The Let's Play Archive

White Knight Chronicles I & II

by nine-gear crow


CUTSCENE: The Idiot Has Landed

So despite being launched probably a mile offshore by that last attack, Leonard still lands exactly in the middle of the boss arena and with no greater force than if he’d just dropped from the roof of the place rather than 10,000 feet up.

Yulie: Leonard?!

Caesar: Are you… are you sure about this?

Leonard: You can worry about me once we take down ugly here!

Ah, suicidal overconfidence born of utter ignorance and gross miss-estimation in both directions. Welcome back, Leonard.

Caesar: Right. You got it.

Well, here it is folks… The second biggest Leonard Fuck Up in the game. And we’re nowhere near the apex of his moronity yet.

So, how is this a fuck up? I hear you asking. I mean, he hasn’t gotten any one killed, he hasn’t adversely affected the situation in any way, and it looks le he’s actually going to be a benefit to the party by having us start the battle with Brimflamme and the Black Knight already in Knight Mode himself.

I mean, we saw how easily he worked over the Sun King with Falcyos, right? …Weeeeell, the Sun King fight was a really well disguised scripted battle. The game was coddling Leonard to make him feel like he still mattered.

This is a live-fire exercise.

BOSS BATTLE: Brimflamme and The Black Knight (no commentary)

Okay, so Leonard must be in this battle. This is just the start of where things go catastrophically wrong for the game in the next few minutes.

This is the moment right here where it finally clicked for me and I realized how fully I despised Leonard as a character and just how big of an irredeemable fuck up he really was. Up till this point, I had been just passively buying the game’s intended narrative—that Leonard was actually some kind of hero, he was a comically dumb doof, yeah, but he was still technically a hero. I don’t know why I did that. Maybe it’s because I’m from Canada so I’m a little slow, eh? But anyway, this right here was the moment where all the crap Leonard had either done or perpetuated over the course of the last 40 hours snapped into focus and caused me to realize in an instant “holy fuck, Leonard is a useless moron!”

This is the point where Leonard’s stupidity becomes transcendental and actually bleeds out adversely affect the gameplay of White Knight Chronicles II for the first time. And I’m talking on a mechanical level, not just through plot-contrived bullshit.

For the life of me I do not know how this scenario made the rounds through Level-5’s production office without someone poking a shotgun shell’s worth of holes in it. So Leonard has been out of the party for the past roughly 7 to 10 hours’ worth of gameplay. In those 7 to 10 hours, our other characters have been out there leveling up, learning more skills and getting new and better equipment for themselves and their Knights. Leonard has not. As you can see above, Leonard returns to the party in roughly the same condition he left it in. Everyone else has surpassed him and depending on how much you level grinded between there and here he is anywhere between being the noticeably lowest-leveled member of the party to the unsalvageably lowest-leveled lowest member of the party. In this instance, he’s four levels off from the second-lowest leveled party members, Caesar and Kara, who, at level 50, also have the excuse of being out of the party for half the game, yet are still on par with Orren, Yulie, and Eldore, who have more-or-less been there throughout. Orren is the highest-leveled party member at present by dint of being the one character who never leaves the party at any point right from the moment you gain control over the characters at the start of the first game.

So, okay, we’ve got a special brew for a gameplay shitstorm already. We’re being forced to use a character who is under-leveled, under-developed, and under-equipped. And we’re forced to use him in a do-or-die boss battle. Where two characters are already in sub-optimal condition because of the dick move post-defeat attack from the last round that’s carried over into this one. We’re getting warmer, but we’re not there yet.

Now, we’re forced to use him, under-leveled, under-powered, a big giant throbbing weak spot in a relatively functional team, against perhaps the strongest boss enemy we’ve encountered thus far, a boss we have been RUNNING AND HIDING FROM because it’s allegedly so powerful and worrisome to us. And this goddamn dipshit thought it was a good idea to parachute in and take it on face-first.

