released on Mar 18, 2002

Gunvalkyrie is an alternate history/science fiction video game developed by Smilebit and published by Sega for the Microsoft Xbox.

Originally developed for the Sega Dreamcast, it's visual style was very similar to the final Xbox version. The Dreamcast version's distinguishing feature was that during the game's development, GunValkyrie utilized a unique control scheme using both a light gun and a controller. This control scheme was dropped when development shifted to the Xbox version.

The gameplay is very different from most third-person shooters, due to a unique dual analog control scheme, which is the main contributor to the steep learning curve of the game. Players travel to various worlds investigating the disappearance of several colonies, with only giant mutated insect creatures left behind. These insects comprise the bulk of the enemies you face along the way.

Players control Kelly or Saburouta with both analog sticks, the left controlling forward/backward movement and turning, while the right aims their weapons, and when clicked, allows quick-turns. Clicking in the left stick while pointing in a direction causes the character to boost. The left trigger is a boost/jump, and when combined with the left analog boost, can be strung together into combos to keep the player off the ground entirely, which is a necessity for some levels. Face buttons are used to select weapons, and the right trigger fires the selected weapon.

The game comprises ten levels, the story unfolding via text between levels, or the occasional in-game cutscene. At the beginning of most levels, excluding boss battles, you have the choice of picking either Kelly or Saburouta. Kelly's primary weapon is fast but weaker, and she's overall faster and more maneuverable. Saburouta is slower, has more limited maneuverability in the air, and carries a stronger primary weapon, the Matchlock Cannon. Basically the two characters make up the two difficulty settings, with Kelly being the "Normal", and Saburouta being the "Advanced" setting. The real difference being that Kelly's style allowed several lock-on targets, while Saburouta's weapon splashed and was aimed at specific targets. Because of this, Kelly's gameplay is more frantic and requires less direct focus, while Saburota required specific aiming and direct attacks to be effective. Kelly is also the only character to upgrade her gearskin.

The artistic style of the game is similar to the steampunk subgenre of fiction, but the game's designers prefer to call it "elec-punk," described as a step even further, with the harnessing of electricity for imaginative new uses. The game's stages are divided into indoor mechanical looking levels, with lots of gears and ornate metalwork, and outdoor stages, set in very organic looking valley's, craters, and other fantastic otherworldly locations.

