Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘operation wolf

Podcast: Taito Legends

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This week Fred is joined by James (@Jamalais) to discuss the arcade classics released by Taito in the 1980s.  They cover the company’s history and many of the staple titles like Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Zoo Keeper, Bubble Bobble, Darius, Rainbow Islands, and Rastan.  Return to one of the arcade pioneers of gaming’s golden years.

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Please note: In the show Jam refers to a review for Rainbow Islands that was very close to him.  That review can be read, unedited, here.  (It is in an open document type, so I recommend using Google Docs to view.)

Written by Fred Rojas

February 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Operation Wolf (Arcade)

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Operation_Wolf_posterConsole: Arcade
Released: 1987
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Ports: NES (1989), Sega Master System (1990), DOS (1991), PC-Engine (Japan Only, 1992), Microcomputers (varies), PS2 (in Taito Legends, arcade version), Xbox (in Taito Legends, arcade version)
Digital Release? Yes – NES Version on Virtual Console (no light gun support, see below)

Operation Wolf is a game I can’t help but associate with Pizza Hut.  Taito’s introduction and unique take on the light gun shooter flooded the American franchise so much in the late 80s that I can think of no other place I’ve actually played the game.  Of course being a pizza franchise and not an arcade the difficulty was always cranked to the highest and I swear they timed the machine to play approximately half the time it took to cook a pizza so that families with two kids would each play one credit before the food was ready.  This title brought more realism to the light gun shooter as you play a member of special forces diving behind enemy lines in Cuba to extract five hostages.  Aside from the realistic violence of invading and destroying enemy encampments, this was the first light gun shooter to feature a plot and natural progression as well as a moving, scrolling stage instead of a fixed location.  Did I mention it was addicting too?

Operation_Wolf_cabinetMind you, we are still back in 1987, where arcade games were more about providing a specialized challenge with amazing graphics instead of explicitly drinking as many quarters as you’ll offer.  The cabinet had a large mounted Uzi machine gun that could only swivel slightly with forced feedback to emulate gunfire kickback, pretty nifty for games of that time.  At first glance it seems like a spray & pray title, but as you run out of ammo, die, and get captured you begin to realize you might need a slight bit of strategy.  If you die,  even if you have another quarter in the machine, you will still need to complete the current level from scratch (although you will now have full ammo and life).  Innocent people are thrown into the mix, which you should not shoot, and animals, which you should shoot, for bonus items.  Early on there’s not much penalty (as I prove in the video below) for blasting civilians or missing a vulture flying overhead, but by the final levels your screen will have a literal 50/50 spread of civilians and enemies with these animals being mostly your only source of ammo and power.  I only do one playthrough in the video, but in truth I replayed this game for a couple of hours of fun.  Unlike other light gun shooters before it, this game was less about accuracy and more used the gun as a placeholder for an invisible reticule.  This is why most home ports and conversions don’t suffer from controller porting and in truth this type of game has proven to be just as effective, if not more so, with a reticule and controller as opposed to a light gun (which I cover in the home ports below).

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Written by Fred Rojas

April 6, 2013 at 11:14 am