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Name: Valkyrie Profile
Developer: Enix/Tri-Ace
Platform: PlayStation

Valkyrie Profile is an RPG for the PlayStation, developed by Tri-Ace and published by Enix. It varies quite a bit from the usual model adhered to by RPGs. Unlike most PSX games, it is not 3D at all. In fact, it's hardly even 2D, in that while in towns you can only walk left and right. In dungeons it's more like a 2D platformer, you jump from cliff to cliff, slide, and shoot crystals to form stepping stones.
Valkyrie Profile uses voiceovers for the most important parts of dialog, although a good portion of it is still the standard silence with textboxes. Unfortuneately, the PSX load times tend to hinder the proper timing of the speech, so some of it is a bit drawn out and off-kilter. However, the voices themselves were fairly well done, especially the battle moves, where your characters yell cool stuff like "It shall be engraved upon your soul!", "This is divine punishment!" and "Give yourself up to the inferno's embrace!"

The most unique thing about Valkyrie Profile is its battle system, which maps each of your four characters to one of your Playstation controller buttons. You can time it so that each character attacks at the right time, and if they all land a hit at the same time, you'll do increased damage to the enemy.

The game it set in ancient Norse times. You converse with such personalities as Freya and Odin, and play as a valkyrie who must collect brave mortal souls from Midgard, the mortal world, and then send them off to Asgard, the sprit world, to fight in the war to end all wars, Ragnarok. You wander from town to town witnessing the death of each of your characters. For some parts of the game, the main story basically stops while you do the collect-level-send_to_Valhalla thing. There are "main" story elements too, though, like the relationship between Platina and Valkyrie, and the crazy mad scientist Lezard Valeth. Valkyrie Profile is divided into 8 chapters, each composed of usually 24 peroids. Going into towns or dungeons uses up the periods. Once they're all used up, the chapter is closed. In each chapter, Valkyrie can use "psychic concentration" to find worthy mortals and undead-infested caves.

The pre-rendered backgrounds, and indeed the sprites as well, were well done. The lack of 3D has one major advantages: the load times are nearly instantaneous. The music has a distinct style, and while some of it is pretty boring and repetitive, several pieces are very nice and convey the adventurous feeling and depth of the game.

All in all, it's an interesting game if you like micromanagement and reflex-based battle systems. If you're more into linear story narrative and graphics, you probably won't find Valkyrie Profile too enticing.

Valkyrie Profile was released in Japan on December 22nd, 1999, and in North America on August 30th, 2000. No European release is planned.

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