perjantai 7. helmikuuta 2014

REVIEW - Wolverine | NES | 1991

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
DEVELOPER(S): Software Creations

As popular as the X-Men are as a group, take away this guy and you've got a bunch of throwaways who probably would have never made through their first decade. Wolverine - or Logan - is the driving force of the X-Men franchise; an ultra-violent, alcoholic, seemingly immortal powerhouse with severe trust issues and total lack of social discretion... and huge, razor-like claws he can summon at will whenever the going gets too tough. Wolverine has starred as the lead character in every X-Men movie; they couldn't even pass on a Wolverine cameo in the prequel X-Men: First Class which didn't actually involve him in any way. There he was for about ten seconds, played by Hugh Jackman as always, and he made the most out of those few seconds. In addition, he had an origin movie of his own, and one more movie based on a 1982 limited series comic book. Likewise, he has starred in most X-Men games, been involved in most Marvel all-star games, and had a few games of his own, including a few based on his 2009 origin movie. This NES game was the first of its kind in that last category, and I doubt there was much in the developers' minds beyond making a game that bore Wolverine's fine name. Like a real story, or playability. Just the potential, the monetary potential at that. In its defense, I must say Wolverine is better than The Uncanny X-Men. Seeing who produced it, though, reveals the ugly truth behind that compliment.

Keep those claws where we can't see 'em

Logan's been stranded on a desert island after a bad night on the town, it seems. He soon figures out he's been captured by Sabretooth and Magneto, and has to fight his way through nine different trials that put his supernatural being to its limits.

In short, Logan's the man. He was at the very least one of the first in a long line of superheroes to break the mold of the stereotypical superhero; he didn't really care for other people's wellbeing before joining the X-Men and finding a responsible cause to go with his great powers. Someone was getting robbed on the street, he tried his best to avoid the situation, but if they got in HIS face, he cleaned house, to be followed by praises he only found awkward and most likely told whoever he just reluctantly "saved" to go fuck themselves in lack of better social skills and wordsmanship. Even with the X-Men, most of his personality and liking to alcohol and hot women remained intact, so he made for a great polar opposite for every other lead mutant in the franchise, who were practically raised by Professor X, who even as the man with the calmest demeanor in the world has difficulties putting up with Logan's reckless and violent antics. Logan's love/hate relationship with life is one of the keys to his great success and popularity. Whenever there's an X-Men game, we expect to see Wolverine on some sort of personal vendetta. Especially when the game itself is named Wolverine. Capcom was making absolutely fantastic licensed games at the time. Konami was making even better ones. They would've been great nominees for making this game, and both of them did go on to make Marvel games sooner or later. In the end, we got a game that utterly lacked a real story, made it really difficult to enjoy the main character's finest traits, and was conceived by practically decent developers who however were working under the conditions of the shittiest publishers in the business, who were also responsible for The Uncanny X-Men, (possibly) the worst game ever made. Case closed... nearly.

Mega Man vs. Wolverine: Air Man's Revenge.
You see, compared to The Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine hits you like a masterpiece. In every possible way. It's honestly fun to play for a while, just because it is so much better by every measure. You can honestly play it for as long as two minutes before you start to see how much it sucks, every measure, EXCEPT for the music, which is actually really good, quality stuff, might even be some of the best music I've heard in an NES game produced by LJN Toys. I had to look it up, and I found that the music's composed by Geoff Follin (brother of the more famous Tim Follin) whose resume is bloodstained with several licensed games, including the already reviewed T2: Judgment Day (the NES version) and Batman Forever, several versions of that dumb-and-dumber video game adaptation of The Incredible Crash Dummies, and finally, one of the most bashed Marvel games of all time, Silver Surfer, which is coming around soon enough. Good work, bad employers. I know how it feels. The graphics are also pretty good, considering this is an LJN game where even the largest sprites have usual difficulties to look at least normal.

