Review by Mome
GUNVALKYRIE is an odd game from Smilebit, those crazy yo-yos who brought us other tedious titles such as Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future and maybe some other game, I don't really know or care. GUNVALKYRIE. It's a unique experience that may or may not have you glued to your seat, depending on whether or not you sprayed Teflon on your ass.
Gameplay - 8/10
The controls require quite a bit of skill and some patience to master, but I'm sure you've already heard that by now. You'll have to boost and hover through repeated stages as either Kelly (the girl on the cover that makes you buy the game) or Saburouta (The Japanese guy--a samurai for some reason) while annihilating various disgusting buggies to complete each level. After completing a level, you're awarded bonus points for how well you did on the stage. These points can be used to purchase upgrades. Saburouta can't get as many upgrades as Kelly, either because he's for more advanced players or because the developers were lazy.
Aiming is rather difficult because your character cannot aim in a very wide range; you can only move the crosshairs around a very small field of view, and the character pretty much just looks all the way up when you barely tilt the pad. It's possible to do a complete turn by clicking in the right stick and pressing in the direction you wanna face, which can be very useful since enemies can and will attack from each and every side, but can also cause problems because it's too easy to accidentally click in the stick when things get hectic, especially since you're constantly pressing in the other stick. Like I said, lots of skill and patience required. You'll have to use a combination of tilts and taps from the left and right sticks to successfully keep your character facing the enemy while boosting around in all directions.
Boosting, by the way, is a real pain in the hand. To boost, you need to press in the left thumbstick and hold the direction you wish to go. This can be done in the air or on the ground. As you can imagine, clicking the stick dozens of times per level isn't going to be very comfortable.
Shooting can be somewhat annoying as well. Your main weapon locks onto targets when you hold the right trigger and fires when you release it, so when one needs to repeatedly and quickly shoot a single target, one will need to keep tapping that trigger. There are only a few weapons to choose from: The normal, boring blaster; the weak and practically useless machine gun that only Kelly can hold; and the grappling beam, which the creators seem to have forgotten about while designing the levels since you hardly ever use it.
I guess it's worth noting that the aiming is always inverted (pressing up makes you look down), so if you can't get used to that then don't bother.
I'll admit that I wasn't paying much attention to the story as the opening played, but it has something to do with a Dr. Hebble Gate, some fool that created some technology for the British Empire back in the 1800's and then went crazy, supposedly changing people on the planet Tir Na Nog into icky bugs. According to the instruction manual, he even surgically removed his own daughter's head. Wow, what a guy.
You play as either the chick or the dude, who are members of the GunValkyrie team. I don't know about you, but I'd be embarrassed to be on a team called Valkyrie seeing as how, ya know, Valkyries are chicks. Anyway, your job's to find out exactly what happened to Dr. Hebble and the people of Tir Na Nog. Of course, you don't have to, since the story is told from diaries and stuff that you pick up between levels, and you don't really have to read them.
The characters and stuff look fine, but there's some noticeable fog, slowdown, and pop-ups in certain parts of the game. Textures look a little muddy and boring, and all the enemies are the same (the levels too). If there was any variation in the enemies, I didn't notice it, and there are really only about four stage skins.
The sound isn't all that great. Music isn't really noticeable, but it consists of a bunch of lame guitar splorts and stuff like that. It's like the early nineties if you don't know what I'm talking about; your basic SEGA crap. There was this one level where some guy's up in a little pocket in the ceiling broadcasting his no-good messages, and I thought it sounded pretty cool. I didn't have any problems with what little voice acting there was.
Everything else is pretty standard stuff which you've probably heard in other games. The Jet Pack sounds nice and soft though, not high-pitched and ugly like the ones in Virtual On.
The game can be beaten in less than six hours if you try hard enough. After you've completed it, there doesn't seem to be much unlocking to do but you can try for high scores, and there are some bulbs that light up after completing a few things. You might want to try to light all three of them just to do something or something or some other stuff and stuff, even though lighting them all doesn't do any stuff. I'm sure it would be fun to get really good at the game and show off to the ladies and your friends, but I have none so bleh.
Anyone can complete the game within a three-day rental period, but completely completing it may take longer than that. Some people enjoy competing for high scores and stuff and if you do too, maybe you'll want to buy this game. But then again maybe you won't. I can't really know unless you give me access to your mind. Please let me see it. Okay.
ESRB Rating: T
If you're a concerned parent or a squeamish child, this part of the review may help you decide whether or not you want to purchase/rent the game.
Blood and Gore: Killing bugs results in green blood splattering around, but it disappears right afterward. Your character never bleeds.
Suggestive Themes: Kelly floats around naked in a few scenes, but it's nothing they couldn't show on basic cable. Her clothes also disappear temporarily when she's hit, exposing her smooth legs.
Violence: Uh... you're shooting things.
And that concludes my review of GunValkyrie (actually, it concludes my theories on the Great Wall of China, durrr). It's not for everyone, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in... uh... fun, I guess.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 04/01/02, Updated 05/16/04
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