Hungry like the wolf
When I was a little girl, I loved going to the doctor’s office. I didn’t like seeing the doctor, mind you — I just wanted to take advantage of the completely free-to-play arcade game Bloody Wolf in the waiting room. At first, I wasn’t very good at the game (back then, I didn’t even know what the game was called), but after faking sick enough times I achieved my lifetime goal at aged nine, speedrunning through the entire game and beating the boss — all before the nurse called my name. In 1998, there was nothing particularly special about Bloody Wolf at first glance — just that it was free and there — but, given enough time, it revealed its charm to me, from level design down to sound effects.
Patience was the virtue required to bring out all the positives of Bloody Wolf to me, and it was that same patience again that allowed Wolf’s Fury to shine.
Developed and published by Myoubouh Corp and available on Steam, Wolf’s Fury plays like a long-forgotten TurboGrafx-16 port of a hidden arcade gem, which I do believe the developer was going for. Not just in graphics, but even the storyline and handling feel like a trip though time.
Players take on the role of Wolger, an amalgamation of man and wolf — an “altered beast” if you will (see what I/they did there) — created by the evil scientist Doctor Scandalious. Brought to life to do the mastermind’s bidding, Wolger rejects his fabricated purpose and sets off to meet his maker, perhaps hoping to undo this weird science and bring him back to normal.
For whatever reason, this means that Wolger has to traipse through completely different regions, such as a wooded area, a cityscape, a scalding desert, etc., to find the mad scientist who dared shake his fist at God.
Controls are easy enough, but the tutorial doesn’t explain them in the best possible way. It would be nicer if there was a diagram, perhaps, of all the controls on a keyboard laid out that could be accessible with just a click on the pause menu; instead, there’s a lengthy tutorial that blasts players with walls and walls of text — at one point, a text block completely covered the *entire* screen, and with no way to exit out of it (the dev seemed to want to force players to read it at the slowest possible pace), it can feel slightly bugged, like the text is supposed to go away but doesn’t.
Tutorial aside, once players are actually launched into the game, controls are somewhat intuitive. Arrow keys control movement, while space bar is the main attack. A is block and D is your special attack, while W shuffles through various special attacks Wolger can perform. Depending on the situation, you’ll need to switch up the attack to keep going; sometimes a barrier will prevent movement, yet baddies on the other side need beating, so a long range attack will be required. By cycling through attacks and dipping and dodging where possible, players will get Wolger from the left side of the screen to the right and to the end of each level.
Once players get through all the small fry, it’s time to tackle the big bad guys — at the end of each level is the boss, and each boss battle is different. The wooded area battle has an archer-type boss where timing between arrows fired is key, while the cityscape features a gang-type duo where going all in, tank-style, will get the job done. The fact that there’s some type of strategy is nice and shows a lot of thought and care put into the mechanics of the game.
In terms of visuals, the 8-bit style of Wolf’s Fury really channels other classic retro games in the way that you remember them and not necessarily how they truly appeared. You know how in your memory, certain S/NES games look great, but when you pop them in to take a trip down memory lane, they’re a bit lacking? That’s not the case with Wolf’s Fury — there’s something deliciously vibrant about it that feels nostalgic despite it being a new game, and one that’s almost already in our heads and hearts due to the design and animation.
So where Wolf’s Fury deserves praise, it also deserves some constructive feedback — for one, the text in general is pretty hard to get through, so asking an editor to go through the copy would certainly make an impact. There are parts of the game that are really oddly translated while others aren’t translated at all (and are instead in French), so this little bit of attention would do wonders for a game clearly full of love.
The music doesn’t build up the game — the sound effects are fine, but for whatever reason, the music and the gameplay just don’t vibe. It’s not bad music, don’t get me wrong, but with the soundtrack laid against the darker 8-bit tones, it just makes the entire game feel dated and generic, and not in the happy nostalgic way.
The controls are only intuitive at their most basic level — to really power through combos and other fun moves, there’s a lot of finicky finagling that doesn’t make sense on the first try. This is definitely where I found myself wishing for a control scheme somewhere — anywhere — just to remind me exactly how to kick bad guy butt better. Luckily Wolger has a lot of lives to live, so be prepared to lose quite a few of them before really getting the hang of combos and special attacks. (Editor’s note: the developer has recommended that a controller is better to use and will feel much more natural and intuitive).
Listen, Wolf’s Fury is good. It’s great, even. I think those of us who grew up in arcades, peeking around all the corners to hopefully stumble upon a previously unseen cabinet hiding in the shadows, will really find something amazing here. Bloody Wolf was absolutely that for me, and I think Wolf’s Fury has the potential to be that for fans of the old-school beat ’em up genre. For the younger crowd who never cut their teeth on side-scrollers of yesteryear, however, it’s probably best to watch a few videos before buying.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Developers: Myoubouh Corp; Publisher: Myoubouh Corp; Players: 1; Released: May 3rd, 2019; MSRP: $12.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review copy of Wolf’s Fury given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher