Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie

Sometimes I do have to ask myself why.

Why does it always rain on me? (It’s because you lied when you were 23 – Ed.)
Why does the taxman have to take so much of my wage? (Because for a country to continue to grow it costs money – Ed.)
Why do some people like reality TV so much? (It makes them feel better about themselves “at least I’m not as bad as ___.” – Ed.)
Why is it that some great games never leave the shores of Japan? (Ok, this I do not know – Ed.)

Ch? Jik? Y?sai Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie (which literally translates to The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie and for the rest of the review will be shortened to Macross SV) is a side-scrolling shoot‘em’up released on the 26th March 1993 for the Super Famicom (SNES). The game was published by Zamuse and only ever saw release within Japan. Which is a shame because this is a really good game.

In Macross SV you control one of three pilots and their VF-1 Valkyrie fighter. Each pilot and Valkyrie has their own unique weapon sets depending on whether they are in Fighter, GERWALK or Battroid mode.  Your mission is to stop the latest wave of Zentradi aggression.

Gameplay is almost spot-on perfect. I say almost because there are a couple of little niggles with it. Firstly the game has some pacing issues. With some sections of a level being frantic firefights then, almost like running face first into a brick wall, it slows down to almost a trickle of enemies. Before picking up pace again and throwing you into another frantic firefight. This then flows into the second niggle of the difficulty. This game is, without any lie, one of the hardest shmups I have ever played. Partly because of the pacing, but also partly because they have made some of the enemies and bosses rather challenging.

One level in particular (also the shortest in the game) has you racing through a cavern at break-neck speeds. Fighting waves of enemies that almost appear out of nowhere. Narrowly missing obstacles in your path. Only then to be confronted by a boss that pretty much spanks you the moment it appears on screen. However these are only niggles in otherwise spot-on gameplay. With some patience and practice with each pilot and their weapon and mode capabilities, you will soon be dispatching your foes with ease.

Each mode of the VF-1 Valkyrie has it’s own 3 levels of power, which are increased by collecting power-ups from minibosses or red coloured enemies. If you take a hit while in a certain mode then one power level will be taken from that mode. Along with some of your health meter. This means if you play it tactically then you can allow a mode you wouldn’t be using very much in that level to take the hits and preserve the more useful modes power levels.

The controls are very accurate, responsive and simple. The game literally only uses two buttons other than the d-pad. The ‘B’ button fires your weapons and ‘Y’ switches modes on your Valkrie. This simplicity means that you can concentrate only on what’s happening in front of you rather than worrying about messing up the transformation or not firing your missiles because you have swiped the wrong button. This simplicity also means that it won’t alienate newcomers to the genre. Also, if you do not fire your weapons, then a capture weapon will be charged allowing you to capture some of the enemies. Again offering a tactical edge.

Graphically the game is nice to look at and really does show off the Super Famicom’s 16-bit capabilities. Everything zips along at a nice pace and I noticed hardly any slowdown. Even if graphical slowdown did occur, it wasn’t enough to ruin the game and only lasted the briefest of moments. Backgrounds, characters and enemies all look nice and colourful. There also seems to be plenty of variety within the enemy units, even if Zamuse did use some of their own designs along with ones from the show. Even the animation on the Valkyrie transformation is smooth and well done.

Audibly the game again shows off the Super Famicom’s capabilities. The music in the game uses a blend of original music by Zamuse and music from the show. Each piece is fitting to the level and the boss music gets you pumped up and ready for action. The only real complaint about the audio on this game comes from the sound effects. Which are pretty much your standard shmup explosions and pew pew gun effects. However you don’t really notice them as your concentrating on the gameplay.

So let’s kick out some final thoughts.

Macross SV is simply a brilliant game. Yes there are some niggles with the game. And yes the difficulty and pacing might be considered a little schizophrenic and may put some people off But like any shmup it just requires a little bit of patience and practice. Each pilot and Valkyrie has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Also utilizing the different modes of the Valkyrie is essential to combat certain foes and bosses. Its just a case of working out which pilot you work best with.

Regardless of this it would be a shame for people not to give this game a go. It’s not exactly one of the most affordable or readily available of the import games available for the system, In part, due to its popularity. However it’s not going to break the bank if you do decide to invest in a copy. There are copies available through online auctions and other retailers. It’s just a matter of looking around.

So I give this game a 5 out of 5 rating. Macross SV is a challenging yet rewarding game and worth anyone’s (especially if you’re a shmup fan) time. I just can’t understand why this game was never released outside of Japan.

Gameplay Video

CritAnime

I grew up in the magical 8-bit era of computers and consoles. I saw the games crash and saw the recovery from it with the NES. I will always have my trusty C64 in my office and when the need arises I will pop a tape in the Datasette and play some classic games.

With a wealth of knowledge, especially on old-school rpg's, I hope to bring it to you. The viewers of Retroist.com

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