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Talraen
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Rating: Not Rated

An Old-School Zelda Clone with Some Sass

Talraen's Review of Golvellius (SMS) (Video Games)

Golvellius is an obscure Sega Master System game that I probably would never have heard of had someone not randomly given me their Master System collection as a kid. It's not a cult classic by any means, but it's a pretty decent Zelda clone with graphics that were actually quite good for their time. And it's the first game I ever put together anything resembling a "guide" for, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Calling Golvellius a "Zelda clone" is accurate, but the game differs in structure significantly from the Zelda series. The overworld is much less free-roaming, at least for the first half of the game, and the dungeons are short action sequences rather than involved maze explorations. You don't find a variety of weapons or tools, either. Instead, you get a lot of upgrades and a few abilities to help you explore (specifically, boots that let you walk on water and, later, boots that let you walk on practically anything).

By that description, Golvellius really ought to be a boring game. Add in that you need to kill enemies to earn money to buy all of these upgrades, and it's frankly surprising the game is any fun at all. However, the formula they put together works quite well. This is largely a game about combat, and since your only weapon is your sword, you get a lot of time to perfect its use. Many enemies are quick and hard to hit, and as such are best avoided - however, many secrets in the game are revealed only after defeating some enemies, so you have an incentive to fight as well.

The combat in Golvellius is solid, but what makes this game one of my favorites is the exploration. The first few sections of the game only open up when you defeat the previous boss, but even within sections, there's a lot to see. The game features far more in the way of overworld mazes than the original Zelda (in some ways Golvellius's overworld is more like Zelda's dungeons than its overworld), and every screen in the game has a hidden cave. Many of these contain only text (which is useless as often as not), but you don't know that until you've seen them all, so you'll find yourself hitting trees or rocks, killing enemies, and experimenting in the name of finding more stuff.

If you are an explorer like me, you'll really appreciate the latter half of the game. Once you gain the ability to walk on water, you can go directly to any part of the game, if you're so inclined. It's a bit out of the way, but the game is fine with you skipping things. Because defeating bosses only unlocks new areas, you are free to fight half of them out of order, if that's your thing. You want the best gear in the game before taking on the fourth boss? Have at it!

If you ever find yourself playing the original Legend of Zelda and wishing there were more things to find on the overworld, I have good news for you: Golvellius is that game. It's made up of simple parts and at times even seems lazy (half of the dungeons are side scrolling, and you can't even turn around to attack in them), but the sum of those parts is a lot of fun. Plus it features one of the truly silly endings of all time, where (spoiler alert) the horned, lightning-breathing demon Golvellius turns out to have been corrupted by another demon (I think) - but the kinder, gentler Golvellius who accompanies you on the never-actually-made sequel is still huge, horned, and breathes lightning. Frankly, I am very sad that sequel never got made.

Score: B+

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