Crest of Wolf
Westone / Hudson Soft
Super CD- ROM, 1993
Crest of Wolf, also known as Riot Zone on the TurboGrafx CD is your standard fare beat 'em game. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but there are a lot of similarities with Capcom's Final Fight. Being that I'm playing the Japanese version, I wasn't able to follow the dialogue in the animated scenes that set the story. I don't need to read though to find out its your basic rescue your kidnapped girlfriend, beating up thugs along the way.
You can take control of either Hawk or Tony. Hawk is the blonde wearing a white t-shirt w/ blue jeans...he's basically this game's version of Cody from Final Fight. Tony is the big dude with the mohawk...this game's Haggar. Both players do play a little different and feature different animations in their attack, but like most beat 'em ups does it really matter who you choose?
Upon firing up the game I noticed that the game looks and feels as if its almost unfinished. The graphics are kind of ugly in places and the character designs leave a lot to be desired. At least the enemies are varied, but there are a LOT of color pallet swaps to make the additional characters. The animation for your character, as well as the enemies seems stiff. Hit detection is decent, however many of the enemies would land a chain of attacks on you that I just could seem to block or get away from. Thankfully the game didn't have any slow down of flickering that I noticed when there were multiple enemies on the screen.
Going back to the characters, do these enemies remind you of a particular ninja that garnered fame on various Sega platforms?! I fought a couple of shirtless fat guys that seemed to resemble Karnov as well. The big guys in the game run around like the big, fat bald guys in Final Fight. There are guys that slide kick across the floor just like the guys w/ knives in the previous mentioned game. At least there was some originality in the level design after the first level or so.
The one positive thing I have to say about this game is that the soundtrack is pretty great. There are a few tunes that I didn't care for, but overall I really enjoyed the guitar heavy metal. I felt it fit the game really well and I wish there was a sound test. At least you can listen to the game's entire soundtrack in the YouTube video above.
After you beat the boss of each level, you'll see your character walking down the street and up to a poster with an image of the boss and a reward listed below. You'll thing plunge a knife into the poster before the screen fades and loads the next level.
The boss battles throughout the game I found to be fairly easy, however the boss(es) of the first stage proved to be tougher than most. You fight an Asian martial artists by the name of Mr. Lee. Once you get his health to about half way, a female armed with Wolverine type claws joins the battle. Not overly difficult, but the lady did get some cheap hits in on me as she jumped around the screen.
Stage two's boss, Shauna, appears to be some type of dominatrix. When you first approach her, she is laying down on a board stacked upon cinder blocks. She has a sexual look to her, even though her character model really doesn't show that much skin. I can see this character being heavily altered/censored if this game ever appeared on the Super Nintendo. Despite her wielding a whip, she was a real push over.
Stage three's boss took place in what appeared to be a doctor's office? You see this guy sitting on a desk who jumps down, then all these spikes protrude from his body. He looks way more menacing than he actually was. Next.
Remember when you jumped into the wrestling ring in Final Fight to fight the boss, Sodom? Stage four's boss isn't some Japanese shogun warrior, but a big sumo wrestler named Fuji. I don't know if it was his larger size that made it easy to land hits on, but I was able to take him out fairly quickly.
Stage 5 has you eventually invade the enemies base, a penthouse at the top of a skyscraper. Why does that seem so familiar? I can't remember the name of the boss, but he has that pretty boy look. Kind of reminds me of one of the guys from the first Die Hard movie, only this guy knows martial arts. I didn't find him too terribly difficult to beat, in fact I thought I had beat the game. Did you notice those statues in the background? Well one of them there is more than meets the eye.
The final boss of the game is Toro, a statue that comes to life after you beat the pretty blonde guy. He attacks with a sword and if he gets any distance on you he'll fire a slow moving fireball your way. For the final boss he was way to easy to beat. Like with most characters and bosses, you could pin them in the corner and lay down on your attack button...or just use the handy built in turbo switches to really take it to them.
Once he falls, you walk into the next game and the love of your life runs into you arms. There are more animated scenes that help wrap up the story I presume. After that you are greeted by a screen with "Congratulations" spelled out in large characters. Roll credits and put a fork in this one because you are done.
Without changing any of the default game play settings, you get five lives. I was able to make it to the 5th and final level before I had to continue as I had earned a few lives based on my score. The levels are a tad long and the overall difficulty did seem to ramp up a little on the final level. I believe I had to continue twice in my play through. I don't know if the continues are unlimited or not, but when you do have to continue you get to pick up right where you left off. No going back to the beginning of the stage here.
Overall the game is OK. Games like Final Fight or Streets of Rage are far superior, but I still enjoyed it thanks in part to the soundtrack. The game isn't overly expensive and unless you really want to know the story behind the game, there isn't any reason to pay more for the US version. Plus the PC Engine version has the far superior cover art. If you are fan of beat 'em ups you at least owe it to yourself to try this game.