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Valkyria Chronicles and the State of the Station

Posted by Jesse_Dylan, 23 November 2008 · 219 views

It's no exaggeration to say Valkyria Chronicles may be one of the most important games to come out on PS3 all year; I see it as something of a keystone, and this is why I think that.

http://www.cheapassg...&pictureid=3519

If Sony's system is going to succeed to the degree the PS2 has, and the PSone did before, it's going to need to please many niches. One big, fat, important niche, which has always helped push consoles, is the English-speaking gamer (whatever territory) who likes Japanese games, and there has been close to nothing to satisfy that niche yet on PS3 besides the woefully ignored Folklore and a small smattering of others (Disgaea 3, for instance).

This is exactly what Sony did with the PS2 and even the PS1! There were no RPGs. I remember being so pissed at Sony in 7th grade. I buy this shiny, new PlayStation, and the only RPG I get is Beyond the Beyond? Where the hell was Arc the Lad? Permanently in the vault, inexplicably. It wasn't until Wild ARMs and Suikoden (which were few and far between) that matters were partially ameliorated, and it took FFVII to assuage things entirely (though the translation was horrid). Until then, I had to contend myself with Toshinden (yuck) and European games I frankly was not that interested in (Destruction Derby, Wipeout... why did I bother buying this system at all, I wondered to myself). Later, the flood hit, and PSone became almost as treasured to me as my trusy SNES was in the era before (which, I might add, had the foresight to launch with an RPG, Final Fantasy IV, although we did miss out on many others, particularly FFV and the SNES Dragon Quests; Nintendo consoles have not released with RPGs since, and I think it's been a tremendous detriment, particularly on N64 and GameCube).

I played it a little smarter with PS2 and was not at all an early adopter because it was still the same absurd situation upon release; I waited for Ico and Final Fantasy X, the bonanza began, and I finally bought a system. PS2 turned into a great platform for this particular niche, and it still is, with Persona 4 coming out soon (in fact, it could be argued it is still basically the only console for this type of game, which is what needs to change), but it certainly didn't start out that way when Okage was one of the few RPGs and the quality level was sadly low.

We see the same thing happening this console generation, and with stiffer competition now from Microsoft, and Wii lapping the track over and over just on the strength of Wii-mote waggling, Sony really MUST step it up! How and when will this occur?

I did finally bite the hook myself, because I wanted to play the aforementioned (Disgaea, Folklore) and a handful of other faves (Hot Shots Golf, which I hope does not have the awful localization of the PS2 releases) and new non-Japanese stuff (LBP, Uncharted, Warhawk, Ratchet, maybe Resistance), but it was Valkyria Chronicles that really sealed the deal and made me think now was the time.

So, as I see it, Valkyria Chronicles is about a hell of a lot more than just Valkyria Chronicles. It SHOULD herald another draw of this system, which fully deserves to be around for the next 10 years, but it needs legs to stand on for that. A new focus should begin here and now, because a multi-tiered approach is what has always worked for Sony. Why they never discover this until 3 years into a system's lifespan, I don't know, but it's rancorously frustrating.

The other leg of this as of yet woefully unbalanced chair, which I will mention only as an aside, is the situation with multi-platform releases. Often the PS3 versions are inferior, which turns away the multi-console gamer (me). Not only does the PS3 need parity, it needs superiority. It's what its increased system specifications demand. If PS3 versions of multi-platform releases were always better, they'd sell more hardware based on the reputation the PS3 would develop as a rather elite (pardon the use of a hackneyed expression) system. Sony must also increase the volume (and not decrease the quality) of their exclusives and first-party releases. The promise of God of War "sometime" is not enough. Games like LBP and Killzone 2 are great, but there need to be more of them.

So that's what Valkyria Chronicles means to me--a hell of a lot, especially considering the arguable lack of good Japanese games on the 360 (which was to be expected anyway).




It's no exaggeration to say Valkyria Chronicles may be one of the most important games to come out on PS3 all year; I see it as something of a keystone, and this is why I think that.

http://www.cheapassg...&pictureid=3519

If Sony's system is going to succeed to the degree the PS2 has, and the PSone did before, it's going to need to please many niches. One big, fat, important niche, which has always helped push consoles, is the English-speaking gamer (whatever territory) who likes Japanese games, and there has been close to nothing to satisfy that niche yet on PS3 besides the woefully ignored Folklore and a small smattering of others (Disgaea 3, for instance).

