GameSpite Journal 12: Vay

Vay happens to be one of the stranger entities in the Sega CD’s library, mostly because it’s neither a port or remake of something from another Sega gaming device or one of those FMV monstrosities that glutted most of the rest of its library. It is in simple terms an RPG, one of the more prototypical kind that was generally featured on the Super NES, and features little to recommend it in modern times, as it’s a fairly bare-bones RPG stapled to a pile of ’80s anime cliches and the occasional very poorly animated FMV segment.

Back in the day, though, it was fairly mind-blowing, as it was one of the first console RPGs to feature voice acting in any shape or form, albeit limited to the FMV cutscenes. It was also something fairly different from the usual in Sega’s catalog for any of its devices, where standard RPGs were a rarity compared to both the NES and Super NES’s catalogs.

It also had the dubious honor of being one of several Working Designs releases for the console which had various ’90s pop culture references and neologisms inserted into the script as was par for the course for that localization outfit. The title’s questionable level of difficulty and grinding may also be linked to Victor Ireland’s fondness for twiddling with the gameplay mechanics of the games his company localized, often to their detriment and often for strange and nonsensical reasons on the part of Ireland. Part of Vay’s significance is that it sits squarely in the period where small houses like Working Designs could release extremely niche titles to relatively large fanfare and modest financial success due to American audiences’ unfamiliarity with the broader Japanese gaming market.

The rest of Vay’s significance lies primarily in how it and other similar titles formed the basis for the ’90s-era JRPG because it comes from the period of gaming where CD tech was still very new and nobody had any real idea of how to fully utilize the extra space and cheapness offered by optical storage media. Vay represents a sort of transitional point between what’s commonly understood as the 16-bit and 32-bit RPG eras on console due to its melding of mostly 16-bit era gameplay concepts with the early vestiges of the later era’s excesses (with FMV sequences and gameplay-bloating plotting). Where later games in the genre would trade on their flashy cinematics and increasingly advanced graphics at the cost of the game at the foundation of all that, Vay still suffers from fairly sound (if mechanically bland) underpinnings marred by its extremely uneven difficulty level.

Article by Andrew Bentley

GameSpite Journal 12Vay

13 thoughts on “GameSpite Journal 12: Vay

  1. This game is amazing. The reviewer should be less of a Nintendo fanboy. I guess games “journalism”, like any type of journalism, can’t be objective.

  2. Because you don’t like his take, it’s not “objective?” There is no such thing as an objective opinion, merely various people’s perspectives and the relative value we glean from it. I think this piece is unkind to the Mega CD and grossly underestimates Working Designs’ overall translation skill which was unparalleled then and still fantastic today, but it’s still perfectly interesting to read from someone who saw things a bit differently and states why.

  3. Ron Jon, why yould you accuse Jim of being a Nintendo fanboy if he is dedicating and entire Gamespite Journal to Sega and giving proper accolades to the Sega-CD? Also Maken, there is no attack towards WD translation skill but some of their (well documented and admitted by Victor Ireland himself) programming tweaks to the gameplay, the most notorious was the +1 enemy damage change which had an exponential effect in Exile Wicked Phenomenon.

  4. Ron Jon, you have no clue what you’re talking about (the author of this piece has gushed repeatedly over Genesis RPGs like the Shining series and panned plenty of SNES RPGs), and you have repeatedly proven you have nothing of value to contribute to any discussion. Consider yourself PNG.

    Chicago Frank, who on earth is Jim?

  5. Vay is definitely odd. It’s got a pretty kickin’ soundtrack, though. It’s very 8-bit in nature, though. I’d never chalk the game up as “good”, but it’s decent enough as far as these things go.

    Compared to its own systems competition, though? It’s terrible. You’d never play this over either Lunar, any of the Phantasy Stars, or Shining Forces. And the SNES makes it look even worse.

    There’s also an iOS port, weirdly enough. I think that version has a rebalanced mode, so the game isn’t as brutally grind-heavy.

  6. What did working designs do to those RPGs they brought over to the US? I know people either think their locazizations were great, or hated them. But what did they change normally?

  7. Many times, they tweaked them to be harder. They did it with Alundra. Also Exile 2 and Silhouette Mirage. They couldn’t help themselves, apparently. Sometimes it helped a bit, in many cases it made things worse. I think some were unchanged. I’m not sure in the case of Vay, actually.

  8. Holy weirdest typo in the history of typos. . .I typed Jeremy. . .and it filled in Jim. . .nonetheless it was not even you who wrote it but Andrew. . .my double bad. Now I’ve summoned Jim the nintendo fanboy. . .crap. . .

  9. “Consider yourself PNG.”

    Wait, you’ve turned him into a compressed internet image?

    Anyway, I don’t remember much about this game, aside from a little squirt named Pottle (spoiler!) dying about halfway through. One of the characters shouted, “Pottle, noooo!” as he was pierced by an arrow while running from a castle the party was infiltrating.

    I normally grind my teeth through the dated pop culture references in Working Designs (Albert Odyssey hit you in the face with them from the moment the game began) but I did appreciate “never underestimate the power of soup,” the Campbell’s soup advertising slogan that was used in at least two WD localizations.

Comments are closed.