This is INSERT COIN, our brand new video series dedicated to the storied history of the arcade business. Join Robert Johnson as he looks at the best and worst of arcade coin-ops every Thursday. What is he talking about this week?
A fake plastic uzi, of course. Find out why Operation Wolf still traumatizes Robert all these years later.
In 1987, my favorite movie was The Delta Force starring Chuck Norris. I wasn't old enough to understand the moral and psychological nuances of Rambo. We all played army, war and other aggressive fantasy games that young boys do, but we never thought about the consequences of the actions or our favorite fictional heroes. This is why I had no idea what I was getting into the first time I played Operation Wolf by Taito.
The awesomely decorated cabinet draws you in and its replica uzi is responsive and feels badass. Need more ammo? SHOOT THAT PIG! Not only were you tasked with killing everything on screen that draws breath, but your success and the secondary objectives will determine the difficulty of future levels. If you don't raid ammunition dumps, then you'll be hurting for ammo for the rest of the game. And you can get multiple endings, depending on how many hostages you rescue in the final mission.
But what stands out the most about Operation Wolf are the "game over" screens. In other games where your dude kicks the bucket, it's a quick animation and you don't have much time to dwell on his fate. But this game shows the player no such mercy. Not only is your death shown in living color, but it's also narrated to you with no way to skip it. I can actually hear the narrator's voice in my head right now. And if you died with no ammo, you became a hostage. A fate not much better. Fun game, but heavy stuff.