws near
Princess Cisna: (First things first: I am melting down that stupid crown. My crown needs to be WAY more terrifying to look at.)
Pictured: The look of a man enraptured in fatherly love, and incapable of perceiving patricidal/regicidal intent.
(I am of course kidding about Cisna being a power-mad tyrant-in-waiting, but this joke is just too amusing to let go ofplus, Kari Walhgren has played some rather batshit crazy power-mad characters before in her career, so Im technically within my rights here as LP Maestro.)
The nobles begin to catch sight of their future autocrat descending the staircase to stand by her fathers side.
The guy in centerframe looks like he just smelled a fart or something. Probably the lady in the yellow dresss fart.
The princess presents herself to the gathering of the nations nobility.
Princess Cisna: (Drink it in, mortals. Week One: We celebrate the beginning of my reign. Week Two: Were invading Greede. Im gonna make the hippie guy my bitch, or something.)
The crowd stands in awe and horror before their new goddess.
Leonard: Hey Thats her, the Princess!
Um, Leonard? Theres something wrong with your eyes. I think you might
Oh, never mind. He just had a stroke.
LPs over folks! Go home.
Im nine-gear crow, and on behalf of Blind Sally, Id just like to say thank you for suffering through White Knight Chronicles with me, and
The game continues.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Recollection
Leonard flashes back to his childhood at the sight of our fair Princess Cisna, Long May She Reign. Somehow, hes at Balandor Castle, looking in the fountain at his reflection, and probably wondering how life is going for the upside-down kid inside the water.
I really dont have anything snide to say about this part. I actually think its sweet and it does show that Rapaccis actually a) got a soft side, and b) has been taking care of Leonard (and Yulie, for that matter) for quite some time.
I have no idea what Rapacci was doing at the castle, nor why he felt the need to bring Leonard along with him, however.
Actually, I do know why he had to bring Leonard along with him. The kid is 18, and he still needs adult supervision.
Kid Leonard: Can we get ice cream?
Rapacci: Youll get nothing and like it.
At the exact same time, young Princess Cisna comes along, flanked again by her Queensguard, I mean handmaidens.
I seriously feel like Zeldas Lullaby should be playing right now. Weve got a pair of kids, a royal and a commoner, in a castle garden, doing (or about to do) things theyre not supposed to. Theres a potentially violent guy with green skin in the periphery, and a handmaiden (two, actually) lurking about. Im getting Ocarina of Time flashbacks like nobodys business.
Cisna catches sight of Leonard. Seriously, I think shes about to send him off to go meet with the Gorons on Death Mountain.
A look of utter confusion. Par for the course for Leonard.
Also, I love how hes wearing essentially a child-sized version of his present-day wardrobe. Its like it grew with him or something.
Also something to point out: If you equip different armours, the characters appearances change to reflect what theyre equipped with, and that carries over to all the live-rendered cutscenes. Id like to imagine if you had some type of armour set on Leonard right now, hed be wearing a child-sized version of that armour in this flashback. But alas, no one at Level-5 was either that creative, or that funny.
Kid Cisna: Yay! New vassals!
Kid Cisna: Come here! I want to you go kill a dragon for me!
Handmaiden: Oh gods! Hurry! Stop her!
But alas, they just kind of give up the chase as soon as she gets out the door because its not actually their job to keep the sole heir to the throne of Balandor out of danger or anything.
Eh, they dont tell the King and Queen shit anyway, so why start now.
Kid Cisna: Whats your name? Never mind, Im going to call you Melvin. Melvin-2, actually. Melvin-1 kind of died when I had him thrown in the Iron Maiden.
Kid Leonard: I want my Mommy!
Cisna laughs playfully.
Oh god! Shes going in for the kill!
Oh, never mind. Shes just reaching for a butterfly. To kill it.
King Silas: Did I ever tell you the story about when I became King? I was standing in a meadow, and thats when they came. I felt a shadow above me. I looked up and saw a great swarm of butterflies. And they circled around me, like leaves in a storm. Floating. Soft. Landing upon my head like a crowna living crown! Gods signal to begin!
