ZX Spectrum Operation Wolf
When this came out for the ZX Spectrum late in 1988 conversions of arcade games were still popular.
The original arcade game by Taito had been more popular than harsh language in a Tarantino flick - with gamers loving the pseudo 3D viewpoint and control via the force feedback cabinet mounted uzi.
The arcade game (at the time) featured state of the art graphics (large animated enemy soldiers, helicopter, tanks etc) and superb sterio sound. Couple this with the actual uzi machine gun you used to play it with and you were onto a winner.
Converting such a game to an 8-bit machine was never going to be easy - Ocean software stepped up to the task.
There was no way that you could replicate the large full colour graphics on the hunble Speccy, so Ocean decided to go for the monochromatic look - and it ended up working pretty well.
The game began with you (a double-hard crack commando) being parachuted into hostile territory to locate an enemy concentration camp and free the captives. You began the game with seven clips of ammunition and five grenades - so straight away you had to get used to short controlled bursts.
The mission was split into six sections (divided into three loads on the 48K version and one huge load on the 128K version). It should be noted that the 128 version featured better music and sound effects as you would expect.
The sections were: Communication Setup, Jungle Area, Jungle Village, Powder Magazine, The Concentration Camp and finally the Airport. On each level the landscapes slowly panned from right to left before you in first-person perspective as looked down your gun-sights (represented by a cross-hair).
As the game landscape scrolled before you soldiers parachute downwards or ran into the action firing away at you, whilst helicopters, boats and tanks also arrived to make things really interesting.
Vehicles required a barrage of shots to be destroyed - but could be taken out in one go with one of your precious grenades. The characters from the arcade game were re-created pretty faithfully - those huge Schwarzenegger type badguys who appeared right in front of you were even included.
On later levels some enemies wore kevlar jackets and had to be hit in the head to dispatch them. Also requiring fast reactions were the daggers and grenades lobbed at you, these could be shot out of the air to prevent them from reducing your energy.
To the side of the playing screen was the ammo counter, a damage meter and three icons. The latter told you how many men, tanks, boats and so on had to be destroyed before the current level was cleared.
Extra ammo and grenades were available (by shooting them as they appeared on-screen) and a power up was available which gave you double rapid fire and unlimited bullets for around ten seconds.
There were also items which would reduce your damage by a few points - which could make all the difference in completing a level.
Apart from human targets various animals appeared (like birds and pigs) from time to time and shooting them would occasionally give you an item of food to boost your energy or extra ammunition. Shooting any prisoners, villagers, nurses etc took a fair bit of your energy away - so you needed to be accurate in your shooting.
Well Op Wolf was a mega-popular arcade game and the home versions were hotly anticipated. In keeping with the arcade game the ZX Spectrum version also supported the Magnum Phaser light gun in an attempt to re-create that arcade feel. It wasn't quite as good as the uzi - but it wasn't bad. Playing with the keyboard was still pretty good as your cross hair was responsive and accurate. Ocean managed to capture that playability (it was a mindless shoot em up at heart really!) well and Operation Wolf turned out better than most people expected.
The test of time:
Well Op Wolf always was a simple game based on rapid action and accurate shooting. I've played it a fair bit lately (the 128 version) and you know it's not bad. The screen only suffers from slow-down when things get really really busy - and it does remind me of the original arcade version. It can keep you occupied for half an hour anyway. The only thing missing in the ZX Spectrum conversion is the cut-scenes - but it's not such as great loss.
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download Operation Wolf for a ZX Spectrum emulator. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Ok that's it, I am finished...... here.
Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews and programmer interviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: End of 1988
RELEASED BY: Ocean
DEVELOPER(S): Andrew Deakin, Ivor Horn and Jonathan Dunn
PRICE: £8.95 Cassette or £14.95 Disk - UK
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