The publishing house Legend had earlier published titles under the Microl label. Legend's chairman and founder was John Peel. The developers were Richard Edwards, Graham Asher, Charles Goodwin, James Learmont and Andrew Owen. The original game was released in English for the Sinclair Spectrum 48K. The Movisoft graphics engine occupied 4K of the game footprint and used machine code, the rest of the game engine and parser was written in Sinclair BASIC. After its successful launch in the UK, it was then ported to the Commodore 64, with pirate editions appearing in Spanish.
Valhalla is mostly text-based with some graphics showing the location and the characters there. It was set mainly in Asgard and Midgard, though when your character died you would reappear in Hell (Niflheim under another name) and be able to walk out.
Within its limits, the text parser would understand multi-part sentences, so long as they were written using the words it understood, which (unlike in many other games) were helpfully listed in the manual.
The aim was to collect six mythical objects, for which you needed the help of other characters, who were taken from Norse mythology and would wander around randomly. To help with this, your character had an alignment (between good and evil) that would change depending on which other characters you helped. Thus, the more you helped good characters, the more other good characters would help you.
Within the game world, characters would move about and interact independently without any action required from you. If you do nothing, the game will 'play' itself, with the characters moving about whilst you decide what to do.
Typing in a swear word would generate the message "Mary is not amused..." and a dwarf would dash onto the screen to punch the player. Mary could be found in El Vinos but killing her achieved little as she would return within a minute.
The game engine had a limit of eight objects that could be left in any one location, whether on the ground, in a chest, or in a cupboard. If the player dropped an object when the limit had been reached, a character called Klepto appeared to "steal" the item, removing it from the game.
This Video Game contains examples of:
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If you die, you'll just go to Niflheim and can walk out. This also applied to the other characters in the game - it was impossible to permanently kill them.
- Gotta Catch Them All: You must collect six mythical objects to win the game.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There were thirty-six characters drawn from Norse mythology in the game aside from the player.
- Name's the Same: John Peel was not the Radio 1 DJ. Andrew Owen was not the one who is well-known on the World of Spectrum forums and on the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup.