Part 17: Your Princess Is In Another Ruin
CUTSCENE: The Sand Maze
So here we go, off to rescue Cisna in the middle of a massive blinding sandstorm. I got a good feeling about this, guys.
Leonard: Across the desert again? Urgh.
Oh bitch, bitch, bitch Our HeroTM, ladies and gentlemen!
Eldore: Whats wrong? Dont want to save the Princess?
Leonard: Well yeah, but
Yulie: Blech! Sand in the mouth!
Once again, Yulie saves us from Leonards bitching by being kind of funny. Thank you, Yulie.
You can see the ruins off in the distance there on the horizon. Theyre not that far away, but the sandstorm makes navigating through this part of the desert kind of hard. Also theres a ton of enemies between here and there, so its all very tedious.
The only saving grace is that the sandstorm is an event-specific thing, so as soon as we clear this chapters boss fight it will go away and be back to the regular boring desert.
Just like before, weve also got Kara as a guest character, but not for much longer...
Eldore: How much do the Magi know?
Yulie: You think they have a base close by here?
Theres a new enemy type that appears in the desert: the Golem. Golems are another sub set of humanoid giant enemies different from Knights and Trolls/Giants. Golems are weak against impact attacks and are earth elemental in nature so theyre weak against wind attacks.
The Magi are also in the desert, so were on the right track, it would seem.
And here we are. Okay people. Lets do this.
CUTSCENE: Confronting Belcitane
Leonard: Over there!
Kara: Its them!
Well, look at that, its the Magis monoship.
And its hauling ass away from here.
Oh for gods sake, are you telling me you idiots showed up LATE to
Oh, no wait, theres Belcitane and the Princess.
Take a shot.
Take another shot.
Belcitane: Oh. On a first name basis, are we? Youre more persistent than I thought, I am impressed. And look! Youve picked up a new friend in Albana Why hello there, Kara.
Loving this shit, this man is.
Belcitane: Hmm. It appears that you failed to carry out my orders. Whoopsie!
Well, seeing as how this game has been nothing but failure on all sides, Id say shes doing rather well for herself.
Kara: Wheres Lena? Wheres my sister?!
Belcitane: Youll meet her soon enough. All in good time.
Belcitane: Well, in any case, Im so glad that youre all here. I need help persuading this foolishly stubborn Princess to cooperate.
Cisna: Youre the one refusing to play ball, Tyrion. You let me go and Ill make Magism the state religion of Balandor. Hell, Ill make you Pope if you never touch me again.
Belcitane: Tempting, but
Belcitane: I know you have the power to break the seals of the Athwani. You will unlock the ancient relic that is hidden within these ruins.
Cisna: I told you. I dont know how!
Belcitane: Oh, I think you do! You knew more than enough to unlock the seal of the White Knight in Balandor.
Belcitane: Now do as I say! Or your friends here will be the first to suffer the consequences.
Belcitane: Hmm? Your answer please?
While I love that Belcitane is hamming it up like a motherfucker right here, Im starting to become distressed that Leonard hasnt whipped out the White Knight yet and launched his 4-foot-nothing ass into the wide brown yonder with one swing of Whitesteel.
Again we see the perils of not knowing how to handle your badass game-changing premise. It makes Leonard look like a rube by having him just stand there let Belcy threaten Cisna and his friends instead of just leaping into action right away.
Oh hell, weve got more of Belcitane being a slimy prick to get through than to worry about a little matter like that.
Cisna: But Im telling the truth! The White Knight, it had nothing to do with me!
Belcitane: What do you take me for? A fool?! Youre trying my patience.
Belcitane: I could snap this arm of yours like a twig!
Leonard: Stop that!
Oh, finally. Was that enough to wake you from your coma, son?
Leonard: Damn you, let her go right now!
Orren: Transform into your Knight and make him. Idiot!
Leonard: Wait. I can TRANSFORM? Whaaaaa?!
