Back in 2016, Sega released the Valkyria Chronicles remaster on PS4, allowing a new generation to experience one of the best JRPGs of the PS3 era. Back then, I wrote an article trying to envision how Valkyria Chronicles 2 and 3 would have looked if they were remastered on the cheap for PS4 and PS Vita.
Unfortunately, my request went unanswered, and the first game remains pretty much the only true Valkyria Chronicles title (since Valkyria Revolution is a spin-off) that most western fans of the series have played, considering that the two sequels are still confined on a portable platform that wasn’t that popular in the west, and Valkyria Chronicles 3 was never localized.
Many things have changed since then. While PS4 is more popular than ever, PS Vita is pretty much dead in the west and is showing signs of fatigue even in Japan. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch is taking over the portable market, and Sega appears to be quite keen on supporting Xbox One. On top of that, much to my joy, the publisher just announced Valkyria Chronicles 4.
So hello Sega! I’m back!
While the fourth game shifts the attention from Gallia to the Atlantic Federation, bringing forth a brand new cast that will allow new players to enjoy the story without having played the earlier chapters, quite a few potential customers are probably going to be intimidated by that “4” in the title. One doesn’t need to be a mind reader to know that many younger gamers are going to think, “I played Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, and now it’s already at 4? I didn’t play 2 and 3, so maybe I should skip on this one.” Of course, I’m not encouraging that line of thought, but it would be naive to think that it won’t be a factor.
On top of that, while Valkyria Chronicles 2 features a switch in tone that might be a bit hard to digest for some of the most hardcore fans (but still remains a charming game), Valkyria Chronicles 3 easily stands on par with the first game in terms of story, and the lack of a localization is a great disservice to the series and those who love it.
So yeah, it’s time to have that talk again. The good folks at Sega should really remaster both games and localize the third. This time around, though, it’d probably be advisable to target the same platforms as the fourth title and go with PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Of course, I didn’t forget PC, but for some reason, Sega seems to have set the option aside for the moment, and I can’t say I can easily interpret that decision.
While nothing in game development comes for free, it would be perfectly OK to do this operation on the cheap. We don’t need a full remake: at the simplest, a remaster would be perfectly viable.
The workload required to achieve the cheapest possible remaster would include adapting the code for modern consoles, which shouldn’t be too much of a burden due to the massive power difference, and upgrading the resolution of the 3D models to modern standards. This is something that PSP emulators do automatically, so it should be nearly effortless.
Replacing the original low-resolution textures with high-resolution ones would also be great, and it shouldn’t be too hard to do since normally, assets are created in high fidelity and then sized down to fit the platform’s memory. It’s very likely that those high-resolution assets are still stored somewhere at Sega’s development headquarters: the same goes for the 2D parts of the user interface and the artwork.
Applying effects like anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering would also be a cheap process. Of course, it would be awesome if the developers managed to apply the latest iteration of the CANVAS shader used for Valkyria Chronicles 4.
This kind of operation should be relatively affordable and rather quick, and it would have the positive effect of filling the gap between Valkyria Chronicles Remastered and Valkyria Chronicles 4 for newer players. It’s unlikely that it’d be ready before the fourth game releases in Japan for PS4 since it’s coming on March 21st, 2018, but it could possibly be achieved before the western release and the local one for Switch, which is slated for this summer.
The biggest cost would probably be the localization of Valkyria Chronicles 3, but let’s be honest: with no voice acting required, and a script that is definitely not nearly as wordy as a Yakuza or Persona game, it wouldn’t come even close to breaking the bank.
On the plus side, Sega would increase the overall value and visibility of the series, finally correcting its mismanagement during the era of the PS3 and PSP. That includes the stubborn release of two games on a platform that was unpopular in 90% of the world, and one of its best chapters was made almost completely invisible in the west.
Of course, the most relevant takeaway would be that we’d get to play the games on modern platforms and to experience the third title in English with an official translation. Considering all of those factors, I would say that it would be a net positive for everyone involved, including the series’ fans and Sega itself.
If you’re curious about what the cheapest possible remasters would look like on PS4, Xbox One, or Switch, back when I wrote my previously-mentioned article, I tried to simulate it on the PPSSPPP emulator, which provides tools to improve the visuals in a similar way to what a simple remaster would do. You can see the results for yourself below:
Valkyria Chronicles 2
Valkyria Chronicles 3
As a disclaimer, keep in mind that DualShockers does not endorse or encourage the use of emulators to play games you don’t own, on consoles you don’t own. The author of this article legally (and quite proudly) owns both games, and a PSP to run them. The emulator was used exclusively for the purpose of this experiment.
As you can see above, they look like they’d be very enjoyable to play, and that’s without high-resolution textures and UI elements, or the application of the latest iteration of the CANVAS shader from Valkyria Chronicles 4. If I can do this with the original games by simply tweaking the settings of an emulator in five minutes, making the game look quite a lot better would probably be rather inexpensive and easy for a proper development team that is able to use the original assets.
Of course, this is the “entry-level” solution. Depending on how much Sega would be willing to invest, it’s very possible to achieve much better results. Considering that the publisher has been very willing to fully remake the earlier games of the Yakuza series with Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2, the ideal solution would be having both Valkyria Chronicles 2 and Valkyria Chronicles 3 remade for modern consoles in the same engine used for Valkyria Chronicles 4. The maps should also be partly redesigned to remove the separate areas required by the limited resources of the PSP, making them seamless like those in the first game.
Could the house of Sonic be willing to do that? I honestly don’t know, but whether it’s the inexpensive solution or the full-fledged one with all the bells and whistles, gamers of the current generation deserve to be able to experience the full series. I’d be happy to triple-dip on either solution (since I already bought both games both in physical form and digital), and I’m positive that I wouldn’t be the only one.
Dear Sega, the ball is in your court.