Part 10: What Do You Mean 'Plot Contrivance?'
Its like this these know what Im talking about or something.
I honestly dont know how they get up there. Someone help me!
CUTSCENE: Setting Out After the Princess
So we start things off the morning after in Balandor. You know, for a place that got its ass kicked by the Magi a day-and-a-half ago, Balandor has really put itself back together in a hurry.
But hey, what are you honestly expecting? Presentation value? Those things take time and effort, and as weve already hashed out it took Level-5 three years of missed launch windows just to get this far.
In the early morning, the party gathers in front of the main gate to the city.
And also a bird. A plot bird.
The Plot Bird flutters down to the party and lands on Eldores arm.
Eldore: Ive sent out one of these Bigelows to follow the Princess. As we journey it will keep us informed of exactly where she is. Always.
See, its a Plot Bird.
Leonard: The bird will find the Princess for us?
Yulie: Two birds, Leonard. A pair of Bigelows can communicate speech and images over long distances.
Eldore scratches it under its beak. Awww.
Leonard: Thats some trick!
Orren: Yeah, its all freakin amazing until one of the little bastards gets clever and starts broadcasting images of you in the shower or something.
Like the chapter title implies, Bigelows are walking plot contrivances, simultaneously creative and stupid workarounds to let Cisna play a semi-active role in the games plot despite her not actually being anywhere near the
Eldore: It appears that the Princess has been taken east, towards the Nordia Tunnels. We must follow her there.
Orren: So why did you take us to the southern entrance to the city?
No, seriously. Eldore led them to the wrong exit. Go back to the OP and check the map. Where theyre at right now is the way that leads to Balastor Plain. They need to be at Greydall Plain exit if they plan to head for Nordia.
Again, the game is prepping you for Eldores shitty leadership/mentorship with subtle things like this.
Yulie waves goodbye to the Plot Bird. Because Yulie is just sometimes.
Eldore: But first we should avail ourselves of the towns shops and prepare for the journey. Its going to be a long one
Orren: You just HAD to remind me, didnt you, old man?
Orren looks legitimately pissed in this image. I swear I didnt doctor this screenshot at all. Im not that good with Photoshop. It was just a happenstance of the games weird facial animation system.
Also this looks like a really bad album cover with all four of them looking determined and stuff. Or in Leonards case, trying to mimic the angry looks everyones got on their faces, as he doesnt really understand whats going on because this has been his train of thought over the last 72 hours:
Leonard: CISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNA CISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNACISNA
Orren: You dumb son of a bitch.
AREA MUSIC: Balandor Castlestown (Disc 1, Track 4)
So because Eldore cant remember what entrance leads where, weve got to turn around and run all the way through town to the Greydall Plain exit. Technically you could just walk out the Balador Plain exit, or hop onto the world map from a Logic Stone, but Im going to play the hand the game has dealt me, because it makes Eldore look like an idiot. And if theres one thing Im good it in this LP, its making people in this game look like idiots.
Leonard: Bigelows must be useful, huh?
Yulie: Welcome to the world, Leonard.
Eldore: What a curious lad
Say it with me, folks: Leonard is dumb. You just learned about Bigelows because the game just decided to tell you about them. Leonard just learned about them because hes an insular twit.
Also: online direct or private messages between players were carried through a service called b-mail or Bigelow mail, implying that Bigelows also function as standard carrier pigeons in the world of White Knight Chronicles.
The more you know
Yulie: Yeeeah, I'm not such a big Magi fan right now.
Orren: Who the hell would be?
Eldore: So It has begun.
Yulie: Leonard A Knight?
Leonard: I can't believe any of this.
But first, lets stop in and say goodbye to Rapacci, since the last time he saw Leonard was two days ago when he sent him out to Parma with Orren.
Poor Rapacci; between Yulie, Orren, and the collection of thoughts about Cisnas vagina heretofore known as Leonard, he has just lost his entire staff to this insane quest. I hope Sarvain is compensating him somehow, but then again knowing Sarvain, hes probably too busying having small children brought up to the throneroom so he can kick them down the master staircase for his own enjoyment.
Im not doing this idly, the game actually demands that you visit Rapacci before you leave, as indicated by the blinking objective marker star inside Rapacci Wines.
AREA MUSIC: Rapacci Wine Company (Disc 1, Track 3)
Oh thank god I dont gotta caption these ones.
See what I mean. The Magi attack on Balandor Castle was day 1, and their meeting with Sarvain took place the night of day 2 Im assuming at least, because I dont think they expect anyone to believe they got all those fires put out, repaired the throneroom, and managed to set up a pair of flag-draped coffins for Valtos and Dalam in the span of an hour or two after Cisnas kidnapping.
