Assault Suits Valken was originally released for the Super Nintendo in 1992, developed by Masaya and published by Konami. The game was a fast-paced action platformer that featured giant mecha blasting each other, with a light sci-fi anime story weaved throughout its seven stages. For some, it was a classic action game for the SNES, and for others, it was genuinely unknown. During its original release outside of Japan, the game was renamed to Cybernator and localized for various territories. But with the release of Assault Suits Valken Declassified for the Nintendo Switch, anyone who missed out on the game can finally play it as it was originally conceived, with some extras included.
Assault Suits Valken Declassified is pretty much a standard rerelease of a retro game from the 16-bit era. You get the original game with an updated translation of the story, along with extras such as an art gallery and game guide. At the same time, you can listen to the soundtrack and even watch a full master playthrough of the whole game if you want to learn how to get past levels you struggle with finishing. This seems pretty good for a retro game, but can quickly lose its luster if you have no connection to Assault Suits Valken whatsoever. The guidebook and developer interviews offer a bit of history into the game’s creation but aren’t worth revisiting once you see it all. The gallery also doesn’t have any bonus unlockables for finishing the game, which is disappointing.
But what about the game itself, does it still hold up well today? Assault Suits Valken is a challenging game overall, with many levels that might feel a bit cheap. The mech you control feels heavy when moving around, having a drag on your action when aiming or switching actions during movement. Aiming up and down takes a moment because you don’t have instant aiming when pointing your weapon in different directions. At some point, you’ll worry more about fighting your aim and orientation of your weapon than the enemies around you. This can be a big problem when the screen gets filled up with enemies, forcing you to regroup and reorient your attacks. If you rush into attacking enemies you see pop up, you’re going take lots of damage that can add up very quickly.
Some of the levels can get very cheap with how many projectiles are launched at you and how many obstacles you need to navigate. Some stages have you dashing in the air or in space while trying to fend off enemy mechs and their many projectile weapons. This is made more difficult by forcing you to use weapons that need to be reloaded often and don’t always do consistent amounts of damage.
Luckily, power-ups that appear from fallen enemies can upgrade your shots and help deal more damage. Finding them is a pain however since not every enemy will drop an upgrade. It can lead to moments where you’re scrambling to avoid taking damage while trying to fight the aiming and land enough shots to destroy an incoming threat. The parts of the game when this is at its worst are during certain boss fights where multiple targets appear and attack you simultaneously.
While the levels can be challenging and frustrating at times, overcoming them will take a lot of patience. But the most annoying aspect of stages is when you lose a life and have to repeat the entire stage all over again. There are no checkpoints in any stage. If you spend a lot of time clearing an area and getting upgrades, only to find yourself destroyed by something random, you might throw your controller.
The game can be unforgiving in later stages when the number of enemies and obstacles you need to clear can increase exponentially. The guide that’s included in this package will definitely give tips on how to deal with most of the challenges you face, but won’t make them any easier overall. For some, the demand for perfection might seem fun, but for others, it will become frustrating very quickly.
Assault Suits Valken Declassified is good for those who have nostalgia for the original game or love returning to an era of 16-bit gaming that speaks to them. The changes and extra bonus features might also be interesting to those who never really got a good look at this game, but beyond that, there’s nothing much here. Assault Suits Valken is a tough game that may not be fun to play for some people, nor will they have a connection enough to this stick with it if things get too overwhelming. Unfortunately, the extra content and changes included here may also not be enough to entice newcomers to latch onto this retro mech action platformer, no matter how unique and interesting the game was during its time.
Are you a fan of retro games? Do you love sci-fi or giant mecha? Post a comment down below and let us know your thoughts!
Assault Suits Valken Declassified
This is a good package for a game that was released a long time ago. The new translation and extra content are interesting, but shallow overall. Anyone who didn’t play this game back in the day won’t appreciate a lot of the bonuses included here. The game itself is challenging and can get frustrating very fast.
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