No, no, no! Core have missed out on a potentially brilliant and revolutionary form of computer entertainment with their latest release. If you're going to do a game based around a dog then why not have it cock its leg every few paces and deposit a lump of semi-digested Pedigree Chum somewhere where you're likely to tread in it? And as a bonus level you could have a Track And Field-style waggling frenzy where you have to make the canine lick his private parts clean within a time limit. It would be great fun, I reckon.
Sadly, none of these brill features can be found in Wonder Dog, the first Mega CO game to be converted to the Amiga. Plot-wise it's pretty ludicrous, so I'll not dwell for too long on it. The action centres around the heroic pup of the title as he attempts to journey through a number of levels (each spilt into smaller and more manageable 'zones'), bashing in General Von Ruffbone's dog troopers who are currently causing havoc throughout the known doggy world. Got that? Good.
And this dog truly is a wonder. He can run, skid through tiny gaps, leap kangaroo-like into the blue yonder, dig holes to reveal hidden paths, and even chuck a deadly star or two. There are bonuses galore to sweep up on his travels through weird and wonderful places such as Planet Weird, Planet Foggia and K9, to name but three of the seven levels. But how has it survived the conversion process? Let's find out.
Okay, Wonder Dog is nothing new. The only revolutionary thing about it is that you can't kill the baddies by jumping on their heads, which has to be something of an innovation for a platform game these days. So why has it been rated so highly? Well, for starters it's supremely playable. The inertia may be a bit enthusiastic at first but once you've found your feet you'll be a-rompin' and a-stompin' all over the place. All the main characters are large, colourful and really well animated -so much so that it's a shame to get rid of the livelier-looking baddies -and the background and foreground graphics are bright and jolly. The music, too, is blummin' funky and drives the game along nicely. What's also good is that the cutesy creatures really do change between zones, with some completely nutty alien-types putting in an appearance towards the end of the game. The star-throwing system works surprisingly well. Because you can only chuck one or two around at any time you have to take things fairly slowly, making the game a damn sight more taxing to play than many other platformers - you certainly can't race through Wonder Dog if you hope to do well. There are a few annoying points, however. Some of the levels feature too many 'blind' jumps, which are always a problem - some form of 'peek down' facility like in Global Gladiators would have helped here - and a number of the platforms leading up to the bonuses are a bit too small which, when coupled with the inertia, can make for a frustrating time. Wonder Dog certainly won't make your eyes pop out or your brain explode but it's well-programmed and fun to play, which is more than all right in my book.
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