Assault Suits Valken
North American cover art
|Platform(s)||Super NES, PlayStation 2|
|Genre(s)||Run and gun, Platformer|
Assault Suits Valken (重装機兵ヴァルケン Jūsō Kihei Varuken), (also known as Cybernator) is a 2D mecha game developed by Masaya released in 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The second entry in the Assault Suits series, it is a prequel to the first game, Target Earth. The game was localized and published overseas by Konami. The story follows Jake Brain who pilots a giant mecha who fights in a war engulfing the entire world.
The game takes place in the future, during a time when Earth's fossil fuels have begun to dwindle. There is a massive war taking place all over the earth for control of these resources, as well as for territorial rights on the moon. The two warring governments, the Axis and Federation, have the ability to go into space and create giant space stations and weapons of mass destruction.
Jake is the game's protagonist. He is a soldier drafted into the Pacific States' Marine Corp and pilots a Federation Assault Suit. In the prologue text he states he only fights because he is a soldier, not concerned with patriotism or politics. Survival for a soldier means defeating the enemy. The Suit has a humanoid shape, with arms, legs, torso, and head. It is equipped with a variety of weapons and other special accessories, giving it full land and minor air capabilities.
Jake and his platoon, which operate from the warship Versis are tasked with destruction of Bildvorg, the most powerful mech of the Axis forces. The various missions in the game lead up to the completion of this objective. (It is piloted by Major Beldark, whom Jake meets first in mission 4 and would later meet Jake once before the final boss). Versis sends out 2 other suits, one is unnamed and another is named Apollo in stage 4, who is killed offscreen by one suit that is really fast (Beldark). Ironically in that mission the player saves an enemy suit entering the Earth's atmosphere, whereas Beldark kills Jake's ally Apollo soon after.
Although Cybernator was released after Target Earth, Cybernator takes place a decade before Target Earth.
In Assault Suit Valken 2, Jake makes a cameo appearance as a 30-year-old veteran soldier who assists in battles as an NPC.
The game has two endings. The bad ending can be acquired if the player fails any mission in the game, failing to stop Arc Nova from falling and/or allowing the enemy space shuttle escape in the 5th mission. In this ending, the Versis is critically damaged and most of her crew are killed, including Crea (Jake's partner and superior), which leaves Jake devastated in the credits. The game over screen also states you have not completed your mission. If the player succeeds on the side missions, the Versis survives and Jake returns to the carrier, the war is over and Jake and Crea embrace each other on the Versis' deck as the Cybernator suit falls to pieces.
The soundtrack was composed by Masanao Akahori, and was later rearranged on a ROMpler synthesizer (the same synthesizer used to provide the SNES samples played back on the SPC700) and released as a CD in Japan.
The original Japanese releases featured artwork done by Satoshi Urushihara.
Cybernator was the subject of censorship during its localization. The Japanese version features written dialog accompanied by a portrait of the speaker, but these portraits were removed during localization. There is also a scene absent in which the president of the enemy forces, whose banner is that of the European Union, after realizing that his nation has been defeated, commits suicide. Also some written dialog is taken out, which shows the soldier rescued in the fourth level being in the robot fought before the final boss. However the few human enemies in game remain (That are miniscule in scale vs machines throughout the game) with no censorship when they are killed.
The instruction manual of the English version is also filled with inconsistent information. For example, the sixth mission takes place in the Alps where Versis tries to fly over the mountains to reach the Allied front lines, but according to the manual, the player's aim is to raid the enemy commander's mountain retreat. Another inaccurate information would be concering the laser weapon, the strongest the player will receive in the game minus the cheat weapon the Napalm Flamethrower. It states the laser takes a long time to recharge yet it actually recharges at least as fast as the vulcan's reload, unlike the vulcan the laser recharges to full load automatically without needing to expend its power/ammo first if you stop firing it.
The instruction manual also states the suit to be a colossal 5 storeys tall and 5tons (Which is seriously underweight for a machine that tall), contrary to promo material stating it to be 4storeys tall.
Assault Suits Valken was released in Japan for the Super Nintendo on December 12, 1992. When the game was released in outside of Japan, the title was changed to Cybernator. It was released in North America on April 1993, and in Europe in 1993.
Cybernator was released on the Virtual Console in PAL regions on December 7, 2007, and in North America on December 17, 2007, both for the Wii and in North America on August 7, 2014 and in PAL regions on February 26, 2015, both for the Wii U.
In 2014, the game was re-released in Japan through the game distribution service EGG.
In 1996, Next Generation stated that Cybernator "was the game that introduced many U.S. gamers to classically Japanese design values - not only because it was a class title looks-wise, but also because it overflowed with action and atmosphere." The April 1996 issue of Super Play magazine listed Cybernator as the 19th best Super Nintendo title.
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