Mark Mazzei

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Years before most of us were even conceived, there existed a small company called Ultimate: Play the Game. Before changing their company name to Rareware, they produced a great numble of titles, with one of them being Sabre Wulf. Contrary to what you may believe, this Game Boy Advance version is not a port or remake of that classic 1984 game. It may share the same name, yet it’s far from the 6-color adventure of the 80’s.

Fierce Wulf Winning Formula

ImageThe game stars Sabreman, protagonist of the Sabre Wulf titles of the 80’s (the original Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde, Knight Lore, and Pentagram). Before this title, he made a cameo in Banjo-Tooie, frozen solid on the ice side of Hailfire Peaks with an amulet lodged in his geriatric hands. Time is to everyone a cruel mistress, and Sabreman is no exception. Having aged from his prime, he has found time to try and relax in his old age. Unfortunately for him, in this game, Sabrewulf, the kleptomaniac light blue wolf, has been going around stealing valuable treasures and people from the various locations of the overworld, all named after previous Ultimate: Play the Game titles.

What makes this game unique, however, is the usage of different animals Sabreman must collect and use in the 2D levels to reach his goal. Whether their purpose is to serve as platforms, dangers for enemies along the way or even traps, Sabreman simply can’t get by without a little help from his friends. The Wulf guards the treasures at the ends of those levels, and he doesn’t give it up without a chase; so once our hero reaches the end of the level, he must escape it with the treasure or valuable object at his own risk. Despite being an agile senior citizen, the Wulf is hungry for semi-retired flesh, and because of this is at a much faster speed than the old coot. Which is why you must strategize and attempt to confuse the Wulf before the beast gets the better of you.

ImageAs with nearly every recent Rare title, Sabre Wulf has an interesting history behind it. First revealed at E3 2001, the game was a temporary casualty of the 2002 acquisition. Fortunately, while it wasn’t cancelled, it instead did as the Wulf does and disappeared off the radar for a few years. Unsure of a publisher, the game didn’t resurface until 2003 with screenshots posted here and there. It was eventually released in June of 2004 thanks to a deal with THQ. Unlike the other half of the non-DKC GBA titles (Pants and Banjo Pilot), the game formula and plot essentially stayed the same.

Highly regarded as one of -if not- the best GBA titles made by Rare, there is an obscene level of quality on it. Combine that with the references to past Ultimate: Play the Game titles, the cheeky references that Rare is known for, and a tea-drinking mini-game (seriously), and you’ve got yourself a refreshing take on the side-scroller that must not be missed. Hunt down a copy right away... before it hunts you down first.

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