Operation Wolf
System: NES Publisher: Taito Developer: Taito
Genre: Action Type: Light Gun Shooter Circa: 1989
Let the fun begin!...The first vision-impaired prisoner makes his way to safety

I never really was a huge fan of Light Gun games on the NES. I always hated the loud noise of the Zapper's trigger and I have a lot of difficulty aiming it right. Also, just about every Light Gun game I've played has either involved shooting things before they leave the screen or shooting them before they shoot you - neither of which I find very fun to do for more than 30 seconds...which is one reason why I feel fortunate that Operation Wolf has a mode that lets you play with the controller instead of the Zapper. This game is the NES version of an arcade game that I've never played, therefore, I won't be making comparisons. The object is to basically shoot all the enemies on the screen. Complete a level, and you move onto the next one. Like most Light Gun games, it's very repetitive and very short.
GRAPHICS: 6/10
Operation Wolf's graphics look typical of what occurs when programmers try to convert arcade graphics to the NES. Again, I have never played the arcade version, so I cannot compare how close they are to it, but they definitely have that look that screams out, "We tried!" For every level, you're given a very flat-looking background that continually scrolls in one direction. Enemy soldiers run out from both sides of the screen, shooting at you. The programmers tried to give a sense of depth by placing soldiers in the front and back of the playing field. For example, soldiers that are farther back appear smaller than those who are closer to you. Every now and then, a soldier appears right in front of you on the screen. This soldier is bigger and more detailed than the others. The animation isn't all that great. In some levels there are these guys that are supposed to be rolling onto the screen, but the animation is so choppy, it looks more like he's changing shape. There isn't a whole lot of detail in the small soldiers, tanks, and helicopters. The item icons are easy to distinguish, but they don't look like what they're supposed to be. The bullet icon looks like the whistle from Legend of Zelda, and the bombs look like a red balloon. The backgrounds are okay, but rather bland and some, like the field you fight on when the enemy ambushes you, look grainy. The jungle looks more like a bayou. These are basically unimpressive graphics, but when you look at it as a whole, it really doesn't appear that bad. It is kind of amazing how many things can be on the screen at once with no slowdown or flicker.
Operation Initiated!...Born on the bayyyyou...oh, it's not a bayou
SOUND: 2/10
Other than the simple title theme and the similar cinema and mission select themes, there is no music in this game. When the action begins, there is nothing but the sounds of gunfire and explosions. It's the typical sound effects you would expect on the 8-Bit system. Playing this game for too long would give me a headache because of all those bombs and bullets going off. Of course, it may not really be all that important for a game like this. But I can't really give this category a high score when it's so lacking.
CONTROL: 5/10
The play control of this game is not really all that great, especially if you use the Zapper. The Zapper doesn't have turbo fire, which is almost necessary to do anything in this game, and therefore, it is a real pain to use it. I have a tough time aiming with the Zapper, but even if I could aim correctly with it, that wouldn't change how utterly impossible it would be to play this game without rapid fire. So that leaves me with the controller. The game gives you several different speed settings for the controller, and you're given a crosshair to move around. I find that I can only use the slowest setting, otherwise, the crosshair jumps around way too fast for me to be able to position it on targets! Even on the slow setting, it's hard to get it exactly where I want it to be on the screen. Most of the time, I end up just moving it back and forth and firing all over the place.
Mission successful!...Operation Wolf has a total of 6 missions
STORY/ATMOSPHERE: 3/10
You are assigned a mission to enter enemy headquarters where five POWs are being held, and you must rescue them, and escape. There are six missions altogether, and before each mission, you're given a briefing. Sometimes, these briefings affect what goes on in the missions, and sometimes they don't. For example, in some stages, you are told to rescue the prisoners, and you must be careful not to shoot them so that they can make their escape. But in another mission, you're told to destroy a communications tower, but you never really have to do that. Once the level ends, you're automatically shown a cut-scene that says the mission is complete. (Strange...) In fact, each time you complete a mission, you're shown a cut-scene like that. They look nice for NES cut-scenes, but sometimes the dialogue seems funny. Like when you complete a level, instead of saying something like, "Mission Complete" or "Mission Accomplished", it says, "OK, you have completed this scene", which just sounds kind of funny to me...Basically, this is not a game you play for the plot, but I guess it's nice that they tried adding one in there.
CHALLENGE: 3.5/10
Unless you play with the Zapper, this game just really isn't very challenging. Well, even if you do use the Zapper, the only challenge comes from the fact that it doesn't have rapid-fire. Using the controller, Operation Wolf is very easy. You just slide the crosshair around the screen and shoot everything! Well, not everything. You have to be careful to avoid civilians, like nurses carrying a stretcher, women in the village, or the POWs. But other than trying to avoid hitting civilians, there's not much challenge. Just shoot everything before they shoot you. It's not always clear when you're taking damage from an enemy, though. Your supply of ammo is limited, but there's usually enough extra ammo icons lying around for you to shoot and pick up. You can also use bombs, which are even more limited than bullets. A well-placed bomb will take out a lot of enemies, but they're best saved for the big vehicles, like tanks and helicopters. There are only six stages, and they're all rather short. Sometimes, during the game, you'll end up in a "seventh" stage if the enemy finds and attacks you between missions. But the game is still very short, and most gamers will get to the end within less than an hour of playing.
FUN: 3.5/10
I didn't really like this game all that much. I'm not really a big fan of Light Gun games, and even with using the controller, this game is just far too simplistic and uninteresting for me. One thing I find funny is that amidst all the enemy soldiers, helicopters, and tanks, there is usually some kind of animal, like a vulture, chicken, or pig running around on the screen. You can shoot at it, and sometimes it will drop items, like extra bullets or bombs. But you can never kill it. I think it's funny that you can blow up helicopters and kill soldiers, but you can shoot a chicken 400 times, and it won't die! Some missions have a "boss" at the end who is using a civilian as a human shield. You have to be careful to shoot the enemy without hitting the civilian he holds captive. That's somewhat innovative, but the rest of the game just isn't that great. At the end of the game, you get a congratulations from the President, and the less civilians you kill, the larger his smile and the bigger the reward he gives you. That would really be the only reason to replay this game, unless you liked it a lot more than I did.
Look out! Women and pigs, first!...Just shoot me!

I did not think Operation Wolf is a terrible game. I may have thought that if you could only use the Light Gun, but using the controller makes the game somewhat more playable. I did find it a little fun to play, if only for the mindless shooting factor, but it's not something I'm gonna find myself coming back to over and over again. It's just far too short, simplistic, and the control and sound leave something to be desired.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 3.5/10

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