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Quick Look: Golvellius – Valley Of Doom for iPhone

Rating 4.00 out of 5
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I’m a fan of the retro games movement, regardless of whether it’s a new game made to look and act like an oldie or an old game brought up to speed to work on new systems.  You would think, then, that Golvellius would be a natural fit for me.  Truthfully, I think I would like it.  The quirky combination of side scrolling, vertical scrolling and Zelda like action is quite intriguing, and the old school graphics actually appeal to me.  The problem is that the controls pretty much ruin the experience for me.  It took me much longer than it should have to pass the first set of nine rooms, and I most likely would have just given up had it not been for the sake of this review.

Back then it might have been more original, but nowadays it’s your clichéd story where you are the chosen one, the only person that can save the princess from the clutches of the evil tyrant.  The story gets fleshed out in bits and pieces by the underground dwellers, but not to any great extent.  The story isn’t overly compelling, but just like in the original Legend Of Zelda, it’s not really that important.  The main thing is that you get to traverse an over world conquering monsters in real time combat.  Then you get to enter underground areas where you can conquer more monsters in side scrolling or vertical scrolling fashion.  There are also people you can visit below the surface that will give you potions and other things to help you on your journey.

Blue Snakes?

Blue Snakes?

Once I finally defeated the boss in the first area I was treated to a second section that was much bigger in scope.  It was at this point I realized a map would be nice.  I’m not sure if you ever find one in the game, but one can hope.  As you wander around you’ll discover that almost all the entrances to the various under world areas are initially hidden, and you have to kill at least one or two monsters in a room to open them.  The whole monster thing is interesting, because you only get two monsters at a time, but as soon as one is killed or leaves the screen, another one spawns in its place.  You also get gold from each kill (as far as I can tell), but you don’t actually have to pick it up.  This feature is actually kind of nice, and I wish more games would employ such a tactic.

It all sounds well and good, and actually sounds a lot like the original Legend Of Zelda, but the game falls apart when you must actually move your character around to do all these things.  On the left is a virtual d-pad, which quite frankly is sluggish and easy to “slip off” of.  This isn’t very helpful anywhere, but it’s especially bad when you have a sequence where the level is constantly moving whether or not you’re actually stuck.  The attack button is a little round button on the right side, and while mostly not bad, it’s easy to lose sight of when you’re in the heat of battle.  If this were a turn based game the controls might be okay, but since its real time action they really make the game play suffer, especially when it comes to fighting bosses.

More Snakes... But Bigger

More Snakes... But Bigger

I can’t decide if the highlight of the game is the graphics or the music.  The graphics aren’t great, but then they were created 20+ years ago, and I’m sure they shined in their time.  I still like them though, especially the tiles used for the backgrounds and the portraits of the NPCs you encounter.  The creatures themselves leave a bit to be desired, and while a bit more detailed than what you’d find in the first Zelda, they lack character.  On the other hand, I’m quite impressed with the quality of the music.  I could actually see this soundtrack being used for a modern game, and it’s certainly better than a large percentage of the ones I’ve heard on the many iPhone games I’ve played.

This game has a lot going for it, and once I beat my head against the wall enough and got past the first section, I began to realize why they had the nerve to compare it to Zelda.  However, in order for this port to be considered decent in my opinion, they really need to revamp the controls.  The thing is, as I pondered this dilemma more and more, I realized that with revamped controls this is definitely a game I could sink my teeth into.  As a result, I’ve decided to change my original verdict of Not Recommended to…

Final Verdict: On The Fence
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