GunvalkyriecoverEvery inch of this sci-fi shooter screams “even though Japanese developers created me, I was made specifically for American audiences”. This sentiment would later be the driving force behind games such as Breakdown, Dead Rising, and No More Heroes, games that have achieved cult-like status. Smilebit/Sega’s Xbox shooter might not have been perfect, but its steampunk setting and science fiction vibe helped it carve an identity of its own.

GunValkyrie takes place in an alternate version of the early 1900s. During the late 19th century, a scientist named Dr. Hebbel Gate harnessed the power of Haley’s Comet to advance technology and help the British Empire take control of Earth. Recently he has gone missing but not before cutting his daughter’s head off, placing it a life support unit, and stealing her body (an act which will surely guarantee his nomination for father of the year). Making matters worse, entire colonies are disappearing and being replaced by bug-like creatures. Therefore it is up to the military force Team Dolphin to find out what’s going on.

Players take control of one of two characters, Kelly O’Lenmy or Saburota Mishima, both of which have their own weapons and abilities. The two characters also have their own difficulty levels, as Kelly is geared towards players who play on the medium difficulty and Saburota is recommended for advanced players. You often choose which character to play as before the start of each level. The two have upgradable weapons and armor, which you’ll need because the game can be very difficult. The game’s dual analog control scheme is different from other third-person shooters, so there is a very steep learning curve. Those who master it will be rewarded with some very trippy visuals which do a good job of complementing the stunning backdrops. One level in patricular has players scaling a structure as an alien creature broadcasts Dr. Gate’s voice.

GunValkyrie was a one-of-a-kind action shooter on Xbox, with some fans even comparing it to Metroid. It’s anime-inspired atmosphere made it unique. It’s too bad that Sega never decided to follow it up. Maybe Microsoft will make it available on Xbox Live’s Xbox originals.