Either way, the game is straining credulity to an extent worthy of an Olympic medal, because either Balandors functionary apparatus was on its goddamn A-game immediately after the attack, or this is the first time Leonard bothered to pop in and tell what for all intents and purposes is his father that he was still alive in two days.
Leonard is just fuck.
Also, yeah, whenever you visit Rapacci Wines, the flute and lute ditty from the start of the game overrides Balandors nromal background music.
Youre taking this remarkably well. Then again, after 18 years of trying to raise Leonard, Rapacci has probably become numb to the idea of Leonard walking out the door and never coming back because hes probably had so many Leonard got hurt/is missing/might be dead scares between then again now thats a non-issue now.
Leonard: Actually yeah. I transformed into a huge suit of armor. And I fought a fire beast and I broke most of the castle trying to save everyone, but it was TOTALLY COOL! I really helped out last night.
Rapacci: You drank all my fucking wine last night, didnt you you dipshit? That was for the PARTY!
Yulie: No, Rapacci, hes actually telling the truth. Sort of.
Hes just being modest. Inside hes celebrating because he never thought hed live to see the day when Leonard got the fuck out of his life. Now he can afford to hire actual competent staff members.
And by handy you mean ±90% of the people playing this game will never use it.
Rapacci gives us the Crystal Camera. Its the games onboard screenshot camera thats pretty useless because you cant share screenshots anywhere but on GeoNet and even then the shots its takes are kind of shitty quality. Its a novelty for the few people who bothered with the online portion of the game. Ill cover this in the Gameplay update at the end of this chapter.
Thanks, White Knight Chronicles for this pointless enforced detour.
Thank you for that image, Rapacci. You asshole.
Quick, delete its memory card, or whatever. I dont want to the take the chance of stumbling across any of Rapaccis shirtless selfies.
This is an interesting little feature which only appears in the game 1 remake. The dummy will reset your characters skills allowing you to start over again and rework your characters skills for free. But, like everything related to this game, theres a catch
If youre level 35 and higher, then youre screwed and your skills are stuck that way and theres no way to change them barring plunking down $10 for a total makeover ticket from the PlayStation Store, which only resets the Avatars skills.
Because, fuck you, give us money.
Oh thats so cute. Rapacci has faith in them.
Leonard: Sorry, Rapacci. Ill come back as soon as I can.
Rapacci: Take yer time, kid. I mean it.
Okay, back on the road.
Eldore: So they wanted the Knight's Ark
Leonard: Please Cisna, be safe.
Yulie: Glad you're worried about our safety too, Leonard.
Orren: I'm pretty sure he doesn't even know one of of us exists. I'll let you guess which one.
Eldore: Come, time is short.
CUTSCENE: Puppets in the Hands of an Idle God
As the party heads toward Greydall Plain, the scene shifts to the Magis monoship.
I have no idea what this logo is supposed to signify, because the Magi adopt an actual logo later on, and it isnt this thing.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Recollection (Disc 1, Track 14)
Cisnas been moping about in her cell since she was absconded with, no doubt thinking of all the various ways shes going to have Belcitane and Dragias executed somehow.
Also they managed to find her a new outfit too, for reasons. Its funny that theyd give her not just such a stylish outfit but an outfit so agreeable to her tastes. Why not just hand her a burlap sack to wear or dress her in one of your drab Magi uniforms.
Unless she just so happened to be wearing this getup under her ball gown or something,
Also, you might be thinking to yourself, hmmm, that looks suspiciously like Player Character clothes. Is Cisna actually going to join the party eventually?
And the answer to that is: FUCK NO, WHAT ARE YOU, STUPID? Cisna is this games designated victim and there is not a force in the universe capable of moving her out of her victim position. Besides herself, anyway, but well get to that.
She flashes back to her fathers murder, sobbing all the while.
Oh hes not dead, hes just sleeping.
Flashback Leonard: Your Kingdom loves and needs you.
Cisna: Melvin-2 I mean
Im legitimately impressed she remembers his name at this point.
She looks out the window longingly.
Cisna: Dumb son of a bitch. I should have grabbed that Ark instead of him.
Whats this? It looks like someone is spying on our fair Empress of All Creation, Long May She Reign.
Oh its these two pricks. What do you guys want? Killed any good puppies lately?
Oh, hey. Shapurs there too. Where the fuck have you been, patchy?
Belcitane: I find it hard to believe this girl truly possesses any power.
Belcitane: Her constant impotent threats notwithstanding.
Belcitane: She seems utterly fragile.
Dragias: You saw what she did, Belcitane.
Ya know, Dragiass voice is so damn deep I feel like I need to transcribe his dialog with the capslock on and bracketed by bold style tags. Anyway
Dragias: It took us two whole years to break the enchantment that kept the Knights power sealed
Dragias: And yet she was able to shatter the same magic in a mere instant. It could only have been the power of the Athwani.