Seriously, go watch Kings. Its up on Netflix and Hulu and it was a beautiful poetic series that NBC didnt know what to do with so they murdered it.
Go watch it. Ian McShane will thank you for it. (Probably not, but its the thought that countsand its still infinitely better than White Knight Chronicles).
The butterfly takes off to the sky and towards freedom, leaving Leonard and Cisna alone in their now-ruined moment.
Kid Leonard: Well that was kind of
Kid Cisna: Bored now. Bye.
Cut to white, aaaaaaand
Were back to the present.
And theres your setup for this games non-love story: Leonard met Cisna 10 years ago for about five seconds and fell in love-from-afar with her, while in those five seconds she was more infatuated with a butterfly than him.
This one moment of misread intent is going to be the genesis of so much pain and frustration for everyone involved in this story in short order.
This game has the biggest case of Shes Just Not That Into You male/female chemistry since the 2008 Prince of Persia reboot (where the female romantic lead also happened to be voiced by Kari Walhgren ).
Because Leonard is an impulsive idiot.
Yulie comes right out of nowhere and dogpiles on Leonard, knocking his dumb ass to the ground. Almost, at least.
Yulie: Heh heh. Leonard. What are you doing?
She looks up to see what held the boys gaze so attentively.
And she no-likeee. A new challenger appears!
Yulie: Hrmm. Its rude to stare at royalty, you know.
Orren: How about jumping on other peoples backs for no good reason?
Yulie: I punched out three barons just getting over here, you want some too?
CUTSCENE: It's Showtime!
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Watching the Permenance Band (Disc 1, Track 9)
Lets see whats going on outside, shall we?
Again, these guys are up to no good, but my god if they arent talented sons of guns.
Theyve even got fire-jugglers!
And their beasts do tricks too!
Theyve even got a midget actoh wait, its just Belcitane.
Someone Who Is Definitely NOT Belcitane: Heh heh heh.
Snidely Whiplash, ladies and gentlemen. This is a man confident enough in his character alignment to twirl his mustache with gusto. You see what I mean about why I love Belcitane? The man enjoys the fuck out of being an evil prick.
Someone Who Is Definitely NOT Belcitane: Chaotic Evil For Life.
Crowd: Bring back that hot dancing chick!
Someone Who Is Definitely NOT Belcitane: Time to blow them away.
Someone Who Is Definitely NOT Belcitane: See how subtle Im being?
Someone Who Is Definitely NOT Belcitane: Enough of this charade!
This circus has everything. Acrobats, jugglers, fire-dancers, trained beasts, and a quick-change artist. Dont believe me?
Belcitane throws his maestros robe and top hat into the air, aaaand
Hes changed into his normal attire before they even hit the ground.
Someone Who Definitely IS Belcitane: Its showtime!
Hot DAMN! I dont think that was supposed to happen, actually. I think Belcys had a pyrotechnics malfunction and just blew his ass straight to hell.
(Actually you can see him jump off the barge before it goes up in the video)
CUTSCENE MUSIC: A Worthy Opponent Draws Near
The explosion sends debris flying in all direction and smoke fills the town square.
The peasantry begin to panic, sensing this might not have been a part of the show
Crowd: Are we getting an encore, or what?
A giant flame-spewing monster with a weird helmet-like contraption and a giant cannon on its back lumbers out of the wreckage of the parade barge.
How they managed to keep this thing concealed, I dont know, but Im kind of impressed. Then again, like I just finished ranting about, Balandor security is kind of wonting.
The beast begins to lumber forward, towards the castle.
The side panels on the other wagons burst open and soldiers and black armour come pouring out.
They start dispersing through the crowd, killing anyone in their path.
This dirty bastard just left his wife and kids to die. Hes looking back one last time as they scream for him before theyre crushed to death before the giant walking tankbeast.
As Pansyass runs away from the slaughter, our old friend the hooded man makes his return, slowly shuffling toward the chaos, dragging his giant wrapped Im100%positiveitsnotaswordoranything.
