This sort of thing has happened before so why should we be surprised? It is obvious that Square-Enix want to create their own version of the series but instead of creating a whole new series, they continue to use their brand label to strengthen their product's success.
This all started with Final Fantasy 13-2 where they introduced Valhalla and Etro. They also introduced Lightining with a whole new persona, that of a warrior goddess. This is a complete change in personality to her 13 character and really separates the two of them as individual characters despite having the same name and appearance, there are two differrent Lightning's. It's easy to say that Final Fantasy 13-2 was a mish mash of Chrono Trigger, Valkyrie Profile. Though time travel has been done in both titles, it is more significant in Final Fantasy 13-2 so Chrono Trigger deserves a mention. On the other hand, Final Fantasy 13-2 was completely differrent from both games in terms of gameplay as it carried over the battle system of the previous game. So what of Lightning Returns? Is it differrent? It depends on what game you are looking at. To final Fantasy fans it is drastically differrent, it's a whole new game. To fans of Valkyrie Profile, it is not, in fact it is pretty much the same game they played on the ps1 or psp named Valkyrie Profile/Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth using the updated battle system of their most recent installment (barring Covenant Of The Plume) Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria.
You start with Lightning, who plays the role of the savior, a bit like a valkyrie as she collects souls to save everyone from the end of the world, similar to Valkyrie Profile, the only differrence being that in Valkyrie Profile, the end of the world was inevitable. Along the way she has adversaries to contend with, very much like the many dungeons Lenneth delves in. The differrence being that Lenneth summons forth her einherjar to fight alongside her, Lightning fights alone. To make up for this, Lighting uses the power of her massive invisible wardrobe that follows her throughout the game and quickly changes into a new outfit in about half a second (it's like magic and it probably is)
Add to that and the period system returns, now in real time so there is no time for standing around, the end of the world is coming so you have to be constantly on the move. Valkyrie Profile was developed in a time where the real time concept was rare (well at least on that scale) and instead used a period system in which going to places on the world map cost you period points and when all period points ran out, Ragnarok would begin. Lightning returns uses this same concept but in real time.
The battle system is pretty much Valkyrie Profile, Final Fantasy 10-2 and Final Fantasy 13 combined into one with a single character in control. Like in Valkyrie Profile 2, attacks are performed by tapping the face buttons, the only differrence is that you shift into a new outfit (Final Fantasy 10-2) when your ATB guage runs out (essentially Valkyrie Profile 2's AP gauge which replenishes in real time) The game also uses a feature known as overclock which is inspired by Valkyrie Profile 2's break mode in which the player can attack unlimited times until the time runs out. The differrence being that in Lightning Returns, overclock can be stockpiled and can be activated manually at any point in battle.
Also, coincidentally tri-Ace helped programme the game, did they have more involvement in this? They did the same for 13-2. I feel as if tri-Ace want to make another Valkyrie Profile but Square-Enix won't publish it, instead they have chosen to re-boot the series in their own image and hope that it brings them success.
With all these similarities, it can easily be considered a reboot of Valkyrie Profile, my question is, why did Square-Enix put recognized Final Fantasy characters in it instead of thinking up characters themselves? Why did they name it Final Fantasy? The obvious answer is brand superiority but then again, thats like Capcom making Leon the main character of DMC: Devil May Cry (ironic since he was planned to be the MC for the original Devil May Cry). I mean don't get me wrong, i think a sci-fi themed reboot of Valkyrie Profile would be interesting especially considering the fact that norse mythology and sci-fi has been done before (Too Human) but all this Final Fantasy Nonsense distracts from that. Of course this could just be an extreme coincidence but i think it's certain that Lightning Returns had some inspiration from the Valkyrie Profile series. What do you guys think? I seem to think so.