The Wiire

Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga

By Eric Jones / Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Can XSEED deliver an exciting entry in this action RPG series on the Wii?

 

Over the past few console generations, Nintendo has had quite the difficulty amassing Japanese RPGs.  However, it's really never been as bad as it is on the Wii, as the console is basically devoid of any to begin with. Titles such as Oopona and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World have less than lived up to expectations, and very few companies seem to be able to put quality examples of the genre on the system.

 

Now XSEED Games, alongside Marvelous Interactive, with the release of Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga, is trying to break this trend.  Unfortunately, this one may be the worst yet, with tons of horrid design flaws that keep it from being the least bit enjoyable.

Eldar Saga is the latest in the RPG series, which already had two installments on the PSP. The series has more in common with Western RPGs, with an emphasis on dungeon-crawling and combat more so than a more traditional turn-based title. Once you start the game, you are invited to create a character based on various attributes.

 

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The game's storyline, however, dissolves into the most basic of RPG conventions, taking on aspects of other traditional fantasy games. Basically, a massive, ungodly evil is set to take over, and the player must bring together warring factions and races to save the world.  You get the idea. It's nothing special, but that's, unfortunately, the problem: it's the same old, tired RPG storyline with the same old, tired RPG cliches. It's just bland as bland can be.

Of course, that goes into the game's biggest problem, in that it is incredibly ugly. The Wii is not a graphical powerhouse, but Valhalla Knights is an absolute embarrassment. Yes, it's from a formerly PSP-exclusive series, but that's no excuse for it to look like a PSP game.

 

There's grainy, jagged character models, horrific texture work, and worse pop-in than your in-laws on the weekend.  Seriously, this is N64 levels of ugly here. Making matters even worse is that the game is completely devoid of color, making use of the stereotypical browns and grays that make the game feel empty and just devoid of any real form of life.

 

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Still, ugliness does not a bad game make, and what really matters is how it plays, right? Well, unfortunately, Valhalla Knights is basically devoid of anything that could be called fun. Combat is action-oriented, and incredibly sluggish - it takes approximately 3 seconds to make an attack, and player character movements are stunted and feel very loose.

 

Even worse are ranged weapons; players are given nothing more than a targeting reticule to make their shots, and cannot lock on. When trying to hit a moving target, or any target for that matter, best of luck to you, because it's nigh impossible. A lock-on or other targeting reticule would have made things infinitely better. Fortunately, the game lacks a lot of waggle, save for using it to activate super attacks.

The game has a pretty standard Western RPG mission structure: players choose missions, complete them, and reap the reward.  Of course, many missions are simply just there to further the story, others to simply gain money, items, armor, and weapons.

 

 

If there's one positive I can say about the game, it's that the customization features are top notch. Players start the game by picking several different attributes for their character, which can be improved as players level up. Players can also choose different jobs, and switch between them at will, depending upon the situation.

Another cool feature is that the game is split into two scenarios. In one, your character is trying to bring together all of the world's races, while actually finding a girl and getting married. In the second scenario, you play as the descendant of your character from the first game, and must battle against the evil itself.

 

It's an interesting concept taken from RPGs like Dragon Quest V and Phantasy Star III, although then again, comparing it to Phantasy Star III probably isn't something to be proud of. Also, you can skip the entire first section and skip to the second as soon as you turn on the game, a relatively pointless move.

 

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But perhaps the game's biggest offense is that it completely wastes an absolutely beautiful score from Motoi Sakuraba, one of the industry's preeminent composers. What makes matters even worse is the fact that the game's walking sound effect is perhaps the most annoying I've ever heard in a game, ever.  The constant tapping will drive you mad, that I guarantee (ed: it sounds like the character is wearing tissue boxes on their feet, which are hooked up to an amplification system). There's also no voice acting, but I think that's probably a good thing for a game like this.


plus Tons of customization options. Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga is set up like a western RPG, and works well in that regard.  There's plenty to do to upgrade your character, and tons of weapons and armor to equip them with. Jobs are also fun to make use of and easy to switch between.

plus A great score. Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga's music is done by the ever reliable Motoi Sakuraba, whose music finds its way into practically every RPG out of Japan not developed by Square Enix and still doesn't end up being dry or hackneyed. This game is yet another example of that.

minus Dark, Dreary, Ugly. Valhalla Knights looks absolutely terrible. Player models are horrific, textures are terrible, and there's a ton of pop-in. The game is without much color, making everything look like a pixelated gray and brown mess.

minus Pedestrian Writing. Valhalla Knights' writing is nothing that you haven't seen before if you've played, well, any RPG ever made. Cliches a plenty, all ye who enter here.

minus Controls? What controls? Rather than try and make this game actually fun, developer K2 decided to do everything to make the gameplay as unsatisfied and chore-like as possible. Character movement is slow, attacks are sluggish and pointless, and ranged attacks don't work at all.

minus That...Damn...Step...Noise. This will make you take a power drill to your skull.  You think I'm kidding.


Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga is a decent try at making a capable western RPG for the Wii, but one that's ultimately hampered by horrible controls and ridiculously bad design choices. There's some cool ideas here, but the game's shortfalls keep it from being anything fun and anything more than a chore. In short, if you've been looking for a decent RPG for the console...trust us, so are we.



Evaluation Scores Game Awards
Presentation 13 / 30
Gameplay 8 / 30
Value 10 / 30
Tilt -1 / ±10
Final Grade
How do these ratings work?

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