The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow

Part 41: Zore: The Hunter From the Future

As you can see by the chapter image, this chapter is going to be nothing but non-stop action! Yaaa…

No, this one is a mercifully short one today, although it does set up a couple of subplots and give even more character development to the Non-Leonard characters. It also continues the running theme of Leonard being a non-presence in this game by and large.

We begin things right where we left off from the previous chapter, with Leonard and company escorting Miu and Scardigne through the Lost Forrest back to the Farian capital.

The Lost Forest is one of a handful of new areas created for the second game. About 80% of the game takes place in areas we’ve already seen before. This is the first of many reasons why Level-5 was able to crank the sequel out so fast after the first game had disappeared into Development Hell for nearly four years. Things tend to go pretty fast when you’re reusing assets unchanged from the last game you made.

And I’m talking everything here folks: game engine, locations, enemies, character models, plot elements. The only way White Knight Chronicles II could get any more recycled was if they shipped it in one of those brown paper boxes Disney used to sell copies of Wall-E in to try and cash in on the film’s environmental theme until everyone somehow decided global warming just wasn’t happening any more…

Anyway, here’s more simultaneous new material and recycled material. These little fish enemies are our first new enemy type of the sequel. They’re magic-based enemies and they attack with pretty powerful elemental magic. In large numbers they’re an absolute nightmare to deal with, primarily because they’re incredibly fast and smart and your characters are still slow and stupid even AFTER Level-5 completely revamped the battle system.

The green ones are Slypheeds, they’re wind based. The brown ones are Gnomes, they’re fire based. The blue ones are Remoras, they’re water based. And the red ones are Salamanders, they’re fire based. They’re all weak against stabbing physical attacks and against magic attacks from their opposing element.

I don’t really show it off all that well, but the Lost Forest can be very beautiful to look at some times in terms of its construction. It’s the one area of the game were they really made things interesting where it’s not a samey forest. Though I’ll cover that more in a bit once it starts revealing some of its secrets to us…

Not pictured: 30 minutes of tedious running battles to get to the Farian base camp.

That purple fog there on the far right is Magic Bullshit. The Lost Forest is an intertwining maze of corridors that you can generally navigate any way you want. The trouble is, it was designed for the online quests primarily, the part of the game were you’re free to run around and do whatever you want most of the time.

But because this is a single player game and we need to rip off Final Fantasy XIII, certain paths are blocked off by these swirling purple barriers in order to sluice you down the path the game wants you to follow. If you try walking into one of these Magic Bullshit barriers, you’ll get a message saying you can’t go this way for reasons and then turn you around to make sure you do not deviate from The Hallway.

Ordinarily, that would be okay, but the game sets up the most obtuse, long-way-round routes for you to follow which lead to instances of 30-minute running battles through the forest to get to a part of the map that has five or six shorter routes to it blatantly blocked off.

But enough about this game’s incompetent design. We’ve got Plot to deal with.

As we make it to the Fiarian base camp, we find a familiar face waiting for us.

CUTSCENE: Reunited With Lorias

It appears the reports of Ban Lorias’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Miu: Ban Lorias! You’re alive!
Lorias: General, I knew you would keep her safe.
Scardigne: Alone, I would have failed, Ban. These people came to our aid.

Oh Scardigne, don’t sell yourself short… And don’t hype up Leonard either. Please, god.

An idiot, a troll, a human disinterested shrug, and a broken sycophant. At your service, Ban.

Miu: Emissaries from Balandor.
Marcell: We come in the name of Her Most Exalted Grace Queen Cisna of Balandor, First of Her Name. We are here under orders to inform you that, and I quote Her Grace: “Your piddly shitass country is mine now. Thanks for playing. Welcome to the Empire of Balandor, now come help me kill Grazel,” end quote.
Eldore: Oh, godsdammit, Niles, I thought we discussed this already, I do the talking, not you.
Marcell: But I was only—
Eldore: Do not make me hit you… again.

Leonard: And by that you mean cookies. Right?
Lorias: Beg pardon?
Leonard: You’re going to give me cookies, right? For all my hard work. Being a hero and stuff.
Lorias: …Is he serious?
Yulie: Like an arrow through the head.
Lorias: Good gods.

Leonard: COOKIES! YAY!

CUTSCENE: The Zore Crystals

Lorias: Father Yggdra? Queen Cisna has commanded you to meet with him?
Leonard: Yes.

