Sabre Wulf

Rare returns to its roots with Sabre Wulf


The Lowdown

Pros: Interesting twist on platformers, lots of creatures means more ways to complete levels, excellent pseudo 3D graphics

Cons: Relatively simple, not a lot to do after completing the game

Purchase at Play-Asia

When Rare made Donkey Kong Country, they already had a classic. After it was re-released for the Game Boy Advance gamers who have never played it before were impressed by a game that was almost ten years old. While gamers that have already completed it still found it entertaining. After the Donkey Kong Country series Rare worked on bigger projects including the well known Perfect Dark. 2D games were a thing of the past, until they started working on Sabre Wulf. Sabre Wulf is a sequel to the popular Sabreman released in 1985 for the Commodore 64. For the two people that remember the Commodore 64 and for the one person that remembers Sabreman, Sabre Wulf should bring back memories. For everyone else, know that Sabre Wulf is an excellent platformer in the style of the famous Donkey Kong Country.

Before you even start playing the game you know this game has that "Rare" touch of pseudo 3D graphics. First appearing on the Super NES pre-rendered 3D sprites were a technological feat. Although, the technique seems dated the graphics still look good on the Game Boy Advance. When you're walking around the town the top down perspective works well with the pseudo 3D sprites. When you're in the actual 2D levels Rare doesn't skimp on the graphics. The environments are filled with detail and colorful backgrounds. They even include weather conditions, like rain, which look cool. The animation is best seen in Sabreman (the main character) and in the creatures. The creatures have a specific artistic style to them, that makes them look sort of comical with their animations. While the presentation may make Sabre Wulf seem like a kids game Sabre Wulf still has a wide appeal.

In Sabre Wulf you play as Sabreman, a fabled explorer. Sabreman's job is to once again seal the vile beast known as Sabrewulf from attacking villagers. To rid the world of Sabrewulf you need to collect pieces of an amulet. Pieces are scattered throughout different levels, which have pits, enemies and other traps. Sabreman isn't exactly an action hero. He can't jump very high, he can't actually attack any enemies, and after one hit he's got to leave the level. If it was up to just Sabreman alone the world doesn't stand a chance. Luckily for him, he isn't alone. Within the stages are creatures that you can collect and put in your bottomless backpack. When you need to use a creature you press the "B" button, which opens up a window that shows your available creatures. Pressing the "A" button allows you to place creatures where needed. Each creature has a different ability, like Blubba who lets you jump on his belly to reach higher places or Bigfoot which kicks anything in front of you. You have limited use of your creatures depending on how many of the creature you caught. This makes players think about when and how to use their creatures to the fullest instead of placing a whole bunch of Serpents down to make a bridge above the level. When you reach the end of a level you'll see a treasure and Sabrewulf waiting for you. Once you grab the treasure all of the enemies will disappear and turn into treasure. With the path to the beginning of the level cleared you'll have to run from Sabrewulf chasing you to get back to your tent. Grabbing treasure coins along the way will net you more money and the faster you make it back to the tent the more the coins are worth.

Early on in the game the levels are simple. You have a limited amount of creatures so there aren't many ways to beat the levels. As you progress through the game and you capture a more diverse amount of creatures options open up to the gamer. Should you plow through enemies using attacking creatures or do you opt to avoid them so they become treasure coins on your return trip. With many ways to beat the levels Sabre Wulf is more than your standard 2D platformer. There is even an RPG element to Sabre Wulf because you can purchase more creatures and special items at a shop. However, with all of Sabre Wulf's innovation, its a short game. You can play through the game is a single digit number of hours with not much to do after the game is completed. Sabre Wulf does offer up a challenge mode for gamers that have completed the game. Challenge mode has gamers try to beat the levels as quickly as possible, but after you've completed Sabre Wulf there is no motivation to play challenge mode. There is no extra levels, no special creatures, no surprises.

Ultimately, Sabre Wulf is a solid platformer. Sabre Wulf has Rare's trademark pseudo sprites, excellent level design and a quirky story.

Import Friendly?

The European version is an excellent version to import. It features three languages and the Game Boy Advance is region free.

US Bound?

Sabre Wulf has been announced in North America, but no release date has been set.

Overall

While Sabre Wulf is a fun play through and a surprise hit title from Rare, Sabre Wulf is a short game.