"You better be a video gaming BEAST if you want to take this game on"

Wow. Ever watched a movie that made your heart start pumping faster because you were concentrating so hard? Multiply that times 50 bzillion and you will still only have the faintest grasp as to how I felt after playing GunValkyrie for 20 minutes. This game takes SKILL, my friends. One thing I've noticed about video games in the past 10 years, what with the development of N64, Playstation (both 1 and 2), Xbox, etc., is that the more complicated the platform gets, the less physically demanding the video game is. Don't get me wrong, they are still really freaking hard and actually take some brain power now, but remember those games like Biometal and Gradius and Super Nova? You know, those games where all you got was a little two-dimensional side view of a spaceship, some cool weapons, and MORE ENEMIES ON THE SCREEN THAN ZITS ON A PUBESCENT TEENAGER'S FACE? Yeah. Games that actually took hand-eye coordination, that required you to be ''paying attention?'' Well, folks, GunValkyrie is the titan that comes crushing down on those games, taking its place as king, blowing them to pieces and then sending in a janitor to pick up those pieces.
GunValkyrie is one of the hardest games I've ever played as far as hand-eye coordination goes. You gots to be on your toes. You have two thumbsticks to deal with simultaneously- and believe me, GunValkyrie makes FULL use of pretty much every single button on the Xbox controller- except for the A button (kind of ironic, isn't it?), ESPECIALLY those freakin thumbsticks. If you thought Halo was bad.....
Now that I've established the simple fact that this game is REALLY HARD, let's look at it more deeply.

Story/Characters/Background 7/10
I give GunValkyrie a 7 in this category because the story isn't really explained very well- even if it is kind of a good story. The intro is long, and doesn't really make sense. You go through the game looking for this mad scientist guy named Dr. Hebble. You don't really know how or why, but apparently Dr. Hebble has transformed a bunch of colonists into gigantic insects. There's this underlying theme of transformation and metamorphis that I frankly don't really understand because it's never even remotely explained. However, I don't think that Smilebit was going for an oscar when they wrote the synopsis, so who freaking cares? The characters are cool- Kelly's your archetypal machine-gun-toting-big-breasted-ball-buster, and Saboruta is your archetypal mystical-samurai-sword-wielding-powerfully-subtle-aging-warrior. Both very cool, I must say. The story is apparently set in the time of the industrial revolution- but with futuristic spaceships, jetpacks, and mysticism- what? All in all, the backdrop of the game is weird, but it's nice to experience something that is actually kind of funny because it is so bizarre.

Graphics 9/10
The graphics on GunValkyrie are really nice. The environments are only pretty cool, but there are some awesome falling-down-through-a-giant-hole-while-killing-everything sequences that you don't want to miss. The animation is phenomenal. Kelly's legs bend and compensate gravity when you make her do a backflip- Saboruta's upper torso pivots before his legs when you make him do a right-angled turn in midair- pretty cool stuff. And it never slowed down- no matter how many enemies are surrounding you, the frame rate never dropped. Good graphics, but good graphics that are actually smooth earns GunValkyrie a 9.

Gameplay 10/10
Holy b'jangles. This game has outSTANDING gameplay. You have to be an avid video game player if you expect to even make it through half of the game, though. Basically, the lowdown is that you go through each level armed with either one or two guns (depending on whether you choose Kelly or Saboruta) and this super-advanced jetpack. By pressing in and then either left, right, foward or backward on the left thumbstick, you can make your character perform little rocket boosts in the above mentioned directions. By pressing in on the right thumbstick and then a direction, you make the character perform little quick turns in midair (or on the ground). When you pair these two together, you get a control scheme that is ridiculously hard to master and that will make your thumbs sore after 30 minutes of play- what with constantly applying force to the thumbsticks and all. When you are surrounded by a bunch of enemies in midair and have to dart your way between them while shooting them at the same time, it gets either really intense or REALLY frustrating because of how fast you have to move your fingers to make things happen. YOU HAVE TO MOVE YOUR FINGERS A LOT AND REALLY REALLY REALLY FREAKING FAST AND ALL OVER THE CONTROLLER TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN IN THIS GAME!! I felt like the game had just kicked my #@% up and down the sidewalk even if I had just beat the level I had just played. And the bosses!!!! Oh!! MY!!!!! GOD!!!!!!!!! The bosses in this game are SO mother-freaking hard, it's not even funny so don't even think about laughing- you'll be crying. Try beating a boss in a REALLY compacted room in which the only way to beat him is shooting him and dodging his ice walls, bullets, and leaping sword attacks in midair- all without touching the ceiling, which is filled with downward-jutting spikes. Basically, the game is so hard and the controls are so difficult to master that it's actually exhilarating and really really fun, even if you get your ase whooped over and over again and especially when you beat a boss for the first time- this game is more intense than a roller-coaster ride, and that can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on how much patience you have. For me, it was a really really good thing. The rewards of a hard game are simply that once you get good at it, you feel like you actually accomplished something. That's why I gave GunValkyrie's gameplay a 10, because it was really really challenging, really intense, and I think I ''leveled up'' with regard to thumb speed because of it.

Overall 9/10
The only thing that keeps this game from being a 10 out of 10 is that once you master the ridiculous controls, you can beat it in a week- it's not exactly a lengthy game. However, I recommend it for people who like epilepsy and crack- it's a game that if nothing else will get your blood flowing.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/27/02, Updated 12/27/02


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