December 3rd, 2017: Golvellius: Valley of Doom
Posted by Gravecat at 3:13 pm.

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Golvellius: Valley of Doom

The graphics are a cutesy anime style.

Originally released in 1987 for the Japanese MSX home computer and later ported to the Sega Master System and translated into English, Golvellius is clearly inspired by 1986’s The Legend of Zelda, another game originating from Japan. Much like its more well-known cousin, Golvellius: Valley of Doom follows the adventures of a heroic lad off on a solo quest to save his kingdom, exploring dungeons and battling legions of bad guys.

But why, you ask, why has everyone heard of Zelda, and yet this action-RPG that clearly takes inspiration from the venerable classic is all but unheard of? Read on…


Essential Information

This Review: Sega Master System (1988)
Game Length: 4-6 hours
Critic Rating: 77% aggregateThe aggregate critic rating is based on independent review scores from several other websites.


Grave’s Thoughts

There’s also Zelda II-esque side-scrolling sections.

The game’s introduction sequence gives a rundown of the story: the peaceful kingdom of Aleid is tormented by demons that walk the land, and apparently this stressed the king out so much that he fell deathly ill. His daughter went off to retrieve a mystical herb to save the king, only to predictably vanish in the demon-infested wilds.

That’s when you, the player character, a “wandering youth” venture down into the depths of the accursed valley to find the princess, retrieve the herb, and — I’d like to say save the kingdom, but what’s to stop the king from falling into another stress-induced coma? The game hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already questioning his ability to successfully manage his position of power.

Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the story’s extent goes, for the most part (aside from the ending) — there’s no character progression, and other characters you meet (ostensibly all of whom live in caves or literal holes in the ground) either offer some meaningless ‘advice’, or worse, bizarre dialogue that I can only assume is humour lost in the translation. This is exactly what it looks like, and what one would expect from most action RPGs of the era — all gameplay and almost no story.

It’s hard to judge this game too harshly on its looks, as the Master System was never a console known for its attractive visuals, but thanks to a generally unimaginative area design and average-at-best art, Golvellius scores slightly below average for its 8-bit ilk. The various regions of the valley are somewhat varied, though this is hampered by re-using the same style of layout over and over, with several screens in a row being barely more than rearrangements of those that came before.


Everything about it screams forgettable mediocrity, and while nothing is overtly bad, absolutely nothing about the game’s visuals stands out in any way whatsoever. It ends up looking exactly like every other middling Master System title, without really trying to be anything else.

As with the visuals of the game, the audio is incredibly forgettable, to the point that I had to keep continually reminding myself while writing this review, by checking YouTube Let’s Plays. The music is cutesy and upbeat, which fits well with the cartoonish style of the game, and nothing about it is inherently negative or unwelcome. It’s just bland, so much so that it’s almost impossible to remember anything about it after closing the game.

The game consists simply of exploring various monster-infested overworld areas in a slightly maze-like layout, defeating enough enemies to gather gold, which can then be used to purchase upgrades from NPC shopkeepers hidden in caves — bibles (which bizarrely allow the player to carry more gold), potions (which increase your total hit points), and crystals (which open up new areas to explore and conquer).

Disappointingly, that’s it as far as gearing up goes. There’s no upgraded sword or armour, there’s no special weapons, magical items or spells — the entire game consists of grinding through legions of endlessly-respawning enemies until you have enough gold to purchase the bibles and potions needed, then find the area’s boss and battle through a vertically-scrolling area to defeat them, purchase the crystal from a random old woman, and off you go to explore the next region.

Thinking of playing this game? Listen to the old lady.

Herein lies the biggest flaw of Golvellius — despite being mercifully short, the majority of the game’s length is heavily padded by a necessary (yet incredibly tedious) grind to acquire more and more gold, needed to purchase the items to be able to tackle the next area. There’s no real sense of progression or satisfaction, it’s just grind, grind, grind until you have what you need, then move on.

Golvellius: Valley of Doom is a rather tedious and often frustrating grind-fest, which tries to take inspiration from the Zelda series but fails in almost every conceivable way. From the eminently forgettable graphics and music to the tedious slog of the gameplay through the irritatingly maze-like screens of foes, this game offers almost no reason for a modern gamer to even waste their time attempting it.

It feels a little cruel to so harshly criticize a game released both early in the era of console RPGs, and one on a system with fairly limited capabilities such as the venerable Master System. However, as a reviewer attempting to look at these games from a modern perspective, and whether they’re worth the time and effort for gamers these days to try — do yourself a favour and give this one a miss. There’s many, many superior alternatives out there.


One thought on “Golvellius: Valley of Doom”

  1. Genesis says:

    It is flat out wrong to say there are no weapon upgrades or gear enhancements in this game. There are new projectile deflecting shields, magic boots to traverse different terrain, and multiple swords. For reference, see here

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