Does Valis ring a bell? If not, I'm not really surprised. Many of Telenet's games are not known by casual gamers and especially not this particular Valis game. Syd of Valis is said to be the "black sheep" amongst the Valis games (though some may argue that Valis X fits that bill now). I won't lie to you; I think that all of the Valis games are very average. While some are better than others, they never had anything in them that made me want to go back and play them once I beat them, but Syd of Valis reminds me why I don't really like Valis in the first place. The game is also known as "Valis SD", with "SD" meaning "Super Deformed" in Japan (at least in this context). Because of that, the characters look childish and goofy, even if the story isn't quite as childish as the characters make it seem. It's important to note that this game would come to be known as the Genesis/MD version of Valis II.
The thing about the story though is that it is poorly translated...which sucks because there really isn't even much dialogue in the game! Just about anyone...even those who don't know squat about Japanesecould have went and did a better translation than what is present just by looking at the events and what takes place in the game (prior knowledge of the franchise is a plus). The general story is this; You play with Yuko Asho, a young school girl who has the legendary "Valis" sword. She is taking a stroll one day eating some ice cream when an ominous looking man named Megas sees her and wants to take her sword away from her. Her ice cream cone (listen to this) then transforms into a...sword??? You heard right. A SWORD...the Valis sword at that. Yuko must begin her adventure that will lead her to Vecanti, where Megas eagerly awaits her arrival. She will meet other characters along the way and the story is generally just another save-the-world plot you've heard a billion times. Without spoiling the actual plot, I just want to say that the in-game story is poorly done. Hell, Renovation Products didn't even bother to translate the end game credits! If they can't even translate the credits for the people who produced the game, I just can't bring myself to take the game too seriously. There is a plot twist that I found interesting, but otherwise, the plot is nearly meaningless to me.
The graphics for the game are what I'd consider below average. The animation isn't that good (somewhat choppy, though Syd's run cycle is ok) and the game looks bland due to the relatively poor use of colors and static backdrops. The enemies don't look so bad though...they stand out from the backdrops and almost look out of place. The music is pretty lame though. The quality is rather bad and sounds pretty muffled. The music of the other Valis games were pretty decent (thinks about Valis III and the first stage of Super Valis IV). The sound effects also don't help matters since some of them are actually quite annoying. There isn't much aesthetic value to this game...they didn't put much effort into it. Either this Valis game was lazily thrown together, or the series as a whole wasn't that good to begin with. Even given what I think of the series as a whole, I'd like to think it's choice numero uno.
The gameplay is fairly broken. Telenet did things in poor sequence and the execution is flawed. For starters, let's talk about your weapons and armor. You usually get a weapon and some armor every level, and every armor has three stats: Attack Power, Defense Power, and Speed. Each armor does provide a certain amount of protection, but you actually have to be careful when you change her armor because when her speed stat is too high, Syd can become nearly uncontrollable. When you actually get to level up your weapons, you actually begin to see some differences between them in terms of strength. Your primary attack becomes stronger than everything else, and your weapons become bigger and better. While I have no real qualms with most of the weapons, I felt the "Homing Shot" was rather ineffective despite being a homing shot. It didn't exactly target the enemies all too well and was unnecessarily weak. The one thing to point out besides weapons and armors are bombs. They destroy all enemies on screen, but you can't use them on bosses.
I mentioned something about leveling up before so let me talk about that. It happens so late in the game that it's just plain moronic. You gain level ups from specific enemies towards the very end of the game, even though you could have used them a little sooner. Then you have your bosses that put you at an unfair disadvantage. For example, you'll fight a boss who shoots missiles on the third level. They are unavoidable unless you walk into the boss, which hurts you anyway (but for less). You have to walk into him before he attacks then run out and blast him. One or two screwups, and you're probably dead, since you have to hit him a lot to take one bracket of life. All I can say is CHEAP...You should have had level up items placed in times where you need extra strength, not thrown around near the end of the game. The last levels are pretty annoying with some of the mini-bosses and odds are, you will get very frustrated with just how poorly thought out this game is. Bullets can whiz right through bosses, even when you hit the right spot (I don't want to talk about hit-detection). Regardless, Syd of Valis is a piece of cake to complete and I can honestly say that you get a good laugh or two out of it when all is said and done. I can't tell you if it's for all the right reasons...
I can only reccommend trying this game if you are a diehard Valis fan. Otherwise, the game isn't worth the time or the dollar value that it asks. I can't reccommend trying this game if you are a more casual gamer. It's a fairly bad buy, but as usual, there are worst games. As far as Valis games go, there was obviously a lack of effort in the overall design. As the game puts it (in a way that's unfamiliar to those who don't know basic Japanese), "Oshimai", or "Fin", or "The End", and all that good stuff.- Written by Vyse the determined -