Everyone has their favourites. Movies, novels, music, games; we like to pass personal judgement on every form of entertainment that we consume. It’s one of the things that helps to define who we are, as individuals. Why am I opening so philosophically? It’s to give context for the statement that is to follow. Among the best games to ever be released is 2008’s Playstation 3 exclusive Valkyria Chronicles.
Charming, engaging and invigorating, the gameplay mechanics and inspired story set it apart from the vast majority of titles available. Sega certainly made a large investment in the IP, following up the original game with two PSP sequels, six serialised manga adaptations and supplements, an anime series and an OVA. In spite of all of this extraneous material, the series never really managed to catch on, selling less than two million copies across its three primary releases. Nevertheless, it has managed to garner a passionate cult following, some members of which are currently petitioning Sega to localise the third game and others that have undertaken the task themselves in an unofficial capacity.
Officially, there had been almost silence on the future of the franchise since the third game’s Japanese release in January of last year until only a few days ago. I can’t have been the only one hoping that this lengthy silence was due to a bigger and better entry than what we had yet seen. Perhaps a new game for either the Vita or, better yet, the PS3. Hell, I would have gladly settled for a PSP Remaster in the vein of the God of War Origins Collection. Instead, all of the waiting culminated in something that was hinted at a number of months ago: Valkyria Chronicles Duel. Instantly, the name rang warning bells for me.
Then the information was divulged. It will be a browser-based card game, reliant on micro transactions. Perhaps I’m too much of a core gamer. Perhaps I am too opposed to social gaming as a whole, but I don’t see this being any kind of a success. As excellent as Valkyria Chronicles is, it is very clearly designed to fill a niche. That niche has been quite vocal in their negative outcry in their response to this news, and the series really doesn’t seem to have the mainstream appeal to make this endeavour worthwhile.
That being said, I could very well be as surprised by the outcome as I was by the original game. It certainly seems to be retaining some of the elements of the series to date, simplifying some, while also adding in new mechanics to make it stand out from the Playstation-family products and add a sense of depth. The familiar aesthetic is certainly in place and the game seems to see the return of characters from all three previous entries, adding a sense of continuity (if you can ignore the glaring continuity errors by having some of them cross paths).
As disappointing as it being all we know to be in the pipeline is, Valkyria Chronicles Duel shows promise. Above all else, it still proves that Sega has an interest in continuing development of the IP. Here’s hoping that this is true and that we will soon receive word on a new flagship entry. And for a game like this, where better than the Tokyo Game Show, which is now only three months away. *crosses fingers*