Belcitane: I have a better idea. Why dont you give me the Knights Ark like a good little boy, hmm?
Leonard: No way!
Belcitane: If you refuse, I assure you, it wont be the Princesss arm that gets broken. Ill snap her pretty white neck instead!
Orren: Yeah, thats smart, kill your only route to global domination. Oh, wait, youre bluffing. Because hes too stupid to figure
Leonard: You bastard!
Leonard: No one hurts the woman Im in like with!
Cisna: Are you there God, its me, Cisna. Can you just like kill everyone in this temple for me? Or just kill me. Either ways fine with me. I dont care anymore. Love, Cisna.
Again, the subtly in this game sometimes: Kara gasps at Belcitane threatening to kill Cisna because she realises if hes crazy enough to kill her, hes crazy enough to also kill or already has killed Lena too.
Because unlike Leonard, Kara is smart.
Belcitane: So, little Leonard. What say you?
Yulie: Sick monsters!
Leonard: Alright. You win
Belcitane: Smart lad. Now then, put the Ark down on the ground there in front of you.
Youre probably wondering why Im not commenting on the fact that the games hero just said I quit to the notion of being a hero. Well, hold on a minute
He turns his back on the Ark and walks back to the party.
So Belcy approaches the Ark with a healthy shit-eating grin. This guys day is going all sorts of awesome.
Suddenly, however, Belcitane is NOT loving this shit.
While the Arks light blinds everyone else, Kara springs into action.
Kara: This way!
She grabs Cisna
And sheppards her to safety.
Leonard picks up the Ark as Kara and Cisna run past him.
Belcitane: Damn you!
Eldore: Oh didnt you know? None may touch the Ark except the Pactmaker himself.
Belcitane knew this. Thats why he tried to have Leonard murderedto sever his connection to the Ark so another person could claim it.
Belcitane is an idiot.
Im also not sure if this was actually planned out ahead of time by the party, or if Kara just managed to take advantage of everyone on either side of the conflict (sans Eldore) forgetting the golden rule of Incorruptus magic bullshit.
Please dont make me acknowledge Leonard doing something thats actually intelligent.
Belcitane: Fine, be that way. Well just do this the hard way. You three!
Okay, here come the mooks.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Gigantes (Unreleased Track)
And it looks like they want to play some card games too.
I swear though, half the music in this game isnt on the games actual soundtrack. So theres something else Level-5 cheaped out on. Im also cross-referencing the White Knight Chronicles II soundtrack, just to be certain and theyre definitely not on that one either. Hence why I've been uploading them myself directly from the game.
Leonard: Wait! Those cards!
Eldore: Thats right, my lad.
Eldore: This is going to be a thing now.
Kara: They wouldnt!
Magi Soldiers: Adveni!
Belcitane: Magic cards! Make my monsters GROW!
Seriously, the Power Rangers theme needs to be playing right now.
So yeah, this is going to be a recurring trope in this game. Since the Magi have only one useable Knight thats MIA at this point for whatever reason, they instead will be making judicious use of Knight knock-offsGigases.
Like, all the goddamn time now.
Okay, three Gigases. Well, at least the game is getting the idea of upping the stakes right. Sort of.
Belcitane: Now my servants! Destroy these pestiferous fools!
Harp on the man for his various excesses if you like, but Im just gonna throw this out there: if I had this kind of power to throw around willy-nilly like that, Id act like an anime super-villain too. Because it seems like it would be a ton of fun.
So now we get to fight a Betaena Gigas (left), an Alphapente Gigas (centre), and an Alphaena Gigas (right). There are seven types of "normal" gigases all told. We've already seen Kara model the Alphamiden Gigas in addition to these three, and the final three mook gigases, the Betatria, Betapente, and Alphatria Gigases will be cropping up here and there eventually, particularly in first boss fight of the second game.
So now that the Magi have fielded a credible threat, Leonard does what he should have done five minutes ago and finally transforms into the White Knight.
