Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Valis IV - PC-Engine Duo-R


The Valis: The Fantasm Soldier series appeared on many platforms, but the PC-Engine titles really stand out from the rest, much like the only Castlevania title to apear oin this platform over shadowing it's SNES and Genesis brothers.

Valis IV is the forth title for the PC-Engine and perfected what the series had been come to be know for, namely - incredible anime style cutscenes and hard-as-nails platforming gameplay.


In this iteration, you have three characters to choose from, which can be selected at any time and each has their positives and negatives. There's Yuko, the main character, the heroine, a Maria-style character who actually throws birds and can double jump and a tall robot-looking guy who comes in really, really handy in the ice-platform stages.


The cutscenes are really pretty amazing for the time, but still look good today, slightly more defined and better realized than even some of the scenes in Chi No Rondo. I can't speak a lick of Japanese, but you can pretty much get the gist of what's happening from watching them anyway.

Not that it matters much. All of the levels are composed of many parts and your objective is always the same - get to the end and fight a boss. Which may sound repetious, but it never feels like it.

The platforming is excellent, with tough enemies and harder jumps, especially during the 'test' stage where you only control the heroine and have to climb up a tower where one fall takes you to the beginning of the stage more often than not and where the enemies just love to knock you off the smaller platforms. It also doesn't help that it's timed like all the other stages and requires very fast movement to insure you make it to the end in time.


Did I mention the difficulty? It's really hard. Really, really hard. You know that kind of hard where you break controllers, hit stuff nearby like you want to send it straight to hell with a punch and where you growl in anger. Not yell - growl. Like some sort of otherworldly beast. Yup, you'll do that alot in this game.

Which is not to say its a bad game. Oh, far from it. When you get a stage right, it's amazingly rewarding and exciting, more so than any game I have played in recent memory. It's just so rewarding that you strive to get each stage almost perfect and really plan for each boss.

I'm currently on stage 6 and have made only a level or two in. The ice pilars are tough and the later parts of the level are brutally difficult - but hella fun. Highly recommended.

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