Never played Valkyrie Profile, right? Sure, a few of you out there did, but the game's developer tri-Ace didn't hit it big till years later - with Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. That PS2 RPG captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of gamers. But it was hardly the first epic adventure tri-Ace had taken on. No, the company's roots reach much further back.
The original Star Ocean debuted on the Japanese version of the Super Nintendo. Arriving almost comically late - July 1996, almost two years after the PlayStation debuted in Japan - it never journeyed to the US. But in 1998, its PlayStation sequel, Star Ocean: The Second Story, did. Sony themselves brought this RPG to the west; it picked up some fans but was hardly what you'd call a massive hit. Blame the scattershot gameplay or the terrible voice acting, but somehow... it failed to really find an audience.
Above: Valkyries gather in this GamesRadar exclusive art, courtesy of Square Enix
Development-wise, tri-Ace hit its stride with its third game, the PSone's Valkyrie Profile. This tale of desperate souls and a war raging across the heavens married engaging gameplay to dark atmosphere - and found a huge audience in Japan. Not so much North America, though. Nobody noticed when the game quietly slipped onto store shelves in 2000 amidst a maelstrom of hype for Sony's PlayStation 2.
Even so, Valkyrie Profile impressed savvy gamers back then, and continues to shine on the PSP, under the guise of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. With a bit of new shine added in the form of CG movies, this action-packed RPG is almost ready to debut once again on Sony's handheld. Learn all about it right here.
What sets tri-Ace's games apart from the competition? According to Yoshinori Yamagishi, producer for the company's titles, "We have a lot of fun making our games, so we want to make sure that our fans have fun playing them." The most important element - what ties together all the games regardless of whether they're not in the same series - is "Absolutely, the fun factor. We go into each project with one common goal in mind: to make the game as fun as possible. We aren’t consciously trying to tie our games together, but when they all share this common goal, there are bound to be some similarities."
Similarities there are, as we'll soon demonstrate. And we'll see how, with these qualities in mind, the developers moved on to create one of their most popular games.