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Wolf Fang Review

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On 05/02/2014 at 09:00 AM by Jamie Alston

One of the less mediocre games to come from Data East.

If you like piloting mechs and playing 2D shooters, this is the game for you.

A few months back, Monkey Paws Games began a 6-week campaign to bring several import games to the US.  Among them was Wolf Fang, released this past February on PSN.  Originally released by Data East in 1991 as the arcade sequel to Vapor Trail (Kugah in Japan), Wolf Fang is a game that heavily borrows from the many shoot ‘em ups that came before it.  If you’ve ever played a shooter that involved Vulcan spread shots, miniature helper drones, and anime-inspired character designs, then this game will be very familiar territory for you. On their own, the gameplay elements could be written off as merely generic. But together they form a surprisingly respectable game.

As usual, the story involves some evil power-hungry faction trying to plunge the world into utter chaos and shape it as they see fit.  And it’s your job to put an end to their tyranny with your advanced battle mech.  But before you start laying waste to everything that moves, you’ll need to construct the mech.  Thankfully, it’s a pretty straightforward process.

You can either choose from a pre-determined loadout, or mix and match whatever parts you want.  You just need to select the body, arms, and legs you wish to use--all with varied effects on your defensive, offensive, and mobile capabilities.  I enjoyed this aspect of the game because there’s enough equipment to allow for diverse choices, but it didn’t overwhelm me with stats, weight limitations, and so on. After a brief summary of your objective, you’re launched from the air carrier into the thick of the action.

The first thing I noticed was the life bar at the top of screen which instantly brought a smile to my face. I appreciated that the game was built on the idea that a powerful battle mech shouldn’t explode when grazed by a bullet. In addition to the life bar, you also have the opportunity to change your primary firepower by shooting a capsule to select the weapon you want. Unfortunately, it’s also very easy to end up with a weapon you didn’t want because the capsule is often in the path of other enemies that you’re shooting down, which means that the capsule icon itself can sometimes be hit and change just before you make contact with it.


For a side-scrolling shooter, it feels a bit odd that walking (or hovering low in some cases) is your primary method of getting around.  Sure, you can jump too, but there’s no way to permanently fly and move around freely.  Some might find it a little awkward at first when trying to shoot down aerial enemies since the muscle memory in your hands wants you to simply press up on the controller to ascend to the proper level.  Instead, pressing up only makes your mech fire at 45 degree angle, which sometimes just isn’t as good as being able to hit multiple aerial targets straight on.  However, it doesn’t interrupt the overall enjoyment of the game.  It just takes some getting used to.

As with other PSN releases from Monkey Paw Games, all the audible dialogue and most text is in Japanese. Thankfully, the ability to play through the game isn’t hampered at all.  It’s just there for dramatic purposes more or less. As you progress, the game eventually opens up to branching stages that the player can select, which adds a bit of replay value. But perhaps best of all, you have unlimited continues- something quite uncommon for console ports of arcade games. It’s always refreshing to play a shoot ‘em up game that actually wants you to succeed for a change. Good job, Data East.

As you might expect from a 2D side scroller, the graphics are sharp and well-defined despite it being an older PSOne game.  As far as variety goes, there isn’t really much you haven’t seen already.  But the scenery in each stage is well-drawn, and plays well on the fact that you are piloting a mech. I especially liked the way your mech descends rocky hills and other steep inclines. It’s hard to put into words, but it definitely accentuates the anime style that’s present throughout the game.   It’s a minor detail, but one that I found to be oddly satisfying. 

There’s plenty of action to digest, especially on tougher difficulty settings where enemies appear in greater numbers and rain down all manner of fury on you.  While bullets can be very tricky to avoid at times, it’s far from impossible.  Besides, with unlimited continues at your disposal, you really won’t mind it all that much if your mech meets an untimely death. I didn’t find the boss battles to be particularly memorable.  However I did enjoy this one battle late in the game that requires you to destroy multiple turrets while scaling a mobile fortress before finally fighting the boss for that area. It was a fairly unique way to end the stage and something not often seen in your average shoot ‘em up.

All things considered, Wolf Fang is pretty enjoyable for what it’s worth. The premise of simply piloting a mech and blowing everything to kingdom come is sure to satisfy the average player.  Outside of that, there isn’t much in the way of truly innovative gameplay elements to be found in the game.  Even so, this is still one of the better releases from Data East (and by extension, Monkey Paw Games). Wolf Fang is definitely a game worth adding to your digital collection if you’re a lover of shoot ‘em ups.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




05/02/2014 at 06:32 PM

it looks like a lot of fun!

i ended up buying the first Mega Man game when it was first released here on the NA PSN.  however, at the time I was under the impression that it was coded for this region, and Sony didn't specify at the time in the game's description that it was direct.  Still a fun game, I just have no clue what anyone is saying!


05/15/2014 at 03:29 PM

Cool, this reminds me of Heavy Weapon or Metal Slug. I like that you can select the type of robot you want from a list of specifications. That's pretty cool. I put it on my wishlist. 

Vapor Trail: Hyper Offence Formation looks neat too. It reminds me of Sky Shark except with jets. Too bad it's not available on any consoles. Neither are on the Data East Arcade Classics on Wii either. Darn.

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