The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow

Part 10: What Do You Mean 'Plot Contrivance?'

It’s like this these know what I’m talking about or something.

I honestly don’t 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 we’ve 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 Eldore’s arm.

Eldore: I’ve 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, it’s 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: That’s some trick!
Orren: Yeah, it’s 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 game’s plot despite her not actually being anywhere near the protagonists I can’t use that word with a straight face because it implies they might possibly do something heroic at some point and I’ve played this game enough times to know they don’t. Ever.

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 they’re 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 Eldore’s 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 town’s shops and prepare for the journey. It’s going to be a long one…

Orren: You just HAD to remind me, didn’t you, old man?

Orren looks legitimately pissed in this image. I swear I didn’t doctor this screenshot at all. I’m not that good with Photoshop. It was just a happenstance of the game’s weird facial animation system.

Also this looks like a really bad album cover with all four of them looking determined and stuff. Or in Leonard’s case, trying to mimic the angry looks everyone’s got on their faces, as he doesn’t really understand what’s going on because this has been his train of thought over the last 72 hours:

Orren: You dumb son of a bitch.

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

So because Eldore can’t remember what entrance leads where, we’ve 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 I’m going to play the hand the game has dealt me, because it makes Eldore look like an idiot. And if there’s one thing I’m good it in this LP, it’s 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 he’s 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, let’s 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 Cisna’s 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, he’s probably too busying having small children brought up to the throneroom so he can kick them down the master staircase for his own enjoyment.

I’m 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 don’t 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… I’m assuming at least, because I don’t 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 Cisna’s kidnapping.

Either way, the game is straining credulity to an extent worthy of an Olympic medal, because either Balandor’s 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 Balandor’s nromal background music.

You’re 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 he’s probably had so many ‘Leonard got hurt/is missing/might be dead’ scares between then again now that’s 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, didn’t you you dipshit? That was for the PARTY!
Yulie: No, Rapacci, he’s actually telling the truth. …Sort of.

He’s just being modest. Inside he’s celebrating because he never thought he’d 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. It’s the game’s onboard screenshot camera that’s pretty useless because you can’t share screenshots anywhere but on GeoNet and even then the shots its takes are kind of shitty quality. It’s a novelty for the few people who bothered with the online portion of the game. I’ll 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 don’t want to the take the chance of stumbling across any of Rapacci’s 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, there’s a catch…

If you’re level 35 and higher, then you’re screwed and your skills are stuck that way and there’s no way to change them barring plunking down $10 for a total makeover ticket from the PlayStation Store, which only resets the Avatar’s skills.

Because, fuck you, give us money.

Oh that’s so cute. Rapacci has faith in them.

Leonard: Sorry, Rapacci. I’ll 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 Magi’s monoship.

I have no idea what this logo is supposed to signify, because the Magi adopt an actual logo later on, and it isn’t this thing.

CUTSCENE MUSIC: “Recollection” (Disc 1, Track 14)

Cisna’s been moping about in her cell since she was absconded with, no doubt thinking of all the various ways she’s going to have Belcitane and Dragias executed… somehow.

Also they managed to find her a new outfit too, for… reasons. It’s funny that they’d 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 game’s designated victim and there is not a force in the universe capable of moving her out of her victim position. …Besides herself, anyway, but we’ll get to that.

She flashes back to her father’s murder, sobbing all the while.

Oh he’s not dead, he’s just sleeping.

Flashback Leonard: Your Kingdom loves and needs you.

Cisna: Melvin-2… I mean—
Cisna: Leonard…

I’m 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.

What’s this? It looks like someone is spying on our fair Empress of All Creation, Long May She Reign.

Oh it’s these two pricks. What do you guys want? Killed any good puppies lately?

Oh, hey. Shapur’s 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, Dragias’s 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 Knight’s 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?

Fuck you.

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: Shouldn’t you know if it is or not?
Belcitane: What?
Dragias: You’re bankrolling this cult, aren’t you? Shouldn’t you know what’s in your own version of Dianetics or whatever?
Belcitane: Oh, THAT? Eh. I just made it up on the spot. I’m putting out a book of poetry next year. What do you think?

Don’t miss Puppets in the Hands of an Idle God and Other Poems, by Belictane. Available from HaperCollins, Summer 2015. Check your local booksellers or

Dragias: (Oh where’s that’s fucking duck picture gone?)
Belcitane: Hmm? General?
Dragias: Much better.

Dragias: Porphecies? Nonsense!