And we’re also fighting the Black Knight too, so it’s a dual boss battle in a sense against two very powerful opponents who are programmed to seek out and exploit the most vulnerable spot in your line: the hero of Shittown, the man they call “YOU FUCKING JACKASS MORON, CALLING YOU AN ANIMAL IS AN INSULT TO ANIMALS—AT LEAST CERTAIN ANIMALS ARE CAPABLE OF PASSING THE MIRROR TEST, UNLIKE YOU, SHITSACK” Leonard.

So of course, it’s no big shock that Brimflamme and Shapur begin the fight by double teaming the White Knight with a combination of attacks that the Dragon Knight, Moon Maiden, or Arc Knight would have been able to weather decently. And at the same time, your second and third characters are unable to do anything to support Shit for Brains because they’re too busy healing themselves after that post-defeat “fuck you!” attack Brimflamme launched in the last round that still carries over into this one.

You can make a good try of it, but the game is not smooth enough or user friendly enough for you to finesse you way to victory using the White Knight only. (And, by the way, Leonard also has only the items he left the party with in his item bag, so instead of the more potent Heal/Mana Potion III/IVs the rest of your party should have by this point, he’s stuck with the piddly I/II-level ones, because “fuck you,” love Level-5).

So invariably, what happens is that Leonard’s alleged “triumphant return” to the party is going to end with him getting the shit stomped out of him. I’ve played this game three times now, and all three times this fight has involved Leonard being knocked out of White Knight form almost immediately after regaining control over him. It is nearly mathematically impossible to save the doofus from himself unless you have an insanely power-leveled party there to cover for his ass and are as on-point as you can possibly be with the game’s clunky character change mechanic.

The only variable in the fight is whether or not Leonard is going to take your #2 and 3 characters down with him, which, the first time I ever played this battle, he did. After retrying the fight about four or five times, convinced that there was just some trick to it that I wasn’t getting—because, I thought, hell, it’s the White Knight, the White Knight has been a tank throughout this game, what’s going on?—eventually I tweaked onto the secret of the fight. Treat Leonard like he’s an active handicap and work around him appropriately.

So instead of letting him get curbstomped into oblivion and forcing the other two party members with usable Knights to also die horribly, I immediately forced his dumb ass to revert to human form, because you can only field one Knight at a time in the game because Level-5 couldn’t figure out how to do multiple Knight battles in anything but strictly regulated circumstances. So the White Knight goes out and the Moon Maiden comes in and she absolutely obliterates Brimflamme and Shapur effortlessly while Leonard dies halfway through the fight and nobody bothered to revive him, even though I had everyone set to “Heal First.” Because that’s the only saving grace of the battle, you can lose both the White Knight and Leonard and not score a game over. Because Level-5 was dumb, but not Leonard-dumb.

It still leaves me at a loss for an answer to the question “what the hell were they thinking” other than “they weren’t.” Seriously! Who makes a gameplay design choice like this? Why would you actively compound the odds against your player’s favour in such a manner? Why would you unnecessarily complicate and derail an otherwise decently functioning game with an unforced error like this? And probably, most pertinent to this LP, perhaps, why would you take a character with a history of unintelligent failures and engineer a situation where he is guaranteed to suffer another failure in the midst of trying to do something heroic so he comes across indelibly now as a fuck up who can’t do anything right in the mind of the player?

To me this is a level beyond get out Leonard’s storyline fuck ups. I can excuse a certain level of Cutscene Incompetence. “Oh yeah, whatever, Leonard’s an idiot; the sky is blue, water’s wet, chicken is delicious—old news there.” What gets my rancor up is Gameplay Incompetence. This is where we get into Player Theory a little bit here—AKA the stuff Valve goes on about to no end if you listen to any of their in-game commentary nodes. I turned so hard against Leonard here because I was FORCED to be a party to his incompetence for the first time. The utterly incompetent Cutscene Leonard had fully supplanted the moderately competent Gameplay Leonard, and the game expected me to not notice the different. After 40 hours of having no stake in his fuck ups, of being able to wash my hands of it and say “well, at least I can beat this boss in gameplay,” suddenly and shockingly, his fuck ups affected me directly and jeopardized my ability to progress through the game.

