AVAILABLE ON: NES
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.|
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?|
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.|
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 >