VALIS / Telnet / Turbografx CD

Originally released for the PC-88 computer in 1986, this early '90s port of Mugen Senshi Valis is the most elaborate in terms of presentation if perhaps not the best in terms of gameplay.

There's some obvious Sailor Moon influence here, but Valis is actually almost a straight ripoff of a much more obscure mid-80s OVA called The Fantastic Adventure of Yokho. Main character Yoko is a schoolgirl inexplicably plucked into another realm one day to become a rawkin' valkyrie and fight the forces of evil with a sword and some spells. The big development here was the use of long and detailed cutscenes to tell the story; while the West had already seen this with Ninja Gaiden in 1988, the original Japanese releases in 1986-87 were pretty much the first time this was done. The use of CD for voice acting and more elaborate animation made it all the more novel here.

Japanese PCs of the 80s were possibly even more poorly-equipped for scrolling action than Western equivalents. This port makes some little tweaks to remedy some of that, like giving Yoko a bigger and faster jump, but it still feels more stiff and frustrating than most side-scrollers. Yoko's best feature is that super jump, which allows her to immediately challenge flying enemies coming in at awkward angles rather than having to shuffle around on the ground awkwardly in Belmont style. That's counterbalanced by a very slow transition from attacking to being able to jump, however, meaning you have to be careful about your moves. You also start the game with only like 1/3 of your health bar for some reason, and opportunities to fill it are kind of rare.

The first Valis game really hasn't aged well at all in any facet other than maybe some of the 2D art. The long cutscenes and overall high difficulty are basically to disguise a short game without a lot of meat. Levels are fond of having unexpected falls that force you to re-do a lot of territory, which can be as good as dying at times thanks to a fairly tight timer. The bosses were also really not designed for Yoko's stiff and slow move set, just charging the shit out of you constantly.

Add in having to play the whole game through in one sitting (no password or save) and this one is very tough to recommend. When it was released, you were meant to put up with it for the then-new CD cutscenes and the occasional panty shot; that ain't nearly enough of a draw in this day and age. Some of the other ports of this game from the period are actually more playable.

Videos :

Gameplay Video

Crazy elaborate commercial by the Neon Genesis Evangelion director