Valkyrie Profile : Part 1
1 : 2 : 3
So, you may have heard that there's a new Valkyrie Profile game on the horizon, and, being the savvy gamer that you are, you may even have recognized the company that's making it. "Hey! It's those Square-Enix guys! They're the geniuses behind such instant classics as Final Fantasy X-2 and Kingdom Hearts!"
But did you also know that, before Enix was reduced to suffixation, they actually made games on their own? Games that weren't affiliated with Square? I can tell by your gasps of horror that such an idea smacks of blasphemy, and believe you me, I can empathize. I mean, I can totally list on one hand the number of games I readily associate with pre-Square Enix, but even for me, one game in particular seems to stand above the rest. (No. Not the Dragon Warrior series. Sheesh.) I mean, you can just check the prices on Ebay if you don't believe me. Anyway, you can see where I'm going with this, right?
That's right, kids! We're now officially in Part 1 of the first ever Valkyrie Profile recap! Five years ago, this "severely underrated" game somehow managed to both slide under the radar and at the same time make giant waves within its small, yet "devoted community" of followers, and now that a sequel has been announced, what better way to celebrate than by
tearing it's predecessor to shreds introducing a new recap, "just in time" for the Holiday season? Doesn't that sound like a treat? Eh?
So, without further ado, let's get started. And where else would I start but the entry labeled "Prologue" on the Press Start menu?
We open on an overcast day, gazing at the sun (and its obligatory lensflares) through a cluster of bare, finger-like tree branches. Water babbles nearby. The frame slides slowly downward, displaying snow-capped rocks and a clearing in the middle of a thicket of bare, dead-looking trees. Some black text announces that this game is an ENIX presentation, as well as a Tri-Ace "creation." We see a small girl with long "silver" (but actually violet) hair gathering water from a brook. The girl is wearing peasant garb and looks like she's about seven years old. The idyllic atmosphere is shattered when the jarring voice of a thirty-year-old woman hits the soundtrack in the form of a voiceover, narrating the girl's dialogue. "I must hurry!" thirty-year-old "little" girl voice says. Then, showing us just how powerful her sense of urgency is, the girl, who we learn is named Platina, sloooooooowly pulls her bucket out of the brook and even more sloooooooooowly sidles off the left side of the screen. "I don't want to get scolded by mother again..." Platina foreshadows in her creepy old lady voice.
Platina emerges from the thicket and sloooooooooowly sidles her way through a village comprised of rundown and generally uninhabitable-looking shacks. She reaches her own house just in time to see her mother escorting two men dressed in matching black outfits out the front door. Platina is moving soooooo slooooooooowly that she doesn't have time to change her flight plan and collides with one of the men. Platina's ancient VA gasps and delivers a stilted apology to the man. Platina's mom probably hates Platina's VA as much as I do, because she runs over and totally backhands her daughter across the face. The men in black randomly shuffle out of the frame, totally unaffected by mommy's violent tendencies. "Mother Laia," who is, incidentally, voiced by the Wicked Witch of the West, scolds her daughter for splashing water on a "guest." Platina smarms for forgiveness, awkwardly allows a five-second pause to elapse, and then asks her mom who those people were. Mother Laia raises her hand again like she'd love nothing more than to pop her daughter one more to the face, but simply screeches that it's none of Platina's business. Mother Laia sneers that Platina has lots of work left to do today, and then, jumping on her broomstick, flies away into the overcast horizon. Platina rubs her cheek and makes the saddest little "why does my mommy hate me?" face that you ever did see.
|'I'll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too!'
Later that evening, we fade up in Platina's bedroom to see the poor, neglected girl lying in bed. We probably missed her crying herself to sleep by like, seconds. The window shutters fly open and a little boy sticks his head in. Uh oh. I hope Platina has her mace ready. Platina wakes with a start and whines, "Lucian... What's going on? Do you know what time it is?" Except her VA asks the last question like how I would ask somebody if they actually knew the time. Like, "Excuse me, do you know what time it is?" "Oh yes, it's a quarter to four." "Oh, thank you." Presumably, Platina can't tell time, or Lucian has a new wristwatch or something. Or maybe Platina's VA just sucks.
