Sega was able to breathe some new life into the Valkyria Chronicles series just shy of the series' 10th year anniversary, and now we finally have a remastered port of the original Valkyria Chronicles made for Nintendo Switch.
For those new to the series looking at this new port as their potential entry point into the series, Valkyria Chronicles takes place in the continent of Europa during an alternate version of World War 2. In this setting, the East Europan Imperial Alliance starts an invasion on the neutral nation of Galia over a resource called Ragnite. You follow the exploits of Welkin Gunther, a commanding officer that joins the Gallian Militia to stop the ongoing invasion. Valkyria Chronicles boasts a unique gameplay format which can be described as a strategy RPG combined with a first-person shooter hybrid - an idea that sounds absurd on paper but manages to come together near perfectly. The series also debuted a visual style stemming from the Canvas engine, which gives the game a bright watercolor look distinct to traditional cell-shading.
The gameplay in Valkyria Chronicles is organized by missions, and the story is presented as chapters in a book format that tells the narrative as though you're reading a history of the exploits of the protagonist. During each gameplay sortie, the game is controlled organized into two modes: Command mode where you get to see all your units placed in a map, and Action mode where you control characters and determine what they should do. With five different classes to choose from, customizable tanks to use, and a limited number of moves allocated per turn, Valkyria Chronicles is an addictive strategy series that rewards preparation and strategy. There's nothing else quite like it.
Although later games have expanded on the class system, the original game has a large focus on the environment, and taking advantage of your surroundings can really give you the edge in battle. As you win more battles, you can use the resources you accumulate can be used to upgrade your equipment and train soldiers. As soldiers get strong they can even awaken their battle potential (Unique character traits) that can make them even more effective in battle. A lot of soldiers have a unique background, which you can find in their profile. This feature was expanded on in later games to give each soldier a deeper perspective, but it's still told quite efficient here with their personal bio.
Since the original Valkyria Chronicle has been available for quite some time on several different platforms, it's likely you want to know the most important element of this review: How does the Switch version fare? This port looks exactly how I remember the PS3 version, except it's now on a portable system. Besides the long initial bootup of the game, nearly all event scenes and missions can be loaded instantly. However, a lot of the event scenes are cinematics which appears to be a much lower resolution than rest of the game-rendered visuals. It runs at a max of 30 FPS, unlike the PS4 remaster which run at a full native 60 fps.
However, one of the major problems with this port is that there is a lot of slowdown on visually dense areas - like the fights in the city - or even including actions such as launching a mortar on a group of enemies. The game also seems to have a lot of trouble handling areas with a large group of people; often times you will see slowdowns around base camps due to a large number of soldiers usually placed there.
These problems shouldn't be too jarring, though it is a bit disappointing that the game doesn't run as smooth as the recent Valkyria Chronicles 4 on Switch. If you're disappointed to hear about the performance issues, be aware that playing the game under Dock Mode doesn't make many improvements either. They're nearly identical in performance and suffer from slowdowns in the same areas.
Valkyria Chronicles is definitely one of my favorite SRPGs of all time, and seeing another new port of the original is a pleasant surprise. However, with the performance issues in the Switch version, you might consider grabbing one of the other existing ports instead. The Switch Port isn't the cheapest solution to enjoying the original Valkyria Chronicles right now, but since it is for Switch, it is pretty much the definitive way to experience the game on a handheld. If you don't really care about portability, I would say the most ideal way to experience this game is to get the PS4 version or the PC port, as they're both cheaper and a more fluid way to play the game. But if you want to play the game on the go, then this the version for you.