Released on


More Info on IGDB

Reviews View More

Initially frustrating, eventually rewarding
When you first boot up Gunvalkyrie, you’ll find that its controls are very awkward . This fast-paced arcade style third-person shooter uses tank controls and an aiming system akin to FPS’ on N64. It’s all very stiff to a new player. Enemies will fly around and surround you as you try to orient yourself to even see what they’re hitting you with.
I started to question this games’ cult status. Gunvalkyrie isn’t fun when you don’t know how to play. But eventually, you slowly start to uncover the mechanics that make this game so special.
The boost combo gauge was my first hint on the intended way to play. Boosting in any direction while in the air fills the gauge by one. Touching the ground, taking damage (sometimes?), or hovering resets the gauge to zero. Left and right dodges have more frames, while forward and backward can be cancelled instantaneously with another dodge. Mashing the stick in random directions without any timing causes you to get disoriented and accidentally hover causing the gauge to reset. But if you calmly time your boosts, you can quickly power up your weapon to the max.
It can be quite technical to do this during gameplay. Enemies have various attack that must be dodged with good timing, and knowing where the enemies are can be challenging do to the camera. Much like Clover Studios’ God Hand, player positioning and camera orientation is paramount to successfully dealing with foes. Clicking the right stick enables the player to turn in 90° or 180°. Sometimes taking your time to reset with these moves is better than just hoping the enemy doesn’t hit you.
These mechanics are quite technical. Putting all these techniques together isn’t easy. Your first playthrough will marred by just getting Kelly to do what you want her to do, but it all comes together.
The floor is lava in Gunvalkyrie. Staying above the enemies combining boosts to power up while simultaneously dodging foes is the name of the game. Calmly navigating the arena with boost combos and then dispatching all foes with the coveted ♾️ gauge never gets old.
The arcade style rating system ensures that playing the most fun way is also the most effective way. This is really important in my opinion. You could stand in one place and blast everything with the drive gun, but you’ll be met with a terrible rating and a difficulty spike in the second half of the game. The rating system also gives a lot of replay value. GV keeps track of just about everything.
Even when firmly in GV’s “fun zone”, there are still some minor issues:
- Later platforming-focused stages are still annoying. These levels have extremely far jumps and falling results in effectively restarting the level. They also do not intertwine well with the combo boost combat. I don’t believe these few levels play to Gunvalkyrie’s strengths.
- Aiming while flying is still cumbersome, even with all the praise I’ve given this games’ combat
- In the levels where you must eliminate all enemies, map usage is paramount. Opening the map every 5 seconds is inconvenient and breaks the flow.
- The addition of a second playable character is odd to me. It’s suggested and advertised to play as Kelly, the female protagonist. You can’t even use Sab in boss battles. It feels a bit forced.
- There’s no frame rate issues, but there’s slowdown issues. Slowdown changes the timing of boost combos which can result in dropping combos unfairly. This only occurs on two boss fights
The poor player conveyance is unforgivable. Even with the manual, it’s significantly below acceptable levels for a game with mechanics like these. That aside, Gunvalkyrie is the very definition of a hidden gem. It’s satisfying. It’s rewarding. It’s technical. You get out what you put in.
I’d also like to shoutout @gsifdgs for their review. It helped me understand some of the mechanics better. Thanks.

ooooooooooooooooohhhh dear. This game is like a stylish character action shooter, reminded me of P.N. 03 in that kinda sense. The game has a cool art direction and the vibes are absolutely on point. The problem is the controls and mechanics are waaaaaaayyy too wack for their own good. I had to make my own custom button mapping on my Xbox to have this game control comfortably. I'd also recommend using a guide to play this, just to understand the mechanics and controls that the game doesn't teach properly whatsoever. The movement is too slippery to be precise and the combat requires constant air dashing and rotations which on the default control sheme means frequently pressing the triggers, sticks, and face buttons to do what you need to do. It's kind of a sensory overload in that sense. If you can somehow wrangle the controls, there's probably a fun and rewarding little time here. But I think for most people this games probably a bit much.

The combination of tank controls with platforming and a bad camera makes what appears to be a sick ass third person shooter into somethings I can hardly stand to play for more than a couple minutes. It's a shame because the environments in this game share the haunting alien beauty of Smilebit's next title - Panzer Dragoon Orta, and that combined with the pounding drum & bass of the level themes gives Gunvalkyrie a very singular vibe.