Lucian hisses for Platina to shut her yap and, boy, if you thought I was riding Platina's VA hard, get in line, because little eight-year-old Lucian has somehow been blessed with Gourry Gabriev's manly set of pipes. Seriously, are we supposed to believe that either a) tiny little Lucian is actually post-pubescent or b) that this is his pre-pubescent voice? Because somebody had better grow up to be Barry White, with a voice like that, is all I'm saying. Maybe the Puberty Fairy just forgot to finish the job she started, or something.
Anyway, Lucian has appeared in Platina's room to warn her that her parents have sold her into slavery, and that she should run away like, right now. But sweet Platina is as dumb as a two-by-four and would rather discuss the minutiae of how Lucian could know such a thing rather than make her grand escape. Incidentally, this entire exchange is peppered with these weird five-second pauses that make each VA's already questionable presentation seem outright stilted. But I'm sure that's the effect they were going for. Anyway, Platina's stalling buys just enough time for Mother Laia to bust into the room, Wicked Witch wand at the ready. She's also fully dressed, despite the fact that it's supposed to be the dead of night. Whatever.
"You little thief! What are you doing to my daughter?!" Laia screeches. Lucian, not faltering for a moment, grabs Platina's hand and yanks her out the window. And then Mother Laia... just chalks it up as a loss and goes back to bed after that, I guess, because we never see her again. Maybe somebody dropped a house on her or something. Dibs on her shoes.
Cut to Lucian and Platina, stealing through the town, lit only by the full moon overhead. They run until they can't run anymore, and find themselves deep inside the forest. Platina's bizarre VA whines that she wants to go home. Lucian whips around, shocked, and demands to know how Platina could possibly want to go back to a family that wants to sell her into slavery. Platina's reasoning is that, since she hasn't ever heard anything from her mother about the slave thing, it can't possibly be true. Because Laia would totally have included Platina in that little family meeting. God, Platina, shut up.
Lucian responds with a very visible and totally hilarious "guh!?" gesture. Platina: "She must be so worried about me by now..." Sweet Christ on a cracker. Platina. Your mom beats and abuses you, and now you think that she probably deserves the benefit of the doubt when your best friend tells you that mom's going to sell you to a pair of creepy men? You know what? I think you should go back. Naivety this pure and concentrated really shouldn't go unrewarded.
|Unfortunately. Will Smith owes 7$ and two hours of my life!
Lucian, too, is struck dumb from wank, and glowers at Platina at length. Finally, he clues a sister in, literally, as he tells Platina how he knows for a fact that the men in black are slave traders. Turns out they came to his house one day, and the next, his sister had vanished. Platina's VA delivers an unintentionally hilarious line: "Wha? But everyone said she was stricken with a disease..." I totally expect the woman who voices Platina to use language like that at, like, a Ren-Faire, or something, but coming from Platina's infantile countenance, it just seems silly. Lucian: "Oh? Have you ever heard of a disease that makes you disappear?" I wish these two would catch a disease that makes them disappear.
Lucian wipes away some tears that threatened to spring forth during his sister sob story and announces that he just couldn't stand to lose Platina, too. Platina, touched, devises a brilliant plan: running away! Luckily for her, they're, you know, already doing that. Platina smarms, "I'll go anywhere with you, Lucian." Lucian adorably takes off his jacket, puts it over Platina's shoulders, and offers her his hand. She grabs it and they run off the left side of the screen. There's a short clip of them walking away from the camera and disappearing into the horizon, and then the camera pans upward into the darkened tree branches.
Oh. For some reason, the prologue movie isn't over yet. That last scene struck me as really final, but whatever, maybe they've got some really compelling stuff jammed in at the end here. Let's see... the camera fades up to show us... more walking. Lucian wonders where the hell they are. Platina shakily admits that she doesn't know, and then wonders what will become of them. More walking. Man, this is a riveting montage of walking scenes. Walk walk walk walk walk. Awesome.
