Golvellius is a Zelda like game. You fight monsters in real time on a field, gaining gold, and then entering caves to access upgrades or dungeon areas. It came out for the MSX, MSX2, and Sega Master System (1987 for MSX, 1988 for Sega Master System.) The first Zelda game, by the way, came out in 1986.
The game starts with an intro explaining that Kelsius is looking for Rena, who entered the valley to try to find an herb to cure her father. This plot varies a bit in some of the other versions. The game then quickly shows you entering a cave and you’re tossed into a side scrolling dungeon area.
Once you’ve defeated the giant snake at the end of the dungeon, you’re in a wide map. Fighting enemies or attacking certain rocks or trees will display a cave. Fighting enemies also gives you gold and occasionally healing “Randar” icons. The Blue Lander is a recurring character in Compile games, and in Golvellius he acts as a healer.
Upgrades include health increases, gold amount increases, sword and boot upgrades. Some of these upgrades allow you to explore other areas on the map. Others cut down on damage from projectiles. You can’t avoid buying these items, but that’s really not that different from most games in that era. For the most part, exploration provides enough gold to purchase items. When you start to attack the boss dungeons, you can run into a vertical scrolling area. This behaves a lot like a shooting game. Having the three formats (side scrolling, vertical scrolling, exploration,) makes the game quite varied for that era.
So, all in all, what is the game like? The graphics are bright and animate smoothly. While the hero looks silly moonwalking backwards in side scrolling stages, he’s still a fairly cute sprite. The sword on the hero is acceptably long for fighting enemies. This does make boss battles actually fairly easy, but easy is better than incredibly difficult. Music is incredibly catchy.
While there is not much plot in Golvellius, the plot that is there has one remarkable feature. Golvellius, who is your supposed enemy, does not die at the end of the game. While the exact plot twist isn’t amazing, it’s still an unusual feature. I think that’s the best way to describe the game. It’s awkward, it has unusual features and it’s pretty tolerable to play until you can access them.