Genre: Action Developer: Wolf Team Publisher: Renovation Players: 1 Released: 1991
El Viento is another classic platform action game from Wolf Team and Renovation. Released shortly before the first Valis on Genesis, El Viento actually does some things right that plagued Valis, but not everything is better. Fans looking for a fun, fast, and challenging action game would do well to play El Viento!
The story is in some ways even stranger then the story of Valis. You play as Anet, and you are trying to stop this religious cult from resurrecting the great demon Hastur. The fact that the game is set in America during the 1920s further distinguishes the story of this game. Annet herself is also tied to the blood of Hastur, and thus she has some great magical abilities. There are some other characters in the game like Earnest Evens who appear in other Renovation titles, so the story may seem a bit confusing to new players; however, it’s a unique tale set during a time not often portrayed in video games, so it wins some points there.
The gameplay also wins some serious points! Anet has some really great moves. Her main attack is her magical boomerang which she throws at enemies. Unlike in Valis, the gameplay is very fast! Annet also can dash at even faster speeds, and this added speed really makes the game very fun. At certain points, she will also learn new magic attacks such as gusts of wind and flying needles. These attacks are needed to defeat certain bosses, and you can’t just choose which magic you want to use; you have to charge your magic meter. This means that to get the stronger magic you have to charge longer, and when there are many enemies trying to get you, this act of charging can become somewhat annoying. Even so, the gameplay is rock solid.
The levels are huge and varied, as Anet will fight mobsters in downtown New York, race over spikes at Mt. Rushmore, and even find herself in a car factory in Detroit! Some stages have many bad guys to fight, such as the first and last levels, but some stages consist mainly of dodging spikes and other traps. Furthermore, some levels have multiple parts to them. For example, the third level starts in some weird building, goes into the sewers, and then into a strange cave with ice dragons! El Viento is all over the map, so you won’t get bored with the levels.
And while the controls are certainly easy to pick up and master (A is to shoot, B is for jumping and C is magic), this game is actually pretty tough! If you lose a life at any point in the level, you get a game over. You have three continues, but after that, it’s over. Some of the boss fights are also incredibly tough, including the first tank boss that does not give you much room to dodge his attacks. The final level also features swarms of bats that just hound Anet, and it does become more frustrating than necessary.
While Anet herself looks great, and her clothes blow in the wind and she has a fair amount of animation while she is running and jumping, the graphics overall are not as colorful as those found in Valis. The anime cut scenes also lack some of the animation of those found in that game, and while they still look nice, they don’t look quite as beautiful. Thankfully, the text during the cut scenes reads at a reasonable pace, unlike the snail’s pace of reading in Valis. One thing of note, is that the ending does have some animation to it, and the music for the ending credits is quite nice. If these production values were placed through the entire game, then it would push this great game to even greater heights.
The sound is adequate but nothing really to write home about. Musically, El Viento‘s tunes fit the action, but there’s very little of it that really gets the player excited. Sound effects are pretty funny, especially when Annet kills something with a boomerang, it seems to make this strange “splat” noise.
Because El Viento does have a higher level of difficulty in some sections, most players are not going to finish it in one night. It is, however, very possible to finish this game in less then an hour. There are a few button codes that you can input to skip levels and get magic, and there’s even a code where you can play in slow motion, oddly enough.
El Viento is a great and challenging action game. It may not have as pretty graphics or music as the Valis titles, but it has some really fast game play that gets players in the mood for action. Some of the bosses and sections of the levels are far too difficult, but there’s a pick-up-and play charm that just begs players to try one more time. This is a game that I encourage all action fans to pick up, and fans of Valis will appreciate the sense of speed!
SCORE: 8 out of 10