Valis IV is the last game in the Valis series. Like the earlier games, it was released on multiple platforms, and as was also the case in the past the games have sizable differences depending on the platform. It was released on both the PC Engine and Super Famicom/SNES.
As usual, the basic story is the same in all of the versions of the game. This time, the Red Moon has risen in the sky signifying the return of King Galgia, a terrifying fiend imprisoned long ago on Vecanti. He quickly decimates and conquers Vecanti and has set his sights on the world of humans, Earth. Lena Bland sets out on a journey to obtain the Valis Sword and defeat Galgia.
The game’s protagonist. A member of the resistance against Galgia, she is brave and strong. She uses a sword, and eventually (of course) the Valis sword. 16 years old. She is playable in both versions (and is in fact the only playable character in the SFC/SNES version)
Another member of the resistance, she is Lena’s younger sister. She is a bit of a slacker and somewhat goofy, but she can be counted on to help her sister. She wields a bird-shaped boomerang fired from a rod and can double jump. 14 years old. She is not playable in the SFC version, but is implicitly there as her grave is seen.
Actually Galgia’s father, and a former king. While no saint, he is not actually evil. He joins and fights alongside Lena and Am to stop his son’s reign of terror and to come to terms with the fact he was a bad father. He is not present in the SFC version of the game. He wields a staff which fires wolf-heads made of energy, and because he’s such a tough guy, he takes no damage from spikes.
Returning from Valis III, she is now the leader of Vecanti. The monsters are on good terms with the humanoids since the death of Grames, the previous king of the monsters. She is also the leader of the resistance against King Galgia.
Yuko’s sister also returns. She has been kidnapped and imprisoned by Galgia.
The heroine of all the previous Valis games, Yuko Aaso is now a goddess who protects the Sword of Valis. Will she judge Lena worthy of becoming the next Phantasm Soldier?
The first of King Galgia’s generals, he dominates Vecanti from Vanity Castle. He is the torso of a man growing out of the back of a tiger, an obvious homage to “Duke Gorgon” of Mazinger fame. In both games, he is capable of jumping around the room, firing a large crescent projectile from his sword that pushes the opponent away and damages them, and spitting fireballs from his tiger head.
The second of Galgia’s generals, and the only female general. In the PCE version, she challenges Lena inside of Crystal Pillar. In the SFC version, she is in control of Valhalla.
The last of Galgia’s three generals, his speciality is the “jet steam crush”. In the PCE version he is guarding Valna on top of Crysal Pillar, while in the SFC version he challenges Lena on the surface of Red Moon.
Galgia, King of the Red Moon:
The game’s primary antagonist. Imprisoned long ago by the Gods of Vecanti, he now possesses the Titan Ring, an item that gives him almost insurmountable power. He hates his father and was jealous of his father’s power when younger. He is responsible for the death of Am, as she takes an attack intended for Valna. In both versions of the game he is fought in the core of Red Moon, although he has multiple forms in the PCE version. He challenges his father in his normal form, then he fights Lena in a powered-up form and eventually turns in to a giant disembodied head and set of hands which are fought in a field of stars. In the SFC version, he simply remains in his normal form (although he does fire some bullets at Lena from the comfort of his throne before actually attacking!)
The Super Famicom/SNES version
In the SFC version of the game, only Lena Bland is playable. She is capable of several basic actions, including running, jumping, and attacking. She can also shoot magic bullets (the player holds “up” and attacks to fire these.) There are a number of items in this game. Up to six can be held in reserves; if another item is picked up, it replaces the item furthest to the left of the item bar and moves all the remaining items to the left by one space, appearing on the far right. At the end of the game, Yuko appears to judge the player’s performance based on a variety of criteria.
- Heart: A single use item. This heals some lost energy when used.
- Armor: A single use item. When this is used, Lena transforms and wears Valis armor. This makes her immune to damage for five hits, after which she returns to normal.
- Three way: This item replaces Lena’s basic magic bullet when used. This allows Lena to shoot three beams up at various angles by perform the normal motion for the magic bullet. This item can be used 20 times before it wears off.
- Bomber: This item replaces Lena’s magic bullet when used. Bomber shoots a powerful blast straight forward. This item can be used 10 times before wearing off.
- Search: This item also replaces Lena’s magic bullet when used. Re-using the “wolf head” sprites of Asfar’s attack from the PCE version, Lena fires wolf-heads that follow the terrain (they move up hills, etc.) This item can be used 20 times before expiring.
- Homing: Again, this replaces Lena’s basic magic bullet. Lena fires flaming dragons that home in on enemies. This item can be used 20 times before expiring.
The SFC/SNES version of the game has seven stages, or “acts”.
