The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow

Part 18: The Climb Is All There Is

So after failing to rescue Cisna from the clutches of the Magi, and inadvertently getting Kara’s sister Lena killed in the crossfire, the party decides to take a mulligan on their epic wipeout failure at the Sand Maze ruins and head for the Free City of Greede beyond the Flandar Mountains.

Seriously, what the shit guys? I have never seen a JRPG party fuck things up as much as you lot have. And I PLAYED FINAL FANTASY XIII AND SOMEHOW ENJOYED IT!!!

Leonard: Hey, I got a cool shield out it.


CUTSCENE: Setting Out... Once Again

We depart from Albana in the midst of yet another desert storm. How portentous.

Leonard: Oh, lovely, another sandstorm.

Stop repeating what I just said.

Eldore: The Bunker Lode Caverns lie to the south, as does the Princess. This is the only way to reach her.
Leonard: Alright then.

Conveniently, however, the sandstorm stops immediately after the cutscene ends, so at least we can see where we’re going this time.

Leonard: Next time, they’re not getting away.
Eldore: They got the best of us…
Orren: I’m just like… wow. I can’t believe you guys let that happen.
Yulie: We were so close! Urgh!
Kara: The Magi will BLEED for this!
Orren: Yeah, so about your sister… I know it won’t bring her back, but, If you want to kill him, just like, any time, let me know…
Kara: Don’t talk to me.
Orren: …bitch.

Since Kara has joint the party full-time now… for reasons that completely elude me, seeing as how they’re kind of responsible for her sister’s death at the hands of the Magi, I should probably cover her character.

Kara’s default equipment is an estoc rapier (classified as a short sword), no shield, and the same black trenchcoat like outfit she had on during her stint as a guest party member. She’s suited mainly to short-swords, is fast and agile, and is good with magic too. She’s essentially a better version of Leonard, only she doesn’t have an Incorruptus… psyche! Fake spoiler!

I’m gonna be honest, I rarely if ever use Kara as my party leader, though she will be an on-and-off staple of the party for most of the game.

Anyways, after a brief run and some more encounters with the standard enemies of the Lagnish Desert, we come at last to base of the Flandar Mountains. Eldore has some words of encouragement for the party as they prepare to cross the bridge ahead.

Eldore: I’m proud of you two. The desert is not an easy place.

Eldore just completely discounted the Avatar as a person here. He doesn't have to count Kara in there because she’s ostensibly lived in the desert her entire life. But still man.

Yulie: Yay! No more sand!
Kara: Yes, getting away from the desert is almost enough to make me forget my sister’s dead now. Hooray.

And here we go, off to the Flandars. Hi-dily-Ho White Knight-erinos!

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

We’re given a chance to fast travel back to anywhere we’ve already been once we exit the Lagnish Desert. Just in case you wanted to, I dunno, head back to Balandor and let Sarvain know you almost sort-of rescued Cisna, but we’re gonna try extra hard to make it stick next time.

CUTSCENE: At The Foot of the Mountain
CUTSCENE MUSIC:Flandar Trail” (Disc 1, Track 29)

Flandar Trail’s another area with a really well done background track that I’d suggest you listen to at least once. At the very least it has a nice “song you’d imagine would be playing while hiking in up a tall mountain” feel to it.

Leonard: Is this… it?

Leave it to Leonard to be unimpressed with a trail where GIANT CRYSTALS ARE GROWING OUT OF THE ROCKS.

Eldore: Yes, the Flandars. And on the other side lie the Bunker Lode Caverns.

Kara: To reach the mines and the ruins that lie inside them, we must first follow this trail over the mountain…

Kara: And then find our way down into the great caldera.

Eldore: Kara, do you know where Greede might be?

Kara: Right now? It’s the mining off-season, so the city should be… ‘down’.

Eldore: I see. This isn’t going to be easy then.
Orren: ‘Easy’ and you people are anathema to one another.
Yulie: Oooh, look at Mister Fancy Words. (He’s totally right, though).

