Review by Majestic_Lizard
Among a sea of duds, Valis 3 was an oft-overlooked gem.
Released for the Genesis / Megadrive in 1991, Valis 3 is a re-make of the PC Engine CD game of the same name (released in Japan in 1990). In this side-scrolling plat-former you play as Yuko, a heroine armed with a magical sword. The story suggests that an evil overlord (with his own magic sword) from a dark dimension is planning to overthrow the good dimension, which includes Earth. Strangely, the Turbo CD version of this game was not released until 1992.
Graphics & Sound: 9 of 10
Valis 3 for the Megadrive / Genesis has excellent graphics and, in some ways compares favorably to the PC Engine CD version (which is unusual). Putting aside the pointless and bland first level (in which you rescue Cham), the graphics on Valis 3 are among the best for any game released on the Megadrive in the early 1990's. The levels are very detailed and feature some parallax scrolling (which the PC Engine CD version lacks). Although the sprites are less detailed and colorful on the Megadrive than on the PC Engine CD, the game compensates by improving the backgrounds and making some of the bosses more detailed and animated.
The cut scenes are essentially the same, but lack some of the animations. The sound is vastly inferior to the PC Engine CD version, which featured a beautifully composed and original musical score. However, the sound in the Megadrive version is good for a cart. There are also a few levels missing from the Megadrive version that are in the CD version, probably due to the memory constraints of the cartridge format. However, one of the included levels has been completely redesigned for the Megadrive and makes playing the game worth it for those who have already beaten the PC Engine CD version. Overall I'd rank the Megadrive version slightly under the PC Engine version in the visual and audio effects category, but it is a close call. The port is very close to the original in most respects and many players cannot tell the two apart.
Control: 5 of 10
The control is the weakest area of this game and would have benefited from a serious overhaul. It is not improved from the PC Engine version at all. The control in Valis 3 is fairly standard for a side-scrolling plat-former, but it is a bit stiff and unforgiving. The difficulty level is quite high and the control does not compliment this well. Although Yuko does seem to be able to jump a little bit higher, this is only for vertical jumping and doesn't help with the diagonal jumping.
Game-play: 10 of 10
The game has an innovation compared to other side-scrolling plat-formers in that you can choose between different characters during the game. There are also different ways that you can power up your weapon to use different magic attacks. The characters you can play have their own advantages. Cham controls like Simon Belmont (from Castlevania) and is the strongest melee character, the Princess is a relative weakling who jumps shorter distances and takes more damage, but has the strongest magic attacks. Yuko is basically a balance between these two.
Replay Value: 7 of 10
This game is quite fun, once you master certain elements of the play, and will keep players coming back. However, due to being a cartridge it is also a bit short and eventually it gets boring and the player cannot take the challenge any further. It is also quite linear and there is no exploring in the game.
Overall: 8 of 10
The game is an exceptional and often overlooked gem for the Megadrive. It features innovative game-play, fantastic graphics, and incredible challenge. On the downside, the control is just slightly better than terrible, and the game is missing some levels from PC Engine CD original. However, all of the essential game elements have been retained, as well as a few extras. This is a great game that is worth purchasing, especially for the low prices I've seen for the cartridge online.
Product Release: Valis III (US, 12/31/91)
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