Year released: 1993
Usually when you get into something at a young enough age, it sticks with you for life. If you read comic books when you're 5, chances are you'll grow up with a gigantic collection of them. Baseball fans might start trading, then collecting baseball cards. The above theory is the reason why I love game shows. It's also why I still enjoy video games, I still listen to They Might Be Giants and Weird Al, and, to prevent this paragraph from seeming out of place, it's also why much of my interest in writing is fixated upon werewolves. I'll spare the details. I'll just say that such is the reason I bought this game. And the game is the reason why I bought a Sega CD system; so I could play it. And the Sega CD is the reason I bought a Genesis; so the CD would work. After 6 years of searching, and about a $75 blow to my bank account, I had finally gotten my hands on this game.
And I wasn't disappointed. Not just in the manner you'd probably suppose at this point, either - this was a genuinely good game. Other versions of the same game have come out on the Super NES and on the stand-alone Genesis1, but for obvious reasons the Sega CD is the best one to get, as long as you have all the hardware to play it.2 Although it's the only game I have for the entire system, I wouldn't be surprised if this were the best game to come out for the Sega CD. Especially since most of the other games tried to be more like interactive movies.
The technical aspects of this game are mesmerizing. Some of the graphics look a little bit cartoony, but the backgrounds and animation are superb. Although I think the game structure is pretty much the same across the board (which I'll address later), the visual facet of the game must've gotten some sort of extra boost. The jungle levels are lush and colorful, the temple is in all its foliage-covered splendor, and some of the later enemies and bosses look very daunting. As for the audio side of things, having CD-quality sound is again a boon. Instead of going right for the electric guitars and drum kits, the music seems to be toned down, almost at a leisurely pace, reminding the player that there is no rush, that exploration is allowed, and that patience is rewarded. The sound effects themselves are unintrusive, especially for item pick-ups; you can barely hear the sound it makes, but you know when you've come across something. And what about that digitized howl...
Continuing in this little homage to this game, I must give due credit to the play control. I'm not a big fan of Genesis controllers; they're big and clunky, cause cramps in your hands if held for too long, and places your hands too far apart. Still, I found the control to be somewhat intuitive. Of course, this is largely due to the fact that you can configure which buttons do what, and I'm not exactly sure I'd be singing the same praises if I was bound to the control scheme the game uses as its default (A for smart bomb, B to jump, C to attack). Hit detection is great, recoil is minimal, and your hero doesn't do much sliding around (which is important, since many floors are lined with booby traps)
The learning curve also seems to be employed quite well. For one thing, there are three difficulty settings, so anyone can pick this game up and play it. Second, there is not an overpopulation of enemies; sometimes taking out one strategically-placed baddie is just as difficult as defeating three or four foes who are just running at you. The aforementioned traps on the floors also discourage rushing through this game. There's no timer, thankfully, so you're free to explore as you will and forge through each level at a leisurely pace. And the game doesn't get too easy when you're in wolf form, either; since it's based on life energy, usually all you can take is one hit and you're back to your old, puny self again.
As I said above, the gameplay is similar, if not identical, to the Genesis and SNES versions. So why, you ask, should I endure the duress you went through to get this game? Assuming I have a Sega CD in the first place, why should I look far and wide for this game?
For the same reason you buy the director's cut of a movie as opposed to the standard edition. For the same reason you register a Shareware program.3 For the same reason you subscribe to a gaming magazine as opposed to just buying it off the newsstand. You do it to get all the extra bells and whistles.
In the case of this game, there's only one extra bell, but it's what separates this game from being good and being a must-own. Leave the game on long enough (past all the produced-by-designed-by-programmed-by credits) and you'll be tuned into a cinema story to open the game. Although it runs a little slow, it describes the exposition perfectly, and oh yeah - you get to see the hero turn into Wolfchild for the first time. Believe me, if I could give the plot rating a 7 or an 8, this would make me do it.
So let me be perfectly clear about this game, who should look for it, and who shouldn't. If you own a Sega CD, search for this thing. Now. You'll be glad you did. Those who don't, be content with the lower-end versions of the game. I might (this is a big might) Snap the opening movie for you, but it just won't compare.
1. Someone research this for me - how many other games have been released on three systems?
2. This is assuming that I'm the only one who's so hard-wired to get this game that I'd get the game before getting any of the systems.
3. That, and the fact that it expires after 2 weeks, and the programmers were smart enough to make the program not work if you try to install it with your clock set years in the future.
|Play Control: ||
|Technical Score: 15
|Aesthetic Score: 22
|Overall Score: 89%|