It's not often that a home console game gets its sequel on a handheld - but that's what's happening with Valkyria Chronicles II on the PSP, due out in North America on August 31 and in Europe a few days later.

The first game, for PlayStation 3, was praised for its combination of role-playing and battle strategy elements, all the while within a world painted in beautiful watercolor brushstrokes, and this PSP follow-up appears no different.

While the Final Fantasy and Fire Emblem series are obvious reference points, crossing fantasy storylines with tactical combat, both Valkyria Chronicles and VC II prevented battles from becoming staid with a couple of nifty tricks.

Players are given a very hands-on approach, becoming each squad member in turn rather than issuing commands from afar - a little like Future Tactics on Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube.

Each character also has a distinct storyline that progresses throughout the game, allowing players to see the Valkyria Chronicles world from a number of perspectives. VC II adds to it a high school setting (just as in the recent Persona 3 Portable), as the main personalities are attempting to graduate from a military academy.

Despite positive review scores, Valkyria Chronicles didn't sell as well overseas as it had done in Japan. Fortunately, that's not prevented VC II from arriving in North America and Europe after another good reception back home.

Import reviews bode well, and there is now a free demo on the PlayStation Network Store for those who have a PSN account registered to a US address.

Still, the newcomer is going up against Birth By Sleep, the latest entry to the well-established Disney / Final Fantasy crossover series Kingdom Hearts, also on the PSP and released just a week later.

Valkyria Chronicles II for PSP is rated T for Teen in North America and 16+ in Europe . The retail price is $39.95 / €39.99.