the writings of a mind

Title: Valhalla Classics
Genre: Adventure
Big Word: Bygone
Strap: Tearing a ragged slash into the fabric of time, or slashing a ragged tear into the fabric of your trousers?

Look. Look over there. You see what that is? That’s time passing by. There it goes, sliding behind you, almost too fast for your keeping up. And thank goodness, eh? There’s one thing we can rely on: no matter how crappy things might seem at this moment, it will all very soon be in the past. Water under the bridge. Bygones being bygones. History.

So frankly you’re going to have to have a very good excuse for dredging up some of that past, and selling it to me in bite-sized chunks over the world-wide-information-super-high-net-way. And that excuse had better be something better than nostalgia.

You may have been a big fan of the Valhalla adventures if you were an Amiga owner a decade ago. If you were a follower, you’ll remember that their distinctive feature was the synthesised speech – the games spoke to you, calling you by name. You’ll recall the top-down perspective as you guided your character around the maps, in what was really nothing more than a puzzle game. And if you find longings stirred by a reminder of those simple days, then you’ll be delighted to learn that this new release is dedicated to maintaining as much authenticity as possible.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t do it many favours. Such is the "dedication" to "authenticity" that the game is in the same resolution as its original release – absolutely ridiculously small. Even after you’ve reduced your desktop to an archaic 800x600, the game is still a quarter of the size of your screen. Which makes the effort that has gone into updating the graphics to 16 million colours, and putting the sound into stereo, all seem a little strange.

But the greatest flaw – the reason why this cannot be thought of as a good idea – is the method by which it is sold. Similar to a dealer trying to get new regulars, Vulcan are standing in the shadows, mumbling about the first one being free. "Come on kids, just download episode one – it can’t hurt you." The idea being that when you’ve finished, you’ll be just dying to get your hands on the next quarter of the first game in the series, and be more than willing to fork out the 2.50 of net-pounds to download. And then the next. And then the next.

However, upon discovering that the average playing time for an episode is 1 to 2 hours, and the stupid thing allows you to go wrong in the first five minutes, without this becoming apparent until an hour later, and there being only one save slot… it doesn’t really get a firm grip on your wallet.

There is absolutely no good reason for distributing this game in this way – downloading episodes is convoluted, and extremely costly for a decade old game – when it could have been chucked out on budget for a fiver like everything else.

Margin note:

The gimmick that this release depends upon is the Vulcan Portal. It’s a window that allows you to purchase, download, and update your games with, and it’s hosted by the 3D, synthesised character of your choice. But in all honesty, an FTP site would be much simpler, and a lot less irritating.

 A reasonable old game, but in an unreasonable new format.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Vulcan
Developer: Vulcan
Price: £2.50 per episode
Minimum System: P300, 32MB RAM, 3D card, modem
Recommended: PII 450, 64MB RAM, 32MB 3D card, broadband modem
Multi-player: No
Web Address: