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And So It Begins...

The Xenos have captured your daughter and enslaved her along with thousands of others. After years of gruelling training with the best mercenaries in the universe you take on your mission with a vengeance. The most dangerous planet, TALOS V, awaits you. 
~ from the archived website

If you really think about it, the term MetroidVania really did Samas Aran dirty. The first entry may have released the same year for the Nintendo's original entertainment system, but it would be two console generations before Castlevania would ditch the action-platformer gameplay for the more explorative open-ended approach. That would be Symphony of the Night, and a year before it rocked the PlayStation, a more egregious Metroid clone would hit home computers; Vigilance on Talos V developed by PolyEx Software.

In a sea of Euro-platformers there was nothing quit like it on your monitor at the time. Computer fanboys looking for a decent platformer often looked at the Super NES or Mega Drive in envy so when one of those janky-looking shareware titles turned out to be something special, you have to truly cherish it. Alas, Vigilance on Talos V has sadly been forgotten, though you could argue it was for good reason; it is a blatant clone of Nintendo's Super Metroid. Down to the Morph Ball (or Saturn Ball as it's known here) to the percentage health bar to different types of bullets acting as keys to open doors - it's pretty much identical. And for a system that didn't have Metroid, that's a good thing.

Shoot the bubbles on those grey doors to travel to new rooms. Like Metroid (left).
Collect new gadgets by finding this game's version of a Chozo Statue. Like Metroid (right).

A 31st century mercenary named Killian Jaraad replaces Samas Aran. He's on a mission to find his daughter who has been kidnapped into the slave trade on the planet of Talos V. It is home to an unruly colony rife with crime and all sorts of nefariousness, though you are not wholly without some alien allies. Green insectoid creatures will offer brief clues and advice - complete with a raspy voice over - whenever you interact with them by pressing Up. Even though the game takes place over three distinct locales, it never quite coalesces into something that feels like a real place. A quality its inspiration has in spades.

What it does have, however, is a decent convolution of rooms to navigate and backtrack through in search for upgrades and power-ups. I've already mentioned the Saturn Ball, but you can also gain access to familiar abilities such as the Grapple Hook, the Jump Boots or Missile Upgrades. Out of all of these gadgets, there is one that's not seen in Nintendo's property; the X-Ray Goggles which allow you to uncover secret passages and hidden areas. 

Save Game Pods are usually tucked away in their own room or location. Like Metroid (left).
Teleporters transport you to a completely new area. Kinda like Metroid (right).

Even though Killian is responsive and easy to control, he can be easily caught in unwinnable situations. With their skilled quality assurance team, Nintendo made sure Ms Aran couldn't get stuck, but that is not the case here. Missiles and Bombs are limited, and the doors and tiles that are opened or destroyed by these (along with any downed enemy) reset whenever you enter a new area. This means that those Saturn Ball Bombs you used to get to the unexplored room will need to be used again on the journey back. I found it best not to waste those missiles on enemies, instead saving them for troublesome doors. Creatures do drop the odd missile when defeated, but more often than not it'll be energy units left by their corpse instead.

Even so, Vigilance on Talos V is an excellent example of a Metroid clone released on a system that - to my knowledge - wouldn't get anything like it with this level of quality until console emulation hit the scene. Well worth it in my view.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox-X build of DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 34.8 Mb.  Install Size: 73.3 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Vigilance on Talon V is © Square Wheel Studios Inc
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. You could argue the term did Castlevania dirty too. There's a significant (albeit probably dwindling) portion of that series' fanbase that liked the linear platformers better, and felt the sharp turn towards exploration heavy games left them underserved and ignored by later entries. That the name then became associated with the Metroidvania term was probably salt in the wound..

    1. Absolutely! I admit I do prefer the MetroidVania mechanic over the O.G. Castlevanias, but I wonder if the popularity of the term made Komani think they couldn't go back. It did give us the GBA trilogy (still available through the Advance Collection) which contain some of the best in the franchise though. In my opinion at least.

    2. Really, what was done dirty was Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, which was Metroid-ing way back in 1989, way before Castlevania. So, it should really have been MetroidBoys. Or WonderMetroids.

  2. It's an interesting thought as to what an alternative term for the "MetroidVania" could have been. "Metroidlike", perhaps (as in Roguelike - itself a term coined from the 1980 game Rogue)?

    1. The japanese already solved this by calling them "search-action", it's descriptive like any other genre.