Monday, 8 January 2018

Silver Valley v1.00 (Master System)

I don't know what it is about the Master System, but for some reason, it seems to attract homebrew with really great production values. For example, a few years ago, there was an amazing port of the Bruce Lee game that was originally on various 8-bit microcomputers in the 1980s. Silver Valley continues that tradition, but this time, it's an all-new game! Just as a disclaimer, I'm assuming from the version number that this is probably the final version of the game, but I could be wrong.

It's a platformer that's clearly heavily inspired by the NES Castlevania games, with bits and pieces that suggest other influences too, such as Megaman, Ghouls and Ghosts, Wonderboy, and even the Switchblade games, which were kind of UK-developed attempts at creating Japanese-style console action games, but on the Amiga. It all feels as smooth as it looks, too: the controls are responsive and great, and you can jump, attack, and shuffle around on your knees. Technically and visually, this game can't be faulted: it's one of the best-looking games on the Master System, commercial or otherwise, and it all feels perfectly robust, too. AND there's even a little game-within-a-game in the form of a playable "Crapman" arcade cabinet,

There are a couple of little problems designwise, though. The enemies, for a start, almost all seem to be massive damage sponges, taking several hits to kill. There's also the lives system: you get one life (though you can take four hits before dying) and infinite continues. It might just be me, but it felt like this really cheapens things, with certain challenges like instant death spikes and almost unavoidable enemies appearing pretty close to the start of the game making it seem like the game wants you to use the continues, which I feel is a problem, because I just feel like using continues, especially when there's an infinite supply of them, drains all the joy out of any game. A change as simple as having three lives instead of just one would go a long way towards making this feel like a much more "complete" game.

I don't want to be too harsh on Silver Valley, because it's obviously a passion project for its creator, and it really is an admirable effort, too. But at the same time, I do have to be honest when I'm talking about a game, no matter what its source. I can only hope that if eruiz00 ever finds this review, they take it for the honest, constructive criticism it's intended to be, and that I hope they continue making games after they're done with Silver Valley, as it's clear they have a ton of talent. And everyone else reading this, I of course recommend you give the game a try, because despite its problems, it's still and impressive achievement.

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