Taito's first attempt at developing a shooter, and one of the best
Taito is known to bring out classic arcade games, but in 1987, they decided to do something different. They decided to focus on shooting games rather than just creating platform games. Their first attempt was Operation Wolf
, and what a fine game this is. The deal is you are a pre-WWII soldier, and you must get through six locations like the communication setup, jungle, powder magazine, concentration camp, and airport. Each one of the locations has a mission. For example, in the communication setup, you have to cut off all communication between the enemy; in the jungle, you have to extract information about the location of the concentration camp; and in the powder magazine, you have to stock up on ammunition.
But there are various enemies that get into the line of fire and prevent you from completing your mission by either shooting, or throwing sokmething at you, like knives and grenades. These enemies include other soldiers, helicopters, boats, and tanks. Some enemies, like the helicopters and tanks, take more than a couple of hits to go down, so make sure that you use your supply of ammunition and rocket bombs wisely. Speaking of supplies, you can stock up on ammunition and rocket bombs by shooting things in the background like barrels and crates. You can also stock up by shooting animals like dogs and cats. And by shooting a coconut tree that has a coconut on it, shooting a falling coconut will increase your score by 5000 points.
Also, you have an energy bar that depletes each time you're hit, and this bar will flash red if you are nearly out of energy. Once your energy is depleted, the game is over. If you're lucky, you can pick up some sort of energy boost that will add five points to the indicator. At the start of a new game you are seen parachuting down to an island and the game asks you to rescue hostages. These hostages include the two nurses, a young boy, and a woman getting around in her knickers. The hostages are not in any danger, since just about each enemy tries to kill you anyway, but it is in your best interest to avoid shooting hostages on purpose.
However, on the last two levels of the game, you have hostages in gray clothing suddenly appear on the screen and make their way to the other side. More often than not, behind them is a guy with a knife in his hand, attempting to get close enough to the hostage and stab him in the back. You must shoot this guy before he does this. Failing to save all hostages, especially in the last level, will result in the mayor telling you you've failed your mission at the end of the game. However, when you managed to save all of them, the mayor will thank you for your efforts.
The sound and music are excellent in the game, even though, unlike 1st-person shooters, you don't have music to listen to while you continue to kill enemies. The sound is through Adlib only. Graphics are not bad either. Shooters like this have the kind of gameplay that won't bore you, especially when you had a bad day. You can worry about nothing else and shoot your enemies as if they are real people.
The coin-op version of Operation Wolf
is much better than the versions for various formats out there, particularly the NES and Sega Master System versions. It has better sound. The hostages speak and the enemies grunt when they are hit. It has much better graphics than the rest.
The only thing the coin-op version is missing from its counterparts is the boss at the end of the jungle, who is holding a local hostage and shooting you at the same time. There is also three helicopters that try to shoot you down somewhere between the third and fourth levels, that's also missing in tbe coin-op version. If you would like to play this version, I suggest that you download a copy of MAME
, as well as a ROM image of the game.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is: if you like shooters, get this game. And if you've completed the game and really enjoyed it, then perhaps you'll have a go at Operation Thunderbolt
, a game that has a real story behind it, not just killing soldiers and rescuing hostages. ****