Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wolverine - Thoughts

Did you ever want to know what it would be like if Wolverine was a coward? Well have I got good news for you! LJN's aptly titled Wolverine is a platformer that discourages fighting, punishing the player with terrible combat if they dare engage their enemies. It's best for Logan to run away with his tail tucked between his legs, finishing every level by clumsily leaping over all foes and obstacles. The game is actually somewhat entertaining when you're forced to play this way, though the awful design makes it more funny than fun.

Despite being known as one of the most dangerous of the X-Men, LJN neuters Wolverine by reducing his attack range to a scant few pixels in front of his face. Our eponymous hero can unsheathe his claws for some extra range but it comes at the cost of health, and considering how often he'll collide with enemies in an attempt to pummel them, it's easier just to skip combat altogether. Oh, and there's also one little teeny tiny itsy bitsy caveat: you possess no invulnerability frames at all, so any mistakes on your part will be trumpeted by "BWEWEWEWEW" as your health evaporates faster than dew in the desert at high noon.

As abysmal as Wolverine seems, it's still beatable. There's some atrocious traps and pitfalls awaiting you (the blind jumps and insta-death in the "Trial by Fire" level are absolute shlock), but the game rewards memorization similar to Battletoads or Werewolf: The Last Warrior. By the end of it I was sitting on a fresh cache of lives, having mapped efficient routes for each level in my head. It's not particularly fun for those that abhor trail and error, but as someone that grew up on these types of games this task was right up my alley. True, the game frequently irked me, but the path to its mastery was brief so I harbor no real ill will towards it.

Wolverine is a game that treads a thin line between player engagement and monotony. The fact that it makes combat so deplorable is kind of intriguing, especially considering the bizarre i-frame preclusion (they had to have playtested it and known it was a terrible idea, right?). Without extra continues sprinkled throughout the game I would've soured on the experience much faster, but for what it is, it's certainly far from the worst of LJN's library. Wolverine is a messy platformer that demands that you take advantage of its poor design, and I'm always down for that so long as it's viable (and doesn't cost me a dozen hours).

... And this doesn't really fit anywhere, but I wanted to mention that when you fill up the "BERZERKER" bar, Wolverine begins to flash and attack entirely at random—isn't that just so awful it's amazing?

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