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  -Part 1 :: [02.17.05]
  -Part 2 :: [10.19.05]
  -Part 3 :: [02.17.06]
  -Part 4 :: [05.20.12]
  -Part 5 :: [06.04.13]
  -Part 6 :: [09.27.14]
  -Part 7 :: [09.27.14]

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"My strat guide tells me that we can't leave until we've done at least one mini-game, so I choose one called the 'Who is the Man' game. You have to guess which man is hiding a pink bird under his hat in this game, and the answer should be easy enough, i.e. the man with bird shit on his forehead."
     -Kelly, Legend of Dragoon Part 8

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Suikoden IV : Part 1
By Sam
Posted 02.17.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
'Ack, bird shit, bird shit!'

In front of the Hall of Knights, Slowe asks Marvy to walk with him to the training hall. "We have to hear Commander [Scruffy's] speech," he says as an excuse to get Marvy alone in some dark corner of the hall. Hot. The town itself is currently off-limits, what with the impetus to go hear some goddamn speech, so Marvy can't drag Slowe down to the mall for some shopping and girl talk. Sigh. The few NPCs our boys do run into are mostly occupied with Slowe's conducting of this Kindling Ritual later. This seems to be quite a big deal. But Slowe takes it in stride, because he is Cool Under Pressure™. And he will totally reinforce this later. Yup.

When Marvy and Slowe reach the entrance to the training hall, Katarina scolds them for being the last to arrive. Unfortunately, there was no Black Screen of Recapper Imagination to provide me with a, uh, reason for their lateness. So I guess they just lollygagged. The boys hurry inside.

In the training hall, Marvy, Slowe, their less important friends and their generic classmates are all lined up at attention in front of Scruffy and Katarina. Scruffy tells them tomorrow they'll officially be Gaien Knights. For the record, it's pronounced "guy-en," not "gay-en." But feel free to say it the other way if it makes you happy.

Now that he's said one thing about their actual graduation to them, Scruffy decides it's time to share a story. "It was seven years ago, on the seas of our enemy nation, Kooluk," he starts. "Four of our Knights' ships were decimated by just one Kooluk vessel. It was a bitter battle." Actually, Scruffy, it sounds like it was a completely one-sided beatdown. Just sayin'. "Many of my men paid the ultimate price..." he goes on. "Most of you probably know this much. But no one wants to talk about what happened next..." At this point we see that Meathead is falling asleep on his feet, and Jewel and Paula are chattering in line, not paying attention. Hee.

"Why?" Scruffy asks, ignoring the fact that his audience's attention is fading fast. "Because it reminds us of the humiliation we suffered at the hands of a certain man." No comment on that. Scruffy plows on, "The commander of that enemy fleet was a man named Troy. Back then, Troy was not much older than those of you here right now. But..." Scruffy pauses for effect, getting none, before saying, "Even Gaien's veteran Knights were unable to inflict a single scratch on that young man..." Scruffy's message is that "You must all strive to become Knights even greater than Troy! Do you understand?! Such a humiliating experience must not be repeated!" He even says that this exact thing was in his mind as he trained each and every one of them. Way to let the enemy get into your head, dude. Seriously: you just spent their entire graduation ceremony whining about how one really cool guy kicked your ass once, and your obvious bitterness over the whole thing has brought you to today? Get over it, Scruffy.

With that completely inspiring speech out of the way--and Jewel, Paula and Meathead at attention again because Scruffy's voice got really loud there toward the end--Scruffy congratulates them and turns the floor over to Katarina. She tells them that starting tomorrow they'll all be going on ocean guard duty. Oooh, more random sailing! Wonderful. She adds, "Also, your official equipment is still in production. We will contact you when it is complete. Until then, continue to wear your lame trainee outfits so the artist doesn't have to design yet more costume changes for all of you."

Fast forward to sunset. Slowe tells Marvy it's just about time for this Kindling Ritual. Together, the boys stop in Marvy's bedroom for a quickie run to the harbor. I wonder who did the motion for our hero, because the poor dear runs like he has a large tree branch up his ass. And what an ass. You could balance a checkbook on this thing.

By the time Marvy and Slowe make it through the door connecting the Knights' headquarters to the harbor town, the sun has disappeared completely and it's nighttime. Huh. Must've been one heavy door. Talking to the scattered NPCs on the main road gives me the impression that Slowe is Really Damn Important, because everyone keeps calling him "Young Master [Slowe]." And everyone keeps telling Marvy to protect him or stay by his side and other stuff like that. Maybe Marvy really is an indentured servant.

At a certain point in town, the game automatically switches to a cut scene. A crowd is gathered around, and they all titter excitedly when Slowe and Marvy show up. "We've been waiting for you!" a guy with a really wanky, whiny voice says. "Here, please take this!" And he hands Slowe a long, flaming stick. I'm not kidding. Slowe firmly grasps the stick and announces, "Now, a representative of the Gaien Marines Academy graduates, will perform the 'Kindling Ritual'!" Don't mind that extra comma in there--it's lost and confused too. Slowe goes on, "[Slowe] Vingerhut"--wait, his last name is Vingerhut? Okay, wait, I have to start over. "[Slowe Fingerbang], first son of Vincent, lord of the Village of Razril. This year, I shall conduct the kindling!" He thrusts the stick in the air to laughs and cheers as he says this. So essentially Slowe and his daddy are the richest people in town. I wonder how he managed to get this sweet flaming stick gig.