No long transformation sequence this time. Weve got giant asses to kick.
BOSS FIGHT: Alphapente Gigas, Betaena Gigas & Alphena Gigas / Grand Gigas
Leonard: Oh come on!
So its three-on-one for this battle, since characters 2 and 3 amount to nothing but healers for the White Knight and two other targets to hit besides the White Knight.
Ill cover the other particulars of the battles in the video itself.
Leonard: He's off his rocker!
Anyway, the Gigases go down like 1
CUTSCENE: Human Sacrifice
Belcitane: Not too shabby. However, I still have more cards to play!
Hes speaking both literally and metaphorically.
Belcitane: Arise men!
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Tense Battle (Disc 1, Track 30)
The Gigases start getting back to their feet.
Belcitane: Now, its your turn, my dear.
Hey, look at that. Its Lena. Are you going to save her too now?
Lena: [Tortured screams]
Belcitane: Ho ho ha hah! Did you know that when Gigantes are fused together, they become even more powerful than before.
Holy shit, this actually is Digimon Frontier. Or a Digimon series. I dont remember. No one got that joke the first time anyway.
Belcitane: Sadly, to do this, the fusion process requires that a human be sacrificed
I want to point out for the record that in the video, Belcitane pulls this card out of his mustache.
Im not lying. I slowed it down and watched. He lets go of his stache and the card just appears in his hand.
L. Ron Hubbard was a failed novelist before he became a cult leader. Maybe Belcitane was a failed stage magician?
Kara: No! You wouldnt!
Mentally ill from Amityville. You thinkin he wont? Goddamit, he will. Eminem
Belcitane: Yeeees! Let it be done!
He puts the card up to her forehead and it starts to glow a demonic orange.
Lena: [Muffle gasps and sobs]
You guys are gonna save her now, right? Youre not actually gonna let this happen, are you?
Its Big Damn Hero time!
A girl is about to die pointlessly because you just stood there and watched.
Eldore: What has he done?!
Depends on who youre asking the question of?
If its Belcitanehe just created an abomination by ending an innocent life.
If its Leonardhe just got an innocent girl killed because she got sucked into his battle with the Magi, and used as a hostage who Belcitane decided to shoot because of Leonards belligerence. And thats not even factoring Leonard not even bothering to save her.
Again, it would be stupid easy for him to just dropkick Belcitane into orbit and then keep the Gigases busy using the Knight as a bulwark while the actually competent party members rushed in and saved her from the Magi mooks holding her hostage.
Don't believe me? Here, Blind Sally even drew a picture of it happening:
But no. Its just another one for the list.
How can this get any worse, I wonder?
Well, theres the face of a woman watching her entire world go up in a blaze of infernal light.
Kara: Lena!! LENAAA!!!
She tries to run towards the morass, but its simply too late.
I dont know if you can make it out in this image, but Leonard has thrown himself between Kara and the heeby-jeeby magic bullshit going on just in front of them.
Its technically heroic. I guess.
So now weve got this thing to deal with.
The Grand Gigas is one of these special types of Gigases. They usually appear as scripted bosses either in the storyline or at the end of online quests.
Leonard: Eldore! What just happened?!
Orren: Ya let a girl DIE, you dipshit!
Eldore: The girls been sacrificed Fused into a pact with the Gigantes!
Eldore: What sort of madman?!
Everyone looks in still in utter shock and horror of the travesty they just witnessed. Except for Orren. Because Level-5 cant be bothered to give the Avatar proper facial animations any more.
Theyve hit the button enough for this game when it comes to the Avatar.
Orren: Eh. Im honestly more shocked that this is only our FIRST innocent victim. I figured wed be at least be in the upper tens by this point on account of Leonard.
Kara: Leonard. My sister. She is gone
Leonard: Aaaaahhh, yeah... My bad ?
Kara: Promise me youll kill that Gigas!
Given his track record
Leonard: I will.