Wait, the what? Are you gonna bother explaining any of this? No?
Belcitane: When eternal ages have passed...
Belcitane: And ancient scars emerge at last...
Belcitane: The earth will cry out for a blade long unseen...
Belcitane: To honour the reborn soul of the Queen.
Belcitane: Was this too foretold in the prophecies?
Dragias: Shouldnt you know if it is or not?
Dragias: Youre bankrolling this cult, arent you? Shouldnt you know whats in your own version of Dianetics or whatever?
Belcitane: Oh, THAT? Eh. I just made it up on the spot. Im putting out a book of poetry next year. What do you think?
Dont miss Puppets in the Hands of an Idle God and Other Poems, by Belictane. Available from HaperCollins, Summer 2015. Check your local booksellers or Amazon.com
Dragias: (Oh wheres thats fucking duck picture gone?)
Belcitane: Hmm? General?
Dragias: Much better.
Dragias: Porphecies? Nonsense!
Dragias: Im not some puppet acting according to some idle gods script.
Dragias: I am ALDUIN! Firstborn of Akatosh!
If you dont get that, look at Daniel Riordans IMDB page. Youre welcome.
OVERWORLD MUSIC: The Content of Nadias (Disc 1, Track 15)
And on General Dragaiss no kings or gods, only man proclamation, we shift scenes back to our
CUTSCENE: Greydall Plain
CUTSCENE / AREA MUSIC: Greydall Plain (Disc 1, Track 19)
Eldore comes to a sudden stop for no good reason, and because Leonard isnt paying attention, he walks right into his shoulder.
Leonard is dumb.
Also, I have no idea why Orren is making that face. I think the game likes to purposefully fuck with you by having the Avatar assume random facial expressions from time to time. Either that or its a rare moment of alignment between the game and the LP wherein the Avatar is just as gobsmacked by Leonards moment of stupidity as Orren is in-universe.
Eldore: The Nordia Tunnels lie eastward beyond this plain.
Leonard: Princess Cisna. We have to save her. We have to.
Id like to imagine Orren just leaning forward and smacking him in the back of the head after saying this.
Hes not experiencing any sort of grief or guilt that he let her get kidnapped, hes just that much in lust with her that it physically hurts him every moment theyre apart.
Yulie: Eldore you dont think they would have attacked the village, do you?
Yeah, because theres something worth wasting an armys precious resources on: murdering a town full of vintners. Still, good on Yulie for having the presence of mind to be concerned about other people besides herself and Cisna. Once again, she comes out head-and-shoulders ahead of Leonard in terms of likeability.
Eldore: Who knows. Whatever the case, we have to press on.
Orren: You are just a beacon of optimism, arent you? Im sure Parmas just fine, Yulie.
Nobody cares enough to bother attacking Parma. Ever.
And so Eldore leads them onward, much in the same way one herds stray cats, Id imagine.
Greydall Plain is by an large a giant samey plain with a path and a river running through it. Its damn near indistinguishable from Balastor Plain at times.
Yulie: Hey, have you heard of the great beasts of Greydall?
Leonard: The great WHAT?! Youre kidding.
Eldore: Well, lets not start jumping at legends.
Orren: Knowing Leonard, one of thems gonna try and kill us in short order.
Eldore: What makes you say that?
Orren: Recent history.
Eldore: Oh my.
So theres a big lake and a river running through Graydall Plain out to the ocean on the western edge of the map. Theres also a boat dock here with a boat.
You cant get in the boat or use it to travel around anywhere and explore any other part of the map or whatever.
Because thats creative and inventive and shows signs of effort, and we cant have that in White Knight Chronicles.
Leonard: The tunnels sure are a long way off.
Eldore: Hmm. Damn, well have to go around.
Yulie: I hear you cant even take walks here because of the monsters.
And of course, the change in aspect ratio means weve made it to the next cutscene. Yay.
CUTSCENE: The Lord of Greydall Plain
Leonard comes to a random halt, for reasons.
Orren: You hear that noise, old man?
Eldore: What is it, Niles?
Orren: The other shoe dropping.
Eldore: I dont
Rubble starts falling from the top of a nearby bluff.
Yulie: Somethings moving over there!
Oh great, its a giant hamster.
Leonard: So theyre trying to stall us.
Eldore: No, thats a wild beast, the servant of no man. That is the lord of Greydall Plain.
Orren: Dont go jumping at legends, huh?
Eldore: Shut it, Niles.
Orren: WOULD YOU STOP CALLING ME THA
Orren: Holy shit. Look at the teeth on that thing.
Yulie: Well I dont like the way hes looking back!
This thing looks and sounds ridiculous, but then again more people are killed each year in Africa by Hippos than by Lions, so Im gonna grant it its due deference (while laughing at it from afar).
