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Back in 2022, I reviewed the Galaxy Fraulein Yuna duology on the PC Engine CD. Despite their issues, they were still very good games that were worth playing. At the end of the review I mentioned there was still one more game and folks this review honestly should have happened months ago. This was one of the first games I wanted to play for the year but just never got to it. So why did I finally get to it? Well the third Yuna game finally got a fan translation on the PS1. Now you may be wondering, why give the series a shmup? Well it actually started out as a third game in the “of Thunder” series but Hudson came in to propose this game be part of the Yuna series even if she isn’t playable in this. So, let’s get this over with, the spinoff of the franchise, the one that people had played not even knowing it was part of a series (or maybe they did know), Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire! I’ll be calling it just Sapphire for the rest of the review.
This is a vertical shmup where you go through 5 stages going through different time periods to put a stop to the bad guys taking advantage of time. There are four girls to choose from and you’ll be sticking with them unless you get a game over. The first is Sapphire who has the 2nd best speed but sacrifices a bit of power for it but she can still be strong at full power. Next is Charlotte, the fastest in the game but is also the weakest so she’s best if you can perfect dodging knowing you’ll be there for a little while on stuff like bosses. Helena is the strongest in the game but has horrible movement speed making her struggle dodging at times. It takes her a whole 3 seconds to go from one side of the screen to the other but that power means she can destroy bigger enemies and bosses crazily fast. Jasmine is the 2nd strongest in the game but still slow so if you don’t like Helena’s slow ass ship then maybe this will suffice.
Now with all that said there’s a lot of other details I didn’t go into like the differences with their weapons and stuff but I don’t want to bore you all week so let’s move on. There are three different weapons to use and they power up if you get the same color of the one you already have collected. The red shot is your typical middle of the road shot as it’s got good utility but never strives in anything that the other two could do. The blue shot is the most powerful but has the least range shot making it good for power but keep in mind the range. The green shot is one that’s great for hitting something diagonal or behind you though it lacks power. Personally I would like it more if more enemies actually came from behind. These abilities go up to 5 levels of power and you lose them if you die so try to be careful. Another thing I should mention are your options which can attack if you don’t fire for a couple of seconds and then shoot to let them home in on enemies and even get more bonus points. You can also drop bombs to nuke the whole screen but they are in limited supply and only some mini bosses drop them unless you die which restocks back to 2 bombs.
About that level design, I’m kind of iffy on it. While it can be pretty fun, something about it feels like it could be better? The settings are pretty good but a lot of it isn’t too game changing and it can be at times hard. You will die a lot on your first playthrough and sometimes I can feel like it’s a little unfair especially on some of the bosses. I can’t even really think about if the game has many gimmicks which for some might please but the only gimmicky thing they brought was stage 4 where you go through a location making many different turns and then have a section where you go really fast with pillars spawning to get you crushed. That all said though, the game can be pretty fun as just a game to go shoot and be excited. Though if you were wanting good length in your game you ain’t getting that here. This game is short and the 5 stages aren’t too long and it seems there was meant to be a stage 6 but never got finished. It’s a shame because while I prefer it to a game that’s too long, I really think it needed a stage or two to get that perfect length. Still what’s here is fun and for some like me it’s enough but one can’t help it could be better.
The story is also something that’s almost non-existent in this game as you get an intro and ending but that’s about it. Sure there is a tiny bit of dialogue in between stages but if you were someone who loved the Yuna games for the story then you will be severely disappointed. There’s not even a different ending depending who you beat the game with which I understand but I was a little disappointed it’s not even slightly different.
Now I know I’ve been a little negative and I’m going to say it again, the game is fun but I need to say something. I mentioned the speeds of each character and when I first played the game as Sapphire the speed felt nice but playing it as Helena just feels awful at times. Yeah I only played the game twice. I apologize for that. I actually really like Helena’s power, it’s crazy how fast you can beat enemies with her blue weapon but that speed kind of kills some of the fun for me? Has anyone felt that about a shmup where you move too slow? I guess I’ve never really asked people. Also I have to say it was a big missed opportunity to let you switch ships at the end of each stage like come on, Winds of Thunder let you do that why can’t this?
Bosses in this game can be pretty tough with lots of projectiles flying everywhere and special moves that feel almost impossible to dodge on the first playthrough. The minibosses can also pull off a good fight. If you want to know when a mini boss is coming up, you’ll see CAUTION. For a main boss it’s WARNING. They offer some of the more interesting challenges in the game though keep in mind some of their projectiles are breakable. Apparently this changes on hard mode? But I didn’t play that, only sticking on Normal difficulty. I would tell you I got better at them when I did my second playthrough but Helena destroyed them all very quickly so I won’t get to know. Still I do like how the main ones have multiple phases and feel like a good challenge even if it’s very hard at first.
Sapphire is a glorious looking game and something you probably know this game for. It does stuff that no one could have ever imagined being possible for the PC Engine. It even uses pre-rendered sprites. While the game lacks many cutscenes, it makes up for it with the amazing use of colors, big sprites and not even having any notable lag or sprite flicker (unless I just suck at noticing). This is all thanks to the Arcade card needed to play the game. The music is also amazing, some of the best on the system. Just like Gate and Winds of Thunder, it’s filled with amazing rock pieces that will leave you in wonder of just how they could keep making awesome bangers. The sound effects though oddly sound rather bad especially with some of the shots. Another PC Engine CD review where I had to complain about that, weird.