Leonard: So, uh… Translation please?
Orren: ‘Anathema’ is a noun meaning—
Eldore: You’ll see. Come Leonard, help me to set up camp.

Orren: You know you can just tell him, right? …You’re not gonna tell him, aren’t you? You know, Brom, this whole ‘mentor withholding crucial information’ shtick tends to get people killed more often than not.
Eldore: Then why don’t you tell him?
Orren: Okay then, I will. Greede is actually one big giant—
Leonard: Can’t talk now, gathering firewood.
Orren: Aw, fuck it..
Eldore: See? The old fart’s keener than he looks, eh?

No comment, Mr. Sheffield.

CUTSCENE: Belcitane's "Retirement" Plan
CUTSCENE MUSIC: “Grazel’s Theme” (Disc 2, Track 16)

We transition rather abruptly to… this asshole.

The ominous music stabs, and piano and choral track underlying the scene and the fact that he’s a guy dressed in black with long silver hair staring out the window of a dimly lit room tells me that he’s our Big Bad for these two games.

Since he’s not identified right away, I’m just going to call him Crispin Freeman, for reasons that will be patently obvious if you bother to watch the accompanying video. Crispin Freeman is the leader of the Magi, or so it would seem, because between him, Dragias and Belcitane the Magi have like 50 different leaders or something.

Crispin Freeman: So, Gandalf, you’re trying to lead them over Caradhras. And if that fails, where then will you go? If the mountain defeats you, will you risk a more dangerous road?

Again, the Dutch angles are really weirding me out here.

Crispin’s window-side reverie is interrupted however, with the arrival of Shapur. See! I told you he was going to become relevant eventually!

Crispin Freeman: My instructions were to obtain the Ark. What is taking Belcitane so long?

Shapur: Who knows, my lord?

Also, take note of Shapur’s outfit. It’s a weird amalgamation of fantasy elf armour and a Nazi field uniform. I don’t really know what’s up with that, as he’s the only person in the world of White Knight Chronicles to sport such a clearly modern collar/button cut to his shirt. (Outside of Framboise. At least).

Shapur also speaks with a bitchn’ Spanish accent… When he isn’t shrieking like a stuck pig.

Crispin Freeman: Hmm. ‘Who knows,’ indeed.

Crispin Freeman: Retire him, Shapur.

Oh SHIT son! This doesn’t bode well for old Belcy.

Shapur: Of course.

Shapur turns to leave, probably going to knife the uppity midget in the back right now, while Crispin Freeman smirks an evil smirk.

Crispin Freeman: Because I’m totally not irredeemably evil, or anything. No siree.

CUTSCENE: The Dragon's Knight

Back in the Flandars, the party has made camp for the night and is resting up to summit the mountains tomorrow morning.

Aaaaand—INCOMING PLOT BIRD! Hello, Plot Bird. I did not miss you at all.

Foz knows exactly what his job in this game is, and gets right down to it, spitting out another hologram image of Cisna to exposit with the party.

CUTSCENE MUSIC:Melody of Light

Don’t let the smile fool you, she’s fucking pissed at them right now. Or she would be if she was anything approaching an actual human being and Akihiro Hino actually knew how to write a goddamn script.

Hologram Cisna: Well, you dumbasses have some explaining to do… Like why aren’t you bowing before me? Sigh.
Hologram Cisna: Leonard.
Leonard: Cisna.
Orren: Wrex.
Yulie: Shepard.

That’s two shots, if you’re playing along at home.

Leonard: Are you alright?
Hologram Cisna: Yes. I’m fine, considering.

I don’t even have to add anything. The script and Kari Walhgren’s bemusedly exasperated delivery of that line say just about everything in light of what just happened last chapter.

