The Valkyrie Profile franchise started with so much potential. The first game, as well as its PSP “Lenneth” port, is celebrated as one of the most unique RPGs ever. That is high praise. Some fans speak even more highly of its quality sequel, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. If you wanted a trilogy, however, know that it has yet to come…and it may never come. This, of course, has to do with the tensions tri-Ace and Yoshiharu Gotanda have had with Square Enix.
After VP and VP2, there was the Nintendo DS title Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. For a DS title, it sported some very impressive music. Sakuraba’s score was arguably the best thing about Covenant. And now, we’ve been given yet another spin-off — presumably a prequel — that appeared in the Japanese-only smartphone market. Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin is a game about which I cannot comment. I have seen some live footage, as well as screen shots and concept art. But I have not played the game, and if the passage of time is any indication, it is unlikely that Square Enix will localize this latest entry in the series.
But once again, this did not stop Motoi Sakuraba from throwing his full weight into the game’s musical score. This soundtrack, obscure as it is — Square Enix did a very limited print run, and most online shops did not bother carrying it — sports the full sonic palette of past Valkyrie Profile titles, and then some. I say “and then some” because of the new music. You’ll notice many track titles have an indicator of being a song sequel on them with “#2” or “II;” these indicators mean they are variations of songs from previous Valkyrie Profile soundtracks. Beyond that, there’s also the “VP DOWNLOAD MIX,” which is a 24-minute montage of Valkyrie Profile series’ tunes used in Anatomia. A rough estimate would be that this soundtrack is about 60% reused music (some rearranged, some straight ported), and 40% new music.
The arranged work is quite good and noticeably different from the originals. As an example, consider “Requiem Second Movement.” The original “Requiem” is one of the most memorable pieces from the franchise. This arrangement has a brilliance in its tone, resonance and vibrations that were not in the original, if only because the technology for sequenced audio has improved over time. For a different take on the arranged tracks, be sure to listen to “Confidence in the dominationII.” In this arrangement, the key difference is that Sakuraba changed the guitar synths used throughout the song. They aren’t necessarily better or worse, but they are objectively different from the original piece’s guitar work. I like it, and I like being able to say that I can listen to and enjoy both versions.
As for the new pieces? They’re fantastic. Sakuraba likely worked on this music at the same time he worked on Exist Archive, if not directly afterwards. I suspect his mind was in that VP / tri-Ace space, because the new music fits so well with the previous material. I am especially pleased with “Omega Battle,” which I can only imagine is a boss battle theme. It checks all the right boxes, scratches all the itches, and in every other metaphor I can imagine, satisfies the criteria for “awesome battle music.” This is, after all, the hallmark of Sakuraba’s work. Many fans adore his music because he is a prolific rock band-style composer. And using dual violins, he channels some of that new-Falcom vibe (think Trails of Cold Steel or some new Ys titles, and you have the right idea).
Nonetheless, I have found myself enjoying the softer side of Sakuraba’s music lately. The opening track, as well as track 12, “Interval between disappointment and despair,” are two of my favorites among the new tunes. The rise and fall of each track are somewhat predictable, and there is a comfort in that.
Should Valkyrie Profile 3 (Hrist?) never see the light of day, we fans may have to live on spin-offs and remakes. But this particular spin-off, whatever can be said of the actual game, definitely has a solid soundtrack. It’s short, but if you can find it for a decent price, I implore fellow Valkyrie Profile fans to obtain a copy!