I feel like this game is awesome but flawed at the same time. It makes for an awesome showcase for the presentation but I’d argue it might be part of its detriment? Look, maybe I’m overthinking this stuff but maybe if it wasn’t trying so hard to be graphically impressive, it could have a little more story or maybe more stages? Idk it’s just me theorizing like an idiot but it’s a game that could be better and I won’t lie, I prefer the other Yuna games to this. It is fun but it’s held back by some lackluster level design at times, the speed issues I mentioned and just feeling a bit too much like a “Look at how good my game looks” and going for that as a priority. Many will still get a kick out of this game, it’s good but Gate of Thunder and Winds of Thunder were much better games. Give this game a try but don’t let those graphics or that obnoxious price it goes for now get to your head thinking this will be one of the best games of the generation. Apologies if the review sounded a bit too negative but I guess sometimes I get like that. I can at least now finally say that all three games have been finished and reviewed by me and I’m glad to finally do that. See you for now.
Oh also don't use rewind for this if you're emulating it, games that use the Arcade card will reset you back to the load screen meaning you'll lose all your progress but save states should be fine so don't worry about that.
Angel_Arle Valis reviews
Part 1: Valis II for PC Engine CD
Part 2: Valis III for PC Engine CD & Mega Drive
Part 3: Valis IV for PC Engine CD
Part 4: SD Valis for Mega Drive
Part 5: Mugen Senshi Valis: The Legend of a Fantasm Soldier for PC Engine CD
Part 6: Super Valis: Akaki Tsuki no Otome for Super Famicom
Part 1: Valis II for PC Engine CD
Part 2: Valis III for PC Engine CD & Mega Drive
Part 3: Valis IV for PC Engine CD
Part 4: SD Valis for Mega Drive
Part 5: Mugen Senshi Valis: The Legend of a Fantasm Soldier for PC Engine CD
Part 6: Super Valis: Akaki Tsuki no Otome for Super Famicom
Hey everyone, I thought I’d say this before the review starts. I know I said reviews were done and over with but for the past couple of days I did feel like ending the Valis reviews right before the end was wrong to do. If I have to do one more review, let it be this one. If anyone asks me why am I done? Not gonna get into it much but I just don’t really like the negativity on this site sometimes and I just had enough. I’ll still be here logging in games and sometimes doing lists though and who knows if I ever play a game that becomes like a 10/10 for me which is really really rare, I’ll probably review a game like that. Also please don’t make comments about this part of the review because I’d rather the comments be for just the actual game review in question. For now though just enjoy the review because this one is going to be long. (yes I know it’s hypocritical to be negative for this last review) Edit: Wow this did not age well because I went back to doing reviews even if it's not as many anymore. Oops.
Valis is one of those series that I’ll never admit it had greatness because it never did, at best it had one game that was very good which was the third game on PC Engine CD. Valis is one of those series though that still did have good entries. I’m not sure why some of them resonate with me a lot but they just do. It first started oddly enough with the first Mega Drive game that I’ve beaten countless times. I remember always wanting to play those games on the PC Engine CD but was too stupid to figure out the emulator. Though there was one game I played back then based off the first game that held such a dark aura, one that was haunting me for years. Mugen Senshi Valis for the Famicom.
Ever since I played it many years ago, I was shocked with how hard and annoying it all was. It had a confusing first level and I just couldn’t do it no matter the attempts. There’s no direction with it and it took till reading a guide to figure it all out. It was such a bad first level that I would sometimes send the ROM of the game to mutuals and ask them if they could beat that first level without a guide. None of them could do it, in hindsight I feel kind of an ass for even doing that but it didn’t really harm them so I guess it’s not a bad thing. The only things I really knew about the game was just my experience, the ending screen, and this promotional video. Honestly when I did this series of reviews I almost thought about doing this first but I was afraid. Not anymore, I sat down to play it and it was something.
Hearing the title screen music felt like a weird memory as it’s the song I’ve heard in every version of Valis I. It’s kind of weird to think how the music in these later versions doesn't really change much when making the jump to other consoles. Since this was still somewhat early for the Famicom, the story is pretty small in this title though that’s fine. Ahh playing this game again reminds me of the struggles I had playing through it. You’re given no guidance on what to do and they decided to make the levels more maze-like. You have no map either until you can find it and areas can lead through multiple directions. If that wasn’t bad enough, Yuko can barely take any abuse in this game. She has 10 hit points but almost everything does 2 so in 5 hits your lights are out. You do at least have infinite continues and you keep your map. There is stuff like bombs and boomerangs you can find for extra firepower but you have so little use of these that I really didn’t use them. Once you know the way to get through the level it should be a breeze.
Though that would imply you do know what you should be doing because while you are given some help from NPCs starting with the 2nd stage, the game doesn’t always help you. How do you beat stage 1 you might ask? You need to defeat 3 bosses. Two of them however present a problem because you’ll get to these bosses and probably wail on them for a bit and wonder why they aren’t dying. I know people who thought they were missing something and just moved on, which is the incorrect thing to do because you do need to defeat them, they just take so much abuse that it’s shocking when they do die. They are at least easy to kill so it’s a pretty easy breeze. Though what won’t be easy is the enemies. Enemies are weird as there aren’t many types of them but the way they place them in levels is weird. They just kind of place them randomly and they either come out of the sky or the left or right of the screen which can lead to annoyance when trying to go to the next area and they just keep spawning in the way. Some also move in weird patterns and Yuko has some weird slippery feel to her movement making it hard to immediately stop. Again it wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t die in 5 hits.
Once you get through the stage you’ll find yourself at the boss and he isn’t too bad but again, you might be at a low amount of HP and you can’t make too many mistakes so once you do that and then…uhh the stage doesn’t end. This was the moment I realized this playthrough was going to suck for me. I actually didn’t remember this at all from my old attempt at it but you can’t leave the level but I only had one more hit till death so I tried to explore and I’m dead. Back to doing everything again! Well no worry I can do it easily this time but still nothing. I gave in and used a guide and you won’t believe what the answer was. The exit is bugged so you have to leave the room and go back to the exit and then you can leave the level. How was this not tested? Like this isn’t just a minor bug and yes I know it’s easy to deal with once you know but I didn’t and I was left confused. Though that wasn’t even the worst the game had to throw at me.
Stage 2 is one of the worst levels I’ve not only played in a Valis game but one of the worst levels in any game I’ve played. This sucks because you get the armor, you get the sword, and you even have one of the best Valis songs “The Wilderness” playing. Folks, the game at this point goes from bad to horribly bad. First off, the stage is freaking massive. LOOK AT THIS! CAN YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND THAT? It’s not only one of the biggest ones in the game but it’s a pain in the ass to navigate. Did I forget to mention you also need to find the map first? Yeah good luck with that. This is so ridiculous, can I remind you people that you die in 5 hits? You also need to look for items like a cape to stand the desert heat and the boss himself. For some reason the boss is really hard to find and it drove me insane. It felt like it took over an hour just for me to find the thing and I just couldn’t figure out what to do, not even a guide helped me. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t hide areas from the map, have you going through many other directions like up and down, and worst of all have areas that just lead you in the same room just to screw with you. You can also find other items here like a cat where I thought I was giving it to an NPC but no matter what I did, he never took the damn thing. You can also find a hammer to talk to statues but most of the time they just say numbers and honestly just don’t bother with it. You can also find a pot that can restore some health whenever you wanna use it.
Thankfully the boss isn’t too hard and then you’re off to stage 3 which is easy to get to from here and I got to say after that trash fire of a level, it’s nice to say that for the rest of the game, it isn’t the worst? It’s weird because it still can be frustrating at times as now there are bottomless pits that are instant game over. There’s now more ways for you to survive now and there’s even a waterfall here to heal which feels like a blessing. But there is just one thing you’ll find out that feels like a shot to the head. When you die, pressing continue will take you back to the beginning of Stage 2. The game only has 3 checkpoints for continues which are the beginning of the game, the beginning of Stage 2, and a bit into the final stage. You still at least get to keep permanent non consumable items but you have to make a long trek to get progress done and that’s only if you don’t get hit while trying to get back. Well at least stage 3 gives us something very valuable which is the shield which halves the damage you take...but uhh we need to talk…
I’ve been lying to you people till now, I committed the act that I should never do when making these reviews. Using hacks to improve the experience. I won’t lie, the idea of having to find the map in each level sounded like a miserable time for me so I put on the Valis++ patch that gives you a map for each stage whether you got the map piece or not. This hack also gives you that half defense but this is where I did something even worse. You see, I had the oldest version of the hack where some bugs weren’t fixed like a part that can freeze the game. So what’s the problem? Well remember that shield? The oldest version had a bug where grabbing it makes you almost invincible. 90% of the time you will not take damage from anything and I basically cheated cause of that. Though oddly there were occasional times it wasn’t like this for some reason. I felt guilty and was debating about restarting the game but I was too far in and had to press on, so I’m very sorry if this disappoints you, you have every right to be disappointed in me.
Next is stage 4 which isn’t too bad but hang on, what’s with The Wilderness song still playing? It’s been playing for the past 3 stages up to this point. I know Reiko should show up eventually but I was always wondering why she wasn’t anywhere in the story outside of one NPC saying they saw a girl that looked like Yuko come by. Well in this stage you’ll finally fight her and yeah the fight is very lame because she just shoots at you and it's one of those where the devs got lazy and just made it RNG when she does the attack meaning there’s no pattern. At least there was an attempt to keep that heartfelt moment because it wouldn’t be Valis I without it. With the stage done along with getting a lamp, you can finally head into the caves that you could find in stage 2. You know that’s one thing I do like about this game, there are multiple entrances and exits to levels which I feel helps a bit with getting in and out of a level. Sadly though this positive is limited as it’s only the case with stages 4 and 5. Stage 5 also has multiple floors meaning you have to collect more than one map just to even use it for the whole stage, it’s obnoxious. At least you get the Valis sword (though be careful as there’s a bug where you could actually not get it after obtaining it meaning you have to recollect it so good job developers.) Huh? Why can’t I select it? Is this also a bug? No, you need to go back to stage 3, go to a specific area and stand near the cliff and then you can equip it, why padding at this point? Who knows.
Stage 6 will finally open up once you have 4 of the phantasm jewelry and honestly it’s very anticlimactic with its use of very samey looking areas and the spam of boss enemies ready to ram you over for a chance of some warrior blood. You even have to go to the third floor just to open a gate but when I got to him I saw he would not allow permission and I’m like NOOO!! What the hell could I have missed this time? Well turns out I missed nothing, the game just expects you to talk to him like 6 times and then he gives in and allows you. Maybe the NPC guarding the gate gives you the hint but this is still so stupid. Well you get to Rogles and he’s oddly pretty easy for a final boss, I’d argue that one from Stage 3 was harder than this but good god he takes a lot of hits. With him down, congratulations! The game is ov-wait I forgot about Valia being kidnapped. Yes in this one, she was kidnapped and is an actual opponent. She wants to possess Yuko for her own benefit but after a few hits she retreats and it’s off to the final screen of the game.