This was the worst mistake Level-5 made in White Knight Chronicles II, in my opinion, surpassing all others before or coming up on the horizon. It involved the player in the game in the absolute wrongest way possible. It broke the floodgates holding back all the niggling notions in my mind about what a bad game this was that I’d managed to placate somehow. They all came spilling out at this point. This was the point when the private messages of vented frustration started flying to Blind Sally over the PlayStation Network. This was where “Let’s Play White Knight Chronicles I & II” was truly, definitively born.

The sleeping giant had been awoken. It had seen the face of its enemy: a dumbass ginger with a rattail haircut and a useless giant robot.

And it discovered its true purpose that day…

Ruining the dumb motherfucker, absolutely.

Welcome to the birth of the universe, children. Welcome to White Knight Chronicles II.

Let’s get to work.

So of course I let the dumb fucker eat a face full of fire just to force him to revert so I can have a competent character use their Knight instead.

…I say that half-facetiously, of course. This was me honestly playing as best I could with the poo-stained cards the game dealt me. I put in an honest effort to try and win this fight with the White Knight, to try and defy the game and it still wasn’t enough.

Leonard still failed.

It is structurally impossible to win this fight as the White Knight unless you have power leveled the shit out of the rest of the party to the point where maybe Leonard’s level has been arbitrarily raised by the game to be at the point where the rest of the party should be in order to handle this fight (ie: where they are now).

Either way, Level-5 set Leonard up to fail in this fight and drag everyone else down with him because he’s has to be the HEROOoooooo~!

Basically, to sum up my thesis:

Leonard: I’m helping! Please let me help! I’m a hero! I’m going to save the—

Orren: YOU! SHITHEAD! Move the fuck over!
Leonard: Ow! Orren! What giiiiiiives, man?!
Orren: Go stand the fucking corner! You malformed dipwhistle!
Leonard: But I—
Orren: NOW!!!

Shapur: You have some serious anger issues, boy.
Orren: YA THINK?! HERE! Let me SHOW them to you! O Swordo, emerald champion, master of the ancient hammer, grant me your power, because SOMEONE needs to teach this godsdamn rube how to use a Knight properly, and it might the fuck as well be ME!

Orren: Pay attention, DIPSHIT! Class is in session!

Orren: VERTO!

Shapur: A SIXTH Knight? Impossi—


Orren: The Balandor Royal Science Academy sends its regards, cyclops!

Yulie: You’re not walking away from this one, Shapur!

Shapur: HOW?! How is this possible?!

Yeah, I know this is technically cheating because while we can technically make all the armour parts for the Arc Knight, the Gigantic Hammer isn’t bendable until we actually beat the story section of the game. That said, the GH isn’t THAT much more powerful than the Elder/Steel hammer to begin with anyway. So if anything, we’re really only like playing like three or four levels over the “recommended” level for this fight.

Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that the strategy for this fight is to use every other usable Knight at your disposal beside the White Knight. Ideally, the Moon Maiden with its giant AoE attacks on Arslese is the best option you have for this fight, but because I’ve got a narrative that I’ve been subtly building up over the course of this LP, the Arc Knight takes center stage right now.

Leonard: Wow! Orren! Where’d you get a Knight from?
Orren: I beat the shit out of a wild Knight and made it my bitch!

Orren: Just like this dickhead!

Leonard: Wowzers! I wish I had a Knight like that.


Shapur: Yshrenia will not bow before you weaklings!
Orren: Says the twat on his knees with a busted ass Knight.

Orren: Alright Tall Dark and Fugly, you’re next!

Bang bang bang bang…

It’s a little harder to take out the tentacles in the second round without the Moon Maiden, but the power of Orren’s intractable rage powers through the disparity.

