[Dtoid Community Blogger Aurain discusses Sega's treatment of Valkyria Chronicles in light of their recent delay in the Western release of Platinum Games' Anarchy Reigns. Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Get writing! --Beccy Caine]
In the autumn of 2008, Sega released Valkyria Chronicles on the PlayStation 3 to practically zero fanfare, little to no advertising, and on the cusp of the dreaded November release period. Valkyria Chronicles was destined for mediocrity, to be overshadowed by games of greater budget and renown, but it didn't fail. It succeeded against all odds and has since become perhaps the sleeper hit of the generation, well-loved by those who played it and a permanent fixture on PlayStation 3 must have exclusive lists, alongside the likes of Uncharted and Demon's Souls.
Many feel the seventh generation of gaming consoles has become stagnant. It's a generation where Call of Duty annually competes with EA's Battlefield series for the domination of the casual gamer market. EA are doubling up on their modern warfare first-person shooters by releasing Medal of Honor: Warfighter, a game developed on the Frostbyte 2 engine with an aim of realistic graphics alongside Battlefield 3: Premium, a game developed on the Frostbite 2 engine with an aim of realistic graphics, to compete with Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Perhaps we can attribute Valkyria Chronicles' success to the fact it did things differently.
The term 'brown and bloom' has become infamous in the gaming community as a term of derision for games that attempt to look 'next gen', or hyperrealistic, by placing the player in a brown environment with bloom effects to give a more realistic look to the game, but often failing and looking quite unattractive. Valkyria Chronicles, however, took it the other way and combined both an anime art style with that of a living water colour, creating a magnificent and majestic art style that will stand the test of time and also provides a fantastic framing device for the somewhat standard yet charming story.
Sega went wrong. In an utterly befuddling decision, Valkyria Chronicles II was announced for the PlayStation Portable. The one universal praise Valkyria Chronicles received was for its beautiful art style, and this was the number one thing a PSP sequel would hamper, not to mention the size of the potential player base.
Valkyria Chronicles II was a good game. It played just like the first game, albeit on much smaller maps with more simplistic layouts, but it had evolved on top of that, including more class types for players to choose from and allowing deeper gameplay and strategy. To fit the medium, the missions were made into shorter, bite-sized versions to allow you to pick up and play. It even included multiplayer so you could play with friends locally or via AdHoc Party. But the setting disappointed many: a military academy with students who were sickeningly plucky. While the first game had the charm to back it up, the second didn't. The game did an admirable job of maintaining its predecessor's visual style, but to what avail? Few in the west had access to a PlayStation Portable. Where Valkyria Chronicles started small and grew bigger than it really should have been, Valkyria Chronicles II started with large expectations only to taper off rapidly and sell poorly.
Fast forward to June 19, 2012. Sega have delayed Platinum Games' Anarchy Reigns for reasons unbeknownst to Platinum Games. The game will now release in Q1 2013, and not July as was previously thought. Atsushi Inaba, a developer for Platinum Games, has stated that the versions of Anarchy Reigns destined for English speaking countries are 100% complete in every way and will have a 1:1 content parity with the Japanese version, Max Anarchy, which is scheduled for release in the first week of July. In addition to this, Sega announced the development of a new title by the name of Valkyria Chronicles Duel, which will be a browser-based card game and not the long-awaited console sequel.