Mecha anime is something of an acquired taste. Even among anime fans, it seems that you have to really want to get into a mecha show to really get hooked on the genre. That said, the sentiment is not always the same in video games. A lot more people are willing to accept giant robots shooting each other in a game, despite the continued prevalence of darker and more serious themes that the genre is known for. Back in the day, one such game was Assault Suits Valken, a SNES action game bought to the west as Cybernator. Now, it’s back with Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED, a proper translation to modern systems, but does the game hold up to modern standards?
Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED - Your Typical Mecha Storyline
Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED is a mecha game through and through, bearing many of the story hallmarks of other series. There’s a war between earth and its colonies, young people are tasked with piloting giant bipedal combat suits in space to win wars, and there’s generally a lot of death and destruction all over the place. You control Jake, one such young Assault Suit pilot who must complete his missions to keep earth safe and hopefully survive long enough to enjoy it.
Assault Suits Valken is a run-and-gun action game, with you taking control of the titular Assault Suit. You get a suite of weapons and abilities at your disposal, even from the outset, but as you complete missions, you can find even more weapons and upgrade them to make them more devastating. To start with, you have access to a shield, a Valken gun, and a dash move, and you'll need to use all through to blast your way through enemies without dying. Pretty much as soon as the game starts, you’re thrown into a level and can start blasting away at enemies, but your health will need to last you a long time, so avoiding damage is incredibly important.
The Great Gamefeel of Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED
It feels good to zip around the battlefield blasting enemies to pieces, but you have to constantly keep your shield popping up to be at the ready. If you don’t, you’ll probably die before you can ever make all that much progress. There are healing power-ups to be found, but they’re pretty rare, managing your health can make the game one hell of a challenge if you’re careless. On the plus side, if you’re into that sort of thing, this modern re-release includes the now-standard feature of a pause/save-state feature, so you can save scum your way through the game if you’d prefer to. In all honestly, it’s a good way to learn patterns in preparation for doing complete runs if you prefer a gentle start.
The gameplay is pretty top-notch, even by modern game standards, but there are also some changes in Assault Suits Valken that are a welcome sight for anyone who played the original Cybernator version. Back in the day, a lot of content was cut or censored from the western release, including a decent chunk of the story, several scenes, and the inclusion of character portraits during conversations in missions. All of these omissions have been corrected in this version, making it the definitive version for anyone who was wondering about the cut content.
Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED Has One Hell of a Soundtrack
Musically and graphically, Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED still holds up incredibly well. The music has been given a fresh update, with more orchestral additions available if you fancy it. Of course, if you prefer the old style, it’s also still available, at least in the music player. Either way, it’s pretty easy on the eye and has some very interesting enemy and mech design choices. Generally, things are also just well animated, especially the human-sized sprites that run around your feet as you stomp your way through the levels.
Additionally, this re-release includes a whole slew of historical features, from music players of the fantastic soundtrack to scans of the Japanese manuals from the game’s original release, which have been translated for the first time. There’s also a collection of high-quality concept art and advertisement artwork, both new and old. That’s not even the end of the extras, with game playthrough videos and interviews with the director, Satoshi Nakai. If you ever played Cybernator as a kid and wanted to know more about where it came from or what it was about, then this is a release that holds a plethora of answers for you.
Overall, Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED is a fantastic release. The gameplay is fast-paced and challenging, and the game still looks and sounds amazing even by modern standards, of course, with the fresh coat of paint to the music and resolution helping in that regard. If you ever came across Cybernator in your youth or have an interest in mecha games to try out, then you should get your hands on this. It’s stacked with an insane amount of extra content and is easily the best version of the game that has ever been put out.
TechRaptor reviewed Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
- Smooth and Challenging Gameplay
- Amazing soundtrack
- Packed with extra content
- Fully localized and uncensored
- Seemingly no option to change between soundtracks during gameplay