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Operation Wolf (Arcade) artwork

Operation Wolf (Arcade) review


"Enter your location of choice, and you’ll have no time to get acquainted with the serviceable backdrops that signify your surroundings because, with little reasoning behind it, hoards of gun-toting thugs will spring forth from the wilderness or rudimentary huts, unleashing upon you a furious bombardment of artillery."



If there were an age where I looked upon games with wide-eyed wonderment, it is sad to say it was long ago, lost forever in the fogs of time. I’m one of those gamers: the bitter and twisted antiquated gentlemen who remember the games that started it all. Naturally, most of the time the younger generation hasn’t got a bloody clue what we’re harping on about when we mention the often simplistic attempts we remember nostalgically. But some games should transcend this generation gap; some games should just be recognised.

With this in mind, imagine the stupefaction that occurred when innocently conversing with some fellow reviewers in one of those new fandangled internet chat thingies. I innocently drop the name Operation Wolf into the conversation, confident that such a founding title will be acknowledged by gamers young and old. How I was to be proven wrong! For shortly afterwards I was heralded with three simple words that have, since that fateful day, been burnt deep into my very soul.

What’s Operation Wolf?”

Reread that. Because I need to know that people out there are as shocked as I was.

To spare embarrassed blushes, I will not reveal said individual's identity. But in the hope that they’ll someday stumble across this review, I will fill in the gaps that, if I were running public education, would be taught at schools.

Released in 1987, Operation Wolf cabinets stunned the arcade-going world with sheer mind-blowing awesomeness! Rather than the clichéd norm of a few buttons and a joystick situated afore the given screen, Taito bravely decided to try something contrastive and adventuresome. The hefty cabinet dwarfed its fellow ilk thanks to the screen being situated about four feet farther back than was considered standard practise for arcade machines. This was to properly accommodate the plastic Uzi that dominated the space where the aforementioned buttons and ‘stick would normally call home.

A sizeable, ebony, manly Uzi. Radiating malevolence and promising you the chance to mow down people with fully-automatic gunfire, it sits riveted to the cabinet, allowing prospective customers the chance to swivel its aim in a semi-circular motion. Feeding the required credits into the machine will throw you right into the action without such pointless haberdashery like plot or back story. It is then up to you, young gunslinger, to select one of six stages ranging from jungles to docks to… err.. other jungles.

Enter your location of choice, and you’ll have no time to get acquainted with the serviceable backdrops that signify your surroundings because, with little reasoning behind it, hoards of gun-toting thugs will spring forth from the wilderness or rudimentary huts, unleashing upon you a furious bombardment of artillery. You have little choice but the depress the Uzi’s trigger, sliding your aim around the screen in an attempt to discourage your foes' less-than-stellar hospitality.

And as soon as you’d clocked that boldly-placed Uzi, that’s all you’ll want to do!

Ratat tat tat tat
Eat lead, identical-looking gun-wielding guerrillas!
Tat tat tat tat tat
Failed to dodge the torrent of bullets didn’t you, close-up-marine-with-knife!
Tat tat tat tat tat
Sorry, bazooka-man, but it’s a taste of my wrath for you!
Tat tat ta….. BANG
Suck my grenade, squat-looking tank! Explosive mayhem shall be your just desserts!

While your perspective slides horizontally to create the illusion of movement, a simple pull on the trigger will unleash a maelstrom of lead screaming onto the screen, and, if your aim is true, directly into your foe's sensitive extremities. A push of a conveniently-placed button sitting proudly aside your machinegun’s stock will send a hand-grenade skimming out to bring forth the plentiful explosions perfect for any pesky armoured vehicle that might present itself a nuisance. You may not know why you seem to be going up against a small army single-handily, but you don’t have time to worry because there is always a target present.

And unlike the games of today, these suckers can actually hit you. If you expect the kind of incompetence served up by, say, the nameless henchmen in Time Crisis, then you can expect to have the life expectancy of a chronically-depressed lemming. If hostile targets aren’t dealt with sharply, you’ll be feeling the searing kiss of hot lead. To counteract your surprisingly competent foe’s unnerving accuracy, you are given a rather generous health bar that will reduce with each blow struck against you. Bullet to the gut – lose some health. Someone gets close enough to jam a knife in your skull – lose some health. Mow down a desperate hostage fleeing from the scene – lose some health, and listen to a scream of frustration as you deny them their freedom.

Which, the nasty little voice inside my head tells me, is worth the price. Said hostages range from nuns to nurses to orphaned children, and should you leave them be, they’ll run off-screen, happily ignored by the hostile army. Cap them, and they’ll yell out an anguished ‘Noooooo!’ in a rather brave attempt on behalf of Operation Wolf at digitised voices. An enjoyable habit perhaps, but one that should be undertaken lightly, as that health bar will drop points rapidly. Before you know it, an urgent beeping noise will let you know just how close you are to deaths door. The faster the beeping, the more frantic you must become to exorcise those pesky solders that have an uncanny habit of shooting you on their first attempt.

Frankly put, if Virtua Cop had enemies this competent, you wouldn’t make it past the first stage.

Running out of health isn’t the only way to bring about the dreaded ‘Game Over’ screen; your adventure will also end prematurely if you run out of ammo. Handily, you can top up both your grenade and bullet count by slaughtering any hapless animal that strays on-screen. Neither realistic nor pleasing to animal-lovers, perhaps, but gunning down Lassie to be rewarded with a cache of grenades and a fresh magazine of bullets will always bring a smile to my face.

And having the bullets is essential, because you will find it hard to emulate the frantic non-stop action that Operation Wolf shoves right down your throat. Your finger will never leave the trigger, your grenades will light up the screen in fiery glee often, and those opposing forces will drop in absolutely ridiculous numbers. Let’s make no mistake; Operation Wolf is a founding father of light-gun games, but it still manages to rank itself along the elite.

And shame on anyone who didn’t already know this!

Rating: 9/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 07, 2005)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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