The Retro Critic


Topless werewolves…

Yes, there is a new Twilight movie out and yes, I’m about to talk about an Amiga classic only known as: Wolfchild.

Which also involves topless werewolves, of sorts.

I’ll start with the Sega Master System version.

Here’s a game I didn’t even realize had a plot until I reached the end screen. You start playing and you’re just dumped into that first stage without any explanation, all you know is you’re a topless dude who can turn into a werewolf when he gets enough of an energy boost.

“Wolfship” lol

Any reason why he couldn’t have just brought weapons instead of resorting to some dodgy, experimental Jekyll & Hyde morph technology?

Whatever, when you finish the game you get this shot of you and some guy sitting, watching some rocky island in the distance.

At first I really didn’t understand what that was about but when you check out the Genesis version:

There’s smoke coming out of the rock, so it turns out they’re watching the lab burn, which makes more sense than just… watching something mindlessly. Anyway, seconds after, you finally get your end message and, by extension, your plot:

Riiiiight, I get it now!

Sort of…

Draxx, fresh from his Moonraker world-domination attempt I suppose, is running some kind of organisation called Chimera which deals with using Kal’s weirdo animal-hybrid-making technology for evil. Kal is Saul’s father, you’re Saul, you somehow got hold of some awesome robot werewolf… bra thing and you’re going around trying to stop all those other monsters in order to bring down Chimera and save Kal.

Man, now THAT’s a plot.

If only we’d gotten more of it throughout the game! I wouldn’t have had to start this review backwards. Actually, I’d suggest checking out the Amiga version for that. The game begins with some pretty nifty cut-scenes:

Establishing shot, always useful.

Ooh, who’s that?

Woah, Ken looks pissed…

And famous.

Well it’s…

He-Man and the giant nipple rings to the rescue… I guess…

I kid but the following werewolf transformation is actually pretty cool. I could see myself having a couple of nightmares as a little kid watching that unfold:

And there you have it. A proper werewolf transformation done well and without too much hassle. Don’t tell me that second vignette didn’t pierce its way into the depths of your soul, because it does that. It’s like Bilbo Baggins trying to grab the ring off you: it’s freaky weird.

So yeah, that’s the plot of Wolfchild in a nutshell. Makes no sense, but pretty great nonetheless. It works.

The game itself is actually really good, every version of it.

It’s a side-scroller but you’re free to run around just about anywhere, there’s loads of pickups and secret passages to discover, not to mention tons of bizarre enemies to pulverize. As yourself, you can still get the job done but as a werewolf, you’re in for some thrilling ass-kickin’ action, my friends. Think Kid Chameleon if he’d grown up, got a wolf mask and got angry at other animal-headed imitators.

There are a bunch of bosses along the way which aren’t too hard when you know where to stand and what the patterns of their attacks are. They’re usually pretty simple to figure out.

Take these guys, for example:

With Sharkboy and Goatboy (not their actual names), all you really need to do is find a safe spot behind them and blast them with everything you’ve got.

Other villains include Topless Lizard…

…and Robot Chicken:

I love how these guys are designed, Wolfchild would have made a kickass TMNT-style cartoon series. Good old-fashioned manimal on manimal annihilation.

Wait, did I mention that Saul can travel by grasshopper?

Ok I’m not sure what they were thinking with that, to be honest…

That’s just silly.

Overall, Wolfchild is a really fun game on the Sega Master System and is well worth checking out. It is a bit strange that there’s no music throughout, though. In pretty much every other version of the game you get a score but here, it’s like they spent so much time getting the graphics and controls right they ran out of time and forgot about the audio.

Which brings me to the Genesis version.

That one does have music and differs slightly from the Master System’s in that it’s closer to the Amiga’s take and has better graphics, as does the Super Nintendo version, for that matter.

It’s a somewhat more dramatic experience playing Wolfchild on these consoles, you’ve got those stormy purple clouds moving like crazy, fun 16 bit beats playing in the background, your hair’s blowing in the wind, it’s epic! So I would actually recommend every version of this game, whether it’s pixelated, plotless and silent or not.

Like Kid Chameleon, Wolfchild is a cool game I wouldn’t mind seeing come back as a franchise in the near-future.

Team Saul!