By: Jeff Cater
Wolf Fang is one of the more obscure imports to hit our digital shelves with the PlayStation Import Classics project. Way back in 1991 it was originally an arcade release with a console port coming in 1996. As a pilot of a highly-customizable mech, akin to a Gundam, you’re charged with clearing massive screens of bullet-vomiting foes and saving Australia and New Zealand. At least I think that’s what was happening; it was all in Japanese by default.
Wolf Fang is a side-scrolling shooter, and in this case the screen moves itself. Players must negotiate wave upon wave of enemies, and most of the attention given is simply placing your mech between the torrents of bullets at any given time. Controlling everything works well, having jump bound to Square and Circle allows any player to get comfortable, and both Triangle and X trigger your ranged weaponry and melee attacks. R2 also activates your special attack, which is dependent on what torso you’ve chosen for your mech, such as a flame bomb or grenade launcher.
Firing can be a bit clumsy, because if you hold down the fire button you will only fire in the direction you started shooting. To get out of a tight spot quickly you can dash with the R1 button, but you’ll likely be too busy blowing things up to really care about dashing.
The Gundam reference above may just be me, but every available torso for your mech looks just like a color-swapped Tallgeese. Thankfully, Tallgeese is the baddest of ass, so that’s just fine. Animation sets for each piece of interchangeable armor are well done, explosions are quick, impactful and do well to compliment the games “I’m going to give you photogenic seizures!” vibe. Things flash a lot, too. There’s a wide variety of enemies, and some boss characters even reserve an entire side or background of a level for themselves.
All of these enemies can seriously put you down if you’re not careful. While navigating the scenery, you can rescue stranded pilots who will mount up by your mech and provide covering fire in your blind spots, which is pretty cool but distracting as heck the first few times you collect them.
When confusion amasses, you lose health. You’ve got eight “Cells” in your Health Bar, and once all are depleted you eject out of your mobile armor and are left with nothing more than a jetpack and a penchant for biting the proverbial dust ala Metal Warriors.
In many ways Wolf Fang and Metal Warriors are kindred spirits. WF’s armor customization and automatically scrolling backgrounds distance itself from comparison enough, but if you were a fan of Metal Warriors then this should be a very fun play. Same goes to you Metal Warriors fans looking for a fix that isn’t $200.00.
While the shooting does feel a bit clumsy and tad difficult to get used to, that’s just part of that old-game charm where we didn’t care as long as we were blowing things up and soaking a controller while doing so; a charm Wolf Fang achieves quite well.