Anyone reading this remember Core Design?
You do, huh? Do you remember them for anything other than Tomb Raider? Yes?
Well it's good to know I'm in good company then.
Core Design made some pretty decent platformers back in their time for sure, and as a personal upside, they were huge supporters of the Mega CD. That console needed more games that weren't as i mentioned in my previous review, just fodder for mocking the add-on. That and lazy Mega Drive ports that were honestly just useful for putting out games that just cost less to put onto a physical medium.
Wolfchild isn't one of those games.
Wolfchild, a game initially started on the Amiga, was a 2D platformer with about 5 levels. One boss for each level. It's also not an amiga game that feels like it was put out for a quick buck like many arcade ports looks like. I haven't played them but they look like they play horribly. That however is in part due to the fact that the game was made for the Amiga market, that being Europe.
I'm not going to be talking about the home computer versions here, as I don't think it would be all too pertinent, but from what it looks like, it looks like it plays similarly to other versions.
Where this review is being based is on the Mega CD version, however, I will cover all of the home ports.
Firstly, the people that "reviewed" the MCD version and said it was identical to the MD version were lazy. Play more of the game and you might see that the game was expanded upon.
The short of the story is Saul Morrow, the son of a scientist whose biological weapon expertise got him kidnapped and his wife and other son killed, goes to save his father using his most recent project, "Project Wolfchild" (ergo the name), to kill the Chimera (as that's their only name and only used in the Mega-CD version), their leader, Draxx, and save his father.
Graphically, this game overall looks very dull, and while it seems a bit lazy and ugly, it feels kind of right for the mood the game is trying to achieve. It looks right, but there can be times where you are fooled as to where you can go and where you can't. However, if you look close, you can see where you are and aren't supposed to go and while it is subtle, the hints are there. The look of the game can't really be commented on other than an intentional dark and gritty atmospheric look for the first two areas and then an industrial look for the last two areas. The third area, I don't even know. There's sure a lot of bugs. By that I mean actual insects. Not glitches.
Sound is where we run into differences. We have MODs for the Amiga, YM2612 music for the Genesis, based on the Amiga, completely new CD music for the Mega-CD, and the SNES version based on the Mega-CD version. It's said in some places that the SNES version came first, but that really doesn't seem as such.
The MODs for the Amiga are ok, albeit they're not amazing, but not bad at all.
The Genesis took the Amiga music and gave it the character of the Yamaha chip. If you ask me, this is one of Matt Furniss's better works because of just how it feels overall. It has the gritty character of the Genesis and it's likeable, especially for this game. A minor nitpick I have is the Level 3 Boss music's percussion, therein the drums, constantly sound off-beat. A minor nitpick I know, but a problem nonetheless when listening to the music on its own. However, the Wolfship level, the first level, in this version sounds really cool. The sound effects are ok as well, notthing to write home about
The Mega-CD verion uses all new tracks composed by Martin Iveson. They're atmospheric and they fit the game well. The mixing on the music sounds just right, too. I really enjoy it. The SE are all handled by the good old RICOH chip, so they sound extra crunchy.
The SNES version takes the Mega-CD music and strips it of most of its instruments. It sounds a lot like if they moved the music back to the Amiga version and kind of empty. I'm not a fan, but credit where credit is due. Stage 5 sounds cool. That's unfortunately where it ends for me. I've never gotten the hype around it.
The GG/SMS version uses a sped up version of the Genesis's Wolfship track and really sounds generic. Not a fan. Otherwise, just sound effects that would make an Atari feel empowered.
Gameplay wise, it differs betwen platforms. The MCD version is definitive here as well, and that is because it includes a "rapid" option so you can press the button all the time and not care about the game waiting a few seconds since your last projectile. Same goes for the MD version, however the MCD version has extra stages which are much appreciated. Not to mention that other than the first stage, each one is designed differently than all the other versions. It's rock solid on the MD, but is the best on the MCD.
The load times in this game aren't terrible at all.
The SNES version has graphics in trade for worse gameplay. There's more in the graphics! Including scaling of sprites which the MCD should have had! However, it doesn't have nearly as fluid of gameplay and overall the feel of this version stockpiled with the music I'm not a big fan of means I don't find myself enjoying this version at all.
The SMS and Game Gear versions are a complete and utter total joke. Barren and silent aside from sound effects that are pathetic. 'Nuff said.
One of my big problems with this game is a problem I also have with The Terminator on Mega-CD; that being no invincibility frames. Many times I've gotten a ton of hits in rapid succession, not to mention that usually enemies take two of your health bar, and while it is extendable, it's quite annoying. Bombs aren't plentiful and many times things come out of nowhere and hit you. Whether it being falling from the ceiling or coming up from the floor or shots that you can't avoid because they're coming horizontally and you're in a low-clearance corridor. Many times I've come across that and it's annoying. Very. Not to mention bombs are very scarce.
Another problem is that the levels from L3 onwards just throw everything at you and it becomes ridiculous to the point that it's not even funny, so many saws and bugs and fireballs that take so much health away, it's really irritating when it comes to that. Meshed with no invincibility frames and there you go, that's that part of the game being stupidly hard for no good reason. The Mega-CD version has completely different levels and it makes the levels not as annoying to traverse through. The bosses are also not much to mention other than Draxx himself. They're easy.
Draxx becomes "super epic megadeth wolf" and is still easy, that is, if you are regular Saul.
This game does have the best anti-cheat protection in that fact, seeing as if you don't get as much health as you can get throughout the game, you're screwed in the later levels. Everything takes two bars of health away, and you're constantly getting hit by things that you can't avoid. That's sure as hell irritating.
That is, unless you know you can punch or shoot at enemies' projectiles.
One upside about this game is that by pausing the game, with collecting more powerups as the wolf throughout the game, you can swap through them by pausing the game and pressing left or right, but be forewarned that it's very sensitive so you must tap lightly and keep going back and forth to find the one you need. It does break the flow however, which is a bit of a problem.
The other upside is that if you put in the password MARIO into the SMS/GG version, you get a cheeky message saying "Never heard of him" and you get to go to stage 5. Not like you'd want to play that version though.
Overall, I enjoyed this game. It's very flawed, but it's also quite solid. Give it a try and or a purchase.