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Wonder Dog Review



There’s a very limited amount of platformers on the Mega CD. This is a real shame because the console lends itself to the platform game very well (what with its music and scaling capabilities). This is evident in the superb Sonic CD, Earthworm Jim: Special Edition and Mickey Mania. So, can Wonder Dog pull off that magic that’ll make it a retro hit with Mega CD owners? Or does it squander what good ideas it has on poor gameplay and overusing the console’s ability to generate decent FMVs?

Well, in a way it achieves both. Wonder Dog is a fantastic, little, platform-romp through brightly coloured stages with big sprites, catchy music and memorable enemies. The problem is, it feels like we’ve all been there far too many times.

The story follows Wonder Dog; a dog, which may be included in the top 10 smartest dog breeds, from the planet K9 who has been abandoned by his father in order to save him from the evil Pitbullys. Upon arriving on Earth he quickly makes friends with a boy. Unfortunately, his father won’t allow the boy to keep Wonder Dog so he abandons him. In a moment of desperation, Wonder Dog runs back to the space-craft in which he crash-landed on Earth in and puts on a ridiculous costume. The viewer assumes he is trying to impress the boy and his father enough to win them over but he ends up travelling back to K9 to save the planet from the Pitbullys. It’s all bit ambiguous but this is a retro game; the story is only set in place to get things moving.

After all this is over in the lengthy FMV sequences we jump straight into the fray. Wonder Dog’s controls are very simple; A to fire stars at enemies, hold B to run faster and C to jump. Wonder Dog’s running ability allows the character to run up to near, Sonic-like speed which is a welcome addition to the game. It’s a real shame that the player can’t jump on enemies and has to resort to firing stars at them because this slows the action down unnecessarily. The other problem is Wonder Dog’s jump isn’t very generous. This means the higher areas in the levels require a long ‘run-up’ in order to reach them. This becomes a bit tedious over time.

The level design is spot on. A huge amount of effort has gone into designing levels that have multi-tiered routes and plenty of hidden areas. They’re also very reminiscent of the platform classic that is James Pond: Robocod which is never a bad thing. Wonder Dog has the same attention to detail and similar shaded graphics as the aforementioned classic and exploring the stages is a real treat.

Continuing on the theme of graphics, Wonder Dog does things with the Mega CD that we’ve been waiting ages to see. Like I mentioned before, the sprites are considerably large with a great attention to detail. Animation is a little bland but it’s nice to see some functioning, large sprites for a change. However, the levels soon begin to blend together. They’re all very expected from a platform game and don’t seem to pull any surprises other than a nice bit of scaling or parallax scrolling backgrounds.

There’s not a lot to say about the music. Avid gamers will know what platform-game-music sounds like and this is no different to the cutesy, up-beat drivel you hear in most games. A little bit disappointing.

In conclusion, Wonder Dog begins to ring all the right bells when it comes to platform games. It’s simple, it’s fun and there’s plenty to explore. Unfortunately, its’ rushed presentation and slightly annoying controls bring down what could have been an amazing platformer. But considering it was released before games like Mickey Mania and Sonic CD, it definitely shows a great start to platform gaming on the Mega CD.



Written by Sonic Yoda on 3/10/07

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