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Video Game / The Legend of Valkyrie

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The Legend of Valkyrie (Valkyrie no Densetsu) is a series of Japan-only games developed by Namco. The first game in the series, Valkyrie no Bōken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu (The Adventure of Valkyrie: The Legend of the Time Key), was released for the Famicom in 1986. It was notable at the time for being one of Namco's first games to feature a female lead, following The Return of Ishtar's Ki and Baraduke's Kissy. It was also an early example of RPG Elements (such as Experience Points and stat growth) and a Wide-Open Sandbox style of gameplay in what was nominally a top-down action game. The game's release date was mere months after The Legend of Zelda, but while the two games share many gameplay aspects in common, Valkyrie no Bōken is even more open-ended, providing little in the way of concrete goals.

The storyline takes place in a world called Marvel Land and involves the awakening of an ancient time god named Zouna, who was trapped within the Abyss of Time in a clock tower many centuries ago. One day, the clock tower stops working, and when its Time Key comes unwound, Zouna is freed. Intending to take total control over Marvel Land, Zouna hypnotizes the local Sandra to do his bidding. The Goddess of Marvel Land hears about the people's suffering, and sends down her sword-wielding warrior maiden, Valkyrie, to resolve the issue. Over the course of the game, Valkyrie upgrades her armor, befriends a Sandra named Kurino, retrieves the Time Key, and seals Zouna back in the clock tower.

Valkyrie no Bōken was a hit for Namco, but never left Japan, a fate shared with many other titles in the eventual series. The game's success spawned the creation of a sequel, Valkyrie no Densetsu, which was released in arcades in 1989 and converted to the PC Engine in 1990. It was a major technological advancement over its prequel; besides integrating dynamic scaling and rotating sprite effects, it also included co-op multiplayer and a system of currency obtained by defeating monsters. To work as an arcade game, the gameplay was retooled into a cross between a top-down action game and a Shoot 'Em Up, with Valkyrie utilizing Sword Beams as her primary weapon, while the level design was made significantly more linear.

After hearing about a conflict involving the wish-granting Golden Seed, Valkyrie yet again descends from the heavens to return the Seed to its rightful place in the North Spring. Now with the assistance of Kurino, who's taken up a trident, the two of them discover that the demon Kamuz wants to use the Golden Seed to control the planet. The heroes travel across the world to confront Kamuz at the North Spring, and defeat his minions along the way. They also come across helpful characters: the wise magician Babasama teaches them spells, and the shifty-looking salesman Zul sells powerups.

Valkyrie no Densetsu was just as well-received as its prequel, if not more; in 1991, it was rated the best arcade game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Gamest. As a result, a miniature franchise sprung up around the series, with spinoffs, a visual novel, and a manga released through the 1990s. Even so, the game wasn't exported in its original arcade form, likely due to its high level of difficulty and a significant amount of Japanese text. A spinoff starring Kurino, Sandra no Daibōken, was given a European release, but it was renamed Whirlo and any ties to the Valkyrie series were cut. It wouldn't be until the 1997 release of Namco Museum Volume 5 that The Legend of Valkyrie was given an official English translation.

Valkyrie no Bōken also received a remake on the Namco Anthology 2 collection, paired along with the original Famicom version; the remake retools the game to more closely resemble the gameplay of The Legend of Valkyrie, being more linear with a heavier focus on story. Valkyrie herself continues to make appearances in Namco games, including crossovers such as Namco Capcom and Project Zone.

As part of Namco-Bandai's ShiftyLook project, the game also received a web comic called Legend of the Valkyrie; examples applying to it can be found on that page.

