I’ll give it to Software Creations, they certainly tried with their licensed superhero games. Unlike the typical LJN trash they at least got some elements of their respective license correct and you can tell the developers were at least aware of the property they were working with. But each one of their games are consistently let down by a myriad number of flaws. The Silver Surfer is one of the most frustrating games of all time by design. Wolverine doesn’t reach that level but god damn is it close. The character deserves better.
The premise is at least interesting. Wolverine is captured by Sabertooth and Magneto and taken to a deserted island. To escape he must navigate a series of trials to eventually reach his nemeses and win. A decent premise does not make a good game and unfortunately this one has problems.
When you think of Wolverine you think of his claws and berserker rage. I can at least say both are present and accounted for. You won’t like their implementation however. Every time you use Wolverine’s claws it takes a slice of health. Yes, you read that correctly. On a good run you can probably slash about five or six times before you have to sheathe your claws. It makes no sense and is a complete betrayal of the character. The hero with the infamous healing factor can’t use his most important weapon longer than a few seconds. Incredible. For every enemy killed the berserk meter fills. Once full Wolverine enters a berserker rage but don’t get excited. You are invincible but he stops to randomly unleash a flurry of attacks every few seconds. Its as stupid as it sounds, happens at the worst moments, and is completely pointless.
Combat isn’t a large part of the game fortunately. Wolverine is primarily a platformer and at best a decent one at that. The goal of each massive level is to reach the exit which is easier said than done. The game throws nearly every platforming trick in the book in your path. Disappearing platforms, random spikes, and frustrating enemy placement combine to ruin your afternoon. There are multiple paths in each level which is pretty cool. That’s about all the praise I can give though. The entire game has an amateur feel to it since little care was given to the stage layouts. Hazards like spikes, explosives, and magnets are grouped together haphazardly. Blind jumps are everywhere and there are even instances where you can get stuck. You can adjust but the game isn’t as fluid as it should be.
There are other issues too. Without your claws you can only throw feeble punches and kicks. Hit detection is absolutely awful. You have to practically kiss the enemies to hit them. It makes running from enemies more viable than fighting, especially since they take multiple hits to kill. Luckily there aren’t any boss battles until the end of the game. Speaking of which, talk about anti-climactic. Magneto simply runs away after a few punches to the face. Sabretooth simply has to be punched off the cliff to end the game. That is more frustrating than it should be as the game does its novel best to keep him away from the edge. And for the lengths you’ll go to the end is not worth it.
I mentioned that Wolverine isn’t as frustrating as the Silver Surfer. The addition of a life bar helps but does little. Like Turrican you have no invincibility window when hit. Anything that damages you can sap your health in seconds. Burgers and drinks are well hidden and chances are you’ll lose more health trying to find them than what you’ll gain. Extra lives are very rare which sucks since you’ll need them. Continues are limited and you’ll burn through them fast. With its high difficulty you will end up replaying every stage multiple times, not just to remember their layout but also to memorize enemy placement to avoid cheap hits. Wolverine is a game that will take a lot of trial and error to complete. Sadly I don’t think it is worth it.
Wolverine is a bad game that only stars the character on the surface. Wolverine could easily have been a generic platformer starring any other character and no one would notice. There is a reason no one ever talks about this game. Let it be lost to history like it deserves.