Now this is it, the moment you get to choose your ending. You have three choices, the bad ending, the good ending, and the best ending. You will be asked a yes or no question. Choose yes and you get the good ending where life gets to continue a new one but Yuko is sadly not brought back to her world leaving for a happy end for everyone except Yuko but could be argued that at least not everything is lost. Selecting no will have you fight a harder Valia fight though it’s still piss easy. Losing the fight will have her try to possess Yuko but fails thus leading the world doomed, you will have to restart from the checkpoint in stage 6 if you let this happen. The best ending has you saving everything and Yuko gets to live back home safe and sound forever…pfft yeah right we know she has more adventures afterwards. I should warn you that getting the good or best ending removes your continue feature so leave a save state if you’re using an emulator for the yes or no question. Though I’m sure most probably won’t even care about the ending, not like the story did much to begin with.
Mugen Senshi Valis leaves me in a situation where I felt relieved it was finally over, I felt like I could move on from life knowing this awful game was done with for. Now it’s not the worst Famicom game, not even close especially when you had Famicom games like a lot of the TOSE Bandai crappy Anime games, The horrible RPG Hoshi o Miru, all the awful Micronics developed games, and I still would rather play this over the english fan translation of Wagyan Land, I’m still not over that awful experience. Hell this isn’t even the worst Valis game but it is still a game I would never recommend to anyone, even with the hack’s help to make it easier. At least the music is still those great tunes from Valis I but to say I wasn’t suffering would be a lie. Though with all I have said, I finally reached the end of this game and I can finally say.
Well everyone, that was every game I wanted to do for Valis but first let me go over everything I didn’t really talk about during these reviews.
I actually never went over Yuko’s first adventure on Japanese computers. I almost did due to the MSX version being on Switch but it’s $15 and I’m too much a cheap bitch to pay for it. Though if you do want to see more about the PC88 version, I’d highly recommend watching this video done by Basement Brothers, it’s an excellent video and does a better job then I ever would reviewing her very first adventure. I will say though I love those cutscenes, 80s art styles sure are awesome!
Valis II like I mentioned before had computer versions as well but sadly I couldn’t get them to work for emulation so sadly you’ll just have to survive never getting that review. I should warn anyone reading this that they do contain scenes of Yuko almost naked in those ports so be aware of that if you decide to look into those versions.
Yuko actually made quite a few cameos. Her and Reiko can be found in Arcush: Kagerou no Jidai o Koe te being in charge of a burger shop called DOS Burger. Yuko can also be seen in the Telenet title Exile: Toki no Hazama e for the PC Engine CD though you might not see her in your playthrough as she’s a bit hidden. She was even in…Super Albatross? Wait, was I really just not aware of this cameo when I reviewed that game? Well I couldn’t figure out how to see her but it does apparently exist.
I never did review Valis I for the Mega Drive in this series but I still do have an old review it on backloggd. You can read it here if you want to read my crappy review on it. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t redo it to add it to the series but this isn’t going to change. If you don’t want to read it and want the TLDR then I think it’s good despite it being slow and I have a very unhealthy bias towards that port.
I mentioned it in my SD Valis review briefly but Yuko made an appearance in Naritore The Sugoroku '92 for the PC Engine CD. It’s one of those board games you’d see quite a lot in that era thanks to stuff like Momotaro Dentetsu being popular. It actually features many Telenet characters and Yuko is one of the playable characters, I can’t say if the game is any good though because I can’t really enjoy it when I don’t know Japanese unfortunately but it’s still nice to see Yuko there.
In 1993, there was a Valis game called Valis Visual Shuu for the PC Engine CD. Though it’s just a compilation of all the cutscenes of Valis II-IV. Since Valis I wasn’t out at the time, the cutscenes are not on the disc. EDIT: This is actually wrong, Mugen Senshi Valis was 1992. IDK why it's actually not on there. If you love the stories but don’t wanna play the games, then this is the CD for you!
There was a mobile phone game in 2005 for Valis I and it certainly looked like a game from that time. Honestly Idk if it’s even been preserved because all that stuff seems like a pain to get working. I salute all hard working phone game preservers!
2006 would be the release of the infamous Valis X, a 5 part VN hentai game. It’s been hated by pretty much everyone and was the only series that developers Eants could make from Telenet’s lineup. Supposedly a planned hentai game starring Anett from El Viento was considered. If you for some reason are very curious to see the porn stuff, then Mobygames has images for each game but it’s nothing really interesting and the awful artstyle doesn’t help either. It’s best to be left forgotten.
D4 Enterprises would make a PC collection in 2011 that contained Valis I-IV for PC Engine CD, Super Valis, and SD Valis along with some extra bonus stuff that might be worth it for the fans. I can’t say if the emulation is good because I never really saw the collection in action sadly.
After many years of Sunsoft doing nothing with the IP, a company named Edia would crowdfund a collection for the Valis series to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the franchise. The collection would be Switch exclusive and contained Valis I-III for PC Engine CD. Yes you read that right, it lacks Valis IV. It’s also a pretty lousy collection that doesn’t really feel like a celebration of the series. It doesn’t even have the US versions of II and III. A Limited Run Games physical release was also made and then Playasia buyers were told that the subtitles will no longer be in the Japanese release they were selling because I really needed another reason to hate LRG as a company. Also you can’t just use the Valis III US cover WHEN THERE’S NO US VERSION?! Idiots. Oh yeah did I mention the collection is $40?
In 2022, another collection by Edia was made that was also crowdfunded containing Valis IV for PC Engine CD, Valis I MD, and SD Valis. Valis I for MSX was also added though it was just one of the goals they reached so it may have never been added if it wasn’t for that. This one is $45 and honestly I just didn’t want it. Sorry folks but like I could be using my $45 on so much else that it’s disgusting they even did this. It also feels like they gave less of a damn releasing it here in the US as it was basically shadow dropped here. Both collection’s games can also be bought separately for $15 each.