Hooded Man: Whats this?
Hooded Man: No, seriously. Ive just been wandering around town this whole time. C.C.! Niles! What the hell is going on here?
A soldier spots him and readies to attack.
Come on, Maxwell, show us some more cool wizard crap.
Well, I guess thats kind of magic. I mean, you did just break the laws of spatial reality to whip that robe off, but okay. And for your next trick?
I love how the hood maintains its exact form as it flies off of him. Its almost like they didnt care to animate in any way resembling how a piece of normal clothing would react in this scene because, well, they just didnt care.
Also, oh hey, its that guy from the 2006 Tokyo Game Show con-job trailer.
Hey, a sword is not magic, asshole!
The unidentified soldier collapses at dead at his feet. Still, one-hit kill. Thats something, right?
Mysterious Man: So theyve found it, too.
Um, question! Who are they, and what have they found?
Or you can just run off towards the castle. Eh, whatever, something tells me were gonna need a little more badass real soon.
Meanwhile, back with Unwitting Victims Anonymous.
CUTSCENE: The Attack on Balandor Castle
King Valtos: My noble friends. I thank you all for coming here to celebrate this special day with my daughter.
King Valtos: I dont know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
King Valtos: How proud the late Queen would be. It has been ten years since my beloved wife was lost to me.
Noble Crowd: We know
Sarvain: Oh, get over it already.
King Valtos: Now where was I? Oh yes FLORAAAAAAAINE!
Cisna: (Dont worry, youll see here again real soon, father.)
King Valtos: Today, the daughter the she gave me, my dearest Cisna, celebrates her eighteenth birthday.
King Valtos: And to my continued surprise, she is somehow not married yet. Do I have any volunteers from the crowd, while were at it? Anyone? Moving on
Sarvain: (I dont know whats worse, having to sit through this speech again, or the fact that I have to piss like a racehor)
King Valtos: The kindness you have shown her has made this day possible.
King Valtos: I mean it, thank you for not pointing and laughing at her every time you see her. I mean, so what if shes mute, mutes have done some great things in the past. Why, Ive been told that one of the merchants who supplied todays wine was a mute boy.
Orren: WHY DOES EVERYONE THINK I CANT TALK?!
King Valtos: For that you have my deepest gratitude. Please enjoy tonights festivities.
King Valtos: Glory to Balandor!
Noble Crowd: Glory to
Noble Crowd: Whats this place called again? Oh yeah!
Noble Crowd: Balandor!
No, seriously, in the video there is like a two second pause where it sounds like they need a moment to remember where the hell they are.
And like half the people here are wearing the same dresses and suits. I dont know if theres a fantasy anime equivalent to Joan Rivers in this world, but shes probably died of a stroke by now. [2015 crow: ...oddly prescient on my part, I know .]
Or was killed by the evil circus army. Pick your poison.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: The Royal Dance)
Back to more dancing. Oh joy.
King Valtos: Ha ha hah.
Cisna: (Okay, enough already, after this waltz, I give the signal and its showtime.)
Leonard: Thats weird.
Yeah, you havent been kicked out or thrown in the dungeon yet or anything.
I just cant get over it. Seriously.
Leonard: Doesnt she look kind of sad to you?
Yulie: You think so?
Yulie: Well, you know They say she hasnt spoken for ten whole years. Not since the Queen was killed. You know, when Faria attacked the castle.
King Valtos: FLORAAAAAAINE!
Yulie: He seriously needs to get over that.
Leonard: Cisna saw that?
Bitch, Cisna probably planned that.
The doors suddenly burst wide open. Because, lets face it, anyone can just wander into the middle of this event at this point now that Leonard, Yulie, and Orren have successfully infiltrated it.
A lone soldier staggers through a side door and the music quickly dies down to silence.
Okay, this is a pretty cool shot, this first-person POV of a wounded, winded soldier stumbling through a crowd of apathetic nobility, miffed that hes interrupted their dancing.
