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Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: tri-Ace
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Format: UMD
Release: US 07/18/06
Japan 03/02/06



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Looks like you're going down.
 
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Some of the brand new CG.
 
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Everyone loves fancy particle effects.
 
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Some between-chapter info
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John McCarroll
Hands-On Preview
07/10/06
John McCarroll

In six short years, Valkyrie Profile has managed to become one of the most valuable video games of all time. With a small printing, high review scores, and an obscure name, it managed to slip under the radar of all but the most hardcore RPGFans. Six years later, with the original PlayStation title still selling for more than $100 USD on eBay, Square-Enix is re-releasing a revamped version of the title for the PlayStation Portable. Square-Enix isn't taking the half-assed shovelware porting that many other companies have done to heart. While Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is indeed a remake of another title, they've expanded the game's dungeons to fill the 16:9 widescreen display on the PSP, as well as added new CG scenes to tie the game together. The game's sound has been completely remastered, providing the same quality as other PSP titles. With tri-Ace's history, we're expecting Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth to make quite the splash.

Lenneth takes a unique spin on the 'save the world' shtick that we've seen in game after game. Certainly there's a threat to the world of Asgard, but the main character's not out to stop it with her ragtag band of misfits who just happen to develop into a massive power. No, Lenneth Valkyrie is one of the three goddesses of Destiny, and it's her job to search the mortal realm of Midgard for the souls of heroes to fight the war in Asgard. Lenneth must fight on the plane of Midgard to train her warriors - her Einherjar (pronounced Ein-hair-yar) - to be capable of not only physical battle, but to have the other traits needed to be heroes. Each Einherjar that's introduced is given a small intro, anywhere from a couple of minutes to up to fifteen to show a glimpse of the world they're working to protect before being thrust into a dungeon to fight.

Most RPGs allow you to take your time with your exploration. Even if there's a meteor hovering over the earth or a wicked god poised to take down your entire world, you're free to go breed chocobos or combine spells and abilities. Not so in Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. Lenneth is restricted to a certain amount of periods which are split up into several chapters. Exploring a dungeon, searching for Einherjar, or resting after battle all take up periods of time. After a set amount of periods, the chapter is up and Lenneth must send warriors to Asgard to fight for Odin. Players will witness events to see how their Einherjar fared, and Freya, the goddess of fertility, will report on your progress.

Valkyrie Profile's original release provided the PlayStation with a brilliant mix of 2D art and 3D animations for some of its attacks, and Lenneth provides the same for the PSP. While there are many games like Burnout: Legends and the upcoming Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core to push the 3D side of Sony's portable platform, there have been few games that have driven the PSP's 2D quality. Valkyrie Profile's gorgeous 2D hand drawn characters, detailed sprites, and awesome spell and final attack animations are set to change that.

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is unique among most RPGs in the fact that the entire game outside of the world map exists on a simple two-dimensional plane. You're unable to move anywhere but side to side, unless you're at a door. This provides Valkyrie Profile with an odd amount of detail in its dungeons, and players are able to explore the dungeons much like they would in Castlevania or another such adventure game. On top of that exploration, Lenneth provides players with the Crystal system. Lenneth is able to create ice crystals which allow her to create stepping stones, freeze enemies, or blast herself high or away. While it seems a bit limited initially, it allowed tri-Ace to create some unique puzzles for an RPG. Another step Valkyrie Profile takes away from the average RPG is that the entire world map is available to the player from the beginning of the game, as Lenneth is capable of flight. While there's little to do in most of the locations before she finds an Einherjar in a location, it is still nifty to be able to explore a bit ahead of time.

In dungeons, of course, there are monsters, and the battle system in Lenneth is a unique fusion of turn-based and real-time combat. Characters are provided a specific amount of actions, usually one a turn, to attack, cast magic, or use items. While magic and items are relatively standard, choosing to attack with a character means one thing: real time combat. Simply by hitting one of the four face buttons, each corresponding to a party member, a character will launch into an attack. However, some monsters are guarding and require simultaneous commands to break the guard, or must have a ranged attack take their defenses down first. These types of conditions mean that players must time their attacks correctly, something we're happy to see in an RPG. After a battle, players will earn both experience and Materialize Points.

Experience is straightforward, and will level up characters, providing them with better statistics. Materialize Points are used to craft items between dungeons or to transmutate one item into another. While it's not an in-depth creation system like Gust's Atelier titles, it does provide a bit of fun aside from the standard 'move to a new town, buy all of the items' formula. In addition to battle experience, players find two things as they march through dungeons: event experience and artifacts. Event experience points are able to be distributed to any party member outside of battle, which means that your Einherjar that aren't taking place directly in battle won't suffer quite as much as they would. Artifacts are items that are rightfully the property of Lord Odin, and can be returned to him to curry favor, or kept for extra powers or damage in battle. I'm not quite sure if you really want to anger the king of the gods, so the choice is up to you. Players are also able to distribute skills among characters, and casters are able to learn new spells via books.

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth's soundtrack is composed by Motoi Sakuraba, and its enjoyment is almost entirely hinged on what your thoughts on his compositions are. The re-mastering of the soundtrack and voice acting keeps everything from sounding tinny, though the voice acting quality isn't quite the top-notch, high-cost sort that you see nowadays, as it can be very repetitive.

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is slated for a July 18th release in North America, and anyone who likes RPGs should be happy to see this classic resurface. With a sequel slated for US release in September, Square-Enix is doing us all a favor by re-releasing the original. PSP owners who were stuck with the European imports of Tales of Eternia and Breath of Fire III will have a new RPG to add to their arsenal come this July, and non-PSP owners may just have found their reason to put the money down for Sony's multimedia machine.



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© 2000-2006 Square Enix, Inc., tri-Ace.
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