is a series of anime-inspired side-scrolling platformers. Though the series is in no way Genesis exclusive, I've chosen to tear apart the three installments that did appear on the Genny, because I remember having a particular fondness for them back in the day, as I rented them quite frequently. Guess I was a bit of a weaboo tardmo back then to some extent as well, but that's not important!
Don't stop me if you've heard this one before, because, I'm gonna keep typing anyway... The story follows the exploits of a Japanese schoolgirl named Yuko Ahso. If it's anime-inspired, it's got schoolgirls, just deal with it. You like them sera-fuku kawaii desu ne kekekekekeke anyway... oh god... Aaaaaanyway, little Yuko ends up being one of the lucky 800,000 schoolgirls in Japan a year who are greeted by a mysterious being from another realm and given magical girl powers, because she's been chosen to be the protecter of the Earth and also tasked with the safeguarding of the Dream, and Spirit worlds as well. Talk about being busy. I'm sure this is sounding all too familiar already, so if you think you've heard this story before... you have.
If you just can't get enough of these stories, I'll help you out. Below you'll see I've so generously re-constructed the entire opening scene from this game in Flash. I'll be doing this throughout the rest of these little dissections with all the cutscenes, because we all know the story is extremely important in games like these.
Yes, I'm sure it's just as gripping as you were thinking it was going to be.
While we're discussing the story and cutscene bits, I'll take a moment and discuss them in more detail. My prior experience with scenes like this was the Ninja Gaiden
series on NES. The story's no prize pig there either, believe me, but as I mentioned in my Ninja Gaiden II
review, it was such a cool thing to see close-ups of what had only been little blocky sprites moments before. Obviously since Valis
is on superior 16-bit hardware these scenes are going to look a lot cooler. There's even brief moments of full animation here and there and even though the story in this game is hammy as all hell, these scenes looked pretty damn cool back then. I was playing a cartoon! (some anime-tards just died inside a little...I love it!)
Pressing the start button throws us right into the game. Nothing to read or skip! We need more games like this these days...
Stage 1: Da City Wif Da Monstars!
We start our adventure in front of Yuko's high school where we meet the game's first two enemies.
Flying tentacle head...thing and spear fireball guy! If it's anime, it's got tentacles! Anyway, these guys are your typical fodder enemies and don't provide much challenge other than the fact that Yuko's non-powered-up Valis sword is a physical attack with incredibly limited range. Well, maybe I wouldn't call it limited, probably just broken.
Allow me to slip into "review mode" here for a few moments and discuss the game's often strange and plain broken at times collision detection and other oddities.
You'll notice a lot throughout the game that you may not be able to tell whether you're actually damaging an enemy or not. Sometimes you'll even ask yourself HOW you hit the enemy and be even more bewildered by how they hit you. I can't explain how hit detection works in this game at times. It's some kind of strange voodoo programming magic that'll either be fighting for you or turn the fist of a somewhat flustered, but never really all that vengeful gaming god against you.
Yuko's slide move for instance. In most action games you'll typically use a slide to quickly get yourself out of harm's way or to get through narrow passages. The slide in this game is meant for the same purpose, but the wonky hit detection rains on your happy sliding parade. Trying to slide under enemies or attacks that you can clearly see pass over your character in the slide animation will still hurt you, rendering the slide as a defensive maneuver almost useless. Another collision oddity involves attacking while you're crouching. Typically, in these games, this is a great means of counter-attacking a projectile hurling enemy. In Valis
, you absolutely MUST NOT attack while crouching and a projectile is flying over your head, because the game registers it as a hit and you take damange. Very sloppy stuff and at later points in the game, can become straight-up annoying.
Back to the adventure, though. You'll find the opening area of the game to be surprisingly large. Yuko can not only handle the assault from the ground, but she can also make her way to the top of buildings in the area (jumping higher requires you to jump with C while holding up on the d-pad). It's certainly not Metroid
-level exploration, but there are lots of power-ups to be had with a good bit of searching. Including blue jewels which replenish Magic Points... which I can't even use yet. The rooftops also have the added benefit of providing you with as little challenge as possible! You'll hardly be attacked up there, so go ahead and enjoy a nice rooftop jog. Girl's gotta stay in shape, ya know!!
Soon you'll come across the first of many Valis sword power-ups! This red one lets me fire blue projectiles, giving me a ranged attack that's altogether 100x more useful than trying to slash enemies up close.
The game has just become 100x easier! I'll find two more of these power-ups in this stage which will ultimately give me a nice 4-shot projectile spread, with each fireball counting as a hit. Yes, you can see how this just got 100x easier now, can't you?
Before we're finished mopping up the streets, we'll run into our final new opponent for the area...
The no-armed and horned demon with a shell who farts supersonic waves at Yuko! For some reason I can not imagine this guy living too fun of a life. What's it gotta be like when all you can do is walk around and fart at people? Let's ask decoy someday! Maybe with that shell to score dates he can be like, "Hey baby, I'm luggage too!" Not the best pick-up line, but you gotta work with what the devs gave you.
Now that she's finished taking care of the demons that plague the city streets, Yuko now has to venture into every Japanese school girl's absolute favorite place to be...
THE SUBWAY! Japanese girls LOVE the subway!
In this sub-section of the stage, we'll find the same enemies that Yuko dealt with top-side, only they'll immediately be joined by a couple others.