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  -Part 1 :: [01.04.06]
  -Part 2 :: [02.17.06]

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"He also says that people like to explain away unexplainable phenomena as gods and demons, but then starts babbling about how 'legends are born' when people encounter gods. But if we're talking about actual gods here, then why all that stuff about how people just make up gods? At least put something in there like 'And sometimes, there actually are gods involved, such as gods representing the sacred starter Pokemon that manifest themselves in colored sex toys.' No need to be confusing."
     -Jeanne, Eternal Darkness Part 2

Link to VGR!

Valkyrie Profile : Part 2
By Ryan
Posted 02.17.06
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
This metaphysical moment is brought to a crashing halt when Heath's dad, the knight captain, comes barging into the room. We can tell there's some history between Arnold and the captain, because Arnold addresses him with an affectionate nickname, "Old Man." Or maybe that's just the game designers being too lazy to give him a real name. Anyway, the knight captain says, "[Arnold], will you truly raise arms against me?" It feels like that line should be followed by something like, "the man who raised you as a baby" or "the man who took your virginity" but it's not, because the game designers cut corners wherever they can, and whatever, the point is, they've got a connection that makes Arnold not want to fight the captain. Arnold throws his sword to the ground, where it clatters loudly. "Do I have any regrets...?" he asks himself, "No," he answers himself. Then he runs himself through with a dagger. The screen turns completely red because Arnold's death is so violent and sudden and tragic and whatever, but we all know that he's just going to get resurrected by Lenneth in three seconds, so let's all just breathe a sigh of relief that they made good on their promise of Arnold dying and move on, shall we?

Arnold regains his senses in the black space in Lenneth's soul. "Why did you save me?" he wonders, and Lenneth smiles knowingly as she responds, "Consider it... a gift." Awww, every time a female lead says that, a slashfic gets its main plot. Jelanda tells Arnold that it seems like they'll be spending quite a bit of time together, lolling about in the dark recesses of Lenneth's soul, and even though the eternity of the afterlife seems like a long time, they're actually going to be separated pretty soon, when Jelanda gets shipped up to Valhalla, so whatever. And scene!

Finally! That chapter is over! Doesn't it seem like ages since Lenneth first used her spiritual concentration to find Artolia? Lenneth and Freya fly out of Artolia and back into the sky, and Freya comments to herself, "Fate can indeed be a cruel mistress..." but she mutters it so that Lenneth can't hear. Gossip Queen Freya tells Lenneth that, in addition to watching unearthly long scenes that culminate in the recruitment of the freshly dead, Lenneth, as a Valkyrie, is also responsible for carting her "einherjar" warriors around the world, hunting down and destroying the undead forces that plague humanity. Freya tells Lenneth that her warriors need training before she can send them up to Valhalla, and nothing trains up greenhorn warriors like fighting legions of zombies. It turns out that Lenneth's spiritual concentration ability can also be used to find dungeons that are infested with undead forces, so Lenneth does her thing and we see a dungeon labeled: "Artolian Mountain Ruins" appear on the world map.

But... they're already dead, right?

Lenneth flies on over to the Ruins and we see a short biography about the dungeon: "The Artolian ruins lie in the northern hills. The massive stoneworks have eroded over the years and their hulking forms peer eerily out from a deep blanket of fog. A bonfire now burns there and an eerie screaming sound can be heard each night." Fascinatingly morbid stuff, that. I wonder if Enix just hired a bunch of starving creative writers to flesh the game out with snippets such as this that don't really add anything worthwhile to the game, but are kind of neat to read. It's certainly a lot cooler than "Let's explore the Ice Cavern to get the Iron Boots!!"

Lenneth enters the dungeon, and we see that the entrance to the ruins is actually a hole in the ceiling of the foyer. Lenneth leaps down from the roof and lands on the ground, hard. But she isn't hurt because she's immortal or something. I dunno. And while I'm on the subject, why doesn't Lenneth just fly through the dungeon? I mean, we know she can fly, we've seen her do it countless times now. Let's pretend that... the presence of the undead monsters saps her powers or something. That sounds good. Man, I should totally be getting a cut of that creative writer nonsense I just mentioned.

Freya rippleports to Lenneth's side to explain how this dungeon's going to work. I know that at face value, Freya's rippleporting is 100 times more plausible than people walking in and out of the main character, a la Final Fantasy, but it makes me wonder, is Freya rippleporting to Valhalla and back each time she talks to Lenneth? Because that's kind of awkward. "I can accompany you through this ruin," Freya says, "but when you leave this place, I must return to Asgard." So... she's not warping back and forth from heaven, then? Where the heck is she hiding out? I'm tapped out, so I'm going to share the imaginary Fanwank Fund with all y'all:

Where's Freya going when she rippleports away?
That black place in Lenneth's soul. Rippling is just cooler than walking out of her body.
Asgard. She's trying to rack up frequent flyer miles.
Nan-Lou Restaurant. Their happy hour is to die for.


Freya turn to the right and spots a set of six rotating crystals, which she calls a "Memory Camp," but we all know it better as a save point. In addition to saving, Memory Camps can also be used to "create tools," whatever that means. Freya turns to Lenneth again to give her one last piece of advice before they set out: "I think you understand, but, eating souls... is a desecration of the dead," and since the undead eat souls, they should be dispatched without mercy. I guess that caveat kind of makes sense; some stupid players could think that they should be trying to recruit vampire einherjar souls or something, but you can't. Duh. Freya rippleports out and Lenneth makes her way into the dungeon proper.