The gameplay's where the fun stops, once again - but! The controls are slightly delayed, but overall quite good, except for the swimming controls. Due to the delay, it's impossible to regain control right away after falling into water, meaning you usually sink like a brick and usually right on top of enemy traps in the bottom. There's no period of invincibility on your back after you take a hit, instead you take constant damage until you can get the fuck away from traps. Even enemy projectiles do the same sort of constant damage as long as they are, sometimes vertically, passing through Wolverine's body. The level design reeks at the very least when it comes to enemy placements. Narrow platforms are melee attackers' favourite spots, and whenever you're trick jumping on platforms on top of utter emptiness, you can be damn sure to bump into a LOT of flying bastards who you don't even have a chance to hit, and whose projectiles you have nearly just as little chance to dodge. Level 3's trial is based on traps, a lot of which are utterly impossible to survive without losing some of your precious health. I guess you were supposed to be able to dodge some pendulums falling on you in a narrow hallway by crawling under them, but it isn't possible. It's so close to possible, however, that I think the developers made a bit of an architectural mistake there.

Now how in the blue hell did you get in here?
The game is unforgivingly hard and many have compared it to Silver Surfer in that sense - I can tell you right now, though, even if the Silver Surfer review is still to come, that it's nowhere near Silver Surfer when it comes to difficulty in any form. There are only nine levels, they can be beaten in just a few minutes each, and every time you die, you are taken to the nearest solid platform to respawn - be warned, though, you only have six lives to spare before it's game over, and enemy placements alone make it so hard to merely survive these levels. I quickly figured out a sure-fire way to survive the game with somewhat better odds, though. You're not going to like it.

Before I tell you what it is, let's talk a bit about the power-ups. Beer is called Power Potion. That's it about the power-ups, I just had to mention that 'cause I found it hilarious. What separates "Power Potion" from the more usual hamburgers - once again, but they kinda fit for once - is that it also regenerates your Berzerker meter. The Berzerker meter is filled whenever you get a long enough winning streak over enemies without taking any damage (yeah, I know: "YOU WISH!"), after which Logan goes into a totally uncontrollable kill 'em all mode, during which he also regenerates all his health. Could be a fun gameplay element, if it wasn't so impossible to achieve, and if you could somehow trigger it yourself. Also, there are hidden pathways in some levels, where your fellow X-Men await and offer you some sort of a permanent perk for the rest of the game. Let's not question the logic how they've found you and why they won't just haul your ass out of there... all right? Let's instead question the logic why mandatory perks such as Jubilee's underwater breathing ability have to be made secrets for you to find, sometimes very illogical ones, and not perks you automatically gain after making a certain amount of progress. Psylocke's Havok-summoning device (don't ask, looks like a remote control) is even noted in the HUD from the start, and while it isn't that hard to find - it's in Level 2 - the "secret" to getting to that "hidden" doorway well out of your jump's reach is behind some illogica maxima (I made that up just now, turned out pretty good).

Water ain't good.
Finally, here's my - and your - favourite part: to survive the game a little better, stop using the claws. I know how it sounds like, but it must be done. Using Wolverine's claws to go with his fists doesn't deal that much more damage to enemies, the claws retract automatically after you take a certain amount of hits, and finally, it's the claws themselves that deal damage to you! No bullshit; every time you hit an enemy with your claws out, you lose health. It's the same thing as in most beat 'em ups, you know, where you get a kinda penalty from using a special attack. The thing is, this ain't no special attack! It's not an act of desperation! It's what Wolverine does, God damn it! Where would Wolverine be without his claws? They're a part of him, they're iconic, and these bastards throw around penalties for using them. The game was made nine years before the first movie, and a year before the animated series which brought the X-Men to wider attention, but just reading one half of any X-Men comic book would've helped the developers to realize that the claws are Wolverine's thing. He is called WOLVERINE. As in an animal with sharp claws. Fuck! ...I'm sorry, what I meant to say was: FUCK!

It's illogical, impossible, uncomfortable, the design reeks, and the presentation ain't all that good, but considering the quality of the last X-Men game on the NES, Wolverine was most definitely a step into a better direction... and, somewhat ironically, the second and last X-Men game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The 16-bit era gave us some cult titles, let's see what pranks time has pulled on those games.

+ Decent graphics and genuinely good music
+ It's Wolverine...

- ...Without claws; the claws are there, but they only do harm
- Crappy level design
- The game is near-impossible to beat, let alone master, due to all the wrong reasons
- Illogica maxima (had to say that again... and I'll have to write it down)

< 5.9 >

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti