Life is much too long
If we are only meant to search for meaning
in this world before we die
life is much too long.
—Baffling opening cutscene
Developed by the late Smilebit Coprporation, published by SEGA of America Inc for the (original) XBox
Console. Released the 5th of June, 2002. Genre-wise, the game is a 3rd-person-arcade-platformer-shooter-science-fiction-steampunk-anime-thing.
Despite the unique and utterly inexplicable smashup of gameplay mechanics (which actually worked very well), GunValkyrie is remembered mostly for its utterly baffling control scheme and speed-dating-with-a-brick-wall curve of difficulty. Styled most likely to appeal to Japanese gamers, the undeniably mishandled game quickly discouraged early takers on both sides of the Pacific. Designed initially for the SEGA Dreamcast, GV was to employ a groundbreaking controller/light-gun combination control scheme.
Naturally, the move to the XBox
resulted in (what were at the time) very attractive graphics. It also resulted in the abandonment of the light-gun idea, and thus a control scheme that relied on mashing the control stick buttons when they were not centered on their axis, and critical, highly-sensitive use of the triggers -those controller organelles first over the hill of mechanical senescence.
Narratively, GV relied on cutscenes and text briefings to relay the core missions aspects. Surrounding this basic plot-like-thing, a number of devices were masterfully employed within various levels to effect haunting, atmospheric, subtle, ambiguous, and highly disturbing revelations.
Basically Haley's Comet
powers up puperpowers, and mutates DNA. Cue the British Empire and the Steam Age. Dr. Hebble harnesses the power of Haley's comet to found a new world order, creating an order of super-powered (police agents) people to (do his bidding) fly on spaceships (that we never see) and do stuff. Thus somehow locking the world in an era of advanced Steam Punk
technology and British imperialism forever.
Then a bunch of colonists disappear, and -by sheer coincidence, surely-
a bunch of gigantic-mutant-super-powered space bugs show up. Also the good Dr. disappears. I'm sure you can guess where this is going. The only logical follow up is for the abandoned super-powered space-police/agents/people to shoot the bugs, track down Dr. Hebble, and find out what's going on. Those people are Kelly O'Lenmey, who was born in Ballymun, Ireland (daughter of Dr. Hebbel) and Saburouta Mishima (a space-samurai).
What you might not guess is that:
- You are those people
- You will never know what's going on
- The ending boss is a giant dead baby with superpowers and wings. Proving Dr. Hebble totally-batshit-loco once and for all..
This Game Provides Examples of:
- Chainmail Bikini: Kelly's full-body, skin-tight gearsuit ultimately transforms into this, becoming skimpier with each evolution, with "Kelly-2" being a cheeky leotard with thigh-high boots and garters, to "Kelly-3" being essentially a bra and panties, complete with heels.
- Double Jump: Possibly the Mecca of Double Jumps, GV allows (re: demands) the player to double jump in 5 directions. Dashing in any of the six directions can be turned -via double-dash- into flight in that direction. Although in the case of dashing down it activates a hover feature.
- Gainax Ending: That dead baby last boss might be her brother. Possibly. They don't even FIND Dr. Hebble afterward.
- Gatling Good / BFG: Kelly acquires one of these at the end of the first mission.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: There is one.
- Light Gun Game: Partially averted. Although the Lightgun mechanic was removed when GV transitioned to the Xbox, the original idea is probably responsible for the infamous control scheme, and the entire 3rd Person platforming-shooting-flying combat.
- Male Gaze: Kelly, again. Her butt-shot pose on the cover is suggestive alone; her second shot in the game is that of her butt, all suited up before arriving for her mission; along with the gearsuit transformation scenes, where her suit evolves into its two stronger forms, and the camera shows off all the new "perks". Promotional art also accentuates Kelly's assets◊.
- Out of Focus: Despite Saburouta Mishima being an equally powerful character (complete with a rocket launcher and katana of all things!), it's evident the game mainly focuses more on Kelly, as she's the only character who shows up in any of the cutscenes and you can play as her during every boss battle. Not to mention that Saburouta has significantly less upgrades and only has one offensive weapon the entire game.
- Platform Game: Whilst many of the mechanics of older-style platform games are not present, GV makes fervent, superlative, religious, downright marital use of mid-air direction changing.
- As well as bottomless pits.
- Also, some of the levels are very linear. Some aren't. Some are uniquely awesome.
- Platform Hell: Somewhat. The platforms themselves aren't so hellish. The real kidney-kick is that you aren't supposed to land on 9/10ths of them. You're supposed to string together unbroken air-maneuver combos to infinitely regenerate your fuel and fly through pretty much the entirety of most levels.
- RPG Elements - You (re: not you) can theoretically beat the game without collecting all the Haley Cores. It's allot easier if you do though. Because they increase your (invisible) stats. Also, high scores earn you GV-Points. Which you can spend on part upgrades for your suit. Most of them are worthless though.
- Shoot 'em Up: There is no point in GV where the solution/response is not a combination of frenetic dashing and shooting. Although there is more than one shot to be shot, including a...
- Third-Person Seductress: Kelly O'Lenmey. All of her three gearsuits are form-fitting and particularly emphasize her butt. The game isn't shy of showing off how good she looks in it either, in the few cutscenes there are in the game, especially during the gearsuit transformation scenes.
- Transformation Sequence: Kelly, when she evolves into Kelly-2 and Kelly-3. Could also be considered technology porn.
- Waggle: Having to hold in the analog stick buttons and the shoulder pads in order to fly and boost. You have to have either three hands or the patience of a saint in order to do well at the game.