31 Days of Gaming Terror – Day 5: Where Are All the Werewolves?
Alexander Lucard: It’s an odd thing. If I asked you to name a protagonist or end bad guy who is also a vampire in a video game, you can probably think of a dozen right off the bat. Dracula, Alucard, Kaine, Raziel, Christof Romuald, The vampire characters in each of the Shadow Hearts trilogy, Vampire Hunter D, Bloodrayne, and hordes of vampires in games like Vampire Rain, Vampire Night, Countdown Vampires, Lunar Knights: Vampire Hunters, and so on and so forth. The list never ends.
Now try to do the same for Werewolves. It’s just a little bit harder, no? Well between myself and Mark, we were only really able to do a detailed commentary for six Werewolf oriented games. Let’s take a look at them now.
Jon Talbain – Darkstalkers
Jon Talbain is arguably the best known werewolf in gaming thanks to his appearances in everything from the Darkstalkers fighting game series and sporadic appearances in various other Capcom titles. Although Talbain is considered one of the more popular characters in the series in the US and Europe, poor Jon is one of the least popular back in Japan, and as such was omitted from Vampire Saviour 2 , along with Rikuo and Sasquatch, to make room for Pyron, Donovan and Hutzil. It’s for this reason I prefer Vampire Hunter 2 which was released at the same time but is instead missing the craptastic four of Q-Bee, Lilith, Jedah, and B.B.
Jon Talbain’s name comes from Jon Talbot, the father of Larry Talbot, who was the main character in Universal Studio’s The Wolf Man He’s definitely one of the better characters to use in the Darkstalker series due to his speed and power. Dark Talbain in Darkstalkers 3 is fun to pull out every now and then as well, although I strongly prefer Night Warriors. as my game of choice in the series. Sadly, as JT comes from a fighting game, there is little character development for him save for the endings you receive and the out of canon comics and cartoons. At least we know he kicks Ryu’s ass at the end of Capcom Fighting Evolution and really, how many characters can make that claim?
Zylo – Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention
For many, Zylo is considered the best overall character in the first Shining Force game. Sure he’s completely insane when you first meet him thanks to a dastardly poisoning by the Runefaust army, but one you cure him, he is pretty much death incarnate for your team. He’s got one of the highest attack ratings, a high defense, a good amount of hit points, and like the birdmen, Zylo isn’t affected by terrain making him a long range sprinting killbot. Eventually when you promote Zylo he gets a cape and Wolverine claws.
I have to admit, for most ardent SF fans, making a team without Zylo is like making a team without Max. When I was in 8th grade and Shining Force came out, I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I could have a werewolf on my team instead of having to kill them like the no-name antagonists they tend to be. Of course SF2 had a werewolf AND a vampire that could join your team, but neither were as memorable as Zylo.
For nearly all of us, Altered Beast was the first video game we played where a werewolf was the protagonist and a pretty sweet one at that. Altered Beast was originally an arcade game, but would eventually be found on the following platforms: DOS, Amstrad CPC, MSX, NES, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis, PC Engine CD, Commodore 64, and most recently, the Virtual Console. It is the Sega Genesis version of the game that is the most famous, mainly because it was a pack-in title for the system for a while, and also has been reprinted multiple times by Sega as they attempt to squeeze every last drop of blood from that stone.
In Altered Beast you play as an undead centurion brought back by Zeus (“Rise from your grave!”). As you collect spirit orbs, you can turn into one of five werecreatures, two of which are werewolves (The others are dragon, tiger, and bear) . The game was a fairly unique beat ’em up and you can experience it today either on your Wii through the virtual console (as mentioned before) or as part of Sega classic collections like Sega Smash Pack for the Dreamcast or the Sega Genesis Collection for the PS2 and PSP. Even today, it remains one of the most memorable games of the 16-bit era of gaming thanks to its innovative gameplay, attempts at digitized speech (“Welcome to your doom!”) and its use (and misuse) of Greek legends and mythology. It’s a wonderful title that should be part of any retro collection. From here on out though it’s Mark’s turn to take a look at three other times where werewolves weren’t treated like beaten curs.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Operation Darkness is a game where werewolves, Herbert West (or a renamed facsimile), Jack the Ripper, and a Van Helsing take on vampires, zombies, skeletons, Dracula, Carmilla (the titular villain of a vampire novel that predates Bran Stoker’s Dracula), Hitler and Himmler, and if you can’t find SOMETHING awesome in that sentence, I feel very sorry for you. Now, of course, not everybody can love the game; hell, an anonymous staffer offered up the description that “it pretty much sucked and was extremely boring”Â, and hey, I can relate. But I’m something of a fan of werewolves. I liked Rage, I liked Werewolf: the Apocalypse, and hey, I liked Operation Darkness. It’s a game where you can have a guy turn into a werewolf, charge across the battlefield, and TAKE OUT A TANK with little more than his lycanthrope-enhanced inherent abilities. It’s a game where werewolves take on FREAKING DRAGONS and still manage to kick ass. Hell, it’s a game where the werewolves are an integral part of the plot, as the GOOD GUYS, fighting the good fight to save the world from evil, be it giant tanks, skeletons, vampires, or Hitler himself.
But hey, y’know. The camera sucks. That’s fine, I understand. You can go back to your Bloodrayne or whatever. I’ll just be over here, crying myself to sleep. Don’t mind me.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Normally, when we think of werewolves, we think “humanoid wolves”Â: huge, slobbering beasts, with bipedal bodies, opposable thumbs, claws, fangs, fur, the whole bit, but “lycanthropy”Â is basically just the ability to transform into a wolf or something similar.
So, I guess you could say that Link was, at one time, a werewolf.
In Twilight Princess, one of the major mechanics of the game was that Link would have to turn into a wolf to accomplish various tasks in the game. Now, granted, his lycanthropy was magic-based instead of being the result of genetic modification caused by being bitten by another werewolf, but realistically, randomly sprouting hair and increasing your body mass doesn’t exactly make sense either, so it’s not like we can’t count this. Regardless, as werewolves go, Link was certainly one of the more notable ones, so my pointy green hat goes off to him. Of course, the fact that his game was good certainly helps, but you know how that is.
Less of a case of wereWOLVES and more of a case of wereEVERYTHING, Bloody Roar is one of those franchises that never really quite caught on with fans as much as it could have. In fairness, the games weren’t the best fighting games ever, but Darkstalkers was fabulous and didn’t really catch on well either, so I just blame the masses and their negative predispositions against anthropomorphic characters. Regardless, this series had it all, from werewolves to weretigers to werebats to werebunnies to weremoles and beyond, if you had some sort of interesting in transforming into a humanoid animal of some sort or another, at least one Bloody Roar probably had a character for you. But the main protagonist and mascot of the franchise always seemed to be Yugo the werewolf, which, if nothing else, proves one thing beyond all others, something that Hudson understood, and so many other companies really should: werewolves are pretty damn awesome.
Simple, isn’t it?