But Leonard isnt as smart as me
Look at him trying to be dramatic.
The kid thinks that because hes got that Knight hes an action hero all of the sudden.
Hes playing with powers that are beyond him. Unfortunately, the game never bothers to explore this angle.
This is played 100% straight. Were supposed to think Leonard is being a badass hero in this moment.
Hes challenging a giant cotton swab with tusks to a fight.
Leonard: Somehow, I dont think it wants a belly rub.
Youre a tool. Tidus is more badass than you are.
Tidus: Sit down, kid. Let me show you how to play REAL Blitzball, like they do in Zanarkand!
Orren: I distinctly recall telling you to fuck off. Go kick a landmine and die again.
I swear to god, the teeth on this thing
Between this and Pyredaemos, this game has a disquieting oral fixation.
BOSS FIGHT: Ahwahnee (with commentary by nine-gear crow and Blind Sally).
So here we go, this is one of these plot battles, only without the plot. At times, certain characters need to be in certain boss fights, so the game will handily pause the action and let you swap out characters 2 and 3 before the fight actually begins in earnest.
Its about the only example of the game taking it easy on the player.
In this case, Leonard has to be in the party for this fight because the game is trying to coerce you into using the White Knight against Ahwahnee.
So why no indulge it.
Leonard: O Wizel, white warrior, wielder of the ancient sword, grant me your power
Now its Knight-on- whatever the hell this thing is actually supposed to be.
Ahwahnee is vulnerable to slashing attacks and fire-elemental attacks. So now you know the only skill you need to spam between now and the victory cutscene.
White Knight Chronicles! Innovative gameplay at its finest.
I do kind of like that the Knight will leap into the air to add more momentum to its slash attacks, but its really just window dressing.
You press button, character does animation, numbers appear on screen. A drinking bird positioned over the X button on the DualShock3 and a Roomba with a knife taped to it could beat White Knight Chronicles given enough time for level grinding.
Slash slash slash. Down it goes.
CUTSCENE: The Lord of Greydall Plain (continued)
Leonard: Got em!
And of course he runs up to proudly admire his kill and see the awesome power of the Knights handiwork up close.
Leonard: What a brute.
Yulie: Ill say.
Orren: What? Compared to Pyredaemos? Really?
Eldore: Indeed. But these beasts do not attack humans without provocation.
Eldore: Though I dont like to think it, maybe theyre responding to the Knights awakening.
Orren: You son of a bitch. Your EXISTENCE angers nature. How did you manage THAT?!
Yulie: So what are you saying? The Knights power makes them go on the rampage?
Eldore: It could be.
Suddenly shit-for-brains isnt feeling too proud about felling the Lord of Greydall plain.
Leonard: Then this fella wasnt really a bad guy?
This plot point will never be touched on again.
In stronger works of fiction, this would be a teachable, character-shaping moment. Leonard just learned a harsh truth about the nature and price of his new powers. What he thought was a great victory has been subverted into a shameful defeat with a simple revelation.
In a better-crafted story, Leonard would carry the weight of Ahwahnee with him for a long time and maybe go out of his way to avoid areas with giant monsters so as not to let the Knights power provoke any more otherwise innocent creatures into attacking him and forcing him to put them down in self-defence.
In White Knight Chronicles, Leonard will come back here and murder like 50 Ahwahnees between now and the end of the game for extra EXP. The revelation is meaningless, the lesson unlearnt. Leonards character trajectory remains unchanged even after a gut-rending trauma like this.
Also, if Eldore knew this was a possibility, why not mention it ahead of time instead of letting Leonard walk into this emotional trap and then spring it on him after the fact so he feels like shit when it happens. If Eldore had said something ahead of time, maybe Leonard would have been better prepared to deal with it and it wouldnt have been such a shock to his system.
Leonard is dumb, but Eldores also kind of a thoughtless rube. A modern Epimetheus, folks. Cultural gloss: Epimetheus was the twin brother of the titan Prometheus in Greek mythology. He was notable for being exceptionally dumb, as his name literally means after-thought. Prometheus, meanwhile was exceptionally clever, as his name meant fore-through.
And while I know its easy and funny to get angry at Leonard as a character for doing stupid things, really, the guy Im actually mad at is Akihiro Hino and his writing staff.
Hino-san, you suck at writing. Its time to put the keyboard down, buddy. Or maybe try and talk Hayao Miazaki into giving you some screenwriting lessons before he retires again.
Leonard: Im sorry
Leonard: I wont forget you, Ahwahne
Orren: Should I start a countdown or something?
Yulie: Five Four Three
Leonard: Don't worry, Cisna! Im coming to rescue you! Because I love you!
Eldore: God. Damn