Tuesday, February 19

VALKYRIE PROFILE: LENNETH

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Square Enix really hit it big with the porting of their classic games from the old consoles to mobile phones. We got vintage Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, but now after the most sought-after ports were already made, things get really interesting. We’ve already seen Valkyrie Profile on the first Play Station and Play Station Portable, localized into English to boot (unlike Romancing Saga 2, for example), but neither of those games is available anymore. This mobile edition is the first digital release of this game, and this is one of the reasons it’s really welcome among players.

Valkyrie Profile originally released on the PlayStation during what was, from the current viewpoint, one of the best periods for Japanese RPGs of all kinds. During that time, a huge amount of high-quality traditional JRPGs was made, along with some incredibly original, weird and quirky titles, that took an entirely new direction. This game was one of those weird ones, combining great art with an interesting story and odd mechanics. You play as the Valkyrie Lenneth, tasked with helping prepare for Ragnarok by gathering powerful souls to become Einherjar. After you gather the souls, you train them and send them to Valhalla to join the final battle. Depending on how well you did your mission, you’ll get one of the multiple endings..

As in the run of the mill RPGs, you’ll explore towns and dungeons, meet new characters, recruit some of them, train them, gear them up, craft, find magic books and so on. Each of your actions spends a bit of time, and when you spend enough of it, you have to pick one or two warriors from your party to ascend to Valhalla. At the end of chapters, you’ll be summoned up to Asgard and given the report on how your warriors are holding their own against the Vanir. You’ll even get rewards for your warriors if you earned them. After thirty-ish hours of gameplay, you’ll prepare for the final event, be ready or not.

The base for the mobile version was the PSP version with the same name. That version was heavily criticized for some serious technical flaws, which are certainly fixed in the mobile port. One of the most widely shunned aspects were the loading times, which were on par with Jade Empire or STALKER in their best (in terms of duration) moments. That problem is apparently nonexistent on the mobile port. There’s a lot of improvements in visuals and sharpness, but probably the most welcome change about this version is the ability to save anywhere, which is kind of necessary for all handheld RPGs, Japanese or not.

Of course, no mobile game can go without some in-app purchases, which is a bit daring of Square, who put the premium price on the game. These purchases are mostly cheat related, like double experience points, so the original difficulty balance has not been changed. They aren’t necessary to play and don’t change the essence of the game, but they’re still there.

Valkyrie Profile is one of the great JRPGs from the PSX era that is small enough to be ported to the mobile, but still interesting and innovative enough to captivate and hold the attention of pretty hard-to-please niche of gamers JRPG players are.

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