Review by PickHut

"When Space Harrier Met Starship Troopers"

You know what we need more of in video games? Hot, flying chicks with big guns that get naked at least once during the game. Yeah, yeah, we have Steam Hearts, but we need more, damn it! Well, someone over at Smilebit thought it was a groovy idea to have hot, flying chicks with big guns in a video game, and they ended up making this title: Gunvalkyrie. You'd think having hot, flying chicks with big guns in a video game would be enough, but they went the distance; they've included giant bugs (!), a flying samurai (%), and a pink dolphin with wings (@)! Woolly mammoths, Batman! Woolly mammoths!!

The story revolves around the Gunvalkyrie organization being dispatched to a bug-infested planet to search for a crazy nutjob, and tries to sound deep in the process. But forget about that! We don't play video games featuring hot, flying chicks with big guns for the story. We play them for the ho...... okay, you get the point by now. However, controlling a H.F.C.W.B.G. isn't as easy as it sounds. You'll realize this when you get dropped into Valley 1, and take control of Kelly (the H.F.C.W.B.G. of GV). Walking around, aiming, locking on targets, and jumping are easy to get the hang of within the first few minutes, but the Gearskin mobile movements complicate things a bit.

With the Gearskin, you can dash forwards and backwards, quickly sidestep (more like jumpstep) to the right and left, and fly......... Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound like much. But since you'll have to go through stages that require you to go long distances through the air to reach one small platform, learning these moves is a must. It doesn't help matters that your boost gauge depletes rather fast, so you'll have to master the art of making sort dash boosts through the sky to even stand a chance in later stages, especially once you reach the 7th stage.

Naglfar's Pit 1 (stage 7) will make or break the player's abilities to control the Gearskin properly. In this dream-like area (everything's glowing, small white balls are everywhere, and a gloomy melody plays in the background), you'll have to jump from platform to platform, big and small, to reach the top so you can drop down into a giant, orange ball (you can't miss it, it basically takes up the center of the stage). All the while, bugs, twisters, and shaky platforms will attempt to knock you back to the bottom (it's a long way down). So, if you haven't gotten used to your Gearskin moves and have no desire to actually master them when you reach this place, you might as well give up. The Gearskin abilities are also of good use against enemies; place Kelly in the middle of a group of security drones, watch as she dodges a barrage of projectile attacks simply by dashing around, then see her retaliate by locking on to all the targets and wiping them out.

Of course, the game isn't all about platform jumping, there's also a lot of action to be had here (hence the H.C.W.B.G.), at least during the first half of the game. The three Valley stages are the best examples: you'll be fighting an army of giant, spider-esque insects that always pop out when things are too quiet. You could just take them out with your basic weapon, the Heat Blaster, but it's much more fun to use the Drive Gun on the poor bastards. With this weapon (which is basically a gatling gun) you obtain in the first stage, you can just stand in one place and massacre (not to mention watch their body parts splatter all over the place) an entire group in a matter of seconds. The only problem with using it is that it severely limits your movements, so don't expect to use the Drive Gun all the time.

It's a shame that GV is too short, however; you can finish it in under a day if you wanted to. You'll unlock Challenge Mode, where you can play any stage again to get a better rating, when you beat the game, but it really doesn't seem like much of a bonus. Of course, there's the excuse that you can play through the game again with the other character, Saburouta (the samurai). That would be a good reason to play through again, but he's not much different than Kelly. The only difference is that he can't use the Drive Gun, and you can only shoot one bullet at a time with his Matchlock Cannon (equivalent to Kelly's Heat Blaster)..... but that's it. Smilebit considers him an intermediate character, but in the end, he's basically a tacked on character.

With these problems present, GV ends up being a game you'll play for a few times, and then get bored and go for something else. It would've been great if this title had a sequel that expanded on the premise and fixed the problems, but since Gunvalkyrie didn't sell very well, that doesn't seem like a possibility. So, you're stuck with only this game....... Well, at least it has a hot, flying chick with big guns, and that automatically makes everything better. Am I right or what?


... Right?

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/16/06

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