So now its one-on-one-ish, though the Grand Gigas is much stronger than the three regular Gigases combined. Again, check the video for the in-depth on this battle.
CUTSCENE: Breaking the Seal
What the FUCK is with this games oral fixation?! Its gullet even looks like a vagina
Anyway, because Leonards a fuck up, even after going toe-to-toe with the Grand Gigas, it knocks him back against a big stone slab with ancient writing on it. In a crucifix position, no less.
Im sure its purely coincidental. There are no other overt Christian symbols, metaphors, or allegories at play in either game of the duology, and if I know my JRPG Guide to Religion like I think I do, it would be way more overt about it by this point if it were going to go that route.
Fuck I really wish I was playing Xenogears right now. Xenogears was occasionally fun.
So Leonard causes more local structural damage with the White Knight because hes a terrible fighter and clearly cannot control the Knight as well as everyone around him has convinced themselves he can.
Just give up already. For real this time. Please.
Belcitane: Heh heh.
Belcitane: Youll never wield the Knights full power. A child like you was foolish to try.
Take a shot.
Cisna: Godsdammit! Is there NOTHING you wont screw up while Im around you?!
Belcitane: Go on. Finish our brave hero off.
I dont know how he managed it, but Dana Snyder somehow verbally articulated sixteen quotation marks around the phrase brave hero. And for that I commend him.
Cisna: Fuck this noise.
As the same blue glow from the Balandor vaults surrounds her, she starts muttering more ancient gibberish and goes into Magic Plot Device Princess Mode.
The White Knight is enveloped in a similar blue glow.
Oh, is it mid-season main character upgrade time already? Were not even halfway through the game yet.
Can you tell Akihiro Hino reeeeeeeealy wants to be writing an anime instead of agame? Well, apparently he got his chance to eventually with Gundam AGE.
And that too also sucked.
Leonard finds himself in the void where he first encountered the Phantom back in Balandor.
Leonard: This place again?
Oh hey, and theres the Phantom. Hey buddy, didnt think wed be seeing you again until the end of the second game sort of.
Phantom: Master, another seal hath been broken for thee. Its power hath been released. Thou must claim it!
What, no powr this time? God, this game is so inconsistent.
Leonard: What power?
Phantom: Bitch, I dost not hath to answer thee.
So the glowing disc thing between them poofs into the Yshrenian seal and Leonard is booted out of voidspace and back into the real world, his question unanswered.
And that's the last we see of the Phantom. Period. Just another potentially interesting concept that's sort of halfway developed and then dropped like a stone, never to be touched on again outside of desperate fan speculation and wankery meant to try and make this game kind of make sense on a narrative level.
Fuck you, Level-5.
CUTSCENE: The Argent Sheild
Urgh. The perfect visual encapsulation of Leonards heroism so far.
Well at least the Gigas will hopefully put an end to this torment.
But wait! Was ist das?!
The giant tablet behind him starts cracking with blue energy.
Leonard: Oh gods! I didnt do it! I swear!
Cisna: Oh gods. What did I do?
Cisna: And please let it blow up.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: The White Knight (Disc 1, Track 13)
The façade of the tablet crumbles away to reveal
Oh, its a shield. The shield from the artwork and thats on the cover of the game.
Belcitane: What now?!
Pictured: A man NOT loving this shit.
Yulie: Is that what I think?
Eldore: Yes! The shield!
Well, now the Spartan imagery is complete now that the White Knight has its shield, and . Wait.
God fucking DAMMIT! This game IS Digimon!
The Grand Gigas roars in frustration.
So now we get the other half of the White Knights default equipment, the Argent Sheild. Just like regular shields in the game, it boosts the White Knights defence stats, and it also grants the Knight the Shield Bash ability, which is a powerful impact attack.
We also get a quick tutorial on guardian auras before were thrust back into the boss fight.
Leonard: There! Now I have a chance!
Orren: That's great sport! How's that dead girl doin' though? Oh, what's that? Why yes, SHE'S DEAD, YA TWAT!