Hologram Cisna: It’s not as bad as before.
Hologram Cisna: Honestly, I think I’m actually starting to enjoy being kidnapped. I mean, they’re feeding me rather well, I’ve got a room of my own, it’s not too hot or cold, I’ve got tons of books to read (if you count dozens of unsold copies of Belctiane’s religious manifesto ‘books’), they’re taking me to all these interesting and exotic locales, I don’t have to put up my annoying subjects bitching at me about stuff, I’m learning how to run an army from the inside, and I’m nowhere near any of you people, so that’s a plus.
Hologram Cisna: But, Leonard, listen, I’m more worried about you.
Hologram Cisna: …In theory.

Leonard: What is it?
Hologram Cisna: That Incorruptus is a Balandor state treasure, and expensive to boot. I hope you’re taking care of it. Because I want it back after this is all over.
Leonard: Uhh… Yeah. Hey, what’s going on where you are anyway?

Hologram Cisna: That man in black armour, before he was always here, watching me constantly.

Hologram Cisna: But I haven’t seen him in a long while now.

Leonard: You mean he left? Where could he be?

Hologram Cisna: I don’t know.

Eldore: Hmmm.

Hologram Cisna: Well, perhaps it doesn’t mean anything.
Hologram Cisna: …Other than I’m going to have to hire a really good bounty hunter to kill him for me now.

Yulie: Princess, can you tell where you are?

Hologram Cisna: I think we’re heading for the Bunker Lode Caverns. The ruins there, if I had to guess.
Eldore: Then someone pick up that phone.
Yulie: Why?
Eldore: Because I just ca—
Hologram Cisna: Do not interrupt me.

Leonard: Don’t you worry. We’re going to rescue you.
Orren: …This time?
Leonard: I promise.

Hologram Cisna: I am simply awash with confidence for your success … I mean—
Hologram Cisna: Yes. But, do be careful, Leonard.

Hologram Cisna: Seriously, that Knight is worth like twelve of you. If you break it I am gonna be pissed. END COMMUNICATION!

Cisna OUT!

Eldore: Just as we thought. They’re heading for the Bunker Lode ruins.
Kara: It all makes sense…
Orren: Bullshit, how?

Also, Kara was the one who postulated that they were heading for the ruins in the caverns. Eldore didn’t even mention them originally. But we’ve all agreed that narrative cohesion is just too much for this game to muster.

Kara: A nest of dragons has dwelled there for ages, and they say that one of them guards over one of the Knight’s Arks.

Eldore: How do you know such things?
Orren: How do YOU?

Kara: Hah. You know, people in Albana, they’re always talking.

Yulie: A Knight protected by a dragon… Just like a fairy tale.

Leonard: Except we’re not going there for the Knight. Our goal is to rescue the princess.

Yeah, because saving one girl, regardless of the magic power she possesses should definitely be a higher priority than possibly securing a loose superweapon that you know your enemy is intent on claiming and has the power to activate even without Cisna.

Any other hero worthy of being called a hero would probably say something different. Heck, let’s call upon the Pantheon of Video Game Heroes I Personally Love to see how they would handle the situation.


Commander Shepard: This is perfect. We can rescue the Princess and secure another Knight at the same. If we pull this off we’ll have a major advantage over the Magi the next time we face them.

Master Chief: Cortana, what are the odds we can secure both the Knight and the Princess at the same time?
Cortana: Realistically? Slim-to-none. John, what are you—
Master Chief: We’ve done more with less.
Cortana: Yes, we certainly have…

Jak: Sorry, but the Princess can wait. If they get that Knight, it’s game over for everyone. I’m NOT going to let that happen.

KOS-MOS: Shion, I am reassigning my mission priorities to include the recovery of the Knight and the safeguarding of Princess Cisna. I estimate an 85% probability of success for this mission. Is this acceptable?

Zack: Oh boy, lemme at ‘em! Those Magi won’t know what hit em. We’ll get that Knight and maybe I’ll score a kiss from the lovely Princess while I’m at it. You never know.

