Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Valkyrie Profile

From Square's Final Fantasy to Enix's Dragon Warrior, RPG scenarios nearly always feature personal stories told against the backdrop of an unimaginable conflict. Tri-Ace's traditional RPG Valkyrie Profile, published by Enix, is no exception. But Valkyrie Profile raises the stakes, taking place against the backdrop of perhaps the largest conflict of them all: Ragnarok, the final confrontation between the Aesir gods and the Vanir gods. And you, Valkyrie Lenneth, are on the front lines.
Norse mythology holds that Valkyries are female warriors responsible for ferrying the souls of the dead from this world to the next. In Valkyrie Profile, that's precisely what you do. The demigoddess Valkyrie travels around the world, entering the lives of heroes just before they die - or just after. The Valkyrie then takes their souls into her possession, where they fight alongside her in an attempt to find retribution. Each of the more than 20 characters that join your party is either deceased or immortal. With such heavy prerequisites for joining Club Valkyrie, it's not surprising that many of the game's engaging scenarios are filled with pathos, tragedy, and high drama. The story only loosely adheres to the original Norse myths: The one-eyed Odin is fully sighted and exceedingly youthful in this game, and Valkyrie Profile's Frey is definitely not a man. But considering how most Japanese RPGs "respect" other cultures' mythologies, this is mostly a nonissue.

In the village of Coriander, a 14-year old girl named Platina lives with her cruel parents. When the village falls upon hard times, her friend Lucian finds out that her parents are going to sell her into slavery so they run away together. The two accidentally wander into the Weeping Lily Meadow and Platina dies in Lucian's arms from the toxic pollen.
Lenneth Valkyrie awakens in Asgard, where the god Odin and the goddess Freya give her the task of recruiting warriors from Midgard into the Einherjar for their war with the Vanir and the coming of Ragnarok. Her first recruits are the princess Jelanda and the mercenary Arngrim. After the arrogant Arngrim inadvertently embarrasses her father, Jelanda hatches an scheme for revenge but is kidnapped and transformed into a monster by a traitorous court minister. Lenneth appears and helps Arngrim kill the monster, claiming Jelanda as an Einherjar. Arngrim, having unknowingly aided Jelanda's captors, later kills the man responsible for her death, but commits suicide when he is to be arrested. Lenneth makes Arngrim an Einherjar at Jelanda's request but Odin and Freya find him lacking the personal qualities of an Einherjar and refuse to accept him into Valhalla so Arngrim remains at Lenneth's side.
During Lenneth's travels, she meets but does not fight Brahms, lord of the undead and enemy of Odin who is in possession of her sister Silmeria (due to circumstances explained in Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria) and the necromancer Lezard Valeth, who lures her to his tower. Lenneth discovers that he has been experimenting with half-elven homunculi for use as vessels to attain godhood. Lezard also wishes to possess Lenneth for himself, though she refuses to cooperate and destroys his experiments. The sorceress Mystina, one of Lezard's rivals, later discovers what he has been doing and takes his last remaining homunculus. When he discovers her theft, Lezard freezes her body while she is spirit walking, separating Mystina's soul from her body permanently. Lenneth recruits her, though Odin and Freya refuse to accept Mystina into Valhalla and she, like Arngrim, remains with Lenneth.
Lenneth eventually meets Lucian, who has grown up and become a poor thief in Gerabellum. He notices that Lenneth resembles Platina, due their silver hair, though she does not know who he is. Lucian is later killed by soldiers cleaning up the slums and becomes an Einherjar. Before she sends him to Valhalla, Lucian takes Lenneth to Coriander and the Weeping Lily Meadow, telling her about Platina and how he still loves her. Lenneth tells him to forget about her but kisses him before he departs, though she doesn't believe any romance can happen between a human and a God she hopes they will meet again. Lucian then goes to Valhalla, continuing to brood upon Lenneth and Platina.
Lenneth's travels bring her to the Lost City of Dipan, where she finds the ghost of King Barbarossa. Discovering a time machine within the city, she accidentally travels into the past, witnessing her sister Hrist execute the king and destroy the city for defying the gods and building the time machine (Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria). Returning to her own time, Lenneth helps Barbarossa's soul find peace by defeating the three Magi haunting Dipan.
Meanwhile, in Valhalla, Lucian learns that Valkyries "sleep" in Midgard, reincarnating in Asgard upon their human deaths. However, Odin and Freya seal their memories, as they might interfere with their duty as Valkyries. The Æsir Loki tells Lucian that the Water Mirror can be used to contact the Valkyrie, though it is forbidden for anyone besides Odin to use. Lucian does so anyway and gives Lenneth an earring, telling her she will know where to find its match, but Lenneth is angry at him for his disobedience. Loki, who secretly seeks to usurp Odin's power, uses the distraction to steal the Dragon Orb. Afterwards, Loki kills Lucian, using him as a scapegoat to cover his theft. When Lenneth returns to Asgard, Freya tells her the Dragon Orb has been stolen, ostensibly by Lucian.
Lenneth finds the other earring at Platina's grave in the Weeping Lily Meadow and her memories as Platina return. Sensing that the seal is broken, Odin performs the Sovereign's Rite, transmigrating Lenneth's soul and summoning Hrist in her place. Hrist takes control of the Valkyrie's body and tries to destroy Arngrim and Mystina, who refuse to serve her, but Lenneth intervenes to save them. The blast shatters Lenneth's soul and Mystina must crystallize the fragments to prevent them from dissipating. Lezard Valeth appears, telling them of a way to save her. Temporarily transferring Lenneth's soul into Lezard's homunculus, Arngrim, Mystina, and Lezard then confront Hrist in Brahms' castle, where she has gone to retrieve Silmeria. With Brahms' help, they defeat her and reclaim the Valkyrie's body. Back in Mystina's workshop, the elven homunculus is fused with the Valkyrie's body and Lenneth is reborn. Her memories of Lucian and Platina intact, Lenneth is disgusted with how the gods manipulate humans and the suffering they cause and wants it to stop.
Eventually Ragnarok occurs and Loki, with the power of the Dragon Orb, betrays and kills both Odin and Surt, leaders of the Æsir and Vanir. Returning to Asgard, after confronting Freya about the manipulations of both Odin as well as her own, Lenneth slays Fenrir and Bloodbane before confronting Loki, who destroys the world in a demonstration of his power. The fusion of the Valkyrie's body and half-elven homunculus allows Lenneth's divine powers to grow so she is able to shield herself and the other Einherjar from Loki's destructive display. Her compassion for mankind and love for Lucian allows her to draw upon all of humanity, gaining the power of creation. Lenneth undoes Loki's destruction, kills him, taking his soul into herself and becomes the new Lord of Creation. She then turns to see Lucian, who has been reborn, and the two are reunited and they kiss.