In 2023 they announced a 3rd collection for the series. It will contain Valis I for the PC-98 and Famicom, Valis II for the MSX2, Valis III for the Mega Drive, and Super Valis: Akaki Tsuki no Otome for the Super Famicom. Seriously if they were gonna add all these games why not just do it in one collection? I'll probably add more to this once it releases.
Finally it’s all over, that’s everything I have to say. If you read this far, thank you. Apologies if these reviews weren’t that good but I’m glad to have done them all. Well at least the ones I wanted to do. I’ve grown even more appreciation for the series after finishing all of this and maybe just one day there will be a new game…nah that’s actually never happening but a girl can dream. Thank you Yuko and the rest of the cast for the fun adventures! Bye bye!
The Wing of Madoola
Back in the first day of 2022 I started to do more reviews and while I’m kind of just inconsistent nowadays if I still want to continue them or not, I still like to reread some old ones. The game I reviewed that day was Chou-Wakusei Senki MetaFight or Blaster Master as it’s called here. I think the review was okay but one thing that never sat well with me back then was saying it was when Sunsoft finally got good. Honestly that wasn’t really fair as there are a couple of games that have fans even if like two of them are because they are infamously bad. One game I’m amazed I forgot was Ripple Island, a text adventure game. One game however that does have its fans that I never sat all the way through was The Wing of Madoola. It’s a game that has a following in Japan but not much here. The most I knew of it was the usual series on Youtube that talk about every game on the console like Chrontendo and Famidaily. The only other times I’ve seen someone talk about it was Jeremy Parish’s Metroidvania Works series and the site Gaminghell did an article for this game. So what did I think of it? Well it’s complicated…
Lucia is the girl you’ll be playing in this adventure trying to save…a prince? Shoot I already forgot. Well anyway it’s up to you to stop evil and find the Wing of Madoola. Lucia can use a sword but you’ll need to use the power of magic to make progress in this game. You’ll start off realizing you move slowly, you jump horribly and you can’t even kill enemies well. Well that’s where the powerups come in and you get that as early with the boots that will up that speed and jump and then a sword like the one you have which upgrades it. Everything gets three upgrades of power. The sword is an okay weapon in this game. It can get the job done but it is something you’ll sometimes be missing with it due to the arc of the attack. You also can’t rapidly slash as much as you’d like. There’s also some items you can collect like an apple to heal health, a jar to up your max health, potions that can give you more health or even up your max health and a ball you’ll need to exit the level usually guarded by a boss.
Then you have the magic which you’ll be able to use starting at stage 3 starting with a Flame Sword which sends out a short range fire which can do good damage to enemies and bosses. There’s a magic bomb that will shoot out projectiles vertically though I never found too much use for it. The bound ball can shoot this wild looking projectile that’s rather weak but bounces off areas, it apparently can be used as a barrier but I didn’t know that. The shield ball can protect you with many balls but it’s rather weak as an attack so don’t use it for bosses. Smasher will target an enemy though the animation doesn’t really show it off that well, while it is strong it uses up a lot of magic especially with the fully powered up one. Finally there is Flash which is a screen nuke that’s good to use when in a pinch but it’s easy to run out of magic using this so use it cautiously. Make sure you grab scrolls to restore magic along with orange potions and books to up your total magic.
So you know the basics so what’s the game like? Well it’s a stage by stage adventure having to grab the ball from the boss in each stage to progress. You have 16 stages in total. Level design in Madoola starts off pretty basic with some linear somewhat samey level design but then you begin to find out the game is more than just a simple straight line to the end. This game does something that a lot of games did during this year, have maze-like level design. Unless you wrote this all down on paper or looked it up online, you will be getting lost. That said however the game won’t really challenge you in terms of hazards as the only threats are the constant respawn of enemies. Now this game does the way of spawning enemies by never letting you breathe once you’re in an area they can be in which makes sense considering they can drop potions but it can be obnoxious. The worst case has to be the Nyuru which are blobs that will swarm you and never stop. You’re better off just trying to book it and not screwing up any jumps as they are fast. A lot of times you’ll just be not fighting enemies because unless you want potions for raising your HP and MP then you really have no reason to bother them unless you’re forced to. If you don’t learn the right paths then get ready for swarms!
That’s not to say the game is impossible or anything in fact once you get used to it, it’s a pretty decent adventure difficulty wise. The game restores your magic to full every level and there are levels that can contain a fountain that fully heal you. Lucia can also have a lot of health with the max being 5,000. This also goes for her magic. It also helps once you get the last boots upgrade, you can jump really high and move fast. This makes enemies not as annoying as you think they’ll be later on. Though the knockback on Lucia with damage is kind of ridiculous at times. Platforming also isn’t the best as they love to make so much of it close together meaning you’ll bump your head many times. I can say once you get used to it, it can be pretty fun.
Bosses are pretty simple but they at least keep changing for the most part with each stage. My tip is to use the flame sword especially once you upgraded it. What is annoying however is once they’re defeated, you’ll be seeing them again in groups in later stages and sometimes it’s obnoxious. You do not want to interact with them due to how much damage they can do. This also brings up something I haven’t mentioned yet. You have only one life and zero continues. Bite the bullet once and you’re back at stage one with nothing. Now there is a cheat to let you continue but there’s one problem, they only give you 1,000 health back meaning unless there was a fountain in that level, you might have to go back to a previous level to even stand a chance. There’s actually a few levels in the later half that don’t have a fountain for 3 levels straight which is pretty cruel.