This is exactly what Sony did with the PS2 and even the PS1! There were no RPGs. I remember being so pissed at Sony in 7th grade. I buy this shiny, new PlayStation, and the only RPG I get is Beyond the Beyond? Where the hell was Arc the Lad? Permanently in the vault, inexplicably. It wasn't until Wild ARMs and Suikoden (which were few and far between) that matters were partially ameliorated, and it took FFVII to assuage things entirely (though the translation was horrid). Until then, I had to contend myself with Toshinden (yuck) and European games I frankly was not that interested in (Destruction Derby, Wipeout... why did I bother buying this system at all, I wondered to myself). Later, the flood hit, and PSone became almost as treasured to me as my trusy SNES was in the era before (which, I might add, had the foresight to launch with an RPG, Final Fantasy IV, although we did miss out on many others, particularly FFV and the SNES Dragon Quests; Nintendo consoles have not released with RPGs since, and I think it's been a tremendous detriment, particularly on N64 and GameCube).

I played it a little smarter with PS2 and was not at all an early adopter because it was still the same absurd situation upon release; I waited for Ico and Final Fantasy X, the bonanza began, and I finally bought a system. PS2 turned into a great platform for this particular niche, and it still is, with Persona 4 coming out soon (in fact, it could be argued it is still basically the only console for this type of game, which is what needs to change), but it certainly didn't start out that way when Okage was one of the few RPGs and the quality level was sadly low.

We see the same thing happening this console generation, and with stiffer competition now from Microsoft, and Wii lapping the track over and over just on the strength of Wii-mote waggling, Sony really MUST step it up! How and when will this occur?

I did finally bite the hook myself, because I wanted to play the aforementioned (Disgaea, Folklore) and a handful of other faves (Hot Shots Golf, which I hope does not have the awful localization of the PS2 releases) and new non-Japanese stuff (LBP, Uncharted, Warhawk, Ratchet, maybe Resistance), but it was Valkyria Chronicles that really sealed the deal and made me think now was the time.

So, as I see it, Valkyria Chronicles is about a hell of a lot more than just Valkyria Chronicles. It SHOULD herald another draw of this system, which fully deserves to be around for the next 10 years, but it needs legs to stand on for that. A new focus should begin here and now, because a multi-tiered approach is what has always worked for Sony. Why they never discover this until 3 years into a system's lifespan, I don't know, but it's rancorously frustrating.

The other leg of this as of yet woefully unbalanced chair, which I will mention only as an aside, is the situation with multi-platform releases. Often the PS3 versions are inferior, which turns away the multi-console gamer (me). Not only does the PS3 need parity, it needs superiority. It's what its increased system specifications demand. If PS3 versions of multi-platform releases were always better, they'd sell more hardware based on the reputation the PS3 would develop as a rather elite (pardon the use of a hackneyed expression) system. Sony must also increase the volume (and not decrease the quality) of their exclusives and first-party releases. The promise of God of War "sometime" is not enough. Games like LBP and Killzone 2 are great, but there need to be more of them.

So that's what Valkyria Chronicles means to me--a hell of a lot, especially considering the arguable lack of good Japanese games on the 360 (which was to be expected anyway).
Sony has dropped the ball on so many things this time around it's not even funny. RPGS. Um where the Fuck are they? I doubt this is going to turn around for them any time soon. anyways, great post.
Thanks!

I think every camp has made some pretty lame mistakes all around this time. It's crazy. But they can still turn it around. What's the oddest is that they seem to make the same mistakes each generation.
The main reasons you just don't see many Japanese games on next gen consoles are:
-Most Japanese developers are pretty far behind on technology and just can't produce an RPG/Game of next gen caliber (There was an article with an interview by Yoshida on how tech power has shifted from Japan to the west). Some teams within a larger company can do it. That's one reason you don't see many of them on PS3, because many of those developers who might have made PS2 games, just can't afford to develop on PS3 with a retail game (like Hudson Soft).

