Valkyria Chronicle is Going Mainstream

Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical role-playing game published by Sega, developed by their Sega WOW division exclusively for the Playstation 3. It was released in Japan on April 24, 2008. A European version was then released on October 31, 2008, followed by a North American version released on November 4, 2008. The success of the game spawned multiple manga titles, a televised anime series, and most recently the development of

Valkyria Chronicles follows the life of Welkin Gunther, a young militia lieutenant forced into service by a continent-wide war in the land of Gallia, located on the continent of Europa.

“The setting can best be described as a mash-up of WW1 and WW2 themes… the waning aristocracy and power struggles of the first war along with the weapons of mass destruction and persecution of a historically derided people of the second.” (Gamefaqs review)

The story of Valkyria Chronicles 2 takes place two years after the conclusion of the original game. A group of young Gallian Military Academy cadets find themselves plunged into a bitter civil war when the newly formed Gallian Revolutionary Army stages a coup. As the epic drama unfolds in the game, players will experience stories of friendship, love and growing pains during a time of war and revolution.

What’s interesting about this series is the radical shift in tone between the original game and its sequel. I won’t dwell in the differences between gameplay since i feel that its an overall improvement from the first game. instead, Ill deal with what has changed in the tone and overall execution of Valkyria Chronicles.

Console to Portable

As mentioned earlier, VC1 was made exclusively for the PS3 but what’s this? A sequel to VC1 is being made exclusively… for the PSP?! This dealt a significant blow to those who have played the game and loved it on the PS3 but doesn’t have a PSP.

This move is not unjustified though. Role-playing games (RPGs) are the mainstream genre as long as portable gaming systems are concerned.  With recent releases of Hexyz Force, Ys Seven, especially Persona 3 Portable, RPGs are taking the PSP by storm. Portables are also undeniably a lot cheaper compared to consoles so that gives people more incentive to buy the game.

But as they say, at the end of the day you always have to take care of your fans because they are the most vocal and emphatic audience you have. Of course you can always buy a PSP if you’re really a fan but purchasing one for the sake of one games feels a little overboard.

Animeness

Don’t get me wrong; I like anime but fans of VC are having mixed feelings about the shift in the game’s tone, particularly in the character department. The original VC is drawn anime style but the story is portrayed a lot darker than what you would expect from a typical anime. This focus on history and morality issues charmed a significant amount of fans. Some even say that it’s the best strategy RPG created since Final Fantasy Tactics (which I still feel is the best SRPG ever). There are about 50 characters that have a unique story and personality each and they are predominantly mature adults, one you’d really expect to be in war.

In the sequel however, the series made yet another turn towards mainstream; mainstream shonen manga that is. The gutsy positive young main character who isn’t afraid of anything, the moody, conservative, handsome rival who likes to act cool and antagonizes the hero every now and then, the shy quiet girl who secretly likes the main character, etc, etc. And most of the significant characters are in their high school years. So that’s Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail, Rave, Hajime no Ippo, Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Air Gear, D. Gray-man, Beelzebub, Eyeshield 21 and a whole lot more.

This didn’t looked good for some purists. Some felt that the dark tone was an integral part of the game and that removing it will take a lot of fun from the game since it wouldn’t be the same.

Here we see a company’s attempt to change their target audience. Obviously, Sega is looking for a younger audience this time as compared to the first game. Though you should ideally target a larger demographic, unhappy fans can prove to be more troublesome in the end.

Personally, I find the animeness of VC2 to be quite appealing and so do some fans of the original VC. A lighter story does not equate to worse and though Sega may lose the interest of some, it will surely lure in new fans of the series.

Overall feel

Sega’s main problem right now is falling short in the fan service department. VC1 was such a big hit that fans that love the game were willing to buy a sequel as soon as its out. But when they found out about the radical changes in the game (most of which are against them), people started to doubt whether they would buy the game.

Gaming companies and organizations alike should take care of the people who love their product. If you’re planning to change your target audience, at least give some consideration to the people who loved your product in order to satisfy their expectations from your game. Fans are not merely some who bought yourproducts, they are also people who encourages other people to buy your products, making them an indispensable stockholders of your company.

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One Response to Valkyria Chronicle is Going Mainstream

  1. Grrr. I’d hate it if they drastically changed my favorite game. I don’t get why some organizations still don’t understand this. These are the products that their people love. Some even grew up with. Sure changing will probably make it more appealing to the masses. But what message does that send out to the original patrons of the product?

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