Retro Review: Operation Wolf

Operation Wolf

Released: 1991

Platform: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Taito

Looking back, I had a strange fascination with guns when I was a child. Watching movies like Commando and Rambo: First Blood Part 2 at the age of 10 probably didn’t help with my obsession with all things that go bang. I know it’s normal for boys to play with guns but, I bet there weren’t many 10 year olds who had a subscription to Combat and Survival magazine. Not only did this magazine have blueprints to weapons like the SA80 assault rifle or Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun, it also featured handy ways to capture and maim enemies in man traps. As much as I loved the war stuff, I did find it a bit disconcerting that they had a feature on how to deal with sexually transmitted infections without antibiotics!

Although I’m replaying the Sega Master System version of Operation Wolf, my first encounter with this on rails shooter was in the arcade. I distinctly remember being attracted to the amazing cabinet which featured what felt like a life size Uzi 9mm. This was in the days when arcade guns looked like real guns and not the watered down versions you get today. Not only did it look like a real gun, it felt like a real gun as it rumbled and vibrated making my arm shake as I mowed down enemy soldiers.

There are six levels which take to you various locations including the jungle, airport and communication centre. Although there isn’t a massive story I did appreciate that there was a thread running throughout each level. For example you have the opportunity to visit an ammunition camp to restock your weapons, or save prisoners from a concentration camp.

As light gun games go Operation Wolf doesn’t do anything majorly different to the many other shooting games from this era. The screen scrolls slowly to the side and you are attacked by wave upon wave of enemies. There are fairly standard bad guys which range from soldiers, tanks and helicopters. There are also civilians running around which you need to avoid otherwise you will take damage. Bizarrely in one level there appeared to be a woman running around in a bikini!?

Even though you are a heavily armed soldier you can’t just spray bullets everywhere as you have a limited amount of ammunition. You do have a rocket launcher and weirdly you need to plug in the second controller and press a button to fire it.

There isn’t a lot of music in the game and the graphics are fairly basic during the shooting sections. The enemies are repeated but they are nicely animated for a 25 year old game. In-between each level there is a lovely still image to reward your chaos and mayhem.

You can complete Operation Wolf in about 20 minutes if you’re a crack shot and it’s a fun little game. Playing it now reminded me of being a child, holding my light phaser right against the TV so I didn’t miss. It’s not the greatest light gun game in the world but, it does bring back fond memories from my childhood and is well worth a blast if you have a Sega Master System and light phaser lying around.

If you enjoy light gun games and Sega then why not check out my reviews of Virtua Cop, Rescue Mission and Rambo 3.

Graphics – Decent graphics which are nice and colourful as you would expect for a Sega Master System game. 5

Sound – There isn’t much music in the game and the sound effects are fairly basic. 4

Playability – As you would imagine the gameplay is fairly straight forward but, it is fun for a quick blast. 5

Re-Playability – Although the graphics and sound may have aged, the gameplay has stayed the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 4

Overall – Operation Wolf holds a lot of special memories for me. It isn’t the best light gun game in the world and the Sega Master System version doesn’t come close to the arcade but, it is still fun for a quick bit of nostalgia. 4

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and The Same Coin).