Lorias: I would take you to him at once… But it would do no good.

Lorias: Nanazel is using a malevolent force known as the Zore Crystal to erode the Father’s ample power.
Marcell: The fiend! We’ll show him!

Eldore: Zore Crystals…

Eldore: Devices that absorb power from the earth and change it to magic.

Eldore: I’ve heard of them.

Oh, it’s about fucking time you explain what something is before we walk face-first into it, eh Maxwell.

See, even Eldore gets somewhat better in the sequel. Leonard is still and always will be shit, however.

Miu: But what will that do to Father Yggdra?

Hopefully kill him so I won’t have to go through the rest of the stupid bullshit he drops on us after we save his sappy ass.

Lorias: Come and have a look here.

Again, I will give it to Level-5's art department, the hand-drawn stuff for this game looks a million times better than anything that actually shows up in-game. This map almost looks like something you’d see on Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra. It also hints at the gimmick of the Lost Forest…

Lorias: See the way Nanazel has placed these Zore Crystals around Faria’s perimeter? Our hands are tied until these are destroyed.

…Ah, you didn’t answer her question there, Lorias. You know, she’s only just the Most Important Person in Faria and Your Future Ruler and all. But whatever, Leonard has more monosyllabic contributions to this chapter to vomit up.

Leonard: We’ll help you.
Yulie: Yeah.

Lorias: The Knight’s power certainly would make the task easier.
Leonard: Dammit. If only we had a Knight.
Lorias: What?
Miu: B-but… I saw you use it. You saved me with it!
Leonard: Wait… I have a Knight? When did that happen?
Marcell: Does he… do this often?
Yulie: Wait till he REALLY gets going.
Lorias: I have a feeling I’m going to regret this, buuuut…

Lorias: Very well. Could you start by eliminating these two Zore Crystals here?

They even start flashing and ‘BLING!’-ing just to Leonard-proof them.

Eldore: We’d better get moving then.

Lorias: Your team must strike out and destroy the pair of crystals in the north.

Good to know. This is one of the reasons why I really like Lorias. Were he anyone else in this game, he’d of asked us to take out all four crystals for him, but because he realizes we’ve just emerged from the purgatory that is the first game of White Knight Chronicles, he steps up to the plate and helps us out by taking out the southern crystals himself.

That, and he’s one of the handful of characters in this game that doesn’t have his head up his own ass. Thank you Ban Lorias, for being a decent person in this cacophony of assholes, morons, posers and whatever the fuck we’ve decided Shapur is. The thread is grateful to you.

Be grateful, DAMMIT!

Oh, what’s that Miu? You’ve got some blatant foreshadowing for us? Okay.

Miu: There is something lurking beneath its metal surface that feels... sinister to me.
Leonard: Hah. No worries there. I don’t know the meaning of the word sinister.
Eldore: He literally doesn’t.
Miu: I have tried to convince myself that I am simply worrying unnecessarily, but the feeling persists...

In the time since we arrived at the camp, Miu went back and binge-read through the first half of the LP and now realizes what a truly horrible pestilence has invaded her homeland.

There’s no explanation for her suddenly feeling this, by the way. She just does for reasons. Because Akihiro Hino wanted “There’s Something Wrong With The White Knight (other than Leonard)” to be a Thing in this game and doesn’t know how to weave it in with any subtlty.

Oh, and this guy acts as a condensed shop on the outskirts of the camp. You can buy weapons, armour and items off him. He’s still selling the exact same stuff that Johann in Sinca and the random Windwalker on the bridge of the Shahgna were, but hey, we’ve got access to an Items shop now.

This would be the point where you’d stock up on Mana Potions to fuel Leonard’s inevitable destructive rampages with the White Knight. Because good god are you ever going to be whipping the White Knight out every five minutes just to get to the damn crystals.

And we’re off…

As you can guess by looking at the party layout in the upper right there, Miu is staying behind at the basecamp while Lorias leads the second prong of the attack in the south, but we’ve still got Scardigne as a guest character for the attack on the northern crystals.

We’ve lost the extra firepower Miu adds to the team, but that also means we only have one derpy NPC to babysit now instead of two.

Here’s another new enemy: the Blood Bull. It’s another Jackal pallet swap.