Valkyrie Profile draws heavily from Norse mythology, though it takes artistic liberty with the source material and does deviate from it significantly.
The nine realms of the world are connected by the roots of the world tree, Yggdrasil. Three of the strongest roots contain the five realms significant to Valkyrie Profile:
* Asgard, the home of the Æsir and Vanir, and Alfheim, realm of the elves, exist on the highest root. The only way to enter from Midgard is to cross the rainbow bridge Bifrost. It is home to the Hall of Valhalla, where warriors who died heroically are brought by Valkyries to fight alongside the gods.
* Midgard, the realm of humans, and Jotunheim, the home of the giants, exist on the middle root. Midgard is a war torn land, separated from the snowy land of Jotunheim by tall mountains and vast oceans.
* Nifleheim, the realm of the dead, exists on the lowest root. It is a dark, fog-covered land neglected by the other gods, where those who died ignominious deaths were condemned to an eternity of torment and suffering by the death goddess Queen Hel.
Four powerful artifacts ("the Four Great Treasures") ensure the stability and peace of each realm:
* Asgard - Gungnir, Odin's spear.
* Alfheim - the Sylvan Bow, currently in Odin's possession
* Midgard - the Dragon Orb. Once located in Midgard in the Palace of the Dragon, but Odin has stolen it as of Valkyrie Profile to prepare for the coming of Ragnarok
* Nifleheim - the demon sword Levantine. It was eaten by the dragon Bloodbane.

Valkyrie Profile takes place mostly in Midgard during the war between the Æsir and Vanir. Midgard consists of a several smaller islands surrounding a large continent where the majority of humans live. The kingdom of Villnore, which includes the village of Coriander and the Weeping Lily Meadow, are in the northwest. The kingdom of Gerabellum, including the village of Lassen, occupy the southwestern portion of the continent. The militaristic Crell Monferaigne controls most of the eastern half of the continent. The small kingdom of Artolia and village of Camille, located centrally, are often caught in wars between their three larger neighbors. The monarchy of Flenceburg, known for its magical academy, lies on a peninsula in the southeast. The rest of the continent is covered by mountains, forests, swamps, and ancient ruins. The land of Hai-Lan lies on the island of Yamato to the southwest while the Lost City of Dipan (featured in Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria) is on an island to the north. The Forest of Spirits, home of the elves in Midgard, lies on a large island to the south-east of Flenceburg. The Palace of the Dragon lies on a small island to the east. The castle of Brahms, lord of the undead, floats over an island to the west. Finally, the final part of the game brings Lenneth to either Jotunheim Palace, home of the Vanir, or Asgard Hill, home of the Æsir, depending on which ending is achieved.

Source and Credits : Gamefaqs, Wikipedia, and Gamespot

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