Again, its more of these brief touches of artistry present in the game. Theyre fleeting, but you appreciate them all the more when they actually do show up.
Also, in the video you can just barely pick out how everyone immediately parts way for the guard to stagger through, yet theres one or two really oblivious nobles near the back who just keep on dancing. Again, nice touch.
Soldier: Must. Make. Entrance. More. Blatant.
He collapses before the throne.
Soldier: Urgh! Your Grace! A message!
King Valtos: From Batman?
Dickbutt jokes, getcha Dickbutt jokes!
King Valtos: This is a celebration! What the devil is it?
I love how a guard comes bursting into the room in an utter panic, and Valtos is pissed off that hes interrupting his party.
Soldier: The town! A terrible monster has attacked, killing !
King Valtos: A monster?!
King Valtos: Were not insured for that!
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Attack (Disc 1, Track 11)
Well, ask and you shall receive. The front end of the castle bursts open and the giant beast charges in.
Yeah, watch out for that one.
I just love the design of this thing. Its been hidden in shadows and smoke for the most part, but were gonna get some better angles of it real soon. Its basically like a cross between a Balrog and a tank.
And its about to ruin some highborn asses.
See what I mean about these boss subtitles? We dont even get to fight this thing for like another half an hour, in-game time.
The enemy soldiers come pouring into the castle through the giant gaping hole Pyredaemos just burst through the front wall.
Tank wins every time, Troy Baker, Saints Row the Third
Kill em all!
King Valtos: Whats this?
Wrong reaction to be having there, buddy.
Cyrus: Oh, shit, Im in the scene.
Cisna: (Okay, who jumped the gunWait, these arent my soldiers. WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?)
Leonard and Yulie hear faint rumblings of the commotion, even though its taking place like two hundred feet away from them.
Seriously, we get to walk around the throne room for reals in White Knight Chronicles II¸ and once you know the actual layout of this place, this scene just get even more ridiculous based on the camera trickery and plot contrivances they use to make everything work.
Anyway, Leonard nearly gets knocked out by Oancitizen here in a mad rush to escape.
Leonard: Hey, what the ?!
He rushes off to go see whats happening. Yulie, meanwhile, holds on to that cake slice like a champ. She isnt letting something as small as an unprovoked act of terrorism against the crown come between her and her sorbet.
Yulie: Huh? Whats going on?
Again, more cool cinematography, and our first clear shot of Pyredaemos, too.
Leonard: No way A monster?!
Leonard: How did that get inside the castle?!
Leonard clearly missed the giant gaping hole in the front wall directly behind Pyredaemos.
Leonard is dumb.
Cyrus: Dont let them any closer to the King!
Time for an action scene!
And in the script it just says they fight. It saves a lot of time that way George Lucas
Again, credit where its due, Level-5 mo-capped the hell out of this scene. Its about the only scene they did to any actual motion capture work on. Or at least the only one where it really shows through in the animation.
Cyrus sweeps into the fray.
Cyrus: Out of the way, bitch. Im Nolan North!
I apologize for the number of screenshots without captions. This is, Im fairly certain, the only big close-quarters combat scene in the duology, and for what its worth, its choreographed rather well. So Im indulging the game. It wants to show off, so Im going to let it. Because it wont for the most part, from here out.
Cyrus: Troy Baker aint got SHIT on me!
Cyrus: Also, King Kong.
I just like this screenshot because, again, its emblematic of the moments of subtle artistic talent hidden in this game. In the midst of this giant, badass, anime-style one-man-army beatdown, Cyruss sword gets stuck in this guys torso, and he has to yank on it a little bit to dislodge it, throwing him off balance. Its nice little touch, and something I only noticed when doing the prep work for the LP, because it goes by so fast otherwise.
Cyrus: Not today mother
So yeah, Cyrus is pretty badass. I cant wait for him to join the party and be all sorts of awes
Why is the game laughing at me?
Cyrus: No! Stand your ground! Your King and castle need you!
Why are you saying that to me? Im not a part of this.