See what I mean about this place being kind of pretty? The compressed images and the fact that it’s night right now aren’t really doing this place justice, but if you play through a mission set here at dusk, this place looks amazing… for a middling cheap-ass JRPG that walked through several plate glass doors Selena Meyer-style on its way to a release date.

And there on the horizon is our titular Zore Crystal.

CUTSCENE: Attacking the Crystals
BOSS BATTLE: Zore Crystals (with commentary by nine-gear crow and Blind Sally)

It even gets a Boss Subtitle. Yay.

Something about these things always seemed like to me like they were ripping off Final Fantasy XII in some way, but it’s been nearly six years since I last played FFXII. And I’m also apparently one of the few people in existence who actually liked XII.

Eldore: Target the core to destroy it.

I want to say he’s temping fate… But this fight is pretty easy.

The Zore Crystal doesn’t have that many moves in its arsenal. It’s weak to impact attacks, but it has a nasty habit of randomly altering is elemental resistances.

On foot the only thing you can target on it initially is the base. You need to hammer away at that until you break a few shards off the actual crystal and the core itself becomes targetable.

You can see one of its resistance changes here.

It will also attack you with a tier 3 or 4 area-of-effect magic attack of the element it’s currently hardened against. I took a couple of +Comet hits throughout this fight, but it wasn’t anything to worry about.

When these things start showing up in the post-game missions like Vellgander is when they really start to put the hurt on you.

Once you amass enough AC to unleash the White Knight, however, the fight is pretty much over.

I neglected to point out earlier, but if you start the second game fresh without playing through the first one, the White Knight automatically has Talion and the Argent Shield equipped. So yay continuity, I guess.

Whitesteel is still in your inventory, however, if you feel like equipping it for nostalgia’s sake, even though Talion is the better of the two weapons by lightyears. It’s one of the few equipable items that you can’t get rid of, by the way.

With the crystal down to about half health, we can now attack its core.

With the White Knight out, all you need to do is Shield Bash it a couple of times and it folds like a cheap suit.


Yulie: Well, you didn’t kill anyone this time, so that’s a start…

And we get back under way through the creepy monster forest on our way to Zore Crystal #2.

And it’s here where the Lost Forest really smacks you in the face with its gimmick.

You see, the Lost Forest is divided into four quadrants: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each quadrant has the aesthetic of a different season, as well as different enemy types based on the obvious elemental parallels. Ice monsters are in the winter area, fire monsters are in the summer area, wind in spring, and earth in autumn.

Up till now, the other three areas have been kind of indistinguishable from one another save for different colours of leaves on all the trees. It’s only once you get to winter that you realize what this place’s deal is.

At first I thought this was plot-related, and that this part of the map was all dead because the Zore Crystal was sucking up all the Mako energy from the Planet and shit and that it would go back to being green again once you took it out, like Mushroom Hill Zone did in Sonic & Knuckles.

…But that would have required Level-5 to push the button, and we ALL know by now how averse they are to doing that when it comes to this game. But hey, they’ve got a new generic monster-training anime out now that looks like it’s ripping off so many things I want to puke, so at least we have that.

…How the fuck did these guys make Professor Layton again?

And here’s another Jackal pallet swap: the Blue Boar.

Also, I apparently lied way back in the boss video with Awahnee in chapter 6 of the first game. You DO encounter one in an actual snowbound environment. Sorry Sally, I misled you.

It still looks completely stupid, however, even in its natural environment.

But oh hey, there’s the second Zore Crystal.

Same tactic. Knight up, Shield Bash, watch cutscene.

It’s screenshots like this that almost trick you into thinking this game is dynamic and action-packed. It isn’t.

CUTSCENE: The Next Morning
CUTSCENE MUSIC: Ancient Heartbeat ~ Monolouge (Disc 2, Track 22)

Cisna: We’re suddenly too cheap to show any of this to you, so enjoy more of my voice on a black screen, plebs!

Cisna apparently recounts events in purple prose. …Was the script localization of this game handled by Christopher Paolini or something?

So everyone with a Y Chromosome gathers around the Magic Meeting Table to discuss what they’re going to do now that the Zore Crystals have been taken out.

Lorias: That should be the last of those wretched Zore Crystals.

Eldore: Then you were successful as well?
Lorias: Yes.
Eldore: Well I’ll be. I’m not used to this level of uninterrupted success. This is new for us.

