"That game was announced way back in 2001 and is finally here after a long wait. After his adventure 15 years ago on Commodore 64, Sabreman is back to chase the Sabrewulf once again. This time, the wulf which was sealed away in a statue was freed by Dr. Doo-Little-Goode to achieve his evil plans. Now the country relies on Sabreman to restore peace once again and seal back the wulf. A bigger adventure awaits our hero this time. "
That game was announced way back in 2001 and is finally here after a long wait. After his adventure 15 years ago on Commodore 64, Sabreman is back to chase the Sabrewulf once again. This time, the wulf which was sealed away in a statue was freed by Dr. Doo-Little-Goode to achieve his evil plans. Now the country relies on Sabreman to restore peace once again and seal back the wulf. A bigger adventure awaits our hero this time.
Gameplay - 8.5
I first though this game was an exploration game, but it finally isn't. The game starts off in the overworld, from where you can access all parts of the world and all levels. In the overworld, you can do some sidequests and a little exploring, but not much. You can also play mimi-games, interact with characters which will ask you to find things for them, find treasure chests and buy things in shops. This is the adventure part. The rest of the game consists of entering some levels inside all worlds where you have to reach the end by solving puzzles and retrieve a treasure the wulf stole. You then have to escape the level safe and sound with the treasure, and once all levels are cleared, you can access Doo-Little-Goode's lab and get back one piece of the Amulet. There are 8 pieces to get back, so 8 worlds. Once the Amulet is complete, the Sabre Wulf is defeated and the game completed.
What make Sabre Wulf different from the other puzzle-platforming games is the use of creatures to get past the obstacles. Some obstacles are set out in every levels, from enemies to traps. To get past them, you'll have to find (or buy) creatures which all have one special ability. You can have more than one of each creature. There aren't that much different creatures, maybe 10 or so. After getting past all the puzzles, you'll arrive at the wulf's hideout. From this point, you have to pick up whatever the wulf stole and run back all the way to the start of the level, while the wulf runs after you. This is my favorite part of the game. The game could have only been centered around this and it would still have been fun. The first few levels starts off with really easy puzzles and short levels, but as you approach the end, the levels become harder, the number of obstacles increase, and the wulf runs way faster.
During the levels, you can collect money and then use it to buy more creatures in shops. This function is pretty useless and I think it shouldn't even have been there. I completed the game only with the creatures I found, not buying a single one, and I don't see why I would have needed to buy other creatures. The more you buy, the more the game becomes easy, and since the game isn't really hard, buying creatures and getting money doesn't serve anything worth it and cuts the fun. You can also sell your treasures, but since money isn't important in that game, this makes up for another useless thing.
As for longevity, completing the main quest took me a little more than 5 hours, so I'd say the game takes an overall of 10 hours to complete up to 100% with all the sidequests. Then you can still play it if you want to, since you can try to get all gold treasures from the wulf which is quite hard. You get bronze if you're too slow, silver for normal speed and gold for clearing level really fast. This is pretty much all there is to do once the game is complete.
Graphics - 9
Rare is well known for the huge amount of time they take for making games until they're visually absolutely perfect, from the very small details only the more observant of us will notice to the lush worlds and gorgeous textures. For a GBA game, Sabre Wulf could fall into that category of Rare games, but the game's graphics feel outdated when compared to recently released GBA titles. You know by looking at Sabre Wulf that the game was ready to get released on the GBA a long time ago, and slept on a shelf for a long time before being released. The sprites used for enemies and characters look pretty good, but aren't clean enough. Pixels are clearly noticeable when a character moves.
The game features two different perspectives, top view and side-scrolling. The top view is what looks best, but is only featured in the overworld. The small Rare details are still there, birds flying around the jungle, chickens running around the village and maybe others I didn't notice. Textures are nice, objects are clearly defined and water couldn't look best, especially the waterfalls, which are stunning. The light and shade effects are often used and make the overworld look even greater. The side-scrolling levels look good too, but not as much. The graphics remind me a lot of DKC back on the SNES, only slightly not as crisp, but have nice and clear backgrounds. There are also some nice effects, like rain, snow and fog. The character sprites also look better when in side-scrolling levels than in the overworld.
Music - 8
Rare is also known for the weird sounds they gave to their characters instead of voices in Banjo-kazooie games. Well, Sabre Wulf has also inherited of those weird voices. For some it's a good thing, for others it isn't. I personally think they are funny, but I agree it can get on the nerves after a while. There are 4 different types of weird-sounds-voices, one for Sabreman, one for Dr. Doo-little-Goode, one for all the boy characters and one for all the girl characters. This is one of the reasons these voices can get on the nerves. If only all characters had a different one. Take apart the voices, the sounds of the game are really nice. In the jungle, you can hear the tropical birds' sounds, and in a village, people talking in the background and other animal sounds.
As for the music, the overworld's music sounds a lot like Banjo-Kazooie music, almost feeling like Sabre Wulf was part of the series. It fits the game very well, so this isn't a bad thing. The atmosphere created in the overworld is really great, as you feel like exploring for real. The music in levels isn't that good, but often change and is varied so it can pass. It's pretty much always catchy so it'll keep you awake.
Overall - 8
A great buy if you enjoy games like Klonoa.
Community review by wishingtikal (July 30, 2004)
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