Many gamers have been awaiting Valkyrie Profile's North American release for months, and their wish has now been granted. The game is by Tri-Ace, developer of Tales of Phantasia and Star Ocean, The Second Story, but bears only a passing resemblance to these games. The aspects some considered to be lacking in the earlier titles are no longer problems, and the strong points of the older games remain strong.
Valkyrie Profile's menu-driven battle system allows you to map certain buttons to certain characters, making combat flow easily and quickly. This should be a marked improvement over most games in existence, possibly reducing the time it takes to input an attack by half--which is important, since attack combos (a very important part of the combat system) can occasionally have 20 attacks, or even more. The battle is partially governed by Charge Time, which increases when you perform special moves and decreases by one unit per turn. Some actions can be initiated when a character has charge time left, but others must wait until it reduces to zero.
The premise of the game itself borrows much from Norse mythology, as is evident in the title. "Valkyries" were Odin's warriors--maidens of great strength and courage who guided mortal souls of similar stock to Valhalla upon their death, and Valkyrie Profile uses this idea to its fullest. You, playing a Valkyrie, must raise an army with the souls of the dead. The plot is strong, which is rare in games as non-linear as this. Every quest is optional, but many tie in to the main plot, which reveals itself more fully near the end of the game.
Enix has stayed away from publishing on North American shores for some time, but their return is most welcome. Also upcoming are re-releases of Dragon Warrior I & II for Game Boy Color. Watch for Valkyrie Profile, it is bound to be big!