While I have given the Valis series a hard time in the past, due to its underlying concept being pretty fucking gross, I still find myself not being able to hate it, mostly due to the fact that it fits the late night aesthetic to a T. Valis games are fine, not great, not bad, but perfectly acceptable. Well, mechanically speaking, they are perfectly acceptable. Plus, the Mega Drive version of Valis III is the least sexed up in the series aside from Valis SD, so it’s a bit easier to digest.
Valis III is, well, another Valis game. Run left to right as a girl in a bikini (Yuko), using a magic sword to kill demons in a short, janky adventure. What sets this one apart is the ability to play as multiple characters. You have Yuko, the protagonist. Then you get Cham, the elf girl who uses a whip, Castlevania style. Then finally Valna, Yuko’s sister who is a magician. Now, this isn’t exactly Castlevania III here; the three characters all play more or less the same (the internet tells me different, but I couldn’t notice anything different among them in any of my playthroughs). But hey, at least they tried something new, even if there isn’t much reason to pick anyone besides Yuko.
There’s a plot here, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter mostly because the Mega Drive version had its cutscenes removed and only a handful of text crawls left in. It also removed a few levels, or shortening the length or other. On the plus side, boss battles are less shitty, and the game has less terrible platforming segments. Also it’s Valis and plot has never mattered, as it’s only ever been set dressing for the action and for the creepy shit. You simply walk forward and kill monsters, stopping to sometimes jump off of and onto platforms. That’s it. Level design is a bit questionable at points, especially towards the end of the game with that shitty ice level with slippery platforms and enemies that only appear on-screen the second you are in mid-air over a bottomless pit. Platforms themselves also have some fucked up collision on their ledges, leading to sometimes passing right through them. But other than that, the game is fine. It’s not amazing, but it also isn’t bad, or boring, or even mediocre. It’s a good game. Sometimes, you just need to play a game that’s good. Moreover, you sometimes just need to play a good game while you’re chilling at home on a Saturday, getting that late-night experience.
Something that Valis III does that I enjoy is it does the not-used-enough moment of going into space to meet up with an omnipotent old man. I think this was the first game I ever played that did this (this was another Sega game I played as a kid), and it triggered some sort of switch in my brain that caused me to love games that do this, or at least come close to it. Like meeting the old man at the end of time in Chrono Trigger, for example. But this scene in Valis, combined with the regal sounding music, really stuck out to me, and still does honestly. Valis III might be a decent at worst, pretty good at best game, but it has its moments where there’s more than just magical girls fighting Toku monsters in inconsistently paced stages.
Admittedly, I haven’t had too much to say about this game. I played it a few times as a kid when I would rent it, then it became part of my weekend ROM playlist as a teenager, where I would play it for the hour or so that it lasts while waiting for anime to come on or for a download on Kazaa to finish. It’s an action-platformer with a gross-as-an-adult concept that is still pretty fun despite that. It’s still the best Valis game by a mile, and drastically tones down the whole “I bet you want to see this sixteen year old girl naked, don’t you?” thing. Load up Valis on a weekend if you’re in the mood for some low-rent gaming. You’ll probably like it.