Another superhero video game. Now, Wolverine: Adamantium Rage was released on the Super Nintendo. On previous Super Nintendo outings he teamed up with Spider-Man in Arcade’s Revenge, then the X-Men in their game, and now he finally gets a game all to himself. However, what occurred was an absolutely horrible game that is largely unplayable. Which is really sad, because all the elements of a good game are clearly here.
I will only be reviewing the Super Nintendo version; I won’t be comparing it to the Genesis version, which is a different game entirely and made by a different studio. Bits Studios (responsible for the awful Spider-Man 2 & 3 Game Boy titles) made the Super Nintendo version, whereas Teeny Weeny Games made the Genesis version.
You are Wolverine. You are breaking into Xavier’s computers when you find there is a message directly sent to you. How did this happen? Who cares. It’s time to go to Canada and cut people up. Wolverine: Adamantium Rage is a very unusual beast. Just look at the controls page in the Instruction Manuel.
Did you see that? Please tell you noticed it, too. Wolverine has around 20 different moves. You would think this would make for a very entertaining game. Well, let’s describe the moves in theory anyway before worrying about the execution.
Next, let’s look a Super Nintendo controller. You will need to see this to understand just how the controls on this game work.
Ok, now here is the gist of it. Ignore the “Crouch and Slash” (Box #4), as I never did it. You can punch, good for trapping people against a wall so they can’t attack back, but mostly for punching in close combat rather than using the claws (yes, I just said that about Wolverine, who is famous for his claws). Ignore the Throw A Backhand (Box #6), because you really aren’t going to try and punch behind you; enemies move too quickly to switch your brain to use your other hand to be able to use that (plus they will run through it due to the awful hit detection explained later).
You can Kick by pressing Y, but look at “Throw A Front Kick” (Box #10). You have to hit Y, then hit Up afterward. That could not be more awkward. Nothing is ever stationary for this to work. “Attach To A Wall” (Box #11) sound complicated, but it’s just jumping with the B button, then selecting X to stick to the wall. To jump to the adjacent wall, hit jump (B), and Wolverine automatically jumps to the wall and attaches himself to it. Be Warned: Hit anything else and Wolverine falls, and you aren’t allowed to control anything or try to stick to the wall again on the way down. So basically, it’s annoying is what I’m trying to say.
“Forward Dive” (Box #12) is the Up button. Why? You jump forward. Is this for avoiding close combat situations? You accidentally hit this button all the time trying to do other moves and it will sometimes throw yourself off a cliff. Luckily there are no platforming segments that lead to instant death (most of the time). “Slash With Claws” (Box #15) is the R button, and what you will be using the most. It’s the most effective weapon. “Claw Uppercut” (Box #17) says you must first crouch by selecting Down, then hit A. This is useful for flying enemies that are too high to attack. To attack people in the air, you have to press ‘Down’, then press ‘B’ to jump while still holding the Down button. Wolverine will jump upwards, and you must hit ‘X’ as you jump in the air to strike with your claws. However, it has to be very precise. Since only the tips of your claws do damage once they are fully extended (read that again to see how broken the controls are), it will look like your claws and body went right through an enemy and no damage will occur. You end up waiting for the bad guy to fly higher so you can actually hurt him, while trying not to get hit from his fireballs.
Now read the bottom text of the moves page; there are even more moves than present. The 1st special move is done by pressing R and A. It looks like a normal backhand punch, but then the punch swings forward. You can even do it while running. And though you can hit people close to you, good luck hitting them after they’ve already hit you, because once you are hit, your attack animation is halted and you don’t follow through with the move. This is the slowest move in the game, so you’re not ever going to use it. The 2nd special move involves crouching first, then selecting X, and then selecting A right after. You must hit X first, otherwise he just punches someone. If done correctly, you will stand up and hold both hands outward with your claws extended. This is intended to hit enemies to the left and right of you. I can’t mention this anymore without telling you that it doesn’t work. I tried this ability many times, and often, enemies just causally walk through your claws because of how poorly designed the hit detection is. This secret attack actually becomes essential on Lady Deathstrike. There is an open electrical wire, and if you perform this 2nd special move on it, you will have electricity all over your body for 2 seconds. Lady Deathstrike will lose 15% of her health if she runs into you. If you attack her normally, every attack only does 1% damage.
This is the real problem of the game; hit detection. Seriously, the massive list of moves and the inventive idea with electricity on Wolverine’s claws is a good idea, but they all fail because of the hit detection. YOU HAVE TO HIT THE ENEMY AT THEIR FIRST WALL OF PIXELS ON THEIR BODY WITH YOUR FIRST PIXEL ON YOUR CLAW/PUNCH/KICK. Even then, you only hit them with your attack ONCE YOUR ATTACK ANIMATION IS COMPLETE. If an enemy is already walking toward you and walks past the tip of your claws in the middle of your attack, he will take no damage, because the tip of the claws only damage him when they are fully extended. And now the enemy is right beside you and can attack. This…this is a major problem.
The other, significantly major problem is attacking people already running inside you. When an enemy and you share the same space, neither of you hurt each other with your bodies. However, your attack will never hurt them, AT ALL. I’m not joking. You have to run away from them, turn around, hope they didn’t follow you, and then attack, but only if they are far enough away. You can try to run, turn around, run, then jump kick, but this isn’t how a game should be played for every enemy, and you will still miss because your flying kick must be pixel specific on a moving target. Does that sound like fun? Also, you run too fast and the screen jerks too quickly to follow you when doing so, making it hard to time your return attacks because you have to attack BEFORE the enemy appears on screen in most instances.
reducing my health, while I have to run away, turn around,
and wait to predict his movements so that I can strike at just the right time.
