Games get sequels all the time. Sometimes they’re better, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they’re more of the same and other times they shake things up too much. Yet as often as games reproduce these days (which looks a lot like watching a cell divide, oddly enough), it’s very rare for them to move to an arguably “inferior” platform. With this in mind, I present you with Valkyria Chronicles 2.
When I was but a young lad, I would dream of owning a PS3. I imagined it sitting next to my 360, hand-in-hand, both systems working in tandem to deliver me to my own personal gaming nirvana. I also had dreams about owning the original Valkyria Chronicles. Fast forward to the present (read: a year and a half later): I now own my Giant Brick of Fun and have made a special place in my heart for Welkin, Alicia and the rest of Squad 7.
I knew a sequel would be inevitable. Valkyria Chronicles is far too phenomenal to be overlooked by a numerical suffix. What I didn’t know was that the follow up to one of this generation’s seminal strategy games would be on a handheld system. Of course, as a commuter, the idea of playing one of my favorite strategy games on the go was wonderful, but just how well does it all translate to the small-screen?
Pretty darn well.
Based on the demo (available on the Japanese PlayStation Network store for anyone with an account), all of the elements that made the original so memorable are still present. Squad 7 is nowhere to be found, of course (the game takes place some time after the first), but the familiar unit types, map-to-ground selection and other mechanics are all present and accounted for. It was no surprise to see the visuals take a hit (we’re going from the PS3 to the PSP after all), but what’s there works very, very well. I’d say it’s as close to the original (visually) as they’re ever going to get on any of today’s handheld systems.
One thing did bother me during my extensive playthrough of the demo mission, however. The map was split in to two parts. And the only way to move from one section to the other involved marching a trooper over to your flag, making them “retreat,” then recalling them to the flag on the second half of the map. I understand there are probably hardware limitations to consider, but the whole process seems really awkward.
Solitary nitpicks aside, Valkyria Chronicles 2 is shaping up to be a great addition to the (now) series. Breaking up the current level map into chunks is a bit odd, but it’s also possible I’ve been doing it the hard way as I can’t read Japanese and may have missed something. Suffice it to say I’m anxious for the American release, and the ability to fight for Gallia once more, no matter where I go.