I saw couple of clips in this game and said to myself. Damn I have to play it, dashing around, flying everywhere, cool weapons, now this is my kind of game!
Then I started playing... Realized this "speedy" game uses tanks controls. I said whatever let's push on. Then realized camera doesn't turn left to right, you can only do it with turning your character, camera only goes up or down and it's INVERTED, with no option to change. I get little bit anxious. Again I said let's push on, first mission was about finding a weapon and returning back, it was simple so I didn't mind it. Then the second mission came, it was about exterminating all the monsters, I said okay let's do it, then opened the map and saw trillions of red dots, also everywhere filled with enemy spawners, I also met with flying bug creatures that forces you to look up or down with the shitty camera, I get even more anxious, finishes the level finally with all sweat and tears. Looks up the timer, it says 30minutes. Seeing that, I said to myself: let me shelve this until someone makes a improved controls mod for this game(probably never gonna happen)
Edit: But then, I did the best desicion. I readed a game guide to learn more tricks. Learned to fast turn, invinsibility 25 combo and meteor attack. (funny that game doesn't explain in the game itself)
Then I opened on emulator and rebind my buttons. There is a program called ds4windows and with that, I bind l3(analog left) to r1, r3(analog right) to l1. I did this because pressing analog sticks make me frustrated after a while. Also you need to press both of them for the meteor attack and it does make things easier.
It still wasn't easy but after getting the ultimate meteor attack at the half point of the game. Game get better for me, I started to finally do some cool shit, dodge enemies, fly to the air unlimitedly, destroy enemies with super fast etc. Even with that, last two missions still kind of hard for me. Mission that before last is about a heavy enemy gauntlet that keeps spawning to protect a core and final one is the of course final boss itself. But final boss fight taught me how to use invinsibilty reliably(or forced me to learn) and the moment I learned, I kicked his head to the infinitium!
I finally learned how to enjoy at gunvalkyrie!
But still... I can't give 5/5... Why? Because...
1-even with fast turn, I still wished a free camera, especially for turning left and right. Because you have to keep using fast turn just because an enemy is a bit too left or right to lock on and it gets bad in frantic situations
2-some bad enemies. Some enemies are both super fast and small so you can get needless damage from out of the camera's side. Also there is an enemy that can go invisible, it's such an annoying enemy to fight. Because you have to wait for himself to show up again and again. Also rest of the enemies are boring ants. They are boring tbh. I would rather get enemies that are well designed and challenging to fight over quantity for the quantity sake
3-Bad map. More than half of the game's objectives are, destroy all the enemies or all the enemy spawners. It wouldn't be bad but map is 2d. But there is a lot of both vertical and horizontal maps in the game. So you know what happens most of the time? You are searching for that one damn enemy that you lost and waste your damn time
4-there is no remapping settings. I know first xbox controller have some weird quirks okay, so it would be important to give to the player an option to remap buttons also invert the camera options. But there is none. If I couldn't remap the keys with the emulator, I wouldn't continue this game. I am not kidding
5-also a locking camera to the enemy option would be nice, especially for the bosses. Because I can't count how many times I get damaged from an attack I couldn't see. For example the "A" button is unused. Why not use it for locking on to the nearest enemy? I don't understand? It still wouldn't take away from the challenge after all you need to continue dodging enemies yourself.
So yeah that's my thoughts on the game. I wish there would be a sequel with a better settings option, more varied arenas to fight and focuses on less numbered but more clever designed enemies. If this happens one day, It would make me happy with finally realizing true potential of this game.
Thanks for reading everyone!

Jet pack bug exterminator the game
Pretty cool even with some annoyances. Gunvalkyrie is a 3rd person shooter/3d platformer hybrid. It requires you to navigate large maps taking out every enemy you see while exploring and platforming with a cool jet pack. Controls are weird at first but pretty smooth when you get the hang of it. It’s a satisfying little run n gun shooter that will have you exploring big environments and making good use out of your jet pack. It’s pretty fun and satisfying to switch back and forth between the blaster and machine gun to take out a army of giant ants. The loop of platforming then combat challenge is fun but when both are combined in some rooms it can become a great experience.
However when I say you have to kill every enemy I mean it. Your goal is to exterminate every enemy which is pretty fun and adds some slight puzzle elements as you have to learn to find the location of each enemy yet again using your abilities (and the map to help you out.) Howeevr it can be a little tedious with how often you have to check said map just to find some random enemies off to a corner and trust me you don’t want to miss like 2 enemies and have to backtrack back that can be annoying.
The lack of weapons is a let down too. I said the combat is fun but it easily could have been more fun and replayable if you could have a load out of weapons to pick from.
Visually this game is really cool. It sorta feels like Metroid with a Steampunk flair. Looks really cool. I like those valleys with those big mushrooms and that northern light sky. And those steampunk bases are cool too.
Even with some gameplay annoyances this game is pretty fun and has a cool style. I really wish this could have gotten a sequel but as it stands its an Xbox hidden gem.
Solid 4/5
Sega bring Kelly and Saburouta back.

The abject thrill of driving a Ferrari with your feet tied together.