-The other issue is that while some publishers/developers can do a big budget project, the next question is whether it's worth it or not. While Valkyria Chronicles is an excellent game, it needs to sell 500k worldwide to break even due to high development cost (mostly in its graphic engine, and so far it sold 130k in Japan). Tales of Vespiria, Eternal Sonata, and many other games from Japan are in the same situation but didn't. Last gen publishers were able to sell around 100k-200k and be all right. The only RPG series that can sell at least 500k in Japan is Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts (Tales, SaGa, and many others just don't perform that high anymore). And if you can sell 500k copies, that's what leads to fewer Japanese games on PS3/360 (unless they are a bit more sure they can break even or turn profit).

-Handhelds doing well is another thing. Previously, just about every game went to PS1/PS2 because it was the overwhelmingly dominate console, so it made the choice easy. Right now PSP and DS are getting the biggest sales in Japan. PSP/DS also much lower development costs. That's why we see many Tales, Suikoden going to DS, DQIX going to DS, and other big console games going to handheld because that's where they are more likely to sell right now in Japan (and cost much less to develop). Most teams in Japan can easily develop a DS/PSP game, but the percentage who can make an HD graphics game is still on the lower side (Game development in Japan isn't exactly booming either these days in new developers (most of it is in the west)).

-On Sony's end, most RPGs they made greatly sold below expectations on PS2. Wild Arms did extremely well on PS1, but its sales greatly dropped on PS2, where Wild Arms 4 and 5 didn't even sell 200k. Arc The Lad sold very high on PS1, yet did really bad on PS2. PoPoLoCrois, Legaia, and others dropped on PS2. A huge investment was made on Rogue Galaxy to make it a big RPG series to compete against DQ and FF (I could have sworn I heard it had a bigger budget than DQVIII even), and sold around 350k just in Japan (and was depending upon U.S. sales to decide if there will be a sequel). That's why Sony themselves aren't making a big investment in the genre themselves, because the ones they make just don't sell (along with some of the devs they previously worked with might not have the size/manpower to create an HD graphic RPG on PS3). Most Sony's RPGs just go to PSP due to a smaller risk. Oh course Sony will release Hot Shots Golf and GT games on PS3 (from Japan) because they are their two best sellers (selling over 1 million last gen and previous gen), and did pretty well on PS3.

Anyway, I own Valkyria Chronicles and love it. I really want people to pick up that game. People not picking it up just gives developers a reason to not bother with RPGs or other very interesting niche games on HD consoles.

But I just wanted to get the point across. Just look across the board at many major Japanese developers. If you compare their console output compared to previous gens (I'm excluding digital downloads here), it has been down for Square Enix, Namco, Koei, Capcom (Capcom is doing better than most publishers, but they've down more western outsourcing than ever), Konami (especially Konami, they had to outsource Silent Hill to a western team), and so on. I remember last gen with their being tons of Konami, Capcom, Namco, and so on games coming out, but it's just not like that this gen (partially because of high development costs, fewer total staff maybe (and more is needed per project), and so on).
You forget to mention why else it's so important: it's a fucking great game :)
I want this game so badly but I can't justify buying any new games when I have so many that remain sealed...definitely going to buy some day though :) Looks incredible!
Best game this year, by far. It's a shame that the Japanese don't outsource their engines like we do here in the states. If Sega were to sell licenses for other companies to use the CANVAS engine, I think that you would see a lot more games coming out of Eastern developers...
The demo blew me away, but I just can't keep spending on games like I have been, so I'm waiting for a sale. It seems very polished, which is what Operation Darkness earlier this year seemed to lack.

BTW I haven't seen mention of it anywhere but does it have online multiplayer?
I'm probably going to ask for Valkyria Chronicles for Christmas. Honestly, this whole generation of consoles has been disappointing so far for RPG fans. Even though I have both a DS and a PSP, I am pissed that game makers are going for the quick buck and producing RPGs for them that are more like archaic SNES-era games than anything from the console generations post-SNES, especially the DS. It's like they think they can use the small form factor as an excuse to be lazy and make forgettable, shallow games. Very few interest me, and the ones that do are console ports of games I missed when they first came out. If I'd played them, I'd be even more pissed at the lack of high quality original RPGs despite the flood of mediocre ones.