Developed By: M2 Published By: Rainmaker Productions Categories: Retro, Action Release Date: 03.30.23
Show of hands. Who here has played Cybernator on the SNES? Ok, who here has played Target Earth on the Genesis? Well both are apart of the Assault Suit series, which Cybernator, or rather it’s proper name Assault Suit Valken being a prequel to Target Earth, which’s proper name is Assault Suit Leynos. Consider this a series of mecha action games. They feel heavy, they hit hard, and it’s a lot of fun and super satisfying to play.
Assault Suit Valken DECLASSIFIED is by and far the definitive way to play this game, especially if you’re an English speaker. For the first time in the west, we have Valken uncut and in it’s full glory. Back when it was released as Cybernator, a few things were cut. First and the most obvious is character portraits and dialog being restored. I’ve always had an issue with stuff like this getting removed, it even happened remotely recently with the original Azure Striker Gunvolt release. You can say it’s a distraction, but I’ll just say that’s a skill issue. The other big change has to do with a graphic, possibly triggering death scene with one character.
Lets talk about gameplay however. You control a titular Assault Suit, or for lack of better words a mecha, walking tank. And it definitely feels like you’re driving a walking tank. You’re slow, you’re chunky, but movement feels deliberate. You’re not stuck on the ground, as boosters can help you jet in the air for a moment or even just dash forward. Your Vulcan Cannon can fire at quick speeds to destroy the other mecha in your way or any obstacle. You can also pack a literal punch, with a devastating punch your Assault Suit can give out.
Stages are vast and at times, nearly maze like. There are starts and ends, but Assault Suits Valken implores you explore the levels. You’ll find pods around. These can items to recover your Assault Suit, power up your weapons or even grant you new weapons, of which can also be powered up. Napalm, homing missiles, lasers. Powered up, these can make this a one sided war. Of course, just be careful and aware of what is attacking you or you’re going to perish swiftly. And as a warning, you will still move slightly before your Assault Suit fails on you and explodes. I don’t much care for this. Aesthetically, it’s great. But it’s not exactly practical and while you will know when you’re low on HP, say a stray bullet hits you that you could barely see and the death feels delayed.
There’s more to this. Each level also has different goals, of which can change your ending. If you fail to stop a rocket in time for instance, you will fail the mission, even if you complete the stage. These are all optional, so you don’t need to even attempt unless you want to to get the best ending. Some of these can be hard, but thankfully, you can just savestate scum.
M2 brings their quality to this release. They aren’t the kings of emulation for no reason. Control mapping, borders, some cute screen filters I will never use. There’s even unlockable cheats and the option to just give yourself Napalm by default. This isn’t a Shottriggers release with gadgets, but it’s solid.
Extras make this more well than worth your time. An extensive, translated interview with Satoshi Nakai is probably the first thing people will notice, but it gets better. The old guidebook, of which is 80 pages is finally translated and in the game. Not some web browser shenanigans. You’re getting a good art gallery of Satoshi Urushihara’s work too. I’ve always liked their art, so it’s great to have it here. On top of that, you’re even given the option of the original or arranged OST. Not sure which I prefer…
I do want to bring up the publisher, Rainmaker Productions. I’m wholly unfamiliar with them and as far as their website shows, this is a first big project for them. For a first impression, I am damn impressed. I cannot wait to see what else they’ll bring to us. Even if it’s more re-releases of more obscure games or ones with botched initial localizations. I’ve got my eye on them.
Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED has finally given me the privilege to finally hop in to a game I would have only seen on websites like Hardcore Gaming 101 beforehand. This is the kind of game I would have loved as a kid…well outside of it being a bit hard at times, especially to do a few of the missions. Alas, having a definitive release, uncut, on a console like the Switch feels like a dream. I’m hoping we get the rest of the series soon.
Buy Now: $24.99
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review