Adventure Platformer Review

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection – Review

Valis was a franchise that saw a significant amount of releases around the 8 to 16-bit era. Even more impressive is the fact that despite the anime/manga roots, we saw several titles outside of Japan! It’s been a while since Valis has been seen but she’s back with this latest compilation: Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection.

Roll call! 

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection collates the following titles. 

  • Valis: The Fantasm Soldier
  • Valis 2
  • Valis 3

The versions included are all the TurboGrafx 16/CD versions of the games which is something I’ll touch on very soon. 

So the Valis series made its debut on the MSX before landing on the NES, later on the Genesis, and finally the TurboGrafx. Each version of Valis: The Fantasm Soldier is different. I couldn’t really find out why the only versions of these titles available were the TurboGrafx versions, but thankfully these are considered the “best” versions of the games available.

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection - Valis I

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier puts you in the school uniform of Yuko Asou; she’s a student by day and protector of Dreamworld also by day, night, and everything in-between. 

Yuko is blessed with the Sword of Valis. With this, she aims to oppose Rogles; a villain who wants to dominate the realms, and who even brainwashes one of Yuko’s school friends to help achieve that victory.

The story is presented in beautiful anime cutscenes. When you remember that these were developed to run on a 16-Bit home console your mind will be blown.

The story isn’t anything to write home about. It includes hammy acting and it’s generally riddled with cliche. That said, it is refreshing to find such a focus on story presentation from a game developed in a more gameplay-focused era.

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier plays much like many of the 2D Platformers of its time. Played Castlevania? It’s essentially the same – just replace the whip with a sword capable of firing out various Laser beams.

You’ve got your standard attack which can be changed and upgraded via collectibles. Jumping can be used to deal with the platforming sections. You’ve got magic too! Namely the ability to use several screen-clearing or shield bestowing spells.

The levels are wonderfully varied and range from the streets of Japan to the weird and wonderful Dreamworld. This makes sure that stage tedium never kicks in. 

Boss fights here are brilliantly old-school affairs and can even be kicked off with an anime intro explaining motives. That said, old-school also means tough; expect to go over them more than a few times. 

The visuals are spot on in this title and it stands up against other games of the time. Coupled with some infectious earworms and the brilliant cutscenes, Valis: The Fantasm Soldier feels like an absolute gem of a title.

Now here’s where stuff gets a little wacky, Valis: The Fantasm Soldier on the TurboGrafx CD released in 1992, a whole 2 years after Valis III which explains so much when we come to….

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection - Valis 2

Valis II

Valis II was released on the TurboGrafx CD in 1989 and boy do you feel that age gap in this one.

Rogles is dead. Now his brother Megas has decided to try and pick up where his conquest was left off.

The story isn’t terrible by any stretch and again this is a game from the 1980s. The fact it even has as much story as it does is a shock.

Valis II manages to be a step back in just about every aspect when compared to Valis: The Fantasm Soldier. Here it would have benefitted the collection for them to have included the NES or Genesis version of Valis 1, so we could have seen ‘some’ improvement. 

Again as mentioned Valis II came before the Valis I in this collection. Even disregarding the graphical leap, the game is just the boiled potatoes of the action-platformer genre; it’s basic and bland.

The jumping feels insanely off; it’s almost like you’re fighting with gravity the whole game. It just drags you back to the ground so quickly and creates quite the contrast with how floaty you feel.

Combat is soulless and it has zero feedback with its wimpy-looking beam attacks. The lack of hit-stun on enemies means you’re just button mashing for dear life. 

The only real positive I can mention about Valis II is the boss stat screen that appears just before a fight is a nice touch, as is the in-game voice acting. It’s a pleasant moment before you torture yourself with another bleh encounter.

Someone somewhere must have liked Valis II and it seemed to sell enough units to put us onto….

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection - Valis 3

Valis III

Closing out our collection of games is Valis III. This one was released a year after Valis II and two years before Valis: The Fantasm Soldier (remake). It’s a strange timeline indeed. 

King Glames is the villain this time. He aims to close out this trilogy by taking over Dreamworld, an Earth much like the previous two villains.

Unlike the previous two games, Yuko is joined in her fight by a Dark World denizen called Cham and Yuko’s sister Valna who’s grown up in Dreamland.

Visually the game has more going for it than Valis II. It starts with a playable cinematic level involving Yuko in her P.Js jumping from rooftop to rooftop to grab the Sword of Valis.

The gameplay has been tided up here to have a little more action. This is helped by having Cham and Valna as Playable characters too. You can easily switch to them just by pausing the game. Cham plays like a Castlevania Belmont with her whip, and Valna fires magical blasts. 

As to the weird gravity, the floaty feeling is still here. It’s not to the extremes that it was in Valis II, but the difficulty here is NES level which doesn’t help. With so many cheap decisions, painful jumps to make, and difficult bosses, it makes you wonder how we even got the remake of 1!

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection - Emulation Options

This Is My Weapon and This Is My Gun

In terms of emulation, the games on this collection have come across as intended with no issues that I’ve noticed. Being an emulated collection, it comes with some nice extras too.

There are 5 save states. No more relying on passwords or completing it in one play like absolute cavemen! There is also a ‘Rewind Feature’ which puts the game back around 5 seconds. It doesn’t visually show you how far back it’s going, but it isn’t too hard to just spam the button until you’re in a more favorable position.

There is a smorgasbord board of bonuses for fans of the game. These include things like full scans of the instruction books and game cover art, English subtitles, music player, and a cutscene player for each game. Though it’s worth noting that only some of the scans are provided in English.

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection - Extras

While it’s amazing that a franchise like Valis which has lain long-dormant (aside from the erotic visual novel Valis X in 2006) is even getting a collection I feel I need to point out what it’s missing – especially considering the lofty $35.99/£31.79 price tag.

Each of the 3 games represented has different ports. In the case of Valis 1, they are drastically different whereas the ports of the other two range from musical and graphic changes to the Genesis port of II which was a total remake of the game with Chibi graphics called SYD Valis.

It’s also missing Valis IV. Despite being the start of a new heroine’s story, this continues with the narrative. There was also a port of that game on the Super Nintendo as Super Valis IV, and this can be played on the SNES Online app on the Nintendo Switch.

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection - Big Boss


Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection is a fantastic little package that I imagine fans of the franchise would just lap up. The bonus features and care that have been put into the emulation are commendable.

The quality of Valis: The Fantasm Soldier really cannot be understated as I fell in love with it almost instantly. When I started playing, I was joking to our dear chief here at NookGaming that the rest of the games could be naff and it would still score high.

Little did I know that would partially be the case. I have no desire to play Valis II in any shape or form again anytime soon. Fortunately, Valis III seemed to fix some of the issues I had.

The fact this collection is missing at least 1 major game and a Super-Deformed reimagining of Valis II is very hard to overlook. This married with a high asking price and the other issues raised, it may be a little too much to suggest picking this up outside of a sale.


Platforms: Nintendo Switch

If you would like to see more Retro-style games, you may be interested in our review of Double Dragon Neon.

Many thanks go to Edia for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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