Slowe turns to Marvy. "Well, shall we go together?" he asks. Hey, I thought they already were. "All you have to do is follow my lead," he adds, and I'm sure that isn't the first time that phrase has entered their relationship. Slowe starts walking off with his hunk of burning wood. Along the street, he stops in front of random people and lights their sticks. It's like the Olympic Torch Relay, except Slowe just wants to run the whole thing. Oh, but he doesn't. "I feel a little awkward being the center of attention," he suddenly says. "Marvy, would you like to join me?" So he wants to hold the flaming stick together with Marvy? Awwww. Happy anniversary, baby!

Marvy is more than a little reluctant, as he's not sure he wants people seeing him holding Snowe's fiery shaft out in public. But Slowe isn't shy and insists. There's a great dramatic shot of Marvy holding the torch. Heeeeee. Then he has to walk up the street and light everyone else's torches. One guy tells him he should do it in an orderly and respectful fashion, like there's anything Marvy can do to fuck this up. Please.

No comment.

It's all dark and there are enough people with torches that the whole thing becomes slightly tedious after a few minutes, leaving Marvy to wonder if this is just Slowe pushing his work off on him again, rather than showing him a romantic gesture. Once everybody's got flaming wood, Marvy runs to the next screen where the par-tay is at.

Well, the par-tay doesn't kick off all that well. It begins with Lord Fingerbang, Slowe's daddy, congratulating the Knights. Given the jowliness and the horrible mustache, Marvy silently thanks every deity he can think of that Slowe bears very little family resemblance. Yet. At Lord Fingerbang's cue, a fabulous fireworks display lights up the sky. Slowe spreads his arms out and intones, "'s so beautiful..." in a total drama-queeny way. Keeping with the mood, he lowers his voice and murmurs, "I wish that days like this could just go on forever..." Marvy's all, "Whuh?" and Slowe backpedals faster than Twink biking past a window full of naked Tingles. "Forgive me..." Slowe says, like he just said something really offensive or forward. "A Knight should not speak from his heart so freely." So when he said, "I wish that days like this could just go on forever," was he actually saying, "I wish you and I could lie around in thongs and make out on the beach forever"? If it's not that then I don't get the apology at all. Further, he asks Marvy to forget he even said anything. Marvy is wounded. Wounded.

Realizing he might have dampened the mood just a little, Slowe tries to fake cheeriness and asks Marvy what they should do. They decide to walk around and chat with their fellow graduates. Shockingly, Meathead is going on and on about the quality of the spread at the party. Keneth is all business, and wants to talk about their new duty starting in the morning. Yaaaaaawn. Jewel mentions that in the morning they'll have to spar with senior Knights. And Paula just says, "This mango is tasty." Yeah, I bet it is. Enjoy your mangoes. Marvy will stick to bananas, thanks.

Since all his friends suck, and Scruffy and Katarina also lack anything interesting to say, Marvy goes to talk to Slowe's dad. He says something about being proud of Marvy and Slowe. "After all, it is only fitting that you and [Slowe] graduate together." Why is that? So Slowe will have somebody to lick his ass boots ass even when he's on the lowest rung of the Knight ladder? That's my guess, anyway.

This party is a world of lame. Marvy figures it's as good a time as any for him and Slowe to have a more private graduation celebration. They're just about to tiptoe into a dark alley near the harbor when they're accosted by the freaky bigheaded cat person from the FMV. Okay, fine, Marvy approaches him, but I can't ignore him forever or the plot will never continue. Anyway, the cat person--excuse me, "Nay-Kobold"--is named Chiepoo, and pounces upon these Knights. Slowe protests that they're still trainees, even though they just had their graduation party and so they actually ARE Knights. Stupid Slowe. And Chiepoo cares not for semantics. "Fine, fine..." he tuts them, "But you should know that a girl got taken away by pirates just now! I think it was a kidnapping..." Ah, a chance for Slowe to prove his manliness to his babycakes! Perfect. Slowe asks for details, Chiepoo mentions they went to the back street, and we're off! Well, first Marvy enlists the help of a couple of their friends. Might as well fill out the stiflingly small four-person party. Bad Hair Keneth seems up for some action, and Jewel basically invites herself. Poor Meathead will just have to sit around by the hors d'oeuvres and stuff his face some more.

They're all...bow-legged.

The back street of Razril is packed with slow-moving random encounters with roguish pirates and other hooligans. Unfortunately, the feeling that I'm doing something positive is kind of lost, because no matter how many outlaws are slain, there are more and more and more. On the bright side, everybody gets a lot of levels. And a lot of "? Pots" that I'm sure won't all be Failure Urns. So it's not a total wash. Marvy and his group waste some time on this, and then find some lowlife in a dark alley with the little girl. Hey, that bitch stole Marvy's idea! About a dark alley, not about accosting a little girl. Obviously. The guy's all, "What of my pedophilia? Got a problem, son?" and then the battle is on. Marvy and Slowe team up for their absolutely lame "Friendship" Attack while Jewel and Keneth pick off the pedophile's lackey. Before long they've been killed. Wait. "Defeated." The little girl is very grateful, especially since the guys who saved her aren't also after her candy. You never know.

Well, that was an exhausting evening! Flaming sticks, forced social interaction and beating up pedophiles. Marvy's too tired to even ask Slowe to stay the night with him in his pathetic, drab military twin bed. Slowe also thinks they should actually rest, since they have a lot of work to do tomorrow. No between-the-sheets shenanigans tonight. Sigh. The boys agree to meet each other up front in the morning.

The next day, we get a pan over Razril, showing that in normal circumstances the citizens roam about aimlessly like normal NPCs instead of standing together with flaming sticks. Chiepoo the Kittycat with Gigantism is very conspicuous among these folks. But I'm sure his avatar means nothing and he won't be joining the party or anything later.

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