- Stage 1: Vecanti
Vecanti is in ruination from Galgia’s overwhelming attacks. The boss of this stage is DS-30kai. It is also a boss in the PCE version, although of a much later stage, and its actions are completely different. The enemies in this stage are: deadhead, flying shears, and lance guarder.
- Stage 2: Vanity Castle
Once the seat of Queen Valia’s power, it has a tendency to be taken over by villains. Currently it is occupied by General Dhalgen. The enemies in this stage are: dead head, lance guarder G, and spectre.
- Stage 3: Babylon
Water and ruins abound on Lena’s journey to see Yuko. The boss of this stage is Nornil, a shape-shifting statue with three forms (a statue, a harpy, and a mermaid.) This boss is unique to the SFC version of the game, although the harpy sprite is also used in the PCE version for a different boss. The enemies in this stage are: okimono, lash, and technical monkey.
- Stage 4: Valhalla
Yuko’s dominion. General Medius is in control of this area in the SFC version. In this game, Medius attacks by creating multiple fake images of herself and diving rapidly at Lena. Occasionally she drops to the platform to fire a large orange projectile or two at Lena. The enemies in this stage are: seraph, death flower, high priestess, siren, and arch elf.
- Stage 5: Crystal Pillar
Formerly King Galgia’s prison, it is now his base of operations on Earth. The boss of this stage is the core of Crystal Pillar, and is unique to the SFC version. It is protected by “Final Guarder”, which is also an enemy from the PCE version’s final stage. This version of “Final Guarder” is invincible, the core must be targeted. The enemies in this stage are: sword guarder, tower grey, disc guarder.
Stage 6: The surface of Red Moon
Floating foetuses and strange copies of Lena abound. General Luzard challenges Lena at the end of this stage. He floats around shooting lasers out of the eyes on his chest at Lena, switching sides periodically. He then performs his “jet stream crush”, moving back and forth quickly from one edge of the screen to the other, gaining speed each time.The enemies in this stage are: redmoon meteor, beyond, beyond Lena, and okimono.
- Stage 7: Red Moon’s core
Giant pulsating spheres and re-used music from Babylon signal that Lena’s journey is coming to an end. Galgia’s three generals are fought again, afterwhich King Galgia himself challenges Lena to a final duel. There are no regular enemies present in this stage. Galgia has a large number of projectile attacks at his disposal. He “blocks” attacks with his halberd and cannot be hit unless he stops blocking (he is also vulnerable when jumping.) When his life has been reduced by a certain amount, he fires various patterns of green foetus bubbles at Lena which restore his health by a fairly large margin should they make contact.
After the game is completed, Yuko judges the player’s skill based on a variety of factors: The number of items picked up and the speed at which the game was completed are primary. If the player died at all, they will not get a good ranking. Lower rankings result in bizarre things happening to Lena, such as her exploding or falling off of the bottom of the screen.
The PC Engine version
The PC Engine version of the game is substantially different from the Super Famicom version. It is the “original” version of the game.
Most noticeably, it contains many animated cutscenes to help tell the story, is fully voiced, and has CD audio. There are also a number of gameplay differences. The game moves at a much slower pace, and Lena is capable of some actions not present in the SFC version: she can slide and has powerful magic (in fact, each character has magic). However, she is incapable of running and does not have the magic bullet and power ups from the SFC version. Her sword strikes shoot crescent arcs when performed, unlike in the SFC version. The game also has multiple playable characters: By hitting the “run” button, the player can switch between Lena, Am, or Asfar. Lastly, the game’s stages are quite different, despite some of them using the same or similar sprites. There are also different power ups to be collected. As a side note, the game features numerous bottomless pits, a feature largely absent from the SFC version.
- Small herb: This item restores 2 points of HP.
- Large herb: This item restores 6 points of HP.
- Red power: This item raises the character’s level, making their attack more powerful and giving them more HP. The maximum number of levels is 5.
- Blue power: This item adds four points to the magic bar, allowing for more powerful magic. There are three levels of magic.
- Star: Gives the player temporary invincibility.
- Time up: Gives the player more time.
- 1 up: Gives the player an additional life.
- Mysterious item: Resembling a disembodied head of Yuko in her “Ultimate Valis” armor, this item maxes out the player’s level and magic.
Stage 1: Vecanti
Lena and Am head out to rescue the kidnapped Valna. Cham guides the player through the game’s basic controls in a mini-tutorial stage, then the action begins. The boss of this stage is General Dhalgen. His actions are much the same as in the SFC version. Ultra Seven makes a cameo in the background here, fighting a pair of ultra kaiju. One is clearly Twintail, the other is ambiguous.
Stage 2: Babylon
Similar to the SFC version, however it is much much longer. Asfar rescues Lena and Am from Galgia at the end of the previous stage, and now joins as a playable character. A number of enemies not present in the SFC version are found in this stage, including a version of lash weilding a flaming whip (probably how it got the name) a cyclops, and a floating energy ball (which does make an appearances in the SFC version, albeit recoloured orange as an attack of General Medius’). The boss of this stage is a disembodied head and pair of hands not found in the SFC version.
- Stage 3: Road to the heavens
Continuing to the heavens to meet Yuko, this stage continues with the look of “Babylon”. The boss of this stage is a pegasus knight who transforms in to a harpy for a second form. The harpy sprite is re-used in the SFC version as Nornil’s second form.
- Stage 4: Labyrinth of Shiren
Material from this stage is used for “Valhalla” in the SFC version. An enemy not in the SFC version is present (a pixie.) The boss is a pair of illusions created by Yuko; one of her goddess self, and one of her old “Soldier of Valis” self.
- Stage 5: Tokyo
The city streets are burning and overrun with monsters from Galgia’s army. Freak weather conditions are also apparent. Features a couple of enemies not seen in the SFC version, including a giant worm, a “tower red” and an enhanced version of the spectre. The boss of this stage is DS-30kai. It is substantially more difficult in this game. Unlike in the SFC version where it simply throws scythe blades and floats around, in the PCE version it creates multiple images of itself, teleports, fires skull projectiles and (of course) throws scythe blades and dives at Lena.
- Stage 6: Inside Crystal Pillar
The SFC version looks much the same. This marks the first appearance of the annoying foetus “beyond” in this version of the game. There is yet another variation of the spectre seen in this stage, and a skull ghost that appears in pits to fire projectiles at our heroes. Unlike in the later SFC version, some parts of this stage are “slippery”; because Asfar is so heavy, he doesn’t slide around like the girls do. General Medius is the boss of this stage. She flies around the room and teleports periodically; she also fires blue foetuses,destructable blue crystals, and an orange projectile that bounces around the screen at the player.
- Stage 7: Exterior of Crystal Pillar
The heroes must climb the outside of Crystal Pillar to reach the summit. There are a large number of enemies not present in the SFC version in this stage, including dark angels, “gun guarders”, and small rods of crystal that open and shoot projectiles. Once again the floors are slippery, and once again Asfar is not affected. There are also special barriers in this stage that Asfar can walk through, as he is a member of the monster race. The stage also features glowing platforms that are only visible part of the time (although they still “exist” even when not visible). Gojira makes a cameo appearance in the background of this stage. The boss of this stage is General Luzard. He simply floats back and forth, firing crystal spikes at the player. The player character Am is lost in this stage.
- Stage 8: Red Moon
The original version of Red Moon is extremely different from the SFC version. There are a variety of floor types here that move the player character around in different directions, or are simply slippery; Asfar is not affected by these. There are “turret” type enemies that are brains here, not seen in the SFC version. Asfar challenges his son to a duel at the end; most of Galgia’s attacks here mimic his father’s magic.
- Stage 9: Red Moon part 2
More of the same, except now only Lena is playable. This stage features a couple of mini-bosses. The first is “final guarder”, who is destructable in this game (unlike in the SFC version) and the second is a giant, cyclopean brain that fires eyeballs. The foetus bubbles make another appearance, this time reducing Lena’s level if they make contact and pop. At the end of the stage, Lena finally fights Galgia. His first form hovers and fires small homing “wolf heads” at Lena; he also drops to the ground and performs clawing attacks (especially if the player has been sliding back and forth under him frequently). His second form is a giant disembodied head and pair of hands. The hands can be destroyed and drop big herbs. The head flies around shooting various projectiles at Lena. From time to time it becomes invincible and careens around wildly. The head has a very large amount of HP. Should the player defeat Galgia, they are rewarded with the (rather gloomy) ending cutscene.
The PCE Engine version of Valis IV has two secret stages, both labeled “X” that can be accessed if the game is set to the highest difficulty and the player defeats Galgia, or via using a stage select code: Up, down, left, right, up, down, left, right, up, down, left, right, II, II, I, I.
One of the stages is a rather bizarre railway, featuring enemies from other parts of the game on handcars, mine carts, and other silly obstacles. The boss is Zalude from Valis III. He refuses to fight Asfar or Am, resulting in bizarre dialogue from him (he wonders where Cham and Valna are) and a game reset! If he is fought and defeated with Lena Bland, he will send her to stage 5 of the PC Engine version of Valis III. It is extremely difficult and is heavily populated with enemies from other parts of Valis IV. The boss is Zalude again, although he is incredibly difficult this time, utilizing many attacks which are essentially impossible to avoid.