The Legend of Valkyrie contains examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Item prices will get higher as you get further through the game and collect more money.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: In official artwork, Valkyrie holds her shield in her left hand and her sword in her right. In-game, it can flip depending on which direction she's facing.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Like Ristar before it, the localized Whirlo gives the protagonist angry-eyes in most of his sprites.
  • Anachronism Stew: Although the time period is left ambiguous, the game seems to take place some time in the distant past; at least, the clock tower seems to indicate some kind of industrial revolution. That doesn't excuse the laser-shooting knights and electric fences in the ice cave...
  • Antepiece: There's a pretty neat example in the first level of The Legend of Valkyrie. A little ways in, the game introduces lily pads that the player needs to leap from to reach the other side of a pond. The pond doesn't damage you, but it slows you down; since there are enemies nearby, it's not desirable to fall into the water. This is training for the second half of the level, which has platforms floating over an abyss. If you fall off here, you'll lose some health before respawning over a safe platform.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: When selecting a spell, you won't be harmed by enemy attacks.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: One of the spells you can learn lets your character grow to enormous size, which makes it a breeze to take out monsters. This also appears as Valkyrie's finisher attack in Project X Zone.
  • Big Bad: Zouna in the first game and the third; Kamuz in the second.
  • Book Ends: The Legend of Valkyrie starts with Valkyrie jumping off of a cloud and descending to earth. After defeating the final boss, Valkyrie ascends again, leading into the ending.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Kurino has this happen to him at the end of his game. He become a "Black Sandra" and is rescued by Valkyrie. This is actually how he and Valkyrie met in her original game and the ending basically says to refer to that one to find out what happens next.
  • Cartoon Bomb: One powerup replaces your Sword Beams with these, which can hit multiple enemies at once.
  • Cultural Translation:
    • The original Japanese version of The Legend of Valkyrie has a puzzle that require a basic understanding of hiragana and katakana. The English version included with Namco Museum Volume 5 replaces it with a simple math puzzle: how many legs between Valkyrie, Sandra, and a bull?
    • The name for the purple hood-wearing race of people is Koakumannote  in Japan, and Quarkman in the US. Given how outlandish the word "quark" is, it certainly fits their appearance.
  • Deal with the Devil: In Whirlo/Kurino no Daibōken, you can submit to Zouna instead of fighting him, sparing Kurino's family at the cost of pledging loyalty to him down the line. While he honours the letter of the agreement, letting Kurino go and giving him back his family, since everyone else is dead and the land infected, Kurino's family slowly starves, then he slowly starves, only for Zouna to return and turn him into his minion. He even calls you a fool when you accept his offer.
  • A Dog Named "Dog":
    • Sabine is sometimes merely referred to by her species name, "Quarkman".
    • Kurino gets this too, often being referred to as merely "Sandra".
  • Essence Drop: In The Legend of Valkyrie, certain enemies can drop magic spheres, which allow you to use spells.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: You can find or purchase stronger weapons throughout each game, which makes gradually lifts the difficulty of dealing with enemies.
  • Experience Points: An interesting example in Valkyrie no Bōken. Valkyrie earns experience from defeating enemies, but she has to rest at an inn for her experience to actually count. If she dies before that, she'll lose any experience she picked up.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: There are few characters who aren't trying to kill Valkyrie and Sandra.
  • Evil Counterpart: The PC Engine port of The Legend of Valkyrie introduces Black Valkyrie, who is fought before the final boss.
  • Fighting a Shadow: Demon Lord Zouna from the first game and Kurino's game (Kurino's game being his backstory). Kurino himself only beats one shadow, then Valkyrie has to fight multiple until one of them Randomly Drops the Time Key which lets her seal Zouna back into the Abyss of Time.
  • Fission Mailed: In Whirlo/Kurino's game, the good ending starts out with sad music as Zouna gloats and turns him into his minion, as in the various Game Overs... but the tone suddenly changes when Valkyrie shows up and saves him, as in the events of Valkyrie no Bōken.
  • Gag Nose: Downplayed for the most part, but Zul is sometimes depicted with a rather large or pointy nose (usually both).
  • Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed: Valkyrie's and Kurino's in-game appearances are significantly more compact than how they look in artwork and during cutscenes. Even moreso in Valkyrie no Bōken; Valkyrie's color scheme can be chosen, but none of the available colors (white, cyan, light green, and pink) match her official appearance.
  • Grimy Water: Dark-colored deep water won't cause any damage, but you'll flail around instead of wading through like you would through shallow water.
  • Hit Points: The Legend of Valkyrie eschews lives in favor of a health meter. You start out with three hearts of health, and one heart is two hits. It can be upgraded up to a max of six hearts. If you run out, the game ends.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": "Valkyrie" is her actual name, not just a title, though the webcomic generally refers to her as the Valkyrie.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Subverted. Zul, the recurring salesman, looks like one, but his goods are the real deal (if a bit pricey).
  • Human Cannonball: In The Legend of Valkyrie's castle stage, Valkyrie and Kurino need to fling themselves with catapults to get from one place to another. The poster, seen in the page image, depicts this scene.
