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Werewolf: The Last Warrior

Released: 1991
Company: Data East
Genre: Action

It's pretty evident that I don't give games high ratings simply because all the other NES fans think the game is terrific. Well, now it's time to turn the tables. This game is constantly lambasted by others in the fandom, mostly because of its one big mistake. I, however, see it differently. In some cases, it's actually the Metroid of 1991 - it would've gotten a much better response if not for its fatal flaw.

First of all, let's talk about the game's storyline, which is easily the strongest facet of the game. All right, I'll admit: I am more than a bit biased when I say that (one look at my Bio page and you'll see why), but even from an objective standpoint these guys did more than their share of presenting the exposition well. I'm talking about a small comic book included with the game, which presents the plot much better than any paragraph in an instruction manual ever could. It's also the main reason why this game hadn't sunk even further into the depths of mediocrity.

Now that I've addressed the game's strongest point, I feel it necessary to progress into its weakest link: the Play Control. The rating explanation page is clear: any game that switches the control buttons and forces us to work against our instinct gets a 1 automatically. True, in the number of times I've played this game, I have finally gotten used to the controls, but it's the priniciple mainly; virtually all other NES games have established the concept that A jumps and B punches; why go the other way around? This isn't Data East's first offense, either: Rampage and Robocop, both DE products, have also been condemned for similar if not identical problems. And frankly, I think that's one of the reasons Data East always was a second-rate company.

The other aspects of Werewolf are relatively average. The graphics are pretty well-detailed, and the animation isn't bad either. If there was any problem with the visuals, it's the cinema scenes. At the beginning of each level, some spirit guide tells you of the dangers ahead. I just wish there was a bit more interaction on his part instead of just him talking. Still, it's a minimal problem. The music really isn't all that impressive. You'll often be switching back to two themes: the one that plays when you're human, and the one when you're transformed. Neither one of them lasts much longer than 15 seconds, and it detracts from the game's enjoyment a bit.

As for the game's challenge, the goofy-footed play control certainly factors in. It's somewhat difficult to pay attention to both the screen and what buttons you're pressing at the same time, but that's what this game forces you to do. The game itself is pretty difficult, mostly because the enemies move awful fast, and you only get one life. (The manual wants to fool you into thinking you have more - but they're only continues). Plus, there's at least one place where you can be killed instantly for a rather innocuous action. In the second level, I was climbing steel girders trying to find a way up, when I dropped back down to the ground. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning strikes me, and it's game over. Last but certainly not least is the time limit, which they should've lynched from the start. I'm really against time limits in action games, mostly because they force you to rush through the game without really exploring it.

Once again, my bias may come into play here, but I do enjoy this game a bit. Despite the backwards play control, I find it difficult to put this game down. The occasional oversaturation of enemies will occasionally frustrate you, especially since you revert back to your wimpy human self if your energy drops too low, at which point you're dead meat. On the other hand, it can be quite fun to take control of such an underappreciated creature. Very few games have come out with a werewolf as the hero (the only other one I can think of is Sega CD and SNES' Wolf Child, and I'm desparately hunting for the CD version), and that's really a shame. </editorial> Although I haven't owned this game for more than a week, I just don't think this game will stand the test of time, however. Regardless of the idea behind it, in the end it's just another side-scrolling action game.

Overall, if it wasn't for the faulty play control that just kills this game's rating, Werewolf: The Last Warrior would've easily made it into the 80% range. If you're into this kinda stuff, I recommend it, but not without a warning.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 10
Challenge: (Hard)
Thrill: (Frustrating)
Aesthetic Score: 16
Overall Score: 62%