The original A Valley Without Wind
struck me as about the quality of a particularly impressive bit of shareware in the late 90s: horribly dated by modern standards and without 1980s retro charm (though maybe that just means it came a decade early), but at the very least technically competent. Animations were smooth (though obviously based on some simple figure rendering program like Poser), the control scheme worked, the story didn't make much sense but a lot of 90s shareware didn't so I could at least poke around with it and be vaguely amused.
You will note that I only have 19 minutes on record with A Valley Without Wind 2
I'm going to hold off on explaining why for just a moment. This sequel--if it can really be called that, since the whole AVWW
"broken reality" thing never made much narrative sense to begin with, and apparently intentionally so--has you running a rebellion against a big bad. Unlike the original AVWW
, where you had followers who you would make go away for so many minutes to go gather firewood or whatever while you ran around the infinitely side-scrolling (well, infinitely transitioning, at least) map, this actually has a strategic map for you to tell your followers to go to places and do things and fight baddies. It's a nice touch, adding some level of strategic force movement rather than simply "Bob has a 57% chance of getting a carrot with a 99% risk of dying because Bob is a loser."
Well, I lie. It would've been a nice touch. If it worked.
If anything worked.
has the quality of decent 90s shareware, AVWW2
has the quality of bad
90s shareware, the kind that I have spent a good decade and a half trying to forget that I grew up on. The characters have gone from smoothly-animated pre-rendered 3D geometry sprites to poorly MS Paint'd cartoons that move as though they're suffing grand mal seizures. In AVWW
, everything was made of pre-rendered sprites so it all fit together visually. Random elements in AVWW2
are pre-rendered, some are drawn, others are painted, and they're all mashed together in incoherent tilesets so it's actually extremely distracting. The control system went from a simple but effective "keyboard to move, mouse to aim" system in AVWW
to a clunky and incoherent keyboard-only system. For a comparative example, let's say you want to shoot your magical ball-o'-death at some critter at an angle: AVWW
, point and click. AVWW2
, hold the right and up and fire keys at the same time and pray to whatever gods you have that you timed that perfect 45° angle shot just right because 45° angles are all you're going to be doing and also if you don't do the fire button at the right time then you're just going to jerkily leap your character up and into the target in a valiant but utterly stupid attempt to smash the enemy with her face. That's how Archon
worked back in the late 80s. It's as though the AVWW2
was coded for a particularly archaic D-pad setup. Everything about it is completely retrograde from the original.
It's completely unforgivable, since these people were able to make something competent, if not particularly impressive before. However, it's also unimaginably hilarious. It is so bad you just have to stop and laugh at everything.
And then just stop, since there's absolutely no point to go on any further with it.
There's certainly no point in actually spending money on the experience.