SEGA recently announced a new game in its popular Valkyria franchise, and many are wondering exactly what kind of game it is going to be. Well, you won’t learn much from the first screenshots straight out of Famitsu, but you will see one of my main issues right off the bat.

The art design.

Just for the sake of comparison, I’ll drop in the first screenshots of the Valkyria Chronicles Remaster, and see who out there who can spot the difference.

Valkyria Chronicles is a fun game, no doubt about it. However, it’s main strength lies more in its impeccable presentation than in its gameplay. SEGA poured a “Ghibli-esque” level of effort into it, on a level that few gaming companies can brag about, and the results are something that actually look like a war. Gone are the crazy fashion and flashy getups typical of the JRPG genre. Valkyria Chronicles transcended those tropes by bringing it all down to Earth, delivering an unusually genuine touch to the idea of war in a JRPG.

You do realize that soldiers have to wear actual uniforms, right? I mean, that’s how they are able to tell which people to kill and which not to kill.

And then the PSP sequels slowly did away with that presentation, replacing SEGA’s Herculean effort with the cheap themes and gags you’d find in a run-of-the-mill Saturday morning kids anime. There is a time and place for everything, but when following up on a beloved hit, backwards is not the way you want to go.

However, I get the feeling these PSP games are going to be the benefactors of revisionist history because they look like masterpieces compared to what Valkyria: Azure Revolution has cooked up.

What generic free-to-play RPG did SEGA turn to for inspiration for these goofballs? The massively over-designed swords, the clashing colors, the dress made to look halfway like a maid outfit. I’ve never seen such pandering to the Akihabara crowd. Sorry, but I find it hard to get behind this. SEGA’s going to have to cook up some excellent gameplay to offset this art style.

Oh well, at least the graphic engine is out of this world!

Valkyria: Azure Revolution pits the Rus Empire and the country of Jutland against one another as a chemical called “Ragnite” sets up a political power struggle. Jutland, presumably the home of many Ragnite mines, demands to be released as an independent state, and when the Rus Empire refuses, the Jutland army launches guerrilla attacks against its strongholds.

Wait, who are the bad guys?

SEGA calls the latest battle system LeGION, again turning to the Japanese mobile gaming scene for naming inspiration. It will be a semi-real time battle system with a dose of action and a bit of a departure from the older games. Media.Vision is set to develop the title, and the company already has Valkyria Chronicles 3 on its resume. The English speaking world never got this one though, so comparisons are going to be hard to come by.

The last game I played by Media.Vision was the original Wild ARMs, so I have no idea how it has fared over the years. We’ll see. I’m going to be cautiously getting excited for this one.