All told, defending in this game is kind of pointless anyway.
So Leonard kills the Grand Gigas.
CUTSCENE: The Re-Kidnapping of Princess Cisna
In battle, anyway. Remember Cutscene-Leonard is utterly incompetent. He is the inverse of Dirge of Cerberuss Gameplay-Vincent/Cutscene-Vincent competency dichotomy.
Ive already done a wind up/pitch joke, havent I?
Ill just say that when you actually use Shield Bash in-game, it makes an incredibly satisfying THWUNK! sound to go along with its massive damage spread. So theres that.
Leonard powers clean through the Gigas with Whitesteel.
Strike a pose.
Because were now living on the other side of Peak Anime. And that was kind of cool.
Leonard: Im a badass.
Orren: By accident? Eh, sure.
So with the Big Giant Monster thwarted and Belcitane MIA, Leonard reverts to his human form.
Because everything went just swimmingly the last time he did this under these exact circumstances.
Awesome moment of badassdom to be negated in
So while everyone gathers around Leonard to congratulate him on only managing to get half the people they set out to rescue killed, Kara walks away from Cisna, leaving her standing there out in the open. By her lonesome. And then Belcitane appears out of nowhere and grabs her arm and yanks her away.
Belcitane: Youre coming with me, Princess!
Cisna: Let me go!
Leonard: Huh?! Damn, hes got Cisna!
Yulie: AGAIN?! REALLY?!
They try to make a run to save her, but he monoship swoops in overhead and drops anchor again to cut them off.
Cisna: TRANSFORM AGAIN you fucking idiot! Are you really this dumb that youd let this happen TWICE in a row?!
Belcitane: Till we meet again, little Leonard!
Take a shot.
Cisna: FUCK YOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!
That just happened.
Our HeoresTM, ladies and gentlemen. A group of people who just got an innocent girl murdered in front of her sister after promising said sister they would rescue her, and just let the princess they were trying to save get recaptured after rescuing her for all of five minutes.
How many more basements do we have left to crash through before we finally hit rock bottom on failure?
Right to the end of game two, you say?
CUTSCENE: Kara Joins the Party ~ To the Bunker Lode Caverns
With the storm conveniently passed now and the Magi long since gone, the party has spent the past indeterminate hours moping about in the ruins, stewing on the fact that they let an innocent girl die and let Cisna get rekidnapped.
Rekidnapped. Microsoft Word doesnt even want to accept that thats a real term as I type this chapter out. Yet thats exactly what just happened.
Orren: Idiots, assholes, and morons. Thats what you lot are a collection of.
Eldore: And what have you done lately, Niles?
Orren: I helped keep four giant beasts at bay with nothing but an axe while the kid with his own giant beast did nothing actually productive. And then theres that whole barrel thing. I havent forgotten about that.
Kara: You people just murdered my sister.
Eldore: Yes. Miss Fine is right. Shut up, Niles, and stop thinking about only yourself for a change.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Kara's Theme (Unreleased Track)
Leonard: We had her!
Leonard strikes the ruined pillar so ineffectually it doesnt even get proper foley work.
Yulie: (I wonder if its too late just to turn around and walk back to Parma on my own?)
That awkward moment: when youre all alone with the people who got your twin sister killed just by showing up in town.
Kara: Im sorry. I turned away for just a second...
Kara: I mean, I should be working out my own grief after watching my only living family transmogrified into an abomination from Hell to the sound of her harrowing screams that I will probably have nightmares about until the day I die But yes, I am willing to indulge how heartbroken you are that I let a woman youve known for twenty minutes get captured a second time.
Eldore: Well have other chances lad.
Leonard: Youre right.
Leonard: But Kara your sister.
Leonard: Gods, I wish I could have done something. If only I had like super powers or maybe a giant suit of magic
Orren: The fuck up. Shut it.
Kara: Lena She was all the family that I had.
Kara: I was a fool to enter that pact with the Gigas.
