Wolf

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this instalment: Wolf, a unique 1994 simulation game by Sanctuary Woods that placed gamers in the role of canis lupus seeking to survive in a sometimes hostile environment.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Perhaps a game about learning how to be a wolf, the dangers they face, and what challenges they overcome does not sound like it would be fun, but it was. Wolf was a unique simulation, and a completely different subject matter than what gamers had ever seen before. The 40-some scenarios were fascinating, and included diverse goals: hunting down caribou to avoid starvation, challenging the alpha male pack leader for control of the pack, and even just surviving a single day in their stark environment. For the comprehensive wolf experience a player could choose to play the campaign mode, which ran them through the full gambit of the wolf life cycle.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Settings screen for the PC game, Wolf

The game mechanics really sold the “be-a-wolf” concept. Sound effects of birds and other noises of nature provided ambience, while the graphics were crisp and the scenic vistas marvellous to look at. As your wolf travelled it became either hungry or thirsty, and needed to be satiated. The game simulated a wolf’s incredible sense of smell by showing various scents that your wolf discovered, some close, some far, and all trackable. Humans were a severe danger and were to be avoided at all costs, and could be detected by both sound and scent. You could even howl!

shakira

Whoops, wrong howling; wrong wolf.

Fortunately, the game designers didn’t just read a Jack London book and whip up a game based on it. Wolf Haven, a wolf reserve near Olympia, Washington, was tapped to provide the expert knowledge on what challenges wolves face and what behaviors they exhibit. Wolf Haven is a nonprofit organization devoted to the study and conservation of wolves, and has around 80 acres of land used for the purpose. They have been in existence since 1982, and continue to provide sanctuary for wolves today…and they even offer group tours! (The game designers even based five of the wolves portrayed in the game on actual wolves that lived within Wolf Haven.) With this level of expertise behind them, it’s not surprising that Sanctuary Woods was able to offer a world-class simulation that both educated and entertained.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Winter hunting in the PC game, Wolf

Critics agreed on the quality gameplay of Wolf, winning the “Best Game of the Show” Award from Electronic Games at its debut at the Winter, 1994 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as well as earning praise from such heavy-hitters as PC Gamer Magazine, receiving a score of 88% and a PC Gamer Editor’s Choice award.  It performed well enough to merit a sequel, Lion, which followed the life of the King of Beasts on the Savannah. All in all, Wolf was a great game, and well worth locating a copy and playing, even today!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbXEvWfWoF0[/youtube]

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Ode to the Evil Twin

In almost every hero’s journey they come to question their actions and the possible outcome of their quest had they taken a step to the left rather than to the right. Could the world have been saved in a different method? Could the fallen comrade have survived? Could all this mayhem have ended swiftly if they only took the opportunity to finish off the antagonist when the moment presented itself? The darkest parallel thought a hero could imagine is “What if I had fallen to darkness instead of striding upon the path of the righteous?” For some few unfortunate heroes, this “what if” can present itself in a physical manifestation and even become one of the biggest road blocks in their journey.

Kill yourself or die trying
Kill yourself or die trying

Today, we take a look into some of the most iconic evil counterparts in video game history, what they represented to the hero, and the epic battles that proved as pivotal moments in the game’s timeline.

**SPOILERS BY THE WAY**

Dark Samus (Metroid Prime):  Poison has always been a substance that plagued any living organism but it remained passive and indifferent. It was only used for killing in the hands of its user. In Metroid Prime, the poison Phazon is not only deadly but also sentient.  Responsible for the death of two planets, this entity looked to spread its plague further and melded the DNA of Samus Aran and her foe, Metroid Prime to create Dark Samus.  To see your greatest foes taking your form as their avatar would fill any hero with rage. Our heroine managed to disintegrate Dark Samus into particles in the Agon Wastes and then once again by breaching the monstrosity’s Phazon Shield with a charge beam. Though defeated, Dark Samus has the potential to return in the future through the game’s savior by a Mark of Corruption left upon her. Only time will tell if we will ever see this enemy rise again.

Wolf O’Donnell AKA Star Wolf (Star Fox 64): Rival companies are always taking blows at each other. Look at Microsoft VS Macintosh, IPhones VS Droid, PS3 VS Xbox 360 for examples. While they normally dish out retorts via commercials or improving their own technology to eclipse the other, mercenary groups don’t normally play the same game. Star Wolf is the rival mercenary group led by Wolf O’Donnell. Their number one priority is to become the top dog group in the Lylat System. The only foreseeable way to achieve this is simple; recruit old Star Fox members, work for your rival’s mark, and hunt them down till they are left in a smoldering wreckage. While Wolf has been unsuccessful in defeating Fox McCloud he still remains a huge pillar for the team to overcome in every instance he has led an assault. He will be most remembered for telling Star Fox  he can’t do that.

Omega Zero (Megaman Zero series): Zero has always been a hero who walked that fine line between right and wrong but can you blame him? He was Dr.Wily’s greatest creation, he is supposedly responsible for the death of the original Megaman, and is rumored to be the bringer of the end of days. Like a rebellious child, though, Zero forged his own path and strayed away from the road Dr.Wily left for him and became a hero. However, the idea of bringing about total chaos and destruction never left Zero’s mind and weighed heavily upon him. Luckily for him, he isn’t the real Zero but only a copy. What a weight off his shoulders! Turns out Omega Zero is the true body of Zero and guess what? He wants to tear his copy a new asshole and end life as we know it. Finally seeing that dark “What if” version of himself, our hero vowed never to travel down that path and defeated his original body dying along with it.

Dark Link (The Legend of Zelda): Link has defeated zombies, ghosts, witches, blobby things, grand sorcerers, and anything else you can think of in all his journeys. The one enemy though who manages to stop Link in his tracks is his own shadow. Normally appearing in a large desolate and eerie hallway, this abomination knows everything about Link. He even knows what you’re going to do before you do it. Going to spin that sword around? He’s going to evade. Going to charge up a heavy sword slash? He’s going to poke you in the face quickly. Thinking a bomb might work? He will just throw it back at you. The best way for Link to defeat himself is to flail erratically and hope something lands while slowly dwindling away his hit points. To this day, Dark Link remains an iconic foe to add to the Legend of Zelda’s rogue gallery.

Metal Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog): Thought I’d put Shadow the Hedgehog down? Nope, I don’t consider characters introduced when a series goes to garbage as cannon. Besides, Shadow never fought Sonic like his roboticized counterpart did. He has been used in many iterations in the franchise and has taken many different forms. He is superior to Sonic in every way. His spikes are sharper, his plated skin is more durable, and he is even faster than the series’ hero. His first appearance was in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 where the two would clash in a small enclosed area. He mimicked everything the hero could do and could even shoot projectile spikes to harm the hedgehog. This battle’s level of greatness is paltry compared to his battle against Sonic in Sonic CD. In Stardust Speedway, the only thing keeping Sonic from saving Amy and defeating Eggman is to defeat Metal Sonic in a race. Not only is he faster than our hero, he can destroy obstacles and is invulnerable to damage. The only way to defeat him is to haul ass through loops and leap over spikes while he eats shit behind you. It is like a Tortoise and Hare battle except there isn’t a tortoise and there are two hares. The difference between the two is that the other hare has a jetpack and dies when it barrages itself into a wall. I hope to see Metal Sonic return in some more worthy Sonic adventures in the future and to bring the level of intensity he normally delivers to a new generation of gamers.

There are many more video games out there with evil counterparts but this was just to name a few that I can still remember to this day. Are there any other instances where the hero fought their doppelganger that you remember? Post a comment if you recall any!