Valkyrie Profile for the PS1 is probably one of my favorite games because of how easily attached you can become to the various characters in the game. The character that I became totally attached to was Lenneth Valkyrie, the main protagonist. It is an odd feeling when one becomes attached to a character in a story whether it be a book, movie, or game. In this case I fell for a battle maiden of Odin, which has often led to very awkward discussions with friends.
To better explain why I consider Lenneth my gaming guilty pleasure I should probably tell you a story on how I actually got to play Valkyrie Profile. It must have been around 2004, and at the time my friends were playing Final Fantasy X-2, and I can’t even describe my hatred for that game. In my opinion, even though X-2 used females as main characters, which is definitely a nice turn of pace, to me they behaved too feeble, too childish, too scantly clad (you are fighting monsters why are you not in full plate armor!), and too fitting for a stereotypically female role; all things I despise. I remember one late night after watching a friend play I made it my personal quest to find a RPG that had not only a female main character (sorry SquareEnix but by Final Fantasy X, I was also sick of your feminine male looking characters too), but she had to be badass and know it too. I stumbled upon Valkyrie Profile that night, a PS1 Enix game about a valkyrie warrior named Lenneth and I remember that the in game trailer I saw was similar to this:
I guess what really hit me home was the beautiful voice over Megan Hollingshead performed in the trailer. It was from that moment on I knew I “had to find out who Lenneth was”. However Enix did not release a lot of copies of Valkyrie Profile so it became an instant rarity. I remember browsing Ebay at that time, seeing copies going for $40 - $120, and having my heart sink to the floor due to the fact that I could not justify spending that much money on a used game.
Three long years passed, with no success in finding a moderately priced game. I had just gotten out of a World of Warcraft addiction that lasted nearly 2 years. However my desire to play Valkyrie Profile kept increasing. Like most solutions, I finally resolved this dilemma after a long night of heavy drinking and partying. I remember walking home in during a cold Minnesotan January night thinking to myself there has to be a way to play this game via emulation. I been playing emulated NES, SNES, Genesis, and Master system games for almost 4 years by then, there must have been finally some PS1 emulation by now. By the power of Google I was able to slowly download the game via partial winrar files which took me the better part of 3 hours. I remember going to bed late that night with the feeling similar to having Christmas morning coming; I knew that the next day after three years I will have my Lenneth Valkyrie!
More advanced video game system emulators (i.e. PS1, N64, Dreamcast) are nothing like the NES, SNES, and Genesis emulators that I was accustomed too. It took me nearly 12 straight hours of configuring, remapping, and driver modding to get Valkyrie Profile working. However, playing the game as Lenneth was probably one of my favorite gaming experiences. You get to play a strong character (which I like), who is female (which is a nice change of pace), who is a battle maiden for Odin himself (AWESOME!). Her nature at times is so cold, so omnipotent, and so inhuman you are driven into the story wanting to know why she is like this and will she actually have a more feminine side to her. Her journey that she embarks down is so memorable I will not forget it for anytime soon. Nowadays, I repeatably cite Lenneth as one of my favorite characters out of any medium, I often cycle my computer’s wallpaper with a picture of Lenneth, I hacked into my phone so I can put a Lenneth wallpaper, and I have already told my girlfriend that if we ever have a daughter her name should be Lenneth.
As you can see, Lenneth is my gaming guilty pleasure. My boyish infatuation with a female valkyrie named Lenneth who knew how to kick ass and take names took me down a very long, winding, and yet fulfilling journey. A three year long desire to play a game can sometimes make you do some crazy stuff, like learn how to use PS1 emulators, which I do feel at times a little guilty not picking up the game now even though I definitely can afford the game. Furthermore, having friends and family seeing pictures of Lenneth on my computer and phone, and not having wallpapers of my girlfriend of 5.5 years often lead so very awkward discussions, but awkward in a good childish way. Thankfully my girlfriend is very understanding, so no matter how guilty I feel about thinking about how magical, how strong, how memorable Lenneth Valkyrie is, I always know she will always have the number 2 spot, right underneath my girlfriend.
Hope you enjoyed my large wall of text! What I wonder is if you have ever had a similar experience with a character, whether it by male or female. Has there ever been a game character that you ever connected on a personal level too? Furthermore, now that you think back at it, even though it does seem kind of like a guilty pleasure, would you not want it any other way?
And for anyone who has yet to play Valkyrie Profile, I leave you with the PSP FMV opening trailer for it...I love this trailer!
- Mike read