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Old RPG Review #25: Valkyrie Profile.NuMetalManiak Tri-Ace developed this PSX gem in 2000, and by god, it is the BEST RPG I have ever experienced. Yes, I think Valkyrie Profile is better than Chrono Trigger. Want more info on why this deserves an A+? Read on.
Gameplay: Okay, so this is more complex than I expected, so there's a lot to cover. There are three difficulty settings, and they are misleading. Easy is actually pretty hard since you don't get a lot of characters nor can you get the A ending. Hard could potentially be the easiest, with access to every character possible, lots of good treasures, and every member joins at Level 1. With the right stat-boosting items, this makes them stronger than you'd expect. As for Normal, it's normal. Three endings, A, the good ending (see my list on getting the A ending), B, which is the normal and kinda lame ending, and C which is not what you want at all as it's just some sort of game over.
What you do is play as "Lenneth" Valkyrie, and on the world map, you can fly around, explore dungeons, and visit towns. There's a catch, and that is doing one of these actions uses up a period. And there's a set amount of periods each chapter. There are eight chapters in total, and you need to do things to make sure you play this game well. The in-between period is known as a Sacred Phase, where Freya briefs on the war status, gives you MP and other items, and then the next chapter starts. An important aspect is transferring a character to Valhalla, which involves using Capacity Points (CP) to make a character's Hero Value go up. You need to meet Freya's requirements well to ensure that you do not get the C ending, which is basically a game over. To progress, Lenneth does Spiritual Concentrations, directing her where to go at what point. This uses periods though. Resting is done from the menu and uses up periods to heal the characters. MP in this game is actually money, and is used to "divine" items, which is basically shopping, and can be done only on the world map or at save points. It's possible to "sell" items (Convert MP) as well as transmute them (use MP to convert an item into something else.)
Dungeon navigation is a side scroller! And enemies are visible! These are pretty cool. Lenneth can jump, shoot ice crystals to freeze enemies or use to climb things, and swing her sword to engage combat. Some of the dungeons are pretty harsh on puzzles, so with some mastery they can be cleaned out. Oh, and a lot of treasures are booby-trapped, unfortunately. Capacity points are gained with each level, and these are used for gaining skills. Skills in combat are pretty useful, such as Guts, First Aid, and Auto Item. Traits are also on the skill menu, used almost exclusively for Hero Value for sending up a character.
Honestly though, what I will definitely remember about Valkyrie Profile is the awesome battle system. In a way, it's turn-based, but it's cool. Each of the four PS buttons notates a character, and with proper attack combinations, some extreme damage can be done. There's three distinctive attacks per character, depending on the weapon equipped. Mages are a different story though, you need to preset an attack spell to use their button, and then there are also Charge Times. These are like waiting periods, where mages cannot do anything or other characters cannot perform finishers. Speaking of which, finishers, known as Purify Weird Souls, are awesome finisher moves similar to DBZ which can be utilized with 100% energy filled during a hit combo. Mages can use a stronger version of their set spell or Great Magic on all enemies. Oh man, is this battle system amazing. A few other things to note, some enemies are weak to certain weaponry, like dragons weak to Dragon Slayer, but these weapons have a chance of breaking which sucks. Enemies could also guard well with attackers attacking simultaneously, their guard can be crushed effectively for some damage.
Characters: Called Einherjar in this game, these characters end up dying at some point and are recruited by Lenneth. I'll give them all funny names just for the heck of it, which are in quotes.
"Lenneth" Valkyrie: Can't change her, no need to. She's good with a sword and a bow, and works well as the frontal unit. Also Lenneth is the character that must be in the party all the time. If she falls in combat, you have three turns to bring her back, otherwise it's a game over.
"My sword is bigger than Cloud's" Arngrim: First male warrior of the game and one of three heavy knights, he wields a monstrous sword. This guy can't actually be transferred, not a bad thing since he's generally a heavy hitter.
"Bratty Princess" Jelanda: First mage, so she's obviously weak. But she's invaluable until you find another one.