Once you make it to stage 16 you can find the Wing of Madoola and you hold down and A to fly but it costs 1,000 MP to use. You can find the evil Drarutos above you. He’s this human that turned into a monster-like dragon. He’s actually pretty easy and has the same health as the last boss you fought. Just make sure you keep 1,000 MP after he dies so you can fly again to reach the final door. Congratulations you did it and you’re treated to an ending that I won’t spoil. Looking back on the adventure it can be seen as frustrating at times but despite its flaws I kind of enjoy it. Sure it’s nothing graphically or musically impressive and it doesn’t come close to some of the best this system brings but compared to Sunsoft’s earlier works, it’s a fun game!
I should mention a few things about this game like how it was supposed to have an arcade release under the VS line of games. Now it apparently exists in Japan as there is a video of it on Youtube but it sadly has never been dumped online. The game would be rereleased on the PS1 in their Memorial series. It was under volume 3 and it also came with Kanshakudama Nage Kantarou no Toukaidou Gojuusan Tsugi. It’s an okay way of playing it but the sound effects sound awful in this version. At least the music sounds fine, it could be way worse like what they did to Rough World, Hebereke, and Gimmick. It would also get stuff like a manga series but once the Hebereke series became Sunsoft’s number 1 thing, Lucia never really got much to shine. That said however, Japan does like the game because I’ve seen them wanting the game remade or just getting something new and honestly I’d love to see that. As excited as I am for Hebereke 2, I hope one day The Wing of Madoola gets something. Sunsoft is trying to rerelease the original game along with a couple of other games so I hope they’ll be able to do that.
Another interesting thing to bring up is a chick you can find in stage 8 that tells you this keyword. What is it for? Well it was for a competition Sunsoft was doing where if you won, you got a cassette tape that had an arranged soundtrack for this game and another game called Dead Zone. Here's a link if you want to give it a listen for yourself. It's nice stuff.
The Wing of Madoola to some might be another trash Famicom game you’ll drop in 10 minutes but to me it’s a fun but flawed fantasy romp. I can forgive what it falters in because compared to Atlantis no Nazo, this is fun (sorry to fans of that game). I can’t really recommend it unless you have a lot of time on your hands or don’t mind using help and save states to get you through the game. Maybe one day it’ll be Lucia’s time to shine once more but until then, Madoola will remain a closed book of a time where Sunsoft would soon reach their highs. The only question I have left is who is the guy on the cover? He’s not any of the enemies or bosses, did the artist just draw something random? Guess that would explain Lucia’s outfit also not resembling the game’s sprite for her. Oh well it’s not like I’m gonna get an answer just asking randomly so it’ll forever remain a mystery!
Angel_Arle Blaster Master reviews
Part 2: Bomber King: Scenario 2 for Game Boy
Part 3: Blaster Master 2 for Genesis
Part 4: Metafight EX for Game Boy Color
Part 2: Bomber King: Scenario 2 for Game Boy
Part 3: Blaster Master 2 for Genesis
Part 4: Metafight EX for Game Boy Color
I never really could make up my mind if I truly wanted to stop reviews. While I’ve been trying to do shorter ones, I’ve felt like I wanted to do a series of reviews I’ve always thought of doing. I haven’t fully decided but I think I’ll possibly review every Blaster Master game. I haven’t played most of these games so it’ll be an interesting time if I decide to do them. I should note I might also bring back the Sailor Moon and Rockman reviews but I’ve been undecided. Well anyway, onto the actual review.
Picture this, you’re a game developer who hasn’t made much good. Sure Wing of Madoola, Fantasy Zone (Famicom), and Ripple Island weren’t bad but you just can’t hit it out of the park with something special. What do you do? You go bigger and create an exploration game to surpass the likes of many. That’s when Chou-Wakusei Senki Metafight was born. This game would mix exploration in a tank and gunning down enemies inside rooms from the maze-like areas. Is the game itself any good after all these years? With many sequels down the line, It’s going to be fascinating to see if this will be the peak. This was my 2nd time playing this game. Time to discuss.
Metafight stars a fifteen year old named Kane Gardener who is off to put a stop to the enemy invading. Thanks to the help of a seventeen year old girl named Jennifer Cornet, she builds the Metal Attacker, a tank that can shoot various weapons and gain new abilities throughout the adventure. It’s up to Kane to go through eight areas and stop the villains with whatever tools he has! Now this is just stuff from the manual as the game itself lacks any story, not even an intro.
The game starts with you inside the Metal Attacker as you can shoot forward or upward. You can also jump and it’s a pretty floaty one too. The controls take a bit to getting used to but you should be fine after a while. You’ll be exploring big areas with many rooms and enemies ready to murder you. You want to find the room that contains the boss as it’ll have an item that enhances the Metal Attacker giving it a new ability. Though Area 4 only gives out a key. There’s three special weapons you can use that have limited ammo. The first is homing missiles which are just missiles that can home in on enemies and you’ll send out more depending on the enemy count on screen. The lightning weapon shoots lightning under you and it’s pretty useless as it goes in a few different directions that’s hard to guess and it misses most of the time anyway. The three way missiles will shoot three missiles that go forward and widen out as they keep going. The con with it though is that you have to always use three. To switch weapons you need to pause and select whichever and then press down and attack to use one.
