Friday, March 18, 2016

Second Chances: Valkyrie no Densetsu (PC Engine)

You'd think I would've learned long ago not to judge a PC Engine game by static screenshots.

After all, though I originally turned up my nose at titles like Gokuraku! Chuka Taisen, Mr. Heli no Daibōken and Obocchama Kun due to what I considered to be their far-from-catwalk-ready looks, I changed my tune on each of those HuCards (as well as a number of others) after sinking a bit of time into them.

The thing is, I didn't much like Valkyrie no Densetsu--Legend of Valkyrie in English--even after a few go-rounds with it. I guess I didn't find its gameplay all that appealing during those initial forays. Or maybe I just couldn't get past its rough-hewn graphics.

Granted, calling Valkyrie no Densetsu's graphics rough-hewn seems downright generous at first glance. Its enemy sprites in particular are nightmare fodder thanks to their surprisingly crude designs that stand in stark contrast to those of the game's adorable protagonist and most of its backdrops.

I say "most" here because, well, some aspects of this Namcot-made title's environmental graphics also aren't what I'd call pretty. A case in point: a lot of the trees you saunter by during the adventure at hand look as though they could've been tended to for a few more hours (if not days) before earning the company's seal of approval.

All that said, if you're anything like me, a surprising number of the components singled out for complaint so far will grow on you--at least a bit--over time.

Seriously, at the moment, when one or more of the game's imp or ogre baddies skitters into view, I now look at them with more than a smidge of admiration rather than the tight-lipped frown of disgust that used to greet their appearance.

Is that because Valkyrie no Densetsu's a blast to play? Honestly, I don't know. I mean, the game is pretty fun--it basically feels like an antiquated precursor to The Legend of Zelda, even though it was released three years later--but I'm not sure I'd say it's such a blast it would cause me to forget about eye-searing graphics.

No, I think the only acceptable explanation here is that I've somehow come around to Valkyrie no Densetsu's awkward aesthetics.

Which is a very good thing, as Martha Stewart might say (if she enjoyed video games). There's a lot to like in this 1990 release. Although its adventure is stubbornly straightforward--no real exploring or even backtracking is allowed, although forks in the road pop up now and then that let you switch paths--the scenery changes frequently enough that you're unlikely to become bored.

Also, new enemies, obstacles and situations--like rescuing a captive child, or stumbling upon a hidden shop--are introduced at a fairly nice clip, and that helps liven up the proceedings as well.

Valkyrie no Densetsu's controls deserve a positive nod, too. Some may describe Miss Valkyrie as a tad sluggish, especially when she has to make a leap, but I disagree. Or I'd disagree if those same folks implied her somewhat languorous movement holds back the game in any meaningful way.

In fact, the single knock I can aim at this surprisingly adept arcade port is that the boss monsters you encounter every once in a while aren't the most interesting of adversaries. That's basically the only complaint I have at the moment, though, which I guess goes to show how much it can help to give games that don't click with you at first a second chance.

Have any of you played Valkyrie no Densetsu? If so, let me and others know what you think of it in the comments section that follows.

Note: photos via and

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Romancing SaGa 2's Android/iOS/Vita remake is looking good, sounding great--and releasing soon

My only issue with Square Enix's soon-to-hit-the-streets remake of Romancing SaGa 2: the Vita version seemingly isn't getting a retail release.

That's not a huge surprise, of course, but I thought the powers at be at The House of Final Fantasy might offer up at least a limited number of boxed copies just to get a few extra bucks out of the world's handful of remaining SaGa fans.

Anyway, as lovely as this updated iteration of the second Romancing SaGa--check out the trailer that follows for proof--looks at the moment, I'm not entirely sure I'll buy it when it's finally made available to Japanese Vita, iOS and Android users on March 24.

The main reason for that: Romancing SaGa 2's 2,200 yen asking price. For me, that's a bit too rich for a game that I'll barely be able to understand.

Not helping matters is I have a complete-in-box copy of the original Super Famicom release from 1993 that I've been meaning to (attempt to) play through since it arrived on my doorstep last year.

How about all of you? Are any of you planning to pick up either the Vita, iOS or Android version of this kinda-sorta remake on, around or even sometime long after March 24?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nice Package! (Mappy, Game Gear)

I don't know if you're aware, but I'll play pretty much any version of Namcot's--or, you know, Namco's--Mappy that comes my way.

If given a choice, though, I usually go with the 1991 Game Gear port that serves as the focus of this write-up.

Why? Well, it's portable, for starters--and these days, especially, I prefer on-the-go gaming experiences to those that require me to spend time in our basement. (That's where my consoles and our TV are situated.)

I also simply like how the wizards at Namcot/Namco were able to shrink this 1983 arcade classic so it could be played on Sega's GameBoy competitor. 

And then there's the extra mode that, as far as I'm aware, only can be found in this particular version of Mappy. If you want to know more about it, read through the handful of comments shared at the end of this old post.

The gist, though, is that it features stages that are quite a bit more sprawling than those found in the original quarter-muncher. They also look kind of grimy compared to the ones most Mappy fans are used to seeing.

As exciting as Game Gear-specific offering may seem, I almost always ignore it in favor of the traditional arcade mode.

Anyway, enough about that. How about this iteration's packaging? I especially love the illustration that appears on the front of its box and cartridge, of course.

Its instruction manual includes a bunch of great illustrations, too--as should be evident while taking in the pair of snapshots above.

Don't worry, I'll publish scans of the entire booklet as part of my "Manual Stimulation" series in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on this or any other version of Mappy in the comments section that follows.

See also: my 'Great Gaymathon' review of Mappy's Famicom port