Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

Ragnarok, the end of the world, is drawing near, and Lenneth Valkyrie must search Midgard for the souls of fallen warriors, known as Einherjar, to help Asgard's war against the Vanir. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, is a PSP port of tri-Ace's PlayStation RPG Valkyrie Profile, largely being a faithful port with minimal additions.

Lenneth is divided into several chapters, each with twenty-eight Periods during which Lenneth can meditate to search Midgard for towns where she can acquire new Einherjar or explore dungeons; entering towns and dungeons consumes Periods. In between chapters are Sacred Phases in which Freya updates the player on the war between the Aesir and Vanir, where she evaluates the player's performance during the prior chapter and provides a certain number of items and Materialize Points used on the overworld and at save points to produce equipment and items.

Dungeons resemble those in a platform game, with Lenneth able to jump, freeze enemies with ice beams to avoid fighting them, and shoot the ceiling, walls, and the floor with her beams to produce ice blocks sometimes necessary in platforming or solving the sporadic puzzle. If Lenneth strikes an enemy first with her sword, she and her party of up to three Einherjar will get the first turn, but if the enemy touches Lenneth first, either side may take their turn first (and if Lenneth's team goes first, each character will have one Charge Turn point).

Lenneth and her three active Einherjar are assigned to each of the PlayStation Portable's face buttons, and pressing them will cause them to attack a selected enemy. Depending upon their weapon, a character may have one to three attacks. If a character is a magician, they will use their assigned spell if they have no Charge Turn points, or attack with their familiar if they have a certain skill equipped. Certain skills can provide additional effects to each character's normal attacks, such as increased attack power at the expense of Divine Materialize Energy, Lenneth's equivalent of HP.

As each character attacks, a gauge gradually fills up to a hundred points; if it reaches this value, one of the attackers can use their Purify Weird Soul skill, which deals more damage to an enemy. If this attack builds the Special Attack gauge back up to a hundred points, another character can use their Purify Weird Soul skill, with the process repeating until all characters have exhausted their special attacks. Special Attacks and magic attacks fill up each character's Charge Turn meter a certain number of points, with this number varying with different magic spells, although the game doesn't give any clue to how many points different magic spells will fill up CT gauges.

Charge Turn points decrease by one each turn, although attacks against the enemy may occasionally release balls that will decrease CT points more quickly. During their turn, moreover, the player can access the battle menu to use items or select a spell for the magician to use, options only available to characters that have no Charge Turn points. There is also the option to escape, although there is naturally a chance of it not working.

Winning a battle nets all characters experience, with level-ups happening occasionally, with the leveling character gaining a certain number of skill points the player can put into various skills that can increase their stats or provide additional effects such as automatic usage of certain items. The player can also increase the hero value of Einherjar, which is necessary for fulfilling Freya's requests between chapters of sending Einherjar up to Asgard to help in their war against the Vanir. Fulfilling certain conditions in dungeons, moreover, may give the player party experience they can freely distribute among characters, which can be a blessing in the hardest difficulty, where Einherjar have a default level of one.

All in all, the battle system is enjoyable and provides a nice deal of strategy, although some mechanics, like the Charge Turn point system, aren't explained very well, and battles can sometimes drag out, given the inability to skip Special Attack animations. Fortunately, if the player's party dies in a dungeon, the game simply dumps them back onto the overworld, with the player needing to reenter the dungeon to proceed. Overall, a decent battle system.

The interface, though, can feel somewhat clunky, especially when it comes to materializing new items and equipment, given the inability to see how equipment will increase or decrease a character's stats. The player can also only manage the equipment and skills of characters currently in the party, and some dungeons can have annoying design. Overall, while the controls aren't horrible, they could have easily been much better.

The story is heavily based on Norse mythology, and has some solid scenes, namely the depressing scenes when characters become Einherjar, although they don't get any scenes afterward, unless the player sends them to Asgard, with little character interaction, as well. Ultimately, the story isn't bad, but could have definitely been better-developed.

Motoi Sakuraba's soundtrack is solid, with many tracks full of energy, in spite of some repetitive tracks such as the standard battle theme, and the voice acting, while somewhat melodramatic, helps the game more than hurts. The graphics are solid as well, with nice-looking prerendered scenery and decent character and monster sprites, alongside some new FMVs, although the character sprites can appear somewhat blurry at times. Still, a nice-sounding and looking game.

Finally, the game, including the extra dungeon, the Seraphic Gate, can take anywhere from forty to sixty hours to complete. All in all, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is a solid port that, while it doesn't have any significant new features other than new FMVs, is just as enjoyable on the PlayStation Portable as it was on the original PlayStation. Those who have played the PlayStation version really aren't missing much, although those who haven't played it will be in for a solid experience.

The Good:
+Solid game systems.
+Great soundtrack.
+Nice visuals.

The Bad:
-Some mechanics aren't explained very well.
-Interface is somewhat clunky.
-Not enough story scenes.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Game Mechanics: 7/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 6/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Localization: 7/10
Lasting Appeal: 6/10
Difficulty: Variable
Playing Time: 40-60 Hours

Overall: 7/10

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