With its tentacles taken out, Brimflamme begins to climb the walls again to do its dick move drop attack again.

And what follows is another instance of divine LP providence.

Brimflamme is still targetable while its climbing the walls. And for whatever reason, its hitbox appears directly beneath it on the ground… right where Leonard is standing.

So that leads to a little moment wherein…

Orren piledrives Leonard’s stupid ass into the ground with a massive attack from a gigantic spiked maul.

And it was in that moment where Orren found inner peace.

I’m lingering on this moment for maximum catharsis sake.

And then Brimflamme hammerfists down and damn near kills Leonard and Yulie for reals.

But after a quick round of healing, they’re back on their feet. Orren, meanwhile, has been a relentless stream of damage against Brimmy.

Oh yeah. When Brimflamme climbs the walls and drops down, it regenerates all four of its tentacles.

So there’s that.

Again, White Knight Chronicles II knows how to make a fight between a 20 foot tall emerald spiky knight wielding a hammer the size of a bus vs. a monster that’s easily ten times the size of even that boring and repetitive.

The one thing I am amused at is that the Black Knight just stays there slumped over for the rest of the fight.

And to my consternation, the fight ends with Yulie dead and Leonard surviving.

Go fucking figure.

Leonard: We won!

CUTSCENE: Shapur Bugs Out

So despite us kicking the unholy shit out of both of them, Shapur and Brimflamme are still up and kicking because That Battle Didn’t Count.

Brimflamme rears its arm back…

I can see where this is going, and I kinda liiiiiiiike it.

Yep. Brimflamme just backhanded Shapur out of existence.

And turns and stomps off to just go do its own thing now. Not a fuck given.

Not. A. Fuck.

He also goes a little Richard Sherman Post-Victory On-Field Interview on us.

Seahawks fan

He floats there for a moment after getting tooled by both an unstoppable demon comprised entirely of fire and rage… and Brimflamme, and possibly considers a late-game career change.

And then he NOPEs the fuck out of there.

Bye, Shapur!

CUTSCENE: Brimflamme on the Rampage

So then Brimflamme goes on a rampage in another CG cutscene.

Jeez, they really back-ended the game with these things, didn’t they?

So it roars and belches a stream of what looks more like liquefied Cheetos than fire.

This is all very impressive, but what’s the fucking point? This thing is going to disappear and be forgotten about in two seconds anyway.

Oh, what? You’re surprised that the 800 foot-tall fire-breathing monstrosity from hell just drops out of the story without another mention?

…What LP have you been reading up till now?

So long Brimflamme, it was nice knowing you for like twenty minutes of gameplay, maybe…

CUTSCENE: A Hasty Exit

Otherwise known as: A Preview of Coming Attractions.

So the entire island starts shaking like it’s about to come apart at the seams, because we just dethroned its Load-Bearing Boss.

Eldore: We cannot stay here! RUN!

Says Eldore with a face that looks like he’s watching something existentially vile happening in the foreground… And Orren kind of agrees with him it looks like.

Caesar: Right.

Caesar and Kara make a run for it as well.

Orren: Where are you going, old fart?!
Eldore: Fuck the lot of you, every man for himself!

Everyone makes a mad run for it…

But Yulie turns around for a moment because she realises…

Yulie: Leonard! Hurry!

That Leonard’s a goddamn idiot and is just standing there watching the fortress crumble and, well, I don’t know, maybe he thinks it looks cool.

I don’t give a shit anymore.

Leonard: But I want to watch the fireworks.
Yulie: You goddsdamn—!

He turns and runs on his own, but it’s much more keeping with the LP narrative if you image she ran over and physically dragged him away against his will.

CUTSCENE: More Like DEADhorn Isle, Huur!

All hell is breaking loose on the island as things are coming apart at the seams. The Alliance fleet is casting off, with their soldiers apparently having slaughtered every Yshrenian soldier to be found on the island.