With the select button you can have Kane leave the Metal Attacker and he can go into special rooms. The game switches to a top down gameplay style where you can shoot and use grenades, at least I think they’re grenades. You can strafe with the grenade button to help shoot better. Your gun has a meter which makes it get stronger the more pickups you get for it. It starts out as a normal shot, then one where it begins to shoot curvy shots, and then finally you have shots that go in a weird wavy pattern. The problem is that everytime you get hit, the level for it goes down. Kane also never gets upgrades for himself meaning pickups besides the gun and health will be transferred to the Metal Attacker. Kane also restores full health going into the Metal Attacker. Kane also is frail with small heights in the side scrolling areas so don’t even try using him for platforming.
Level design in the side scrolling areas are pretty fun. Despite the maze-like structures, nothing is ever too frustrating with the Metal Attacker. It helps that the game is very generous with health pickups. Levels are distinct and I’ll go over that in a bit. Enemies can come in a decent amount of variety. Some fly around and some are small and short. In fact for enemies like the landmines or worms, try to get Kane out and shoot them since he’ll go back to full health after the hits and you won’t lose ammo or health with the Metal Attacker that way. I do wish the camera was a bit better at showing what’s down below. What’s weird is pausing the game and unpausing sometimes does lower the camera. You also don’t really have much invincibility frames which can lead to many hits in hazards if not careful. You also only have 3 lives with none to refill with. You do have unlimited continues at the very least though stuff like Gun level reset after a death.
I like the progression in Metafight with the first area being a pretty good beginner level that gets you comfy with the rules of the game. Areas 2-4 have a lot of verticality to them showing more of how it won’t be easy to find where the boss is. Another brilliant design of Metafight is not finding the boss isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s still a good source for finding refills to stuff you need. Area 5 shows off the water level. You were taught earlier how the water worked here earlier and now you must traverse a lot of it with Kane alone. It makes for an interesting change of pace and really demonstrates the Metal Attackers feats when even easy enemies take multiple hits to die from Kane’s gun. Area 6 has ice physics that make the controls even more tricky to get used to. Area 7 has a lot of walls to break through with dangerous lava that can be hard to get out of. Area 8 has a lot of deadly spikes and with this game’s low i-frame count, you’ll have to be very careful though it does have an issue I’ll bring up later.
Rooms that Kane goes into are probably the low point for the game for me mostly because the gun just isn’t consistent enough to hit enemies leading to hits that don’t feel like your fault. The game also has a bad problem with how enemies spawn. It sometimes feels cheap with how they’ll just come out of nowhere. It’s here where some of that early Sunsoft jank shows up meaning they haven’t fully reached the confidence they would later. I’m also unsure why they would put instant death in these rooms. While I never fell into them, it feels like a poor design choice. The ice physics rooms are probably the worst areas as the controls just don’t work well with them. Even worse, some rooms just have you enter with enemies about to hit you and it almost goes to the same level of Metroid 1 in terms of cheapness when entering doors. When you have a mechanic that relies on not getting hit, I expect good enemy placement.
Bosses are all done in the top down sections and they can be pretty challenging with their size and Kane’s movement in general. It’s really hard for me to tell if grenades or the fully powered up gun do more damage. I’m not really a big fan of them but they do at least for the most part feel diverse enough to at least be memorable. I can only think of one similar boss which are the frogs. If you struggle with some bosses there is a glitch you can exploit. For bosses 2, 4, 6, and 7, shoot a grenade and pause as it hits and they’ll take continuous damage, just unpause after 15-20 seconds and they’ll be dead. Beating a boss will give you one of those upgrades for the Metal Attacker.
The first upgrade the Metal Attacker gets is the hyper shot which gives it more power, simple enough. The second upgrade is a crusher shot which can destroy blocks you once couldn’t destroy, opening up more areas for you. The next one is interesting as it’s a hover ability. If you were wondering what the H pickups were, well these refill your hover as it drains fast. This also marks an interesting point as you’ll have to go back to the very beginning of the game to find an area you can hover to that leads to area 4. This game has backtracking and I’m mixed on it because while the game does provide shortcuts or short routes to get back to where you go, it never really feels well thought out besides for the sake of just doing it. I’m not sure if I’m in the minority for it but I've never been the biggest fan of it. The upgrade in area 5 will help the Metal Attacker swim in water which is very nice. We also have the 2 wall upgrades letting you travel on the wall and ceiling. Sadly Wall 2 is a terrible upgrade because going off the edge will have you travel on the wall below you making jumps a pain in the ass! Half the reason area 8’s spikes are hard to avoid is because of this design choice.
Metafight does look pretty good for a Famicom game of its time. While enemy sprites aren’t the most interesting color wise and the game does rely a lot on dark colors, it still has some good looking areas. The tiles presented to form locations look pretty nicely detailed and a lot of them look unique from each other even if some aren’t the most visually cool looking. I do like how being in the top down levels zooms in the action making the sprites look bigger and the bosses massive sprites are impressive though the entire room becomes black to compensate for it, outside of the final boss. The music is what really impresses me with the first area having this heroic feel to it where it feels like Kane is fully prepared to defeat anything in his way. It gets you motivated for the journey. I really like the 4th area’s theme with how creepy it sounds along with the frog croak at the end hinting at what the boss truly is. The 5th area really gives a feeling of the unknown when entering the water, it sounds…mystical? I don’t know how to describe it. The rocking tune of Area 7 really gets you pumped with all the lava around. I could go on and on about how good the tunes are and while not everything is a hit for me personally, I still love it. Easily one of the highlights.
