This is going to sound really strange but I love the Valis games despite the fact they are solid titles at best. The series has had its ups and downs over the years but I have always had a soft spot for them along with most of publisher Renovation’s titles. Their use of extended cut scenes was the coolest thing in the world when I was a teenager and seemed like the next step over the likes of Ninja Gaiden. While I was familiar with the Genesis remake it would be many years before its PC Engine CD counterpart would grace my hands. Even though Mugen Senshi Valis is the better of the two versions it is still okay at best.
Mugen Senshi Valis is actually pretty interesting from a release stand point. This remake would come after Valis 2, 3, and 4 had been released on the system. It is a bit of a mystery as to why Telenet decided to create one more remake of the game. The original MSX title is pretty terrible but the decent Genesis remake already exists. As the last console port of the game it is the best iteration of the first installment in the series. Yet that still doesn’t make it the best in the series. The fact is numerous features had been added to the series since the initial release, leaving this a bit barebones. A solid but not spectacular game.
There are numerous small tweaks to the controls that make this far more enjoyable than the other versions. Yuko’s jumping height is controlled by how long the button is held rather than pressing Up + button I. The near useless slide has been better integrated as there are low ceilings and gaps that require its use. You can also use it as an attack although it isn’t very reliable. I wish Yuko moved a little faster though; after playing Super Valis IV and getting used to Lena’s dash its hard to go back.
In terms of gameplay this remake is closer to the second installment with a heavier emphasis on combat than platforming. To accompany this change the weapons system has seen an upgrade. All weapons can be upgraded three times and there are a number of new weapons such as the arrow shot and wideshot. With each boss defeated you earn a magic spell and some like the fire ring are nearly game breaking. The tight controls and better weapon “system” (trust me just reading about the original will make you angry) make an already simple game that much easier.
Valis tries to put up a fight but overall I found it to be on the easy side. Initially power-ups are literally everywhere making it easy to power up a given weapon to level three quickly. With that kind of power you can easily mow down waves of enemies and complete most levels in less than five minutes. It is only in the final two levels where items become scarce that you might die once or twice. Bosses tend to be bullet sponges however their patterns are simple to discern and exploit. The only real challenge comes from dying during a boss battle; you’ll have to tough it out at your base level like a shooter. Because of the lacking difficulty most will breeze through this in less than forty five minutes.
When examining the production values in this remake there are some clear contrasts with its Sega counterpart. While the two games share the same stage themes artistically the CD version is better, with more detail packed into its environments and larger sprites. However it is missing the scrolling that made the Genesis game look so good. Some of the bosses such as the late game dragon have been redesigned and are much better for it. The largest upgrade comes in its lengthy cutscenes. In truth Telenet did a wonderful job with these in the Sega version and here they aren’t that much better in terms of animation aside from being larger and richer in color. This version is a bit pervy as the camera tends to linger on Yuko’s backside and there are many gratuitous shots of her panties. The 80s at its finest folks.
The biggest upgrade comes in sound. The game’s excellent soundtrack is in redbook audio, featuring cool remixes of the cartridge soundtrack. Most of the Cd however went into the voice acting. There is a significant amount of voiced dialogue in the game, from the cutscenes to even brief conversations between Yuko and the many bosses. Sadly since this was not released in English it is lost on those of us who don’t speak Japanese.
While a bit stripped down compared to its sequels Mugen Senshi Valis is a solid game and one of the better titles in the series. This is a very solid B tier title, the type you dive into after a Dracula X.