Again Deathwish Leonard stops and watches the island crumble around him before Yulie has to drag his dumb ass to safety in the Shahgna.

Wow, that is a lot of fire on an island that wasn’t looking that on fire a few minutes ago.

Man, when Cisna tells her soldiers to go “hammer down,” they really get into it.

Cisna: Glass the fuckers!

Now, I really don’t think that’s—




Well… I guess we don’t really have to worry about what happened to Brimflamme after all. It was just atomized.

We’re going to be able to come back to Redhorn Isle immediately after this cutscene and the entire place will be standing without any sign of being blown the hell up.

Just saying…

Cisna: Let this be a lesson to all those who would dispute my rule. I will broker no equal.

Amen, dear.

CUTSCENE: Grazel’s OTHER Trump Card

No, seriously, he really wants to show you that Donald Trump card now.

Kara: The island!
Caesar: Let’s cut it a little closer next time,

Caesar: Huh guys?

Rocco: Let’s not aaaaand say we did.

Eldore: Hmm?

Eldore: What is that?

Again, Eldore looks like he’s witnessing something REALLY nasty taking place off camera, while Leonard looks like a bored, petulant douche.

This is another miracle of bad screenshot timing, catching him in mid-blink. I’d usually try advancing a frame or two ahead and taking a cleaner shot, but 1) it’s Leonard, so fuck him, and 2) I could have a normal looking Leonard but lose Eldoreface, and that is an expression worth having Leonard look dumb fratboy to preserve for the LP.

CUTSCENE MUSIC:The Devil on a Black Horse” (Disc 2, Track 19)

And now we’re back to ripping off Final Fantasy XII with the whole “final dungeon is a flying fortress that emerges out of a whirlwind” thing.

A massive geological/organic… thing begins to unfurl in the skies above Redhorn Isle.

I’m beyond questioning where the fuck this thing came from. The game has broken my ability to analyze it. I need some time to recover because holy fuck I’m going to be unloading on what’s coming up in the final chapter.

The flying fortress descends to a precariously low altitude and buzzed the Alliance fleet, because Grazel is a dick like that.

Miu: What is that?

Well, there’s Miu’s last line in the game.

Cyrus: A flying fortress?!

Cisna: Dammit. Why didn’t I think of that?

Cisna: Cyrus!

Cyrus: Dammit…

Cyrus: Alert all ships! Target that fortress! Have them shoot it down…

Cyrus: At all costs!

And there’s Cyrus’s last line in the game.

Cisna: I totally need to get me one of those when this is all over with.

And then we’re treated to a somewhat symbolic crossfade between the two players of this waning titanic chess match, the first time they’ve technically been on screen together since the end of the first game.

I also love how the game is absolutely heavy-handedly telling you who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, having Cisna in soft white and Grazel and harsh black, and placing Cisna on the right or dexterous (good) side of the shot, while Grazel is shoved in the left or sinister (evil) side of the shot.

Grazel: We should totally open up a theme park after we win. Wouldn’t that be cool Ledom? …Ledom?
Ledom: Gods, grant me the strength to make it through just one more afternoon with this goofus.

Grazel: Hmph. Pathetic.

Grazel: Look at then scramble like little rodents…
Ledom: Heh heh heh heh heeeh.

Hey, that’s racist! Papitaurs are lagomorphs, not rodents.

Grazel: Why don’t we begin by removing their speck of a kingdom from the map.

CUTSCENE: The Last Thing You’d Expect

Eldore: No!

Rocco: They’re on a collision course! They’re going to crash into Balandor!

Caesar: What?!

Yulie: How do we stop them?
Leonard: [FARTS]
Orren: Not helping!

The Shahgna is suddenly rocked by a massive shockwave.

Caesar: UGH!

Caesar: Huh? What now?

Something utterly massive comes bursting up through from the sea between the fortress and the Balandor coastline.


CUTSCENE MUSIC:Tense Battle” (Disc 1, Track 30)

Oh hey, the Demithor, fancy seeing you here… And with Greede shaken off your back completely. …The fuck?

