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RELEASE DATE (NA): 1993 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Easily the scariest game since Count Chocula's Number Quest.


No? No wolf cry? ...Mmmm, alright.

Wolfchild is one of those games you don't hear much about, even though it was released on not one, not two, but SEVEN different systems. Created by the team that would eventually go on to develop the popular Tomb Raider series, Wolfchild has been left behind in the dust as one of the forgotten titles of developer Core Design, alongside such wonderful historical favourites as "Bubba 'N' Stix" and "Wonder Dog". But unlike those weird anomalies of fun, Wolfchild isn't half bad.


No, it's not time for that yet? ...Mmmm, alright.

Playing the role of Saul Morrow, the son of a biogeneticist whose works mainly revolves around transforming humans into werewolves, you find that your father has been kidnapped by the CHIMERA group, as per the request of its leader, Karl Draxx. Looks like this fellow wants to take over the world, and your dad's technology is just the ticket he's been looking for. But your father has done well in hiding away his most prized secrets... at least from everyone but you. Inviting the power into your own body, your goal is clear: rescue your ill-begotten father and take down Draxx! Sounds a bit corny, but that's just how old games go, I suppose.

Wolfchild is an action game to the core, in the same vein as Contra: Hard Corps would be a year later. Initially, Saul can only use his fists to take down the many ruthless baddies you'll encounter (and those fists do pack a wallop of fury), but by colleting orbs, he can gain some interesting powers. Not only will he turn into a wolfman, but he'll gain the ability to shoot off magical projectiles from his punches. Saul can pick up limited upgrades to this as well to further improve his offense. But this is pretty much the extent of his abilities. He can't jump on walls or bite into any necks. But wait... he can crouch! Let's hear it for crouching! Hip-hip-... ah, forget it. There is also very little done in terms of expanding on his werewolf abilities. That is to say, the game could have been exactly the same without that plot point, which is telling of the game's questionable design choices.


What? Awww, c'mon! I've been patient! ...Mmmm, alright.

No matter what creepy environment you find yourself in, a wolfchild can survive.

The game is moderately difficult, but nothing that a little practice couldn't handle. I was actually surprised at how easy the bosses fall. Thankfully, you actually have a very forgiving life meter that doesn't dwindle quickly. Taking too many hits, however, will cause Saul to lose his wolfly stature and reduce him back to his lowly but still muscular human form. The big issue comes in that levels are far too long and provide little variety. Of note is a scene where you are riding an elevator up... for a very long time while the same groups of enemies hop on board more times than I can count. It gets dry after the first few waves... and definitely boring by about wave #20. The rest of the levels aren't quite as tedious as this, but a little variation in gameplay would have gone a long way.

Graphically speaking, the game looks...mmmm, alright. Most characters you'll come across, including your own, are well-detailed and appear very lively in the seven stages of the game, even if they don't exactly reek of originality. Movement on-screen is impressively fluid. Wolfchild's environments retain a certain level of darkness overall; you'll never find yourself in the middle of a sunny field, for example -- such is the way with any wolfman-themed venture. Unfortunately, it also adds a level of sterility to your surroundings: frankly, they can get dull after a while. Wolfchild's music is a blend of hip-hop beats and funky rhythms that sometimes are interesting but other times are not. Hit-and-miss is the name of the game (well, actually, it's Wolfchild, but you know what I mean), but the experience can be easily enjoyable with or without the music. At least there is effective use of stereo. Sound effects also rank the same; they are the standard poofs and whistles that you can get out of the Genesis' sound chip.

As a sidenote in this regard, Wolfchild was actually released on Sega CD a year before it was ported to the Sega Genesis. Because of the limited space on a game cartridge, many things needed to be cut, most notably the CD-quality soundtrack and the FMV introduction. The former is, indeed, a curse; removing the latter is a blessing because that introduction is cheesy as hell, with mild animation and an art style more befitting a children's cartoon than a tale about biogenetic mutation and werewolves. Other than these two aspects, Wolfchild for Sega Genesis is more or less the same, give or take a few sound effects. The Sega CD version is likely the superior find, but this one will do in a pinch if gameplay is your primary motive. Wolfchild can stand on its own merits as a decent action-platformer, but against the other greats of its time, it falls flat are a generic offering. The fact that the game advertises its main character as a werewolf is deceptive, as it really has no bearing on your capabilities during the journey. You won't be disappointed by this title, but it won't exactly have you glued to the television set either.

Okay, now? ...Yeah? Great!


That felt good.

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