"Noble Man" Belenus: Horrifically underrated character. A regular swordsman with decent attacks. His PWS is AWESOME and he's just really great for damage. Often transferred into Valhalla, I suggest keeping him unless you need to send a swordsman.
"Archer Kid" Llewelyn: First archer to get, he's quite weak actually. Good transfer material, but his PWS is cool at least.
"British Accent" Lawfer: Spear wielder, he is very powerful. Another character you should keep as much as possible, this guy can dish out a ton of damage.
"Kawaii Kid" Nanami: My second mage, she starts out with Lightning Bolt spell, but I really didn't use her at all.
"Ridiculously Photogenic Samurai" Jun: I like this guy's design and the fact that he's a samurai, but he could do more damage. Kick-ass PWS though.
"Crouching Tiger" Kashell: Another heavy knight. He is actually weaker than "My sword is bigger than Cloud's" in all areas though, so I end up transferring him.
"Dude, Where's my Left Eye?" Janus: Another cool character design. Another archer, and actually a good one. He's tailor-made for transferring in Chapter 3 if you get him.
"Happy Mergirl" Yumei: Really long story how she dies. Another mage, she starts out with a few ice spells. I actually used her for one dungeon against fire opponents.
"Hidden Dragon" Aelia: The other spear user, she's just as strong as "British Accent" Insanely powerful PWS, but it hits only once. Try to make some use out of her.
"Not Professor McGonagall" Lorenta: Yet another mage. She starts out with the useful Mystic Cross spell at least.
"Shining Brock" Lucian: High starting hero value on this swordsman makes him well put for transfer, particularly since you need to for the A ending. His third attack, Shining Bolt, is the best normal attack ever, capable of knocking loads of experience gems! Make use of him, cause he's great. Also, he's voiced by Brock from Pokemon.
"Jesse of Team Rocket" Mystina: A pretty good mage. She's not transferable, but that's okay. Plus she's hot and clearly has the voice of Jesse from Pokemon.
"Crossdresser" Jayle: She's a swordsman dressed like a dude. She's 100% average though.
"YER DEAD PAL!" Badrach: Often seen as a horrible character due to his pitiful damage and his very low starting hero value, the one redeeming quality this guy has is he's good for knocking some experience gems. He can level up the party quite a lot, but make sure that you have someone to really damage the enemy. I personally find this guy as dead weight.
"Big Man in a Suit of Armor" Grey: Last heavy knight, unfortunately the weakest of the bunch. Good transfer material though.
"Blind but Bold" Shiho: A mage without an offensive spell. Good with support though.
"I wouldn't date her..." Lyseria: Only available in Hard Mode, she's another mage but she's got great starting stats. Don't transfer her or she's gone permanently though.
"Samurai with a Heart of Gold" Suo: The other samurai. He's horribly average however, so to me he's also dead weight.
"Does not rhyme with Gandalf" Gandar: The male mage, great magic power overall, but he's at a disadvantage for not being able to use certain equipment.
Quite a lot there, and you can customize your party in any way you wish, assuming a character you want hasn't been transferred already. Mages, honestly, are all interchangeable, they all are capable of learning the same spells (via spell books). But wait, there's three more characters, only available in the bonus dungeon, Seraphic Gate, unlockable, by getting to the final save point in either A or B endings. You have to beat each of them in a battle if you want them all.
"Evil Harry Potter" Lezard Valeth: This guy's character is AMAZING. He's another mage though. But man he's a crazy dude!
"Akuma Clone" Brahms: King of the undead in this game, he's all physical prowess, and with one of the greatest PWS's in the game, lots of hits, lots of power. All epic. I like Brahms.
"Totally not a stripper" Freya: She accompanies you in the first dungeon as well, and is overpowered. Her attacks are hard to combo with however. Her PWS is the strongest in the game, and is basically a Kamehameha.
I won't talk about plot or music. They're good anyways, and I think I'll hit my character limit in some way. All I can say is there's a lot of paths to take and the sound test option allows you to listen to the music anytime. Great RPG highly recommended.
I recently played this game and it reminds me of a combo of Tales of Symphonia and Xenogears!
Anyways, it's one of my favorite PS1 games! - visitor