Eventually, Lucian and Platina stumble upon a beautiful field of white bell lilies, nestled at the bottom of a glacial canyon. Lucian's VA botches his delivery of "Where...?" making it sound like he's all, "You want me to stick it where?" instead of an awestruck "Where are we...?", but Platina's VA seems to have the right idea, for once. She gushes that the field is so beautiful, and asks Lucian whether it might be heaven. Lucian scolds Platina for daring to suggest such a thing, intoning that "it's bad luck." A breeze flutters through the valley, sending flower petals soaring into the air. Platina giggles and does a pirouette because, like, she's happy, man. Lucian bends over to take a better look at the flowers, and discovers that they are Weeping Lilies (which, if a rudimentary Google search is to be believed, only actually exist in the form of an FTD sympathy arrangement). Visibly distraught, Lucian runs to Platina's side and tells her that, if they don't leave the valley immediately, the poisonously poisonous poison from the Weeping Lily pollen could kill them dead in nothing flat. I wonder, since it doesn't seem to be grounded in reality, where the idea of a field of poisonous flowers came from. Maybe Laia's VA was keen to reuse her whole "Poppy Field of Death" plan on a fresh audience?
Platina, too, is quite intrigued by the prospect of poisonous flowers, if only in a significantly creepier way: "If I were to fall asleep here, would I be able to just... slip away?" she wonders. Morbid! The frame tightens on the two children, and we see Platina collapse into Lucian's arms, presumably beginning to succumb to the Weeping Lily poison. Only it really looks like she's pulling a Shion-slurpee on him. Weeping Lily petals continue to artfully fly through the air. Platina, her face stained with tears, looks up at Lucian and delivers a speech essentially enumerating all the reasons for him to let her die: "I can't stand it any longer! No matter how hard I've tried... Mother and Father have never treated me with kindness! If you care about me so much Lucian, do you think... Do you think we might be reborn? That we might be reborn... together?"
|You mean, like, as conjoined twins?
Sigh. Yes, Platina. You should die, so that you can maybe be reborn together. Never mind the fact that you're together, you know, right now. Seriously, this girl. Like, her mom wanted to sell her into slavery, so I kinda want to feel bad for her, but still, she's sooooo wanky. I'm beginning to understand why Laia did what she had to do.
Lucian says nothing, and Platina tells him that she's so glad to have known him, but she has "too many awful memories." What a whiner. Just let her die, Lucian! There are plenty of fish out there in the Poorly-Voiced Sea, and if your own manly voice is any indication, we all know you're packing the right kind of bait, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.
Platina's still whining. "I have too many awful memories. I just want to forget... forget... it... all..." Her VA at this point, predictably, totally Yunas the line. Finally, Platina makes good on her promise and flops over backward, dead as a doornail. Lucian, after being silent for so long, finally cracks. "No! Wake up! I won't have it!! You want to forget!? Would you forget me too, Platina-?" Poor Lucian. He ran away with his little girlfriend, but she would rather die than be with him. That's gotta sting.
The camera pulls back to heighten the dramatic end to Platina's tragic life, and Lucian cries "Platinaaaaaaaaaaa!" as he cradles her rapidly-cooling body. There's also a semi-transparent piece of artwork featuring Lucian screaming, with tears running down his cheeks, displayed on the right half of the screen. Nicely done, Enix. It may have been a little ball ping hammery there at parts, but I feel like I sufficiently got to understand Platina's character before you offed her. The black stripes at the top and bottom of the frame begin to close in, and the entire thing fades to the words "Valkyrie Profile" on a black screen.
Can you believe that that was all from the opening movie? I didn't have to press one button on the controller during the entire thing. But now that it's over, we get to get started with some actual gameplay, right? Right?
WRONG! It's time for the obligatory anime montage opening sequence, of course! Rather than just re-using a bunch of clips from in the game, Enix went the way of Suikoden III and Breath of Fire IV and commissioned the creation of 100% new, but very heavily game-inspired, anime sequences. The whole thing is done in a disjointed, action-packed, dialogue-free (Praise Yevon!) style and set to this really cool ethereal synthesized musical number that speeds up and slows down to reflect the mood of certain scenes.