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Valkyrie no Bouken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu (NES) artwork

Valkyrie no Bouken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu (NES) review


"Valkyrie no Bouken: blah blah something grrarrh (VnB,) despite a fancy title, quickly establishes itself as mournfully bland before turning violently senseless. It achieves what personality it has by committing some baffling mistakes I haven't seen in other bad games. Unsure why anybody would write a translation patch for a game this weak, I Googled to find it was based on an anime series. I also found a detailed walkthrough on a dedicated website. Reading all the secrets hidden by the ga..."



Valkyrie no Bouken: blah blah something grrarrh (VnB,) despite a fancy title, quickly establishes itself as mournfully bland before turning violently senseless. It achieves what personality it has by committing some baffling mistakes I haven't seen in other bad games. Unsure why anybody would write a translation patch for a game this weak, I Googled to find it was based on an anime series. I also found a detailed walkthrough on a dedicated website. Reading all the secrets hidden by the game's utter lack of clues and the excuses why it wasn't so bad proved more entertaining than the game itself, but it didn't put me in a forgiving mood.

The fun starts with character creation, where you choose an astrological sign for starting hit and magic points, then blood type. Three types contrast quick early levels with slow later ones. AB requires random experience before each level. The most useful strategy in the whole game is to choose AB and hope you get lucky. You need to make it to the hotel first, though.

Quickly, you'll learn about combat. Enemies appear in puffs of smoke a half-screen above, below, left and right of you, before zooming in. If you hit one with your sword, it bounces back, leaving gold if you kill it. Sometimes, you stab an enemy into a wooded, where you can't get at the gold. Other times, you'll stab enemies in opposite directions, so you will only be able to get one of the gold bags. Bags, like enemies, disappear once off-screen. For variety, annoying jokers bounce around in square paths. They're safer to kill but take more time. You can't rely on regular combat to build up quickly, but enemies will pop up in your personal space enough to kill your progress frequently, even if you use save states. Feel lucky that these days you don't have to use the built-in password system (eighteen letters!)

At least, you won't have to if you don't make any mistakes. The game doesn't reset items until you restore a game, and then you lose all but the game-critical ones. These are guarded by boss monsters or found in dungeons. If you walk up to a boss monster and smack it, the main risk is that random regular monsters might appear and get free shots at you. Dungeons, half of which don't help you through the game, are less charitable. They feature relatively few different rooms: poisonous mushroom fields, invisible quicksand, invisible walls (same place every room,) stairs up, boring old nothing, and Big Monster Blocking Doorway To Valuable Chest. Stairs lead one way to vaguely near the dungeon entrance.

Monsters are tougher in the dungeons, but the locked doors are truly exasperating. Go off the screen and come back and--oops--they're locked again! So it's easy to run out of keys and get trapped. The way around this is to stock up on keys. This creates inventory problems, because you have eight slots. Your weapon uses one. Each healing or curing potion takes one. You'll find a ship early on that lets you sail off ports. A ring of four keys, found on early boss enemies, also takes an item spot. There's no way to check how many uses you have left. Similarly for the axe you'll find by a portal. It chops down forty trees, and once you get to level five, it works on mountains too. It also raises the question: what other items am I not stumbling on?

But at least if you waste an item’s uses--this game's substitute for dropping--you can make space for an important item. You can sell an item, but that'd at the next continent over, where enemies will kick your butt until you're level seven or so. Eventually, you can find items with infinite uses in dungeons. Well, everything except keys. So you may have to waste a few keys before opening a chest with a valuable item--but you'll need to count straight. And the chest, of course, may just contain more keys. This is as spontaneous as VnB gets.

If you somehow stumble through the first couple of continents, you'll move from forest to desert, where you'll realize how repetitive the uselessly expansive outside world is, to ice, which finally gives variety in the background. Instead of cacti, ice plants now poison you if you touch them. The igloos look cool, I guess, and there's a lion in the center of a wall guarding you from the next area. One puzzle involves a square you can only see at night, the only one when the rest of the world goes prohibitively dark. Later, you find a castle. It's a dungeon, but it's special because it has a super big room at the end. You fight the big bad guy there and win, once he randomly drops the Time Key between regenerations, or at least you stop feeling like a loser.

VnB's plain presentation would have worked better with trivial puzzles than the mess it tried. It's simply too big for the clues it fails to give, and the most complex part is how two errors combine to exacerbate a third: awkward inventory plus the game forgetting what happens off-screen lead to getting trapped in a dungeon room while exploring. The chain of follies becomes funny after a while. VnB reminds me of essays I wrote that left out the whole point. My excuse? The class wasn't fun. The developers, presumably, were trying to make something fun that people might even pay for. Starting boring and turning obscure was no way to accomplish that.

Rating: 1/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (July 10, 2009)

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