Dragias: I’m not some puppet acting according to some idle god’s script.
Dragias: I am ALDUIN! Firstborn of Akatosh!

…If you don’t get that, look at Daniel Riordan’s IMDB page. You’re welcome.

OVERWORLD MUSIC:The Content of Nadias” (Disc 1, Track 15)

And on General Dragais’s “no kings or gods, only man” proclamation, we shift scenes back to our somebody come up with a better descriptor tan ‘heroes’, please out on Greydall plain.

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 isn’t 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 it’s a rare moment of alignment between the game and the LP wherein the Avatar is just as gobsmacked by Leonard’s 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.

I’d like to imagine Orren just leaning forward and smacking him in the back of the head after saying this.

He’s not experiencing any sort of grief or guilt that he let her get kidnapped, he’s just that much in lust with her that it physically hurts him every moment they’re apart.

Yulie: Eldore… you don’t think they would have attacked the village, do you?

Yeah, because there’s something worth wasting an army’s 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, aren’t you? I’m sure Parma’s 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, I’d imagine.

Greydall Plain is by an large a giant samey plain with a path and a river running through it. It’s damn near indistinguishable from Balastor Plain at times.

Yulie: Hey, have you heard of the great beasts of Greydall?
Leonard: The great WHAT?! You’re kidding.
Eldore: Well, let’s not start jumping at legends.
Orren: Knowing Leonard, one of them’s gonna try and kill us in short order.
Eldore: What makes you say that?
Orren: Recent history.
Eldore: Oh my.

So there’s a big lake and a river running through Graydall Plain out to the ocean on the western edge of the map. There’s also a boat dock here with a boat.

You can’t get in the boat or use it to travel around anywhere and explore any other part of the map or whatever.

Because that’s creative and inventive and shows signs of effort, and we can’t have that in White Knight Chronicles.

Leonard: The tunnels sure are a long way off.
Eldore: Hmm. Damn, we’ll have to go around.
Yulie: I hear you can’t even take walks here because of the monsters.

And of course, the change in aspect ratio means we’ve 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 don’t—

Rubble starts falling from the top of a nearby bluff.

Yulie: Look!

Yulie: Something’s moving over there!

Oh great, it’s a giant hamster.

Leonard: So they’re trying to stall us.

Eldore: No, that’s a wild beast, the servant of no man. That is the lord of Greydall Plain.
Orren: Don’t go ‘jumping at legends’, huh?
Eldore: Shut it, Niles.

Orren: Holy shit. Look at the teeth on that thing.
Yulie: …Well I don’t like the way he’s 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 I’m gonna grant it it’s due deference (while laughing at it from afar).

But Leonard isn’t as smart as me…

Look at him trying to be dramatic.

The kid thinks that because he’s got that Knight he’s an action hero all of the sudden.

He’s playing with powers that are beyond him. Unfortunately, the game never bothers to explore this angle.

This is played 100% straight. We’re supposed to think Leonard is being a badass hero in this moment.

He’s challenging a giant cotton swab with tusks to a fight.

Leonard: Somehow, I don’t think it wants a belly rub.

…You’re 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.

It’s 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…

Leonard: Verto!

Now it’s 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 it’s 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 Knight’s handiwork up close.

Leonard: What a brute.

Yulie: I’ll say.
Orren: What? Compared to Pyredaemos? Really?

Eldore: Indeed. But these beasts do not attack humans without provocation.

Eldore: Though I don’t like to think it, maybe they’re responding to the Knight’s awakening.

Orren: You son of a bitch. Your EXISTENCE angers nature. How did you manage THAT?!

Yulie: So what are you saying? The Knight’s power makes them go on the rampage?
Eldore: It could be.

Suddenly shit-for-brains isn’t feeling too proud about felling the Lord of Greydall plain.

Leonard: Then… this fella wasn’t 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 Knight’s 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. Leonard’s 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 wouldn’t have been such a shock to his system.

Leonard is dumb, but Eldore’s 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 it’s easy and funny to get angry at Leonard as a character for doing stupid things, really, the guy I’m actually mad at is Akihiro Hino and his writing staff.

Hino-san, you suck at writing. It’s 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: I’m sorry…

Leonard: I won’t forget you, Ahwahne…

Orren: Should I start a countdown or something?

Yulie: Five… Four… Three…
Leonard: Don't worry, Cisna! I’m coming to rescue you! Because I love you!
Eldore: God. Damn…