Leonard: Im sorry.
Leonard: Kara. Would you like to come with us?
Seriously, he turns from sounding slightly depressed back to Lets go on an adventure! Yaay! in less than two seconds.
He runs down the stairs towards her, all full of energy and excitement over having made a new friend (in his mind), all thoughts of Lenas harrowing death-scream evaporated from his mind by the return of CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA CISNA ad infinitium.
Leonard: We have to get Cisna back somehow. I know we can count on you.
This is your chance, girl. Kill him for real now.
Avenge Lenas senseless death.
Kara: Youre sure?
Orren: Are YOU? Im only with them to get paid. Whats your excuse?
Apparently, early onset Stockholm Syndrome.
Kara: I want to avenge my sister. Yes I accept.
Leonard: Any objections, Eldore?
Of course, he turns to the adult supervision just for confirmation.
Eldore: Do what you like.
He knows Leonard wont listen to him anyway, and pointing out the numerous logical flaws and potential pitfalls of this situation is a futile effort.
Leonard: Lets go then. Theyre getting father away every second.
You know, I hate to keep comparing this game to Xenoblade Chronicles, but Xenoblade also features a situation where the hero also fails to rescue the love of his life from her abductors several times throughout the game. Yet the key differences are a) the game took the time to establish that were was an emotional bond between the pair and made sure that the audience had enough time to grow attached to both characters; b) Shulk does everything in his power to rescue Fiora from peril, to the point of becoming an obsessive psychopath willing to (damn near) cut friends and family down when they throw themselves between him and her, and c) the perils that kept them apart were clearly insurmountable instead of just being an easily beatable threat that he inexplicably just didnt bother giving a damn on.
Fuck, I wish I was playing Xenoblade again.
Anyway. INCOMING PLOT BIRD!
This things timing is impeccable.
The Plot Bird lands on Eldores arm to silently exposit where were being railroaded to next because our hero lacks any agency.
Eldore: Theyre headed for the Bunker Lode Caverns, a mining operation in the Flandar Mountains.
Yulie: What caverns? Where?
Oh hey, now Yulie gets to be the one who asks the obvious question. Because Level-5 felt they needed to lay off Leonard for a little while after having him commit a fuck up of this magnitude.
Or so I imagine.
CUTSCENE MUSIC: The Bunker Lode Caverns (Disc 2, Track 4)
Eldore: The Flandars form the rim of what resembles a giant cauldron
I like that they use the Caverns area music to introduce them to the player four-ish hours before you ever set foot in them, in gameplay time. Bunker Lode is a stupid name for a mine, however.
Eldore: and the inside walls are dotted with a number of caves, collectively known as the Bunker Lode Caverns.
Eldore: The mines inside are rich in ore, a treasure trove of precious minerals.
Hey, Maxwell, thats an image of Flandar Trail youre expositing with, not the caverns. Whatever.
Kara: Not just minerals, either. Ancient ruins were found there, too. I bet that is where they are headed.
Leonard: Yeah. They want whatevers hidden there. And theyll use Cisna to get it.
Yulie: But I dont get why they need the Princess.
Yulie clearly missed the entire spectacle of Cisna magicking open the seal on the Argent Sheild.
Eldore: What if the power of Athwan survived? The power that sealed the Knights away so long ago? That madman believed as much.
Orren: Are you gonna maybe explain what Athwan is at any point?
Yulie: You think she has it?
Eldore: Its not impossible, Ill say that.
Orren: You know what? I dont care anymore. You murdered a girl through incompetence. Thats just astounding. Lets just get back on the road and try to save this princess a third time now.
Eldore: But for now, we must return to town and prepare for our next journey.
God. How many of these updates have ended with Eldore saying we must prepare for this or that or we must rest?
No. Im too pissed to do one of these wrap up interludes. Just even remembering it makes me so angry I might just turn around and punch you.
My line of thinking had officially flipped in that moment from how could it get any worse? to how was going to get worse next?