Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

GENRE: Role-Playing Game / Action / Adventure / Drama / Sidescrolling
Parental Guidance Recommended
2006 Square Enix Co., Ltd

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Amazon.Com Product Description:
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth brings the classic PlayStation game console title to your PSP — with completely new CG cut scenes that dramatize the epic of a Norse maiden collecting souls for a war between the gods. Lenneth is a Valkyrie, a warrior priestess with the gift of hearing the thoughts of dead and dying men in their final moments. Lenneth’s duty is to travel Midgard, the mortal world, to recruit and train the souls of worthy warriors to join the ranks of the Aesir in the Sacred War.

Old School Goodness! >>> by skysenshi (10.27.2008)
I can't believe I skipped this game when it came out on the PSX. Sure, it's very old school. The graphics aren't exactly up to par with the rest of the recent games coming out, although the new 3D FMVs look good. The gameplay controls are even clunkier, as it's actually a side-scroller/RPG. And it even took me a while to realize that I can only move right-left-up-down (no z-axis) because the backgrounds seemed like low poly 3D to me.

Still, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (VP) is arguably one of the best games I've ever played in this decade. It has that distinct Star Ocean feel despite the difference in the battle system. That could be because they are connected, if we are to speak about development teams. Also, Lenneth makes a cameo in one of the Star Ocean games. Don't be confused, however, as Lenneth's battle system is turn-based whereas Star Ocean's was real-time. And unlike Star Ocean, you get to use combos by way of pressing the triangle, circle, square and X. This gets a bit disorienting at first, as it took me a while to familiarize myself with the controls that change functions when you're engaged in combat. You press "Select" if you want to switch equipment, use an item, or pass a turn, unlike in regular RPGs where all battle options are laid bare for you to access.

No random encounters for this one. If you want to level up, all you need to do is re-enter a dungeon, memorize it and walk through it as you make your party stronger. There's one dungeon, in particular, wherein I simply entered and re-entered a room to make the enemies respawn.

VP is based on Norse Mythology and revolves around the wars leading to Ragnarok, the end of the world. As Lenneth, the mysterious Valkyrie, you are sent to Earth to recruit worthy souls -- those of warriors that can prove their mettle in Valhalla. There are so many characters to choose from that you might find yourself getting confused as to which ones deserve to be part of Odin's army. This is the tricky part. As your endings depend on how you play this out, along with other side quests that you must do in a certain order.

You only spend one chapter, on the average, with the characters you recruit but you get to hear their tragedies while you hunt for souls. Later, you get to see how your own tragedy intertwines with theirs, while you work to finally get to the happy ending. (That is, if you get the happy ending.) Enhanced with new FMV graphics, the experience is multiplied three times. This is what makes the game memorable for me. And probably is the reason why I couldn't stop playing.

Having said all that, I just have to admit that VP brought tears of joy to my eyes. Video game souls aren't dead, after all. They're just trapped in old school goodness...

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