Bloody Wolf

Also Known As: Naruzamuno Sentou Butai Bloody Wolf(Romanised JP title), Rogue Combat Squad: Bloody Wolf (Translated JP title)
Platform: TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine
Other Platforms: Arcade, Wii Virtual Console
Developer: Data East
Publisher: NEC/Data East
Released: 1990
Genre: Top-Down Shooter - Scrolling
Players: 1

Bloody Wolf is a Data East game through and through- it's a little silly, has bags of charm, and while it's mostly solid if not mind-blowing in the game mechanics department, it scores extra points for being full of weird little details that make the game hard to dislike. As either Codename: EAGLE or Coadename: SNAKE, your mission is to go deep into enemy territory, and rescue the President from the clutches of the enemy general. What awaits the Bloody Wolves in the enemy's base? There's only one way to find out...

A fairly standard Commando-style top-down shooter (with a slight side-on appearance, which is hard to articulate and can cause slight problems), Bloody Wolf is mostly concerned with killing anyone who gets in your way, but it adds some neat ideas to the genre. There's an emphasis on collecting equipment like scuba fins for increased underwater movement and muscle emphasis tablets for an increased healthbar, you can actually jump which mercifully leads to very little platform-hopping, and among your arsenal is a powerful flamethrower, flash bombs and a motorcycle you can steal from the enemy for protection and speedy getaways. It mostly does it well- in particular, the game does a good job of making the weapons feel satisfying to use, especially the Flamethrower and Bazooka, and the levels are longer than the arcade version but still feel fairly tightly constructed, with little padding. Just the right length, basically. As mentioned, though, the collision detection can be a bit iffy at times because of the slightly strange perspective- you'll sometimes be hit by bullets you swear you dodged, and while equipment is permanent, you lose any healthbar increases and standard weapons upon death. This can lead to a slight feeling of Gradius Syndrome, as some of the later bosses in particular can feel very tough without an extra health block or two.

However, as biased as it's going to sound from me- then again, who said this site was bias-free, hohoho?- I like to think Bloody Wolf gets away with it because it's got charm. It's basically a straight-to-VHS action movie in a video game, and there's a lot of silly, strange little details that make me want to just give the game a high-five. The fact that enemy soldiers are sent whizzing off the screen, Last Battle style, when they're hit with an explosive weapon. The two fights with the KNIFE KILLER sub-boss, with one ending as soon as it begins. The not-total-gibberish-but-faintly-odd dialogue in the game, mostly from the bosses. The twist- such as it is- in the second half of the game that's played so straight-faced that it becomes funny by mistake. The fact that you can give your character a code name in the first place! All these little details just appeal to my sense of humour- and, perhaps, the kind of person who gets a kick out of cheesy, ridiculous action movies- and turn what would normally be a gung-ho straight-laced action game into... I dunno, something that's kinda endearing and funny, albeit not completely for the right reasons.

On paper, removed from its odd charm, Bloody Wolf would be a 3 out of 5. Solid enough, but little more. With its little foibles and goofy details, it becomes something that's fun to play and also amusingly over-the-top. I suppose a modern equivalent, in terms of tone, would be the Earth Defence Force series- obviously, Bloody Wolf doesn't have the scale (or the giant bugs) of EDF, but it does have a similar charm to it. Basically, what I'm saying here is there may be games that do what Bloody Wolf do a little better, but not many of them do it with as much guts!

For being a Data East game, Bloody Wolf is awarded...

In a sentence, Bloody Wolf is...
Endearingly goofy.

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