Jim Raynor: Listen to me, boys! Ain’t no force in heaven and earth gonna keep me from saving both the girl and that Knight. We got whooped once bad—I ain’t in the habit of making this a recurring feature. Now grab your gear and let’s get moving.

Booker DeWitt: I will kill that son of a bitch Belcitane for what he’s done, so help me god. He don’t get to walk away from this one.

Nathan Drake: Heh. Rescue a hot anime princess AND get my very own superweapon in the process? I’m all over that one. Hey, Sully! How’s the market looking for crazy bullshit magic weapons these days, anyway?

Shulk: If there’s a chance we can claim that Knight as well as rescue Cisna, we have to take it. The Magi could do untold damage with two Knights on their side. If we get it, and save Cisna then we could turn the tide of this war and put an end to the fighting once and for all. We have to give it our all this time!

Link: … [Link perseveres despite the overwhelming odds through the use of his wits and strategic deployment of every weapon available in his arsenal.]

Lightning: …Eat shit and die. Where’s my paycheck?

Okay, maybe ignore that last one.

Notice a theme of actual heroism in these responses? Of concern for the greater good or doing the most good possible? With Leonard, the primary objective is, was, and will remain Cisna’s panties, to the exclusion of all else in creation.

Fuck. This. Kid.

Kara: Humph. Well, whatever the reason, the destination remains the same.
Kara: Though I’ll believe it when I see it.
Eldore: The first step of our journey takes us up over these mountains. It won’t be easy. This is hard terrain.

Leonard: So what’s new?

Not even Leonard can stay oblivious to the crushing onslaught of frustration and failure that powers White Knight Chronicles forward.

Orren: …Whatever.

CUTSCENE: The Climb Begins

The next morning, we finally get our area-specific title card.

Poor Yulie, she can’t handle deserts, she can’t handle mountains. While I appreciate what she brings to the table in the caustic wit department, WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE IF YOU CAN’T KEEP UP WITH EVERYONE ELSE?

Yulie: Hrugh. This looks steep!

Leonard: You’re telling me…

Kara: Hrumph. Giving up already?

Kara has zero fucks to give about their bitching. Doubly so since, you know, she just lost the only remaining family she’s ever had thanks exclusively to Leonard.

Eldore: The climbing is the least of our worries.
Leonard: Yeah, that figures.

And we’re moving on without comment.

And we’re off, up the mountain.

Leonard: The trail’s covered with crystals!
Yulie: Aren’t these the ones they use for earings?
Eldore: They sprout from the earth like crystalline trees!
Kara: This isn’t a nature walk. Climb.
Eldore: I hear you can also find precious ores.
Leonard: Bet we can make one hell of a sword.
Kara: Yes, some gemstones as well.
Yulie: Are they pretty?

And here is yet another instance of pallet swapped enemies. These shitlords are POISON Vespids. As if they weren’t bad enough already. Same factors apply to them: incredibly aggressive, fast, huge line of sight, will follow you from one end of the Flandars to the other if you let them because the path is incredibly narrow and you can’t outrun them, only now they can inflict poison status effects on the party too.


Eldore: Well, friends, should we have a rest?
Leonard: Nah, I can keep going.
Yulie: I’m alright?
Kara: Why, do you need one?
Orren: Yeah, we’ve gone like a hundred feet, tops.

We also encounter Jackals on Flandar Trail in addition to the standard Wild Boars. They actually show up near the Flandars exist in the Lagnish Desert, but I was saving them till we got to the Flandars proper. Just like the Wild Boares, they’re weak against slashing attacks.

God, these mountains go on forever.

Yulie: Everything feels so new!
Eldore: The land here contains rich mineral deposits.
Leonard: So we’re climbing a mountain of treasure?
Yulie: Thank you, Eldore-pedia.
Kara: You certainly know a lot.

“Eldore-pedia.” Thank you, Yulie.

…Well at least someone’s enjoying the climb.

Yulie: Ugh. This will be quite a climb.

