TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Wartime action and campy story make ‘Bloody Wolf’ a blast
Gaming, like movies, books, and music, has genres, and even sub-genres that have been created, discovered, and built upon for decades now. If you’re developing a game for any of these, you need to do whatever you can to make your game stand out from the pack.
“Bloody Wolf” (TurboGrafx-16, 1990)
Adrenaline-pumping, well-composed chip tunes take you through each deadly level, from dense jungles to enemy camps and everything in between. There is some subtle and well-placed voice synth, as well as the sounds of a typewriter briefing us in between the action.
Obviously, there is also a plethora of weapon fire and explosions that you’d expect in a game like this, and everything fits together so well, including that ominous mid and final boss music that gets you ready for a tough battle ahead.
Like many games on the console, “Bloody Wolf” falls somewhere on the line of “Contra” and “Contra III” in the way of graphics – not quite 16-bit, and yet a step above what you’d see on the NES. The cut scenes are fairly impressive for 1990, and the levels are filled with enemies and environments bristling with color and danger.
The bosses may appear plain to some eyes, but I felt like they were all pretty well done and, aside from the lack of variety in them, most enemies were also programmed to stand out a bit from your standard run and gun fare. The characters you use may seem like Rambo rip-offs and aren’t quite as iconic as your “Contra” heroes, but I really liked that they were both different enough for you to have more of a connection to them.
At first glance, “Bloody Wolf” may appear like your standard run and gun game, trying desperately to keep up with the success of games like “Contra,” “Jackal,” “P.O.W.,” and “Heavy Barrel,” just to name a few, but “Bloody Wolf” is truly its own distinct animal. While all of those titles give you exciting, off-the-rails action, none of them truly tell a story, whereas “Bloody Wolf” does, albeit in true B-movie action flick style.
You do not tell this story with one character, but with both secret coded “Bloody Wolf” warriors, who are tasked with rescuing the president and taking down an evil organization. Yes, this all sounds so overdone, but there are a few twists and turns along the way that you don’t expect, situations you don’t have to deal with in other similar games, and an ending that leaves you with more questions, even if it is supposed to be lighthearted.
Mid-bosses and final bosses begin rather easy, with highly predictable patterns, but your finger speed and reflexes are tested as you progress through the game. The dialogue is pretty campy and dry, but the fact that there actually is any at all in a time period that was all about the action is kind of refreshing in a way, as limited as it may be. Can I also add that it’s nice to play a game that actually has a life bar for bosses? Nothing is more frustrating than trying to remember how many hits it takes when you’re facing a tough boss.
In addition, the game also has the element of riding motorcycles to take down enemies, something that many run and guns of the time did not have as an added element of fun. I mean, sure, spread guns are legendary, but using a spread gun style weapon while riding a hog? That just takes something fun and makes it spectacular.
At $40-$45 (depending on whether or not you want a complete copy), “Bloody Wolf” is actually relatively tame in price compared to many titles in the highly elusive TG-16 library these days.
“Bloody Wolf” is not “Contra,” but it doesn’t have to be and, if you’re looking for a fun game like “Contra,” there’s nothing better than this on the TG-16, so pick it up if you have the chance.
Next time on Turn to Channel 3, we fly high into the sky (and even higher into your bank account) for the most sought-after title in the entire TurboGrafx-16 library – “Magical Chase!”
Until then, enjoy these brief moments of nice weather, stay off the ice, and game on, of course!