Can we talk about Data East for a second? Let's talk about Data East.

Yes, this requires a big DATA EAST logo. This is important.

It's probably very important to note that I am a bit of a Data East fan. Well, maybe not 'bit of a fan'. More like 'a huge fan'. Now, I'm not an expert on them- far from it, especially for their home console stuff- but I am an enthusaist, let's put it like that. In addition to putting out some solid games, there's something about their output that's hard to articulate- they have this weird charm to them. Maybe it's the over-the-top nature of some of them, or their characters that stand out from other game characters (including their king, Karnov), or maybe even the strange game mechanics (taking established things like the rotary joysticks from Ikari Warriors and putting them in a Cotnra-alike, for example) but I can't help but like them. They've got moxie. They've got charm. They try their best.

In particular, their arcade output (and some of the NES/Mega Drive ports thereof) is fascinating, and I'll take this opportunity to rattle off a list of some of the games they've put out that really encapsulate what they're about- Karnov, Boogie Wings, Chelnov - Atomic Runner, Wolf Fang, Road Blaster (yes, that Road Blaster), Edward Randy, Wizard Fire, Crude Buster, Night Slashers, that kind of thing. Especially Edward Randy. And that's even without mentioning cult multiplayer classics Woindjammers and Magical Drop, or the old standard, Bad Dudes. My point is I'm a little biased about Data East. Their games are goofy, but with guts. They hold a special place in my heart, so that might be worth bearing in mind as I talk about today's chosen game.

Speaking of, I'm actually going to talk about the game now.

That game is the TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine port of Bloody Wolf.

A game which is every cheesy action movie condensed into video game form... Aand man, I'm OK with that.

Except I'm not talking about the game right now. Tiny history lesson incoming!

While I'm going to guess most people are familiar with the TruboGrafx-16/PC-Engine port of Bloody Wolf, which, as you may have noticed, is the one we're talking about today- I'm guessing that mostly because of its temporary second life on the Wii Virtual Console service- it started life as an arcade game from 1988 (or maybe 1989, if arcade-history has it right here). Released in some parts of the world as Battle Rangers (with a different translation depending on region- Battle Rangers is the one with the most famous line, so you can see above) it's... Well, it's OK. As far as Commando-style shooters go, it does the job- you've got a standard weapon and a sub-weapon like grenades or flash bangs- although its view perspective feels a little different, which can lead to bullets hitting you when you wouldn't think they would. Much like Data East's previous Commando shooter, Heavy Barrel, there's a mix of horizontal and vertical scrolling, but with the added benefit of being able to scroll at your leisure, but unlike HB there's no rotary joystick for this one. The main addition comes in the form of items- either found in crates or handed over by hostages, amongst the normal special weapons and grenades, you'll find permanent equips like fins for moving underwater, infared goggles for spotting traps, and keys for locks, and the game is a lot harder without them. There's also a motorcycle you can steal to run people over with, a jump button (a rarity in the genre) and the charming translation is a big plus, but I have the feeling that playing the TG-16 version first left me a bit disappointed with it. For reasons we shall see shortly (and the fact that it kinda feels a bit choppy somehow).

(Actually talking about the version I'm supposed to be talking about now- honest).

So, the Turbografx-16/PC-Engine port, coming to us from the year 1990, is in the vein of a handful of Data East home ports, like Karnov, Crude Buster and Chelnov, where while much of the game is the same (although unlike some of those, the plot remains the same- Codename: EAGLE or Codename: SNAKE must go deep into enemy territory, rescue and extract info from M.I.A.s inside, and most importantly, rescue the President) it's been modified and altered to give a slightly different, and arguably better, experience. TG-16 Bloody Wolf does have some omissions, mind you- in particular, two player co-op is missing, you only get three hits per continue and must restart from a checkpoint if you die, and the game has a bit more flickering and slowdown than its arcade counterpart. However, most of the defining traits of the arcade game are present and correct- the jump button, the focus on collecting items, motorcycles, and different types of grenades to get (not just the standard-issue pineapple here)- but there's plenty of changes too. The levels have been expanded and rearranged (including one totally new level that ties in with the new 'second half' of the game) with different enemies and boss patterns changed a bit, and there's slightly more emphasis on the game's plot, with hilarious results. As we shall see.

Like I said, the game has an emphasis on item collection, so here's a handy list for you:

Special Weapons
(Use with Button II)

Spread-shot. Bill and Lance would be proud!

Fires rockets. Catapults enemies off-screen.

(Use with Run)

Hand Grenade
Standard grenade. You start each life with 20 of them.

Powerful Grenade
Like the Hand Grenade, but far more powerful.

Flash Bomb
Stuns enemies for a brief moment. Mostly useless..

Massive range! Penetrating! Max Power!!

Key Items
(Always Active)

You start with this equipped. Close-range attack.

Opens locked crates with little fuss.

Increases underwater movement speed.

Infared Scope
Lets you see laser tripwires in the enemy base.

Body Armour
Reduces damage taken by certain enemy attacks.

Rosary/Rabbit's Foot
Will randomly cancel out one (1) hit taken.

Health Items
(Text Only)

Resotres 1 health block.

Resotres all health blocks.

Muscle Emphasis Tablets
Adds 1 health block to maximum (up to 6).

We're almost ready to start- this intro may seem a bit brief, but much of what makes Bloody Wolf special is in the game itself, and it'd be remiss of me to explain it all to you before we even start playing. Just to warn you, though, Bloody Wolf is a pretty high-level game. Not high-level as in it's really tough or complicated- when you know what you're doing, the difficulty is medium, really- but high-level as in it's so ridiculous and over-the-top that you might not handle it. Are you sure you're even ready for it, punk?!

Codename: SNAKE begins his deadly infiltration of enemy territory on the next page!