This is a more enjoyable game than I thought it would be, as I am playing it an 10:20 on a work night.
I am realizing that I feel like most magic systems in the games I have played cast magic as a big-gun kind of weapon, and as such they load a lot of limits onto it in order to balance it out. MP, charge times and limited spells per battle, off the top of my head. Usually I find the result is that magic is overburdened to the point of being useless. Final Fantasy 8, Vagrant Story and Xenogears come to mind, although I think the classic example of this is FF Tactics.*
One thing I am liking about Valkyrie Profile is that it isn't nearly as weighed down. There is a kind of rebound charge time after casting that varies depending on the spell, but over-all it balances nicely with the strengths and weaknesses of normal physical attacks. It's powerful too; the basic heal spell heals 80% of every character's HP but has a long rebound time, so your caster is out of commission for the next 3-4 turns. This can mean the end of the battle anyway. The result is a challenge that actually makes me think over my options rather than "more ninjas!"
On a side-note, the premise of the game is that you are a Valkyrie in Norse Mythology who collects noble souls, trains them, and then sends them to the Ragnarok in Valhalla. A pretty cool premise, I think. One of the things that you have to do is improve character traits to make them more heroic. Some bad character traits that you have to eliminate are "romantic" and "non-drinker." I suppose if you are being sent to a version of heaven in which you hack each other to peaces all day and drink mead and have sex all night, "romantic" and "non-drinker" would be bad things. I appreciate the wry humor of that.
*On why I hate magic in Tactics: Tactics has all of these things, plus you risk hitting your own troops, your ability to cast spells proficiently also makes you more vulnerable to them, and caster classes usually have crappy stats and crappy stat growth. Even magic as an ability does not go up when you level as a caster- yeah, I checked the stat growth charts. There just aren't a whole lot of spells worth all of the limitations. The thing that gets me is that this game is so remarkably balanced in so many ways, but not magic. No wonder I had so many damn ninjas.