"Maybe I should just cut my losses and surrender. After all, the only reason Iím continuing in my attempt to conquer Namcoís astoundingly bad Famicom title Legend of Valkyrie is because I simply cannot accept defeat. But I feel a little more of my sanity slip away every time I sit down and force myself to attempt making heads or tails out of this pathetic precursor to The Legend of Zelda. "
Maybe I should just cut my losses and surrender. After all, the only reason Iím continuing in my attempt to conquer Namcoís astoundingly bad Famicom title Legend of Valkyrie is because I simply cannot accept defeat. But I feel a little more of my sanity slip away every time I sit down and force myself to attempt making heads or tails out of this pathetic precursor to The Legend of Zelda.
Released in 1986, this game has you control some vaguely-female character as she goes through a handful of lands in search of....well, I havenít figured that out yet. Legend of Valkyrie isnít exactly the best game at giving you clear objectives. That winds up playing a big role in my current frustration.
But like the old proverb says, ďmisery loves companyĒ -- and Iíve had enough of the former to become desperate for some of the latter. So come with me on a magical journey. Hit the power button, sit back and resist the urge to scream -- for this trip will try your patience, tolerance and testicular fortitude. And if I, serving as your guide, seem a wee bit sarcastic at times, just remember that itís only a very necessary defense mechanism.
Legend of Valkyrie gets off to an exciting start, as you get to ANSWER QUESTIONS! While picking your favorite color (from limited choices) obviously determines the appearance of your heroic vixen, I really have no idea what the questions about your blood type and zodiac sign have to do with anything. Maybe the cartridge had a little microchip in it that relayed this personal information to Namco, but since that would be cool, it probably isnít the case. Anyway, donít fret, little fighter! These questions only take a matter of seconds to answer, so youíll soon be ready to vanquish evil.
Look! There you are on an ugly little world littered with trees and mountains. If you open your ears, you hear music quite similar to what Nintendo used for The Legend of Zeldaís overworld -- except all the endlessly looping notes sound like they were filtered through a Silent Hill nightmare.
Listening to the music wonít win you any friends, so take a few steps to your right and, *POOF*, a couple of blue-tinged cavemen will pop onto the screen and charge you. These foes should be easy to dispatch, as they only seem capable of running into you, while you have a nifty little sword to swing. Finish those fools off and youíll soon find out that walking in pretty much any direction will cause foes to, *POOF*, pop onto the screen. It wonít just be stupid blue cavemen, though. Oh no, there are also stupid red cavemen and smart black cavemen (these fellows shoot little red projectiles at you).
Oh, there are a few other sorts of enemies, too, but most differences between them and the cavemen are purely cosmetic. While a few prefer to dance in circles around you, most of them are content to either stupidly charge you or rapidly shoot their little red projectiles. Combat in this game gets old quickly. Of course, you WILL be fighting constantly, so hopefully youíre the sort of chap that is easily amused by things like watching paint dry or counting blades of grass.
Well, now that I think about it, there are a couple of monsters that do kind of try to break the mold a little bit. Scattered around the overworld are a few larger, stationary monsters. They take a lot more damage to kill and tend to guard wonderful artifacts of great power and glory! Oh, youíre saying that you only picked up a key after killing one.... Kind of a letdown, isnít it? Now you know how I feel.
Anyway, by killing one of those monsters, youíll gain access to a dock. I know, I can already hear your plaintive whining. ďBut Overdrive, what use is a dock to me? I donít have a boat!Ē I guess youíre simply ignorant of the most spectacular power your heroine possesses --†the skill to turn into a boat. All you have to do is walk into the water and you will automatically transform into a ship. Sail into another dock and youíll instantly be human again. Itís not only awesome, but completely logical, as well!
Now that youíre a boat, you might have guessed there are some other lands to visit. Well, youíre right. Just donít venture too far in any direction, as there are plenty of invisible walls designed to prevent you from going any real distance away from the main land masses. In fact, just try to hug the shores of the larger landmasses. You wouldnít want to do anything foolish like try to explore, would you? All I know is that if I had the amazing ability to turn into a boat whenever I came into contact with water, itís be a real bummer if I couldnít go more than 50 meters away from land. But thatís life in the Legend of Valkyrie.
After going as far to the north as you can and using your Wonder Twin powers to become human on the next continent, youíll have a few more places to go -- including a number of dungeons. If youíre excited about this new turn of events, you obviously havenít been underground in this game yet. Each dungeon in Legend of Valkyrie is essentially identical to the others. Youíll aimlessly walk through narrow corridors and rooms while constantly being besieged by annoying monsters that seem a lot tougher than those on the surface. If that wasnít enough, you better keep in mind that some rooms also contain invisible holes that will cause a fair amount of damage if you fall in them. Since they are INVISIBLE, itís pretty likely that you will fall into them a time or three. Other rooms are chock-full of mushrooms that may poison you if you bump into them. Having fun yet?
If you arenít, then I probably should show some mercy and pull the plug on this journey. After all, I wouldnít want you to wind up as hopelessly lost and confused as I am. You see, after youíve gone through a few dungeons, it seems that I have no idea of where to go or what to do. I cast my healing staff spell on what looked like a beached whale and then picked it up (your girl is STRONG!), but have no clue as to its purpose. It doesnít seem to unlock anything and, contrary to logic, canít be used on water. Then, youíll see a rope in the water that blocks you from accessing what just may be another continent. Now, an intuitive person may recognize that this rope is a visible object, as opposed to the invisible walls that tend to prevent you from enjoying your time in command of the Valkoship (my name, not the gameís), so there must be a way around it. Well, good luck finding one, as hours of exhaustive research into the subject have resulted in little more than a possible brain tumor on my part.
If you want the truth, Legend of Valkyrie is one of those rare games that finds a way to do everything wrong. What Namco created was an ugly, boring game that just doesnít make sense. Your objectives never are clear and you arenít rewarded when you actually achieve something positive. Instead, youíre just sent back out to aimlessly wander around again, hoping you can figure out how to do something else and get that much closer to this gameís end. That just isnít fun.
Community review by overdrive (March 18, 2005)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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