Vay - Reader Retroview  

Vay Bother?
by JuMeSyn

~30 hours


Rating definitions 

   Working Designs had a history of picking mostly winners for translation into English. The Lunar games and Dragon Force come to mind when picking some of the greatest titles they made available for English-speaking RPGamers. In a company with as lengthy a release list as is possessed by Working Designs, however, a few relative stinkers must be present. Vay for the Sega CD is not terrible, but its blandly average countenance coupled with a few very annoying faults push it down into the range of titles that are best forgotten.

   Vay was developed by Sega of Japan in an effort to give some role-playing content to the Mega CD before the Japanese audience became too disenchanted with the system. As such, a lengthy development cycle was not among the assets available for Vay. It is in an understanding of this facet begetting Vay’s existence that the player can best appreciate how little innovation is to be found in the title. Battles play out exactly as an RPG developed in the mid-1990’s might be expected to resolve: via turn-based combat with turns coming up according to agility. As beset so many titles in this era, turns are not exactly consistent with agility at all times and even a party with no slow member can expect to be inexplicably slower than enemies at times. Spells are learned as levels are gained, experience is gained through fighting, weapons are bought in shops and their effects cannot be seen until they are purchased, gold can be hard to come by, battles are random, and there will be no voluntary changing of party members. Each and every aspect of the above had been battle-tested on prior titles in the RPG realm.

I didn't mention the presence of poorly animated FMV, did I?  Well here it is! I didn't mention the presence of poorly animated FMV, did I? Well here it is!

   Vay’s story begins with the already well-worn cliché of: the hero’s girlfriend being kidnapped! True, the hero was about to marry her, but this does not detract from the central element of a woman being kidnapped. The hero must go forth to rescue her, of course, and runs into preparations by Imperial forces to attack in search of something. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…. The hero meets up with several allies to take on the empire with, and they slog through challenges aplenty to attain the five pieces of the mystical armor of Vay, within which the power to win lies! Let’s not forget a bit of betrayal among the bad guys! There is a bit of a twist near the end, but even this is quite predictable. Working Designs keeps the plot flowing smoothly and adds a few moments of their trademark ebullience, but even a Working Designs translation can’t spice up this slog too much.

   Music in Vay is a very mixed bag. Some tracks are quite interesting and pleasant to hear. Unfortunately these tend to be the compositions heard in only one area or in one battle. The great theme for the Imperial headquarters is heard once, and while this would be fine if compositions of comparable quality had been playing in the interim, this is emphatically not the case. The standard dungeon theme of Vay is insanely repetitive: roughly 90 seconds of the same two chords, followed by a 3 second other chord before it repeats! The battle theme of Vay will become annoying also, as is another heavily repetitious piece. The boss theme isn’t anything great either, especially when a solitary boss has a much better piece of music that will be heard once. Of special note are Vay’s sound effects, which prompted in my experience calls from elsewhere in the house to turn the volume down due to their immensely irritating nature. Coming from the Sega CD in particular, a system known primarily for its audio capabilities, this is very dismaying.

   Visuals are unimpressive but nothing offensive. Vay looks remarkably like an RPG would have on the Genesis in 1992 or 1993. Enemies do move a bit in combat which is a nice addition to the period’s policy, otherwise nothing is out of the ordinary in the world of Genesis-quality graphics.

Everyone who does not understand this screen; you have arrived at the wrong website. Everyone who does not understand this screen; you have arrived at the wrong website.

   Vay is mostly standard difficulty level for mid-1990’s RPGs. Leveling up will be required in every new area, but nothing too obscenely outrageous. With some levels gained bosses will put up a good fight but shouldn’t pose too outlandish a threat – with a few exceptions. One in particular will last over 15 minutes no matter what the player does thanks to the guardian having insane defense and HP for that point of the game – one should be prepared to sit around for awhile. Once completed there is no reason whatsoever to replay – no side quests, nothing to collect, no records to look at.

   Vay is certainly playable – Working Designs never translated any games which are truly junk. Though it be playable, the potential player must query his or her self regarding the enjoyment to be had from doing so. As a space-filler on the Sega CD, Vay serves a purpose. As a desirable piece of software it does not.

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