And here we have yet another pallet swap enemy: the Ice Giant. Exactly like the Fire Giants of the Lagnish Desert, only ice-based instead of fire-based, and scaled to be slightly stronger on the idea that you’ve levelled up a bit since then. Fire attacks work well against these guys, as do stabbing attacks.

Leonard kills it with a stab right to the crotch. Classy. Also that’s not 1 damage, it was 126, the other two digits hadn’t popped up yet.

Eldore: Expect plenty of surprises ahead!

Fucking mountains… Luckily, Eldore’s here to entertain us with his vuagely senile ramblings as we run along.

Eldore: I’ve never taken the term ‘prickly situation’ quite so literally before.

Now here we encounter our first unique enemy type of the Flandars, the Earth Dragon. Dragons, as a species, are quadrapedal, so you’ve got four legs to hack at this time instead of two, in addition to its tail and head. Dragons are tough mothers and should normally be avoided unless you’re strong enough to really take one…

Which we are.

Being an earth-based monster, it’s vulnerable to wind magic. Dragons as a species are also susceptible to smashing attacks like Lunging Strike. You can’t tell from this picture, but Kara and Orren have already broken two of its legs and its sporting a break target on its head now, which we can’t reach. Oh well.

I stand corrected. In a moment of rare AI brilliance, Kara uses one of her leaping attacks to not only strike the dragon in the head, but hit it with the correct attack type, causing it to collapse completely.

Now it’s effectively out of the fight and we wail on it until it dies.

Fus Ro DAH! Motherfucker.

Greede, that-a-way!

The last new enemy we find in the Flandars are Ice Lizards. These guys are just like the Basilisks we found in the Nordia Tunnels, weak to stabbing attacks and in this case, fire too.

Soon enough, we come to a plateau and our first patch of open sky.

Kara: Can’t say I’m thrilled at the prospect of visiting Greede.

Given all the fetch quests were gonna do while we’re there, neither am I.

As Leonard approaches the edge of the cliff, the scene begins to fade out into a cutscene.

Kara and Orren both ponder pushing him over the edge at this point, by the way.

CUTSCENE: Sighting Greede

Oh hey, it’s that pre-rendered shot from the trailer.

For whatever reason, only Leonard, Yulie and Eldore appear in this movie. Of course the Avatar isn’t going to show up, for obvious reasons, but I don’t know why Kara’s not there. Maybe her and Orren are just off screen talking about how much they’ve both come to hate Leonard in the brief time that they’ve known him.

Pictured: what White Knight Chronicles was probably supposed to look like before Level-5 shit the bed on its development. Also, I’m kind of surprised that it’s taken eight hours of gameplay time for us to get our first SquareEnix-style pre-rendered FMV. You will be able to count the total number of these across both games on your fingers.

Because , that’s why.

Leonard: What is that?

Eldore: That is the Free City of Greede, beyond the rule of both Faria and Balandor.

…The fuck?

Leonard: Woah.

This thing that’s holding the entire city on its back is the Demithor, by the way. More on that in a bit.

So now we’re ripping off Final Fantasy IX. Greede is the game’s version of Lindblum: a densely packed technologically advanced metropolis of ostensibly neutral standing ruled by an ailing-yet-beloved leader.

And that’s on top of the game's Alexandria rip-off, Balandor (the medieval castle city currently ruled by a shifty despot), and the game’s Burmecia rip-off, Faria (the exotic land of inhuman badasses who no one gets along with because... racism, I guess? Or is that speciesism?).

The Demithor rears back and roars for no good reason, probably causing millions of dollars in property damage.

Seriously, the physics of the Demithor make no sense. Building a city the size of Midgar on its back is one thing, but if you actually watch the video and see the way it moves, this thing lumbers around in such a way that everyone living on it would be thrown around wildly every time it took a step forward. And yet, as we’ll see when we make it to Greede in the next chapter, it’s all perfectly still and stable while we’re in the city.

I imagine that’s on their postcard or something, “Greetings from fabulous Greede: even Physics takes a holiday here!”