Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth Review
Quality portable RPGs are very very rare. On occasion, we’ll see a gem come along (for example, the original Legend of Zelda games that were released on the Game Boy) but there aren’t often any other good ones. Most likely, this is due to portable game systems not really lending themselves to RPGs – not being able to just stop and go with a portable system leads people to just play RPGs on regular consoles.
However, with the current gen of portables having the ability to go into sleep mode for days on end, RPGs are a possibility. Personally, I take my PSP on campus and play in between classes, just using sleep mode for the hour and a half that I have class. Having an RPG to play lets me occupy a large amount of time spread over many months. With that, I was happy to hear about Valkyrie Profile Lenneth’s release on the PSP.
Valkyrie Profile Lenneth (VPL) is actually a re-release of the Playstation game Valkyrie Profile. There were very few copies of this game released and it only really received a cult following in the USA, causing copies that were purchased to be sold for insane amounts on eBay as those new to gaming heard about it and wanted to give it a try. The re-release on the PSP, therefore, was very welcomed in the circle of RPGers.
VPL is, however, quite the unique RPG. Based around the Valkyrie, Lenneth, the story involves finding multiple brave warriors and training them so they can be prepared for Ragnarok. For those unfamiliar with Norse Mythology, Ragnarok is the great war among the Gods. Your job is to recruit human warriors known as Einherjar and train them, sending them up during the game’s eight chapters so that the war will shift in your favor.
You train these warriors by taking them out and fighting with them. Training them is done in the normal RPG fashion – fighting through dungeons. The major difference in these dungeons and the traditional RPG dungeons, though, is that they are all side-scrolling. You won’t have an overhead view anywhere except for the world map in this game. The different perspective on the dungeons makes for a very different experience and allows for a small element of platform-like gameplay with the ability to create steps from crystals and jump around the area.
Also different from most RPGs is the battle system. While it is a turn-based system at heart, you don’t simply choose your character’s actions and then watch them happen – you are more of an active participant. Depending on the weapons that your fighters are equipped with, you’ll have one, two or three swings. Each character will swing the weapons differently, too. Arngrim, for example, doesn’t have much in the way to knock enemies into the air with a sword while Valkyrie, when she equips a bow, can knock enemies high into the air.
This ability to knock opponents flying will play a heavy part in the game’s combat. If you can hit someone hard enough to send them flying, hitting them will knock out experience crystals. Each of these adds 5% to the fight’s total experience, allowing you top level up faster. Hitting them while they are laying on the ground knocks purple crystals out, reducing a character’s special attack gauge by one. Your special attack gauge fills if you take part in a Purify Weird Soul attack (a special, high-power attack that happens if you do enough damage during the fight) or if you cast a spell. If you have any part of the meter filled, you can’t take part in more PWS attacks or cast magic. Since there is no mana or anything like that in the game, the Special gauge is the only way to cast spells – being able to keep your mage casting each turn is a key tactic to the game.
The combat system leads to composing your party differently than you may in other RPGs. Whereas before you just went for powerful characters, now you have to balance the powerful characters with those that can send enemies flying and those with attacks that swing a lot to score lots of purple crystals. I really liked this aspect of the game – having to put thought into my party composition and where they stood in the fights was fun.
The game’s story is so-so. It is heavily based in Norse Mythology with some other, non-Norse related things tossed in. The story is developed whenever you recruit a new character to the party but, overall, feels somewhat disjointed. You can also progress the story by visiting other areas of the world, but there is nothing really to direct you towards these areas. It isn’t a bad story by any means – you’ll just miss some of it unless you actually go out looking for it.
The graphics and sound are pretty nice, though. Compressing the graphics onto the PSP’s high-quality screen has made them look far better than they ever could have hoped for on the PSP. The cinematics also look incredible on the small screen. The sounds for attacks and such are cool, while the music ends up being slightly better than average RPG-fare.
Overall, Valkyrie Profile Lenneth really doesn’t bring anything new to the table if you’ve played the original. If you missed the game the first time or sold off your copy, though, I’d highly recommend picking this one up. For the cost of the Playstation version, you could get the new version and a used PSP. In the end, Valkyrie Profile Lenneth is quite the unique RPG and well worth playing for anyone that calls themselves a fan of Japanese RPGs.