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"The camera pans up so that we can no longer see Gremio. This is not for dramatic tension, but instead because it would be a cold day in hell before the game designers bothered to animate Gremio's death-by-spores scene."
     -Jeanne, Suikoden Part 8




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Valkyrie Profile : Part 2
By Ryan
Posted 02.17.06
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Cast your minds back to the first installment, of the Valkyrie Profile Recap, and you'll recall that amidst a rip-roaring half-hour of death, depression, and diabolical plotting, we met two silver-haired women who have absolutely nothing in common with each other. (Unless you count the fact that one died and the other was ordered to spend her days carting fightey dead people up to heaven, which the game designers clearly don't want you to do.)

We stopped the recap just before we could learn the nuances of Princess Jelanda's plan to get revenge against Arnold, the mercenary that totally dissed her father in front of all of his knights. If none of that is ringing any bells, head back over to Part 1, because that's as much of the recap as I'm going to recap. Let's get this party started!

We fade up in Arnold's house. I think the game designers were afraid I'd forget that this is a game and not a movie, because I have to retrieve my controller from the floor and walk Arnold over to his brother to get the next scene to start. How interactive.

Roland comments on how strange it is to have Arnold hanging out around the house, because he's been away so much lately. I think we're supposed to be getting the idea that Roland is kind of neglected by everybody because he's crippled and bor-- hey! A knock at the door! Arnold answers it, and in walks a young girl in a white bonnet and glasses. Girl greets Arnold and introduces herself as "Jela." Then she realizes that isn't really a name and changes it to "Angela!" Smooth, Jelanda. Whoops, spoiler. Well, just pretend to be surprised when it comes out later.

Arnold asks "Angela" what she wants, and she reveals that she came to offer Arnold a job. Arnold is surprised by this, which doesn't really make sense because isn't he a mercenary? So doesn't he get random jobs from random people all the time? Arnold fumbles for an excuse to turn down Angela's job, but he's foiled when Roland tells Arnold that he should at least hear Angela out; it's not like he's got anything better to do. Arnold makes a grumpy face and follows Angela outside.

 
TMI!

At the town square, Arnold tries to figure out what kind of job Angela's got in store for him, but Angela refuses to talk without getting something to eat, first. She tells Arnold to pick a restaurant, and he obliges: "This place over here is about as fine as it gets in Artolia," he says, gesturing to the closest building. How convenient! Arnold and Angela go inside. White text teletypes itself over the black loading screen to tell us that Arnold has chosen...

[- Nan-Lou Garden-]
The only gourmet Yamato-style restaurant in Artolia. Its promise to the citizens of the Continent is a taste experience many Westerners find rather bizarre--

...because you can't have a video game without the blatant inclusion of all things Japanese. Never mind the fact that the Japanese live on one end of Eurasia and the Vikings lived on the other, and never the twain shall meet. This ridiculous Japanese restaurant thing is only here so that spoiled princess Jelanda can get her wacky western hijinks on with the crazy-ass food she orders, so let's just keep on trucking, shall we?

Inside the Nan-Lou Garden, Arnold and Angela have already been seated, and a sad-looking waitress asks Angela what she would like. Angela has no idea what to order, because she's like, totally baka, and just ends up ordering everything on the menu. Arnold jumps to his feet and exclaims, "Are you really going to eat all that!?", but Angela, undeterred, tells him that she'll just eat what she wants and throw the rest away. Because she's spoiled. Arnold doesn't have any witty response to that; he just sits down and again asks Angela what kind of job she's got for him. But, surprise!, Angela wants to wait until after they eat.

Well, you're the first one today...
 

The screen fades to black to signal the passage of time (30 minutes, to be exact!), and then we rejoin Arnold and Angela and their JAPANESE!!-laden table. Angela, red in the face, screams for the waitress to get her manager. While the waitress scuttles off, Arnold pleads with Angela to stop acting like such a "spoiled little princess," but his pleas fall upon deaf ears. Presently, the (JAPANESE!!) Head Chef approaches the table, wanting to know what's wrong, and Angela is only too pleased to tell him. "What is this meat? It's raw!!" she bitches, and, over the Chef's explanation of what sashimi is, Angela continues whining, pointing to her cloudy, awful smelling soup: "It must be rotten!" The Chef tries to tell Angela that Miso soup is actually a staple of Yamato cuisine, but Angela is so terribly non-Japanese that she won't listen to reason and points to yet another dish, this one apparently housing "baby krakens," which, of course, are only delicious Japanese octopi, but before anybody can tell her anything different, Angela reaches for her glass and takes a long swill to relieve her parched, bitchy throat. I don't even need to tell you that it's full of Sake, do I? Angela has the lowest tolerance for alcohol, ever, and promptly passes out. After a few blessed moments of silence, the waitress says to Arnold, "Your bill, sir." Cue the wah-wah-wah-waaaaaaaaah fanfare! I don't know whether to be relieved or annoyed that Angela didn't get a chance to kvetch about the candy-coated twigs they were offering for dessert.

