Developed by Compile and originally released for the MSX in 1987 Golvellius was converted to the Master System by Sega in 1988. It is an action RPG with overhead, flick-screen exploration, Zelda-like sword-based combat and scrolling sections through caves.
A power bar at the top of the screens indicates your health and if you allow it to deplete completely you’ll explode in a fiery blaze of glory.
On the overworld screens enemies spawn and begin to swarm you and your only defence is to use your sword against them. After killing a certain number of enemies a hole then appears which you can go down to interact with other characters. Some holes house fairies that give you advice, and others have shops where you can buy things, usually a potion that upgrades your health, or a bible that increases your maximum gold carrying amount.
Occasionally you’ll enter a hole where the view changes to a horizontally-scrolling platform game, which you must make your way through. Sometimes it might also be an auto-scrolling vertical passageway where you must avoid getting trapped behind the scrolling scenery, otherwise you get crushed and instantly die. When you reach the end of one of these scrolling sections there’s usually a boss battle to contend with.
You only get one life and it’s quite easy to die, so you have to be careful with your play. Visiting certain characters will allow you to re-fill your life energy by paying a small fee. If you do end up dying, passwords are used to carry on where you left off.
While Golvellius is a reasonably charming old game it must be said that the localisation is pretty bad, with howling spelling mistakes and weird use of English, but it doesn’t ruin the game. The gameplay is also quite samey throughout – you go through the same process over and over again, which does become a little boring after a while.
Golvellius is an okay Master System game. Retro Gamer readers voted it into their top 25 Master System games of all-time, but I wouldn’t go that far. Compared to similar games on other systems it is severely lacking, and I wouldn’t put it in my top 25 Master System games of all-time. It’s still reasonably playable and somewhat absorbing – if you like these kind of games. If you’re not much of a fan of action adventures then Golvellius won’t do much to warm you to them.
More: Golvellius on Wikipedia