Also, due to the poor hit detection, your regular fists are better than using your claw in some instances. You can punch a ninja to death by trapping him in a corner. But, if you try the claws, they often fail to hit and just make you get attacked. Your regular punch should not be better than your claws. You are Wolverine!
And yes, cheat I did. After failing about 10 times on the 2nd level where you fight Tri-Fusion, I had to use a password. You have to fight 3 bosses at once, with no chance to heal. And each boss has completely different attacks, and they randomly teleport and exchange places with each other constantly. The worst is that the hit detection is poor here, you are always hit by an unblockable 4-armed swordsman, and the giant has a ground pound which is impossible to time to jump over. In Level 3, I failed to defeat Lady Deathstrike before the time limit. I was making my special move to extend my claws toward electricity to hurt her (as stated above), but Lady Deathstrike will come toward you, shoot her hand at you, and stop your attack. It is very rare that she will run right into you. And when she attacks, she deals you a lot of damage. You can hide on the top floor to heal, but that wastes time and just brings Elsie Dee, who kills you instantly and gives you a game over. Also, you have to be extremely precise because of the hit detection I mentioned before. If Wolverine becomes electricity and Lady Deathstrike runs through your claws before they stop extending, she runs right up to you and attacks you. So, good luck.
On yeah, did I forget to mention the time limit? You have half an hour to get through each stage, (through there is 1 instance where you start a bomb and have to get out quickly independent of this). Also, every time you die, the timer keeps going. Unfairly, the timer is hidden, so you never know how long you have. I had to look up on the internet (not the manual) to find out that it is 30 minutes for each level. So if you die a lot and finally get to the boss, you might find a small girl in red clothing flying toward you (you only get a 15 second warning before she appears). But, because of how awkward the controls are, you won’t avoid her. She touches you and and it’s an instant Game Over, regardless of how many lives you have left.
I only played through the rest of the game on a Game Genie. I gave myself infinite health, but the time limit remained. I still died 3 times this way before beating this game.
Story: 2 out of 10
It tries at a story, but it’s really just a cutscene that leads to the next boss, who is behind an entire level to get to, who leads to a next boss that was controlling them. You start off in Weapon X fighting robots. You go to Japan to fight ninjas (The Hand). You do into a drug-induced hallucination to fight supernatural things like a dragon. You fight mercenaries on a roof in Toyko. You go to the Hellfire Club. You end in a sewer as the final two levels. Yes, a sewer level.
Why does Shinobi Shaw have a Data file, but he isn’t a boss you can battle? You never find out why he wants to kill Wolverine (or why the mystery boss wants to kill Wolverine, either). Shaw points at you for Fugue to attack you, and she is the boss in the next level, too. Why isn’t Shaw the next boss? His variety would have helped, but then no one most likely made it this far without cheating. Also, it’s weird that the plot seemed to be Shaw planned everything, only for the big reveal to say it was The Great Beast (the leader of The Hand) for a giant Deus Ex Machina boss fight.
Music: 3 out of 10
The opening theme is actually really catchy. I tend to like it, and it gets stuck in your head. However, the rest of the game is weird synth music that isn’t memorable and feels out of place for the game. It’s really upbeat for a game about killing everyone in your path.
Graphics: 6 out of 10
The graphics are one of the only high points of the game. The variety of the backgrounds in the levels is really well done, and they all have a distinct look. Enemies change from level to level, and most bosses all have interesting looks and abilities. However, nothing really stands out.
The game is hard, but not on purpose. If the hit detection worked, you’d have a huge challenge incorporating all these fighting move into the game and it would be fun and challenging, with only occasionally awkward controls. However, since the game is always awkward and hit detection is broken beyond belief, I can’t even give it a worthwhile consideration of points.
Fun: 5 out of 20
Ok, it might not seem like it, but I had fun the first 2 hours. However, as I went on, I got frustrated at boss after boss and angry at the controls. Later, when I used Game Genie, it was only fun half the time because the hallucination level that contained monsters had enemies that took forever to kill. You end up repeating the same patterns over and over with them.
Replay Value: 2 out of 10
It would be fun to play again with a Game Genie in the far, far future, but otherwise I’d never play it again the way it’s normally supposed to be played. It’s cool to place on my shelf and look at, but mainly serves as a game for me to warn others against playing.
Extras: 4 out of 10
I gave it 2 points for the Character Profiles, and 2 for the password system. You can look up the info for all the villains in the game. Now, I was a reader of X-Men, but I didn’t recognize any of these villains except Lady Deathstrike (I thought Shinobi Shaw was Sebastian Shaw at first). Maybe this was a 90’s thing, but I read X-Men in the 90s and watched the cartoon, and I still recognized no one, so I suspect that most of the characters are from Wolverine’s actual solo series.
+5 Points – Trickery
The game really sets you up for thinking you are going to play a good game. You see this list of moves, character lists of all the bosses who are from the comics, the manual was really well presented for fans, and you are also introduced to that cool opening Wolverine song that gets you ready for the cool game you think you are about to play. So, it deserves some credit for it’s preparation, even if the execution never worked.
I don’t know what else to say. I actually enjoyed playing the first level, but all enjoyment was destroyed by the 2nd level boss (actually 3 bosses) which were nearly impossible. Yes, I was enjoying what was a horrible game because it takes a really bad game for me to realize it’s a bad game. I was giving this game more of a chance than most because I usually enjoy everything, and then it came to a screeching halt. I wanted to like this game. There is obviously lots here that should work. If you removed that stupid jump-the-way-I’m-facing jump Wolverine does when you hit the Up button, and actually made it so that you could hit enemies anywhere on their body, and could hit them during the animation movements, the game would actually be fun. I wonder if someone good at hacking roms could do this?
but it’s really a Welcome Home Party. Check out Bishop’s crazy face