Okay, so, wait, HOW did the Demithor get here? And what the hell happened to Greede? It’s going to be visitable after this in the post-game… How the hell did the Demithor get it off its back, and not do catastrophic damage to it in the process?

Why do I get the feeling that it just kind of shook it off like a dog shakes water off its back, killing an uncountable number of civilians in the process, and that when Caesar and Kara return home to Greede after this is all over, they’re just going to find it resting against a hillside on the bottom of the Great Caldera at a 45 degree angle.

Also, I’m pretty sure this officially killed the mining industry in Greede singlehandedly. Unless they have a spare Demithor out there somewhere.

Still, it’s better than it showing up with the city on its back still and putting tens of millions of innocent people’s lives at risk, I suppose…

So yeah, the Demithor just… catches the fortress.

It’s not enough, however, as even with all its might, while it managed to slow it down, it’s still pushing forward…

Right towards Balandor.

Shit, cutting it kinda close there, aren’t we?

And yet the Demithor roars defiantly.

There’s also gondolas zipping around it for some reason that’s never really touched on. I’d like to imagine that Amir’s on one of them screaming directions at the Demithor from the sky, because Amir is awesome and the way he instructs the Demithor to do things is hilarious.

Shapur: What?

Grazel: Such a foolish beast.

Grazel: Not even a behemoth like that can make a stand against the Garmatha.

Well, at least this place has a name now…

A strange blue energy begins to wash over the Demithor’s body…

And it very rapidly turns to stone.

Because this is a thing it can do now, apparently.

RIP Demithor.

The music fades to silence and the Garmatha’s momentum grinds to a halt.

And not a moment too bloody soon.

Oh good, now when Cisna defeats Grazel and Ledom she’s going to have her very own sky fortress parked right on her doorstep to co-opt and do whatever she wants with.

Also, keep this image in mind for the end of the final story chapter. Keep the thought in mind that the Garmatha is now a few hundred feet away from Balandor Castle itself.

Because the game is going to forget this to hilarious effect.

The Demithor’s stone body begins to crack and splinter, however.

As more stress fractures appear by the second, it looks like the titan has only bought them a few precious minutes before the Garmatha is free again.

CUTSCENE: Finish the Fight

Caesar: The Demithor?!
Eldore: It turned itself to stone to stop that thing.

Kara: But look. It won’t be able to hold out much longer.

Leonard: Come on! Let’s bust into that fortress!

Rocco: What?! That is INSANE!

Rocco: Very not sane!

Cisna: It’s what has to be done.

Eldore: The hell?

Eldore: Your Grace?

Cisna: I’m going too.

Cisna: It is my fight as much as yours.

She means to settle things with Ledom personally.

Osmund: Step aside, Rocco.

Osmund: So I can show those Yshrenian nincompoops who owns the sky!

And there’s Osmund’s last line in the game.

Rocco: Yes sir!

And there’s Rocco’s.

So, before we head into the final bout, let’s take stock of all the people Ledom, Grazel, and Shapur had managed to piss off over the course of this little misadventure. There’s the wizened old knight, who made a deal with death itself to cross time and specifically stop you. The ruler of the economic powerhouse with a massive suit of flying armour, whose girlfriend you murdered, and whose city guardian you just killed. The wine merchant’s daughter with nothing to lose and a dead-eye aim. A master assassin whom killing her only served to make her angrier. A young ruler forged in a fire set when you murdered her grandfather. The rabbit man with an explosion fetish whose town you occupied and people you tortured. A master swordsman, a living legend who actually lives up to the legend… when he’s not drunk off his ass anyway. The queen you accidentally taught everything she needed to know how to beat you when you killed her dad and kidnapped her. And an idiot with BREATHTAKING competence issues.

And all of them, my friends, are coming after you. There is no throne waiting for you. There is no way you come out on top.

Oh, and there’s one other person you pissed off…

Her name is Framboise.