I should mention the US version named Blaster Master. It’s mostly the same but it’s got a new story starring a guy named Jason who chases after a frog and leads him to a tank and it’s up to him to find the frog. They even made an intro song for this cutscene which sounds nice and the area you travel out of when starting the game looks different to match the cutscene. The ending is a little different too but it just removes the chibi versions of Kane and Jennifer off the end screen and the final shot before credits added the frog. I should also discuss how continues work. You only have three in this version. Now I personally think this was done since it was usual for the time but I wanna bring up that the manual for the Japanese version supposedly mentions you have 5 continues when in the actual game it’s infinite. Could this suggest the US version is more complete? Honestly, I’m not sure. This game is already long enough being about 3-5 hours depending how you play and there’s not even a password system. Despite this, the game ended up being more popular in the US.
We would see this game rereleased a couple of times. The first one being put in Memorial * Series: Sunsoft Vol. 4 for the PS1. It also came with the game Ripple Island. It plays fine but sadly the audio is pretty bad especially on the percussion so I wouldn’t recommend it at all. The game would see a couple of emulated rereleases via stuff like virtual console. The most interesting one has to be the NSO rerelease of the game as they also gave it an SP version that lets you start at the final area with everything maxed out so if you struggle with this game, maybe play this one if you want to see the toughest part of the game.This also applies to the US service of NSO.
This game is an interesting turning point for Sunsoft. At this point, many of their games would be very high quality and they would become respected around that time. While Metafight didn’t do too well when it came out, it would be considered a hidden gem in Japan. As for me, it’s a good game if flawed. While I appreciate what it sets out to be, I can’t help but feel some of Sunsoft’s early jank is still presented here. It’s got problems I can’t look past but with stuff like Rough World, Hebereke, and Gimmick being created after this fine work, Sunsoft would have it good for a while. Metafight wouldn’t see another Japanese game for many many years. Though with that said, we do have what I like to call a filler episode for the next game. Next time it will be the Game Boy game, Bomber King: Scenario 2. (That is if I actually feel like continuing this).
I remember playing this...actually IDK. I went to go check when I talked to someone about this game on Discord but couldn't find it. I wasn't a fan of the game and thought people were just overrating it. I decided to give it a 2nd chance and I actually finished it and enjoyed it.
Apparently every version of this game is different which surprised me because this still feels like an MSX game to me. It's got a variety of projectile attacks and ESP moves to help you get to the end. One tip I'll give is getting 1,000 points refills your ESP so getting the B icon is worth doing.
I do wish the game had more levels because there's only four but the levels are a good length to be fair. I'm not too big on the lack of i-frames but the game isn't too challenging. By the end you feel so unstoppable especially with the barrier. I still don't really get the point of the one that takes you back to the beginning of the stage. Even the bosses are decent but are pretty easy with the final boss especially being easy. Even the main bad guy is a scripted win but it don't bother me.
If you're looking for good Game Gear games to play, this might be one worth looking into. Oddly the Japanese version is completely in English which I don't really understand why. A fun action game that once you get used to can be a good time. Wouldn't mind replaying this in the future.
Lupupu Cube is a game that probably won't impress many but it's a fun relaxing game of pushing blocks to match colors. It doesn't go overboard on gimmicks and there's a lot here to sink into. The game has 100 puzzles plus another 100 once you beat the game which I didn't do, sorry. Each 10 levels have their own theme and story and while I can't understand any of it, it seems to look fun and maybe would be nice for children.
What really shines is the music. It's some of my favorite stuff in a video game. They're all vocal songs and they're all just so catchy and fun. In some ways they might carry the game to the rating it has. The artstyle is also pretty great too.
Sadly the puzzle mode is probably the low point for me as it's not very fun. I don't like how you can't move pieces as they're falling and I don't get why they can land on me but blocks that fall on me that are already placed end the game immediately.
For 1996, a game like this works and it won't blow you away but for what it is, it's very good. There is a DS and PSP game but idk what's different about them besides the cutscenes seem to not be using sprite art anymore. Would I recommend Lupupu Cube? Not really sure. It did apparently get a US release in 2012 but it seems to be gone. Still I would recommend the music if Japanese vocal tunes are your thing. All the music is on Youtube if you're curious.
Disclaimer: played it on the emulator, not on actual arcade. Yeah, i rather call it remake than third installment. The game is actually nice! I enjoy driving through remade courses, they look just like how I imagined them "in future" when I played the original game. The remixes are also cool, I heard some people didn't like them, but Mitsuyoshi did a great job remaking his old stuff.
Anyway, really nice Daytona game. If it would come to consoles eventually, I hope they would add more courses tho
Bravo Air Race
a Ridge Racer for the skies. The rapid distance drawing keeps you on your toes^, one of the only flying games I know of where sharp reflexes are of greater importance to planned precision. It's an arcade game through and through, with mastery being the only end goal. Fine by me! Just make sure to turn the guide off. And I have no idea what those balloons are there for, somebody aughta shoot 'em down!!
^really only affects the already modest visuals' integrity, I think it's more of a feature for the surprisingly twitchy gameplay. The bigger downside is how little controlling your elevation matters (even discouraged with the amount of times you'll "Course Out" when first playing). Despite being an immediately satisfying game to race through, it sure is restrictive in its play space.
This was my first real Atelier game and I am really glad I finally got to give the series a try. It's a very cozy game that can be as easy or hard as you want it to be. The graphics and art style are beautiful and it is something I have wanted to play for a long time but the collection can be quite pricey, Koei Tecmo only runs a sale on the Atelier games once or twice a year.
The time management is probably the biggest hurdle as synthesizing and traveling around the world map eats up time but I never found any objectives too hard, I usually completed the objective very early on and had a lot of time to level up in combat and collect material. The last few areas in the game get quite hard but you can ignore them for the most part if you want to.
It has a nice cast of charming characters and feels like something out of a storybook. I would like to come back eventually and get the true end but I want to try the two other games in the Arland trilogy.
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