Valkyrie no Densetsu review –


Developer: Namco    Publisher: Namco    Release: 08/09/90   Genre: Action

I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a long time. Ever since I played the Legend of Zelda in 1987 I have loved action RPGs. I devoured every title in the genre I could on the NES like Faxanadu and Battle of Olympus. When emulation came along it expanded my horizons and introduced me to a world of titles I never knew about. Valkyrie no Bōken: Toki No Kagi Densetsu caught my eye but it merely served as an introduction to its arcade sequel Valkyrie no Densetsu. While I was disappointed it was not ported to the NES the PC Engine is a far better substitute. While this is more action than RPG it does not matter as the game is excellent anyway.

The slight story sees Valkyrie sent on a mission from Heaven to save Marvel Land. Her goal is to find the Golden Seed, an artifact said to grant any wish before it can be used to bring ruin and destruction by someone evil. She is not alone on this journey as she is accompanied by Sandora, a green…..something that wields a trident. In the arcade this was a coop adventure and sadly that is not the case in this port. It’s a damn shame too as a friend may have eased some of the difficulty. Regardless the game is perfectly fine as is and worth your time.

Unlike Valkyrie no Boken your primary attack is a projectile weapon, fixing the biggest flaw with that title. It is a bit weak but there are plenty of power-ups that rectify that. The RPG mechanics come in to play with the game’s shops and optional sub-quests. Enemies drop gold to spend in shops on new weapons. Sadly these have ammo that is not visible but you can stock power-ups to avoid using the default sword. You earn spells by completing short quests or answering trivia questions. These are quite powerful but not game breaking and varied, from explosions, clones, to even turning Valkyrie in to a giant that stomps and causes earthquakes. A lot of this stuff is easy to miss due to the level design, giving some incentive for replay value.

Generally the level design is pretty strong. The level order is slightly different but unless you are familiar with the arcade it makes no difference. Each map is fairly large with enough open space to find your own way and avoid the overwhelming number of enemies. The game has an extensive amount of platforming but thankfully the controls are up to the task. Most levels have split paths and hidden passages that either hide secrets or serve as shortcuts. There is a surprising degree of freedom although you cannot backtrack. Bee lining to the end level boss means you will miss many potential power-ups and cash. You will also have a less than impressive score which raises your maximum health and magic which you need as the game can be quite brutal.

The difficulty curve of the game is a bit unfair even with some of the changes in this edition. The first few levels feature multiple shops with cheap shops enabling you to buy a variety of items. But around stage three it spikes significantly. Not only are the maps larger but the number of enemies also multiplies. Shops are hidden and the cost of items is such that you might not be able to afford a single power-up. Health items are scarce and unfortunately death sends you back to the beginning of the stage. This is particularly soul crushing on boss battles that feel like wars of attrition. I wish the game had better balance although it is far from frustrating. There are passwords at least but you will still have to put in work to conquer this beast.

Valkyrie no Densetsu 002 Valkyrie no Densetsu 003 Valkyrie no Densetsu 004

The PC Engine version of Valkyrie no Densetsu is far from arcade perfect but does an admirable job of replicating the look of the arcade game. The color palette is a bit more vibrant and the sprites are slightly smaller. There is not as much detail in some environments but overall it matches up pretty well. The biggest hit is the scaling effects used in some of the backgrounds. These gave the environment a sense of depth that is lost here. The remnants of these missing effects are still present in certain bosses and enemies and they look like a pixelated mess.  That being said this was the best way to play the game until the sole English release on Namco Museum Volume 5. But that was so hard to find even at release it may as well not exist.

In Closing

I waited far too long to play this one. The years have not dulled the game’s quality and the PC Engine version of Valkyrie no Densetsu is an excellent edition of an arcade classic. This is the type of game you would gladly have plunked many a quarter in to make progress little by little and would have found an audience if NEC had brought it to the US. Alas the fan translation will have to suffice.

7 out of 10

Post Author: lordmrw

I’m just a dude who has been playing video games for over 30 years and want to share my extensive knowledge with the masses.

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