I’m hungry like the wolf!
Core Design really came into their own on the 16-bit home computers, delivering the kind of games we expected on the games consoles of the time and going all out to provide both excellent graphics and sound. Wolf Child is one such game and also one that was later converted onto a few console formats, most famously as a launch game for Sega’s much-maligned Mega CD add-on where it was heavily criticised for taking advantage of the hardware on offer (although their later Mega CD games would really up the ante). But here on the Atari ST it’s very much the opposite as Wolf Child really does show what the Atari ST can do in the right hands and looks bloomin’ gorgeous. Interested to know more? Well read on then!
The plot revolves around a biotechnology researcher called Kal Morrow and his son Saul. You take the part of Saul who must rescue his father from the clutches of the evil Chimera organisation – who want to use his research to do naughty things. Saul uses one of his father’s own inventions to turn himself into a wolf-human hybrid then sets out to defeat Chimera. You start the game off in human form, but by collecting the power orbs scattered around the levels you can turn into a super-powered werewolf. Wolf Child was designed by Simon Phipps, the incredibly talented man behind such games as Rick Dangerous, Switch Blade, Thunder Hawk and Shadowman. That should tell you all you need to know about the pedigree of this title.
The game itself is a pretty standard side-scrolling arcade adventure combining elements of both platformers and beat ‘em ups as you make your way through it. That said some of the levels are pretty vast and it can become quite easy to get lost at times, running around in circles until you finally find your way to the end. So if you like making maps then Wolf Child is definitely the game for you! I should also mention that there are some pretty awesome end of levels bosses in this game too, so honing your fighting skills on the lesser enemies is a must. It will also help you greatly if you have a few power-ups at your disposal when you get to this point – you’re going to need them. A handy on-screen info panel tells you exactly what power-ups are available: your health, bonus items, score and other essential things to keep an eye on.
The design and detail throughout is stunning, with real attention paid to the animation of the main character. Wolf Child also has a lovely intro sequence to help tell the story, which is combined with some amazingly atmospheric audio that really helps set the scene. It’s played out like a Japanese anime cartoon (something that Simon Phipps is known to be a big fan of) and even features some digitised speech to go along with it. Intros usually get skipped on most games, but this is one you will want to watch to the very end. The cyberpunk style graphics really are superb – from the detailed sprites to the gorgeous backdrops. There is also some terrific music on the title screen, but sadly there are only a few effects in the game, and they become pretty obnoxious after a while. I really wish they had given you the choice to have music in-game as the title track by Martin Iveson really is excellent. Even with that small flaw though, Wolf Child is a compelling adventure that will keep you satisfied for a good time to come.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Atari ST (Reviewed), Commodore Amiga, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Mega CD, Super Nintendo, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear ; Publisher: Core Design ; Developer: Core Design ; Players: 1 ; Released: 1992 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: N/A