Inside Pulse 12

Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Valkyria Chronicles

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Valkyria Chronicles
Developer: Sega WOW
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 11/04/2008
System Released On: Sony Playstation 3
Genre: Real Time Strategy/Tactical Strategy

Who Nominated The Game: Valkyria Chronicles won our 2008 Game of the Year award.

Why Was It Nominated: If you’re a long time reader of the site, you know I’m a pretty curmudgeonly gaming and far less likely to doll out a high score than most other reviewers out there. Well, Valkyria Chronicles was the first game in four years and two months to get a “Classic” rating from me. That’s 181 games that I reviewed between Bubble Bobble Old and New and Valkyria Chronicles which tells you how rare a game of this quality truly is. In my original review I summed up the game with:

Valkyria Chronicles is the best game I’ve played this year. It’s innovative and revolutionary engine combines the best aspects of RTS, Action RPG’s and SRPG’s. The game is breathtaking to behold, boasts an amazing soundtrack and offers one of the best voice acting ensembles this year. The story of the game is going to be released as an anime in 2009, so if for some insane reason you’re not interesting in playing the most original RPG engine since Shadow Hearts, you can always go that route. For true RPG and Sega diehards, it’s a game made by the development team that gave us Phantasy Star I , II and IV or the Sakura Wars series. Can you really be surprised by its greatness? This is a title worth buying a PS3 for. It’s the type of game that will make you remember why you fell in love with gaming in the first place. Now if only we could get that classic yell back…

This is especially telling because well, there isn’t a lot of love for the modern day Sega aka SAMMY Sega here at DHGF. There’s mostly a lot of hate for what Sammy has done to Sega and its classic franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog and Shining Force. Now granted there have been some good niche titles that Sega has put out like the Yakuza series or House of the Dead: Overkill, but for the most part, Sega has gone from the #2 publisher behind Nintendo to one that is synonymous with mediocrity…at best. So as you can imagine, the fact Sega allowed the team formerly known as Overworks to make a new RPS/Strategy hybrid and allow them complete creative control was a shock to everyone who followed the new Sammy Sega and/or Overworks themselves. So when this came out, a lot of people passed it over, especially younger gamers who were unaware of the legacy Sega WOW had behind it, especially as RPG/Strategy game developers. This plus the legion of gamers that were now more than jaded towards Sega published titles led to Valkyria Chronicles falling below the radar and selling rather poorly in North America. With Diehard GameFAN however, the game was an instant hit.

Joel Rose wrote the following back in our 2008 Staff Commentaries:

After a not so stellar recent track record, Sega really surprised me with Valkyria Chronicles. The action based strategy gameplay is such a great idea, I’m amazed no other developer has thought of it before. A compelling story and attractive visual presentation really come together to prove Sega still has what it takes to make a great RPG.

When 2008 was said and done, Valkyria Chronicles won both our Sony Playstation 3 Game of the Year award and our overall Game of the Year award. Bebito Jackson summed the game up with:

A superbly told story and deep character development keeps you engrossed the entire way through this fictional war-time scenario. I truly cared about these characters and have never been so invested in the political intrigue and drama of what in most games equate to a generic “good nation” versus “bad nation” cliché. It seamlessly brings in fantasy elements while still maintaining the realism. Valkyria Chronicles’ narrative is charming and the unique novella / story book presentation draws you in even further.

Finally, I once again weighed in with the GOTY award commentary:

While other sites are busy paying tribute to yet another sequel with the same characters, graphics, gameplay and cliches we’ve all seen before multiple times, we here at Diehard GameFAN have decided to go with Valkyria Chronicles. There are many reasons why, but chief amongst them is the originality.

VC packs an amazing story that is told as if it is being read from a historical chronicle about the Great War. The graphics are unique and yet somewhat reminiscent of Cell Shading which we discovered in another great Sega game – Jet Set Radio. The gameplay and engine of Valkyria Chronicles is easily the most original in years. Take a turn based RPG, thrown in tactical gameplay and then let it all play out in a nearly real time strategy like atmosphere and you have some nearly every gamer can not just enjoy, but fall in love with.

Since we gave Valkyria Chronicles its GOTY award, the games sales shot up (at least compared to how it was selling before) and Sega of America actually stated that winning the award really helped the game to not only survive in North America, but to sell enough copies to make localizing Valkyria Chronicles 2 for the PSP financially viable. And to no one’s surprise, that game was awesome as well.

So with all these accolades and outright praise from the staff here at Diehard GameFAN, was Valkyria Chronicles able to become the second ever game to actually be elected to our Hall of Fame?

All in Favour:

Ashe Collins – This is one of those titles I just knew I had to pick it up after viewing just a few screenshots. From the beginning the story where a small underdog country forced into war is trying to repel the invaders strikes a chord to the fantastic bit of strategy involved in each unique battle, everything is very well done. Add to that some great characters, some heartbreak and a great upgrade system within the game and you have a real gem.
 
 
 
Alexander Lucard – I’ll be honest – there are a lot of RTS’ out there, although almost all the truly good ones are PC exclusive. In terms of console gaming, I can’t really think of a lot of games in this genre that are good, much less great. I mean Goblin Commander is not something you’re going to see as a HoF nominee any time soon.

However Valkyria Chronicles gets a YAY from me for several reasons:

1) It’s the best RTS I can think of for a console unless you count Dragon Force as one;

2) It’s the best game Sega has put out since the Dreamcast era bar none.

3) It’s the last hurrah of Overworks/Sega WOW, which gave us Phantasy Stay IV, helped Red Company with the Sakura Taisen games and more;

4) The story. Holy shit, does this have one of THE best stories in all of gaming and I honestly feel it deserves entry just for the plot and characters.

5) It lacks trophies so loser gamers have to concentrate on the game itself instead of playing for imaginary objects that determine the size of one’s e-penis.

Valkyria Chronicles is simply one of those games that defied expectations and is one of, if not the best games of its genre, especially on consoles. What more can a game do to be a HoF nominee?

Aileen Coe – While on the surface it may look like just another game about war and wanting peace and everything that goes with that, it’s told well enough that it doesn’t feel mundane. It managed to incorporate third person shooter elements within a real time strategy game, and did so brilliantly. The battles can take a while to get through, but they’re so enjoyable and you’re so busy strategizing your next move or lining up your next shot, you barely notice the time go by.
 
 

Sean Madson– Whether you call it an RTS or a Strategy RPG, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that it’s a unique take on the conventions borrowed from both genres that provide a blend of gameplay and storytelling that’s rarely as addicting as what’s found here. I read some rave reviews prior to giving a go myself and even then I was a bit skeptical. I ended up picking it up when it was on sale at Gamestop for $30. After having played it through to its entirety, I can safely say I could have paid full price for it and not regretted it. As of this writing, this is the best PS3 game I’ve ever played.

Aaron Sirois – I was originally going to say nay for this game. I’ve only recently played it, and I felt that, while very good, it wasn’t what I would deem a classic. Then I got further in.

The game has a hidden depth to it that makes it an absolute blast to play. The battles will go for longer than an hour very early on, but you’re never bored, nor do you wish for them to be shorter. There are only a handful of games that can pull this off.

The story picks up as you go along as well. I found myself indifferent to the characters at the outset, but as the story sections continue, it is very hard not to start caring about them.

The game is just exceptionally well done and is so solid on every front that it deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. For a game to have this much polish and be this thoroughly good is a rare thing these days.

All Opposed:

Chuck Platt– Just as Disgaea sold me on the PS2, Valkyria Chronicles sold me a PS3. VC is a very good game. It looks good, it plays good, it is well written. Thing is, it is only good, never great. No moment ever grabbed me the way a great game does. It is a must play for PS3 owners, but a Hall of Famer? Nope.
 
 
 
 

Michael O’Reilly: – Sorry. It just does nothing deserving of being in a Hall of Fame.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Result: 5 in Favour, 2 Opposed , 71.4% Approval = REJECTED

Oh man, so very, very close here. One more yay vote would have tipped the scales and allowed Valkyria Chronicles into the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame. Instead we have the highest approval for a game since Disgaea and yet it still fails to enter the Hall of Fame. Perhaps this is a fitting parallel for the game for when Valkyria Chronicles originally came out it also found itself a hair away from public acceptance then as well.

Next Week: Join us here next week at the same bat-time and the same bat-channel as we look at the 2009 GOTY winner.

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  • Justin Holmes

    Did someone break Michael O’Reilly’s hands or is there another reason he only ever writes a dozen words in these?

  • Aaron Sirois

    “5) It lacks trophies so loser gamers have to concentrate on the game itself instead of playing for imaginary objects that determine the size of one’s e-penis.”

    Ouch.

  • Serge L

    Seems to me that Bebito or Joel could have cast that missing “yay” vote. Where have they disappeared to?

  • Bebito went flighty on this and Shining Force Neo. No idea on Joel.