Wolverine made his first solo appearance on the NES, followed by a Genesis and SNES version called Adamantium Rage. The NES version suffered because its lack of buttons on the controller while the SNES and Genesis versions had somewhat clunky play control never giving gamers a true feel for the agile and quick Wolverine. He had his own GBC game but it once again failed because of the two-button structure and the player was restricted with a time limit. Activision has finally made a decent Wolverine game by providing better command over Wolverine with a four-button layout controlling him. The game took a few notes from previous platform games, specifically from the Mega Man X series. This time around, Wolverine must stop villains such as SabreTooth, Omega Red, and Magneto. The player probably won’t be worrying about the story as it is just a quick linker between levels.
As I first started playing this game, I was very upset because I couldn’t use any of Wolverine’s trademark video game maneuvers such as clinging to walls and grappling the ceiling. I soon found out that hidden within each level is a power up that will grant him a new ability. This kind of gradual game play works, but I would have rather had all his skills at my disposal from the beginning. Using these moves are as easy as can be due to the thoughtful button system. Thanks to the four buttons on the GBA, Wolverine can now perform new actions that limited him in previous version of his games. “A” and “B” are used to jump and attack while “L” pops his claws out and the “R” button makes him run. Since Wolverine has a mutant healing factor, he should never die right? Well Activision came up with a scheme that works for a video game. When Wolverine has his claws out, he can’t regenerate his health, but if he keeps attacking in rapid succession, he enters rage mode where the screen changes to a swirling red. Wolverine can then attack with heightened strength and a longer reach. When he exits rage mode, he becomes dizzy and unable to move while his claws pop back inside his arms. This system works extremely well for a video game because you experience Wolverine’s healing powers while still being restricted as you are still vulnerable. Wolverine can now kill enemies in one hit by striking them from behind. If the enemy does not spot you, you can sneak up behind him and deliver a fatal blow. This stealth tactic is cool, but doesn’t really fit Wolverine’s style. He is a more gun-ho; take everyone on at one time kind of guy.
While playing the levels, the enemy AI is somewhat stupid and easy but that all changes when you face a boss. Most boss battles are extremely difficult and your frustration grows with it. It will probably take you numerous times to defeat each boss (especially Omega Red). The boss AI could have been turned down slightly to prevent players from giving up due to frustration, but it suits the toughness of Wolverine. Another gripe lies in the level design. Each level is composed of tons of platforms that the player must reach by wall jumping in a Mega Man X style. Some little details that might bug the player would be in the X-Men Mansion. I don’t think that there are that many platforms, levels, and complicated structure as numerous mutants are supposed to be living there. This is just a stupid little detail, but then again, it is just a game. Sometimes when bad guys see you, they will knock you off an edge and wait there. They then prevent you from advancing to the next platform by hitting you before you land. This is the only thing ruthless about the enemy AI. To break up the typical platform levels in the game, occasionally the player will be treated to something slightly different. In some areas, you must follow SabreTooth while keeping a proper distance to avoid being spotted. This can be difficult as he runs ahead of you while leaving traps behind such as running over a bridge to knock down all of its panels. Hidden within each level are unlockables that bring an extra mode into the game. Once you collect these hidden items, different levels in the danger room are unlocked. It is here that you will face many enemies simultaneously while trying to stay alive. This brings a little bit of replay value, but when you beat the game for the first time, you probably won’t play it again.
The graphics are slightly above average while the sound isn’t anything special. Wolverine and all the enemies are nicely rendered and have a 3D feel to them and Wolverine’s animations are very fluid. He even creates sparks as he slides down the side of a wall. The music is typical and so are the sound effects but when Wolvie pops his claws out, the player is treated to the classic SNIKT! sound.
Wolverine’s Revenge, despite some flaws, is a good game. I have yet to have a chance to play this game on the next gen consoles, but with them excluded, this Wolverine game for GBA is the best Wolverine game to date. This game makes you feel like you are Wolverine and it deserves some recognition for that. Hopefully that Activision realizes their little mistakes in this game and will fix them in the future. It is hard to debate whether this game is worthy of a thirty-dollar purchase because it doesn’t offer much in replay value. I say buy it if you are a Wolverine fan, want a semi-decent platformer, or see this game for cheap. If you don’t feel the need to buy this game, then a rental is definitely in order, Bub.