I'm given a chance to save (finally!), and then the screen fades up, plopping us back in Arnold's house. As Angela sleeps it off on Arnold's bed, Roland reflects on the situation: "So this happened before you could hear what she wanted?" Arnold nods, and as he does, Angela rolls over, pushing her bonnet off the edge of the bed. Arnold instantly recognizes Jelanda, (look surprised!!) then a couple of hours awkwardly elapse and it becomes nighttime. Oookay. Roland slowly hobbles out of the room while Arnold deduces that Jelanda's "job offer" must have been a set-up of some sort. Jelanda (with her bonnet mysteriously on again) starts to talk to herself in her sleep, because that's just what sleeping people do. She mumbles about her father and then mutters, "foul oathbreaker...! 10,000 deaths are not enough for you!" Suddenly, Arnold gets it. He crosses to the bed and sits down next to Jelanda, and then begins to connect the dots for us as a dialogue-free flashback of Arnold's altercation with the king plays out on the screen:

"I insulted that girl's father right in front of her. Of course, I didn't mean to. I just wanted to show what a gutless coward the King is. [That's like saying 'I didn't mean to kill him, I just wanted to show what happens when you throw somebody off a cliff!'] What I did wasn't wrong. But... a daughter can't help but love and honor her own father. Is there any child that would not feel anger at seeing their sire made a fool of..."

Now that Arnold has sufficiently explored Jelanda's reasons for being mad at him, we return from the flashback to see that Arnold has randomly moved back to his chair across the room and is creepily watching Jelanda sleep. Jelanda, understandably, wakes with a start. When she realizes that she slept the entire day away, she dons her glasses and runs out the door, promising to come back tomorrow. Arnold, now playing along with Jelanda's charade, says that that's fine. Jesus, this is the subplot that never ends. Arnold resolves that, when Jelanda comes back tomorrow, he'll apologize for the mean things he said about her father. Awwwwww.

So now it's tomorrow. In some random pub somewhere, a scruffy-looking man is nursing his drink. A young woman in a black cloak (who isn't Jelanda in disguise, for real) comes in and sits down next to him. The man, Badrach, grumbles, "You're late! So, what's your offer this time?" The agent informs Badrach that he's being enlisted to "help another man deliver" some dangerous cargo and offers 5,000 dollars as incentive. Badrach is greedy, so he accepts. The agent leaves, and Badrach mutters to himself: "I don't know what that guy's up to, but as long as I get my money, I could care less."

 
Nice hat, dude.

Back at casa del Arnold, I'm actually in control of our hero again. He runs to the front door and leaves without saying anything to Roland. Jerk. Then Arnold inexplicably takes a lap around the town square and goes back inside his house. Well, what do you know? In the thirty seconds that Arnold was away from home, the mysterious agent has come to call! The mysterious agent approaches Arnold... and then walks out the front door. Man, this game's pacing and ability to decide what needs to be shown really need some work. They totally just skipped the agent offering Arnold a job, but we know she did because he tells Roland so. "I leave tomorrow morning, so you'll be alone again for a few days," Arnold explains. Roland asks Arnold if he thinks Jelanda is still going to come give him her fake job, but Arnold shrugs: "Cancelled, probably..."

Now it's tomorrow again! Man, these sudden leaps through time are really disorienting. Let's just fanwank it and say that Lenneth (remember her? She's our window into this world) only sees the moments that are relevant to the impending death of her chosen hero. And all that stuff in the restaurant with Jelanda... was just an informative lecture to the West from the Japanese Food Council. Anyway, Arnold meets the agent and Badrach in the town square. Badrach is standing next to a horse yoked to a crate-laden wagon, ready to go, and greets Arnold: "Woah, this is sumthin' of a surprise! My partner's gonna be you then, eh?" because he recognizes Arnold as the fierce warrior that stood up to the king a few days ago. I guess Badrach doesn't connect the "need for two people, one of whom is tougher than nails" thing with the obvious "this job is going to be really f'ing dangerous" thing. Oh wait, I forgot, his only defining character trait is greed, not sensibility. Never mind.

The agent heads off Badrach's attempts at conversation and general chattyness with a frosty line: "If you must engage in such meaningless blather, do it on the road. This cargo must be delivered." Word, agent. The screen fades to black, and Arnold takes the opportunity to yak some exposition at us. The dialogue is voice acted, but there's this horribly loud creaking noise going on in the background, so thank goodness for the magic of white teletyping:

Villnore was about a week's journey away along the great road [As opposed to the Mediocre Road or the Eh, It Could Be Better Road?] But the journey was uneventful and by the third day we were halfway there. [Doesn't that stand to reason? 7 days in one week divided in half leaves three and a half days? Whatever, Arnold.]

We join Arnold and Badrach as they walk through a forested path, one man on each side of the horse-drawn carriage (the source of the annoying creaking noise!). Either Badrach has been talking about the contents of the crate for three days, or he just now started thinking about it, because he awkwardly announces, "I'm getting plenty of money for this job, so who really cares what's in the thing?" Arnold doesn't respond, because he thinks Badrach is a moron. Then, even more randomly, Badrach growls, "That [Longbert]..." I'm sorry, but what? None of Badrach's thoughts are connected to each other. And they're all things that would easily have come up in the course of three days worth of regular conversation, so cramming them together like this just seems sloppy and awkward. Whatever, clearly nothing this game does in the way of pacing will impress me. It's the curse of having high standards. Anyway, the only reason Badrach mentioned Longbert is so Arnold can jerk around, all, "What? The King's advisor put us up to this?"

And another fanfiction is born.
 

Badrach is all, "Duh, that's where I get all my jobs fr-- hey! There're people following us!" and Arnold whips around again to look behind them. Then, in the white-on-black memoir-style narration I'm becoming so intimately familiar with, he relays to us what he sees:

The dust looked to have been kicked up by a group of Artolian Cavalry. It seemed like they were chasing something, but I never imagined it was us...

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