Leonard: So can we meet with Father Yggdra now?
Marcell: Um, pardon, Master Leonard, but aren’t we forgetting the matter of… oh, the rest of Ban Nanazel’s army?
Leonard: Wait… There’s a BANANA army out there now? Holy—
Eldore: Shut up, idiot. The elf wizard is talking.
Lorias: You seem to be mistaken, my dear Eldore. I am not a—
Eldore: Elf. WIZARD.
Lorias: Oh dear….

Lorias: He dwells beyond the town of Faria…

Lorias: Within the precincts of the Numenshrine.

Scardigne: Just slipping through town presents a large enough challenge.

Yeah, it’s too bad we don’t have a super-fast airship or something to get us in there before Nanazel has any time to react or anything, right?

Eldore: Tell me what you know about the enemy forces.

CUTSCENE: Yulie's Reason, Miu's Purpose

And so the debate on how we’re actually going to infiltrate Faria proper is carried on just out of earshot of the heir of Faria. Because there’s no reason to involve your future ruler in matters that will affect the future of her nation, right?

Eh, Miu’s still in Crippling Anime Character Self-Doubt Trope mode, so it’s probably best not to bother her anyway.

She looks out longingly, wondering what a better written character than anyone at that table would do in this situation.

Luckily for her, a better written character appears!

Yulie: What’s wrong, Miu?

Miu: It’s just… I’ve done nothing to help.

I’ve seen where you end up, girl. You’re a more helpful character than Leonard ever becomes in this game, and you can take that to the bank.

CUTSCENE MUSIC: Miu’s Theme (Game 2 OST, Track 7)

She sighs.

Miu: Yulie?
Yulie: Yeah?
Miu: What convinced you to fight, Yulie? What’s your reason?

Well, I’m glad someone finally asked the obvious question that’s been floating around her character for 90% of the game so far.

Yulie: Good question…

She’s at a loss because she can’t say “Leonard’s Penis” in good faith anymore because I’m pretty sure she detests him as a fellow human being right now and is just really good at repressing it.

Yulie: I just sort of fell into this mess.
Yulie: And there was that Orren guy too… We had some fun together. I kind of miss him. You know.

In the meanwhile, Leonard is frantically gesticulating like he’s making an angry, impassioned argument, while everyone else just stands calmly and watches him. It’s played without words, so it looks like you’re watching him have a temper tantrum.

Yulie: But that doesn’t mean I’m just along for the ride.

Keep telling yourself that, girl.

Leonard: We need to charge right in there. Like just run right at them!
Marcell: With the Knight?
Leonard: What Knight?
Marcell: The Incorruptus. The White Knight. You know, the one we’ve been using since we got here?
Leonard: Wow, Not-Orren! You have an Incrutis?! That’s amazing! I wish I had one of those. My friend Caesar has one, and he’s so cool with it.

Marcell: Beg pardon, Master Leonard, but… Is there a problem with your memory? You seem somewhat—
Eldore: Dumb?
Marcell: Now that you mention it, Lord Eldore…

Leonard: So then we charge in and then I scream out “CISNAAAAAAAA!!!!!” And then I—
Marcell: [THWACK]
Leonard: OW! Man, what gives?!
Marcell: Heavens me! I don’t know what came over me… I just felt the urge to… hit you… when you said Her Grace’s name.
Eldore: Welcome back, Niles!

Yulie: I know there has to be a purpose for me in all of this.

Yulie: My ‘big moment’, you know?

Miu: And me? I have a purpose?

Yulie: Sure!

Must… Resist… Making… Saints Row… Joke… I mean, shit, I’ve essentially been escorting The Boss and Kinzie around for the last hour or so. I’m amazed I haven’t cracked yet.

Yulie: A reason is something you have. But a purpose… is something you find.

You don’t see it in the screenshot here, but Miu cracks the barest hint of a smile during the fade to black.

CUTSCENE: A Plan of Attack

Lorias: Alright. As we discussed…

Because Lorias too knows all about Leonard-proofing his plans.

Lorias: Our primary force will attack head-on to create a diversion.

Eldore: And we’ll use that opportunity to enter from the back and free Father Yggdra.

Leonard: Works for me.

Ya know, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t said a sentence longer than four words since the second game started. …Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Less Leonard is Best Leonard.

Lorias: Then let the operation begin!

Lorias: Operation: "Fuck It, Let’s Just Do What the Moron Said" is a go!