  • Instant Gravestone: When you die, a gravestone appears for your character before they even touch the ground.
  • In the Hood:
    • The mysterious race of humanoids called Quarkmen wear purple hoods with exotic eye patterns on them.
    • Zouna from the first game also wears a rather intimidating and similar hood.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Each character can only hold up to six powerups, meaning you have to juggle the ones you want.
  • Lady of War: Valkyrie is an elegant, angelic character who doesn't hesitate to slice up her enemies.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: After clearing a stage, your health and magic go up by two points.
  • Lizard Folk: Kurino, and all the other Sandra, resemble big green lizards... of some sort.
  • Magic Knight: Valkyrie and Kurino are both experienced with melee weapons, and can also learn spells with varying effects.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Robotian enemies, having the capability to shoot lasers at you.
  • Mercy Invincibility: You're invincible for a brief time after being hit. Considering how many monsters can swarm you, this is a blessing.
  • Me's a Crowd: A spell allows you to summon mini versions of your character to protect you.
  • Money Spider: Everything drops money, even inanimate objects like rolling logs.
  • Nintendo Hard: The spinoff starring Whirlo/Kurino. Kurino is a One-Hit-Point Wonder, all of his attacks will leave him vulnerable if you miss, and the levels are full of hazards and near-pixel-perfect traps, while the bosses will make the most of the fact they only need to hit you once to win. The only mercy is the unlimited continues.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: Falling down a pit just gets you knocked back a few hit points before respawning.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: The spinoff game starring Whirlo/Kurino has five of them.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: In the spinoff game, Whirlo/Kurino will die in one hit.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Valkyrie no Bōken requires you to first find a sailing ship before you're able to access the game's three other continents.
  • Puzzle Boss: Zouna in Valkyrie no Bōken will always come back to life if you try to defeat him normally. To actually destroy him and win the game, you have to seal him back into the Abyss of Time using the Time Key.
  • Ratchet Scrolling: Zig-zagged a bit in The Legend of Valkyrie. Some areas allow the characters to backtrack, mostly areas with branching paths. When the path is linear, the characters usually aren't able to go back.
  • Recurring Riff: Each game's soundtrack has a little melody that appears in most of its songs.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
    • Sizath, a reptilian creature with a mouth resembling scissors, fits the bill with its green, scaly appearance and status as a boss character.
    • The crocodilian Sochikisu enemies are this as well, being quick little menaces when in water.
  • Reforged into a Minion: Happens in Kurino's game, even in the good ending. The only difference in the good ending is that Valkyrie comes along and saves him.
  • Scoring Points: In The Legend of Valkyrie you can score points, and the high scores are displayed in the attract screen, but it's not the main goal of the game.
  • Shoot 'Em Up: The Legend of Valkyrie takes inspiration from the shoot-'em-up genre and mixes it with the top-down action of the previous game. This is noticeable with the "Option" spell, which functions exactly the same as the identically-named powerup in several shoot-'em-up games, most prominently Gradius.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Due to the inconsistent nature of the character name translations throughout the series, this is rather common, with examples such as Kamooz/Kamuz note  or Kurino/Krino.
  • Spread Shot: As your weapon is upgraded, it gains the ability to fire multiple shots in a set range.
  • Squashed Flat: Happens if you're crushed by something, such as a rolling log or boulder.
  • Stealth Sequel: The localization of Sandra no Daibōken as Whirlo does not mention the game's ties to the Valkyrie series, which makes it a surprise when Valkyrie herself shows up at the end, setting the game up as a prequel to Valkyrie no Bōken.
  • Sword Beam: Valkyrie's main form of attack. Kurino shoots beams from his trident instead. The attack can be upgraded to deal more damage and cover more distance.
  • Three-Quarters View: Most games in the series use this type of perspective, though Sandra no Daibōken is a side-scroller.
  • Timed Mission: A variation. There's an hourglass ticking down on the HUD, and it begins to chime as it runs down. When it empties, both players will lose two units of health, and then the timer resets. If you're on your last hit point, then it's Game Over.
  • Valkyries: Valkyrie resembles one, but it's never explicitly said if she actually is one; she's only ever officially referred to as a "heavenly maiden".
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Whirlo/Kurino's game you get several chances to leave a certain someone to die, become a marauding pirate, steal from the Princess, and sell your people out to the demon lord. All of them lead to a different Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Valkyrie no Bōken is an early example. You're essentially dropped into the world without so much as a hint for what to do. The game has four sprawling continents and multiple dungeons to explore, but for the most part, requires a linear path to be taken lest you fall afoul of the Beef Gates.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: This happens to both Valkyrie and Kurino when losing all their health in The Legend of Valkyrie.
  • A Winner Is You:
    • Valkyrie no Bōken has a text-only Engrish ending. "WISH YOU WOULD TAKE CARE OF THE PRECIOUS TIME! YOUR REAL ADVENTURE STARTS FROM NOW ON!"
    • In The Legend of Valkyrie, once the final boss is defeated, the game recaps its cutscenes in reverse order, then ends on a nice little "The End" screen with Valkyrie and her friends as the credits roll.
  • X-Ray Sparks: If your character is electrocuted by an attack, you'll see their skeleton briefly.

Alternative Title(s): Legend Of The Valkyrie