Ugh. Lenneth makes it a whole two steps before Freya rippleports back in with more pressing news. Freya explains to Lenneth that by touching enemies on the screen, she'll do battle with them, but if she hits them with her sword before they touch her, she'll get to go first in battle. Then Freya points out an enemy that Lenneth should try it out on, and rippleports back out. Lenneth slices the enemy with her sword and gets to go first. Riveting. At the beginning of the battle, Jelanda yells, "Such impudence! You face certain death!" Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyway, battles in this game run such that every character is assigned to a button on the controller, and when you press it, the character attacks. The mage, Jelanda, in this case, can cast a powerful spell once every few turns, and everybody else just attacks with their weapons. So essentially what happens is all four of my characters gang up on one lowly zombie, setting him on fire, blasting him with blue energy balls, and slicing him up one side and down the other. With the enemy vanquished, we return to the dungeon to see that he was actually guarding a bag, no doubt filled with some type of treasure. Then Freya rippleports in and tells us how to open bags and treasure chests and claim their booty. (Heh, booty.) Then she rippleports out again. Wow. This isn't getting old in the slightest. Lenneth claims the treasure, which turns out to be a glorified dungeon map, the Eye of Heaven. Lenneth continues to explore the dungeon, and comes across a locked gate, but then, a few rooms later, she finds the key and is able to unlock the door. Freya was there to hold her hand through that complicated ordeal, of course.

The gate, as it turns out, actually leads to a set of stairs that lead into the subterranean recesses of the ruins. Lenneth makes her way through the various rooms of the dungeon, stopping every few minutes to get a lecture from Freya that explains every innovation in the game, such as opening trapped treasure chests, climbing ladders, and jumping. Freya also eventually reveals that Lenneth has the ability to shoot ice crystals which can freeze enemies or make ice block platforms for her to leap on. That one's pretty cool. Later on, after Lenneth uses her sword to chop down a giant pillar that was impeding her progress, Freya awards her some EXP and explains that Lenneth actually possesses an "EXP Orb" that she can use to dole out EXP to her characters as she sees fit. Again, pretty nifty, but the fact that these worthwhile lectures are cut with ones imparting such wisdom as "press up on the controller to climb up on the ladder" kind of kills the buzz. Seriously, I'm totally getting a "Hey! Hey! Look! Listen! Watch out! Hey!" vibe from this chick, and it's really starting to annoy.

So after crawling through the dungeon for a bit and solving lots of easy problems, Lenneth comes across another save point, which signals that there's a boss battle coming up. Lenneth saves, and then walks into the next room, and lo and behold, the boss battle music wells up in the background and an Elder Vampire materializes out of the darkness. He's all, "What's your deal, bitch? I've got a good thing going here!", but Lenneth, full of self-righteous anger, calls him an abomination and tells him he's got no place in this world. Then Freya rippleports in (I know!) to tell Lenneth that she is going to sit the battle out to see how Lenneth, Arnold, and Jelanda fare without her. She does lend Lenneth a "Reiter Pallasch" sword, which allows her to attack three times per turn instead of just once, so it's kind of like we're gaining an extra attack per turn, but whatever. The Elder Vampire, who waited patiently for the conversation between Lenneth and Freya to end on its own, attacks.

In battle, the Elder Vampire is joined by two cleaver-wielding lizards, which Lenneth identifies as Dragon Servants, and she shouts that in order to hurt them, you have to break through their defenses with a combo attack. So pretty much, if Freya hadn't lent Lenneth her triple-attack sword, we'd be up shit creek without a paddle. That certainly was lucky. Then the party combo attacks the Dragon Servants into submission, and despite the part where he almost killed Jelanda with his Shadow Servant spell, the Elder Vampire isn't much of a threat, either. Rock on. I'm so amazingly amazing at this game. Wouldn't it be funny if this dungeon was only easy to highlight just how difficult the dungeons are going to be once we start Hard Mode proper? That probably isn't the case, though.


When we return from the battle screen, Lenneth notices that two blue treasure chests randomly appeared with the defeat of the ruin's undead hordes, but when she goes to open them, a warning window flashes in the middle of the screen, telling us that the chests contain artifacts that belong to Odin and, if we don't want to incur his wrath, we should return them to him. Well, that hardly seems fun. Lenneth throws caution to the winds and keeps both artifacts, the Jewelled [sic] Blade "Grimrist" and the Sealed Box, for herself. Come on! The sword has freaking "Jeweled" in its title! Don't tell me you expect me to be sharing that fabulous blade with anybody else!

With the main boss defeated and his fabulous treasures claimed, Lenneth makes her way back to the dungeon's entrance, and the journey is fairly uneventful because monsters don't re-spawn in this game unless you leave the dungeon and come back, which actually kind of sucks, because it's really hard to level up your characters that way, especially when they all start at Level 1. But I digress. At the dungeon's entrance, Freya rippleports to Lenneth's side to share just a few more things with her. Basically, Lenneth supposed to send only einherjar that have undergone "personal growth" up to Asgard. And Arnold never gets to go to Asgard because otherwise you'd be fucked in all the boss battles because he doesn't understand the difference between brawn and bravery. Like Lenneth was going to send him up, anyway.

Freya also reminds Lenneth that her time on Midgard is not limitless, and explains that periods, the time that Lenneth spends in a dungeon or town, all get tallied up and, after a set amount of periods pass, there is a "Sacred Phase," where Freya will tell us how we're doing, and then a new chapter will start. The game is divided into eight chapters, we learn, so it would appear that between that and the whole "einherjar training" thing, we've got our work cut out for us. Freya rippleports away for the last time, and Lenneth, finally free of her incessant nagging, flies through the hole in the roof and onto the world map.

Well, I guess now is as good a place to stop as any. Next time, Lenneth gets her soul concentration on and sniffs out more potential Poké-einherjar, one of whom you may recognize from The Princess Bride. Doesn't that sound like fun? Well, I'm off to read the other new recaps, so until next time, gentle readers, have a fun and happy VGR-aversary!!

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