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Golvellius: Valley of Doom (Sega Master System) artwork

Golvellius: Valley of Doom (Sega Master System) review

"A solid action-adventure game with a bit of variety, but lacking some polish..."

Golvellius and Zelda, Both Forget Their Main Hero in the Title...For Shame!
Golvellius: Valley of Doom is a top-down action-adventure game on the Sega Master System (SMS). It is perhaps the best known "counter" on the Master System to the legendary Zelda franchise on the Nintendo. While the core action-adventure experience in Golvellius does mirror Zelda, it features enough differences to make itself distinct, and, to some gamers, preferable. One unfortunate similarity that it does hold with Zelda though is that it doesn't feature the main hero's name in its title. So, let us all take a moment to recognize the hero of Golvellius...Kelesis, our green-haired do-gooder!

Golvellius: Valley of Doom (Sega Master System) image

Good Golvellius vs. Bad Golvellius
The overworld portion of Golvellius embodies the majority of the adventure and generally plays like Zelda. It has a top-down perspective, is divided into separate screens, and attacking is done through sword stabs. Almost all screens (excluding one or two), have a cave for Kelesis to visit. Most of the times these caves are hidden, requiring enemies to be killed, certain events to happen, or a secret spot to be triggered. Finding and visiting these caves makes up a large portion of the gameplay, since helpful items, services, and tips (with, admittedly some no-so-helpful ones) can be found within them. The overworld is divided into seven distinct areas that requires Kelesis to find the area dungeon and defeat the boss before progressing to the next area. The biggest difference between Golvellius and Zelda are the area dungeons, setting up a linear progression to the game and playing out as either platforming or auto-scrolling segments. The platforming segments are a standard 2D affair, requiring the player to perform some perilous jumps along with hacking away at enemies. The auto-scrolling segments maintain the top-down perspective and operate like a pseudo-shooter with many enemies flying at Kelesis and forcing the hero to avoid them or chop them down while finding his way through the labyrinth. These dungeons do provide a nice break from the standard overworld gameplay and also present some light puzzle elements by forcing the player to find the correct path through them. Some other positives about Golvellius is that it has some pretty good game music (the last dungeon especially) and it offers a pretty lengthy adventure.

However, it isn't all sunshine and roses in the Valley of Doom. There seem to be a lot of minor flaws that lead to an overall impression of Golvellius lacking polish. The platforming sections suffer from this the most. In these sections, Kelesis finds himself only able to face one direction the entire time, seems to have some sort of hoverboard when he jumps (there are no sort of physics acting on Kelesis, making him feel super "floaty"), and he faces a battery of nothing but the most elementary of enemies. In the auto-scrolling dungeons, the controls seem to take a turn for the worse, with Kelesis seeming to walk through tar instead of through a dungeon. Not only that, but for these sections he stabs at an angle (instead of straight forward like in the overworld), which can lead to being cheaply hit by an enemy you just miss because you didn't stab straight out. Another slight design flaw is that Kelesis' sword stabs (in all the sections) can be held out for a double-hit on enemies. This feels like a slight oversight in programming rather then intended game design. Finally, the game features a lengthy password system, which is actually common for its time, but, still, Golvellius would have heavily benefited from from an in-game save feature. Using the password can sometimes lead to minor differences in the gold you had and the gold you get when you use the password...and let us not forget just how painful it is to write a 32-character password down somewhere and pray you don't lose it.

Golvellius: Valley of Doom (Sega Master System) image

A Bit Rough Around the Edges
When I first played Golvellius: Valley of Doom, I actually was a little put off since it opens with a platforming segment, which I do not like in this game. There are a lot of great platformers on the Master System, and Golvellius's cheap platforming imitation seems almost disgraceful. However, I feel like the platforming and auto-scroll sections DO offer a good break from the traditional action-adventure gameplay, even if they feel a bit shoe-horned in, lacking quality and seeming very basic. Also, after getting out of that first section and experiencing the overworld, I really started to enjoy Golvellius. The game ends up really distinguishing itself as a solid action-adventure game, especially on the SMS, which sorely lacks that genre of games. I should mention that I do tend to enjoy lengthy, grindy, exploration type games...all elements which are present in this game. So, I may have enjoyed some things that others may find more tedious. However, if anybody is interested in 8-bit action-adventure games, Golvellius is undoubtedly worth a try, regardless of the negatives. For others, Golvellius will still provide a decent, but imperfect experience.

Overall, Golvellius: Valley of Doom is a 3.5 / 5 for being a solid action-adventure game with a bit of variety, but lacking some polish that could have really made it a defining game for the system.


Never3ndr's avatar
Community review by Never3ndr (November 21, 2015)

Retro-Gaming Enthusiast!

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