Operation Wolf

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Operation Wolf
Operation Wolf Poster.png
Arcade flyer
Platform(s)Arcade, NES, Master System, ZX Spectrum, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS, FM Towns, PC Engine
ReleaseArcade 1987
NES 1989
SMS 1991
Genre(s)Shooting gallery
CPUMC68000 @ 12 MHz
Z80 @ 4 MHz
SoundYM2151 @ 4 MHz
2 × MSM5205 @ 384 kHz
DisplayRaster, 320 × 240 pixels (Horizontal), 8192 colors

Operation Wolf (オペレーションウルフ, Operēshon Urufu) is a one-player shooter video game made by Taito in 1987.[1] It spawned three sequels: Operation Thunderbolt (1988), Operation Wolf 3 (1994) and Operation Tiger (1998).


Assuming the role of Special Forces Operative Roy Adams, the player attempts to rescue five hostages who are being held captive in enemy territory. The game is divided into six stages, each of which advances the story when completed. For example, after the Jungle stage is completed, Adams interrogates an enemy soldier and learns the location of the concentration camp where the hostages are being held. This was one of the first shooter games to feature a storyline.

The game utilizes an optical controller housed inside a gun assembly scaled after and which bears a strong resemblance to an Uzi submachine gun. This, in turn, is mounted on top of a square base covering the pivot shaft which allows players to swivel and elevate the "gun". A geared motor inside the casing simulates the recoil felt by the player when they "fire" the weapon at in-game targets.[2] Pulling the trigger allows fully automatic fire, while pressing a button near the muzzle launches a grenade with a wide blast radius that can hit multiple targets.

In order to complete each stage, the player must shoot a required number of soldiers and vehicles (trucks, boats, helicopters, armored transports), as indicated by an on-screen counter. The player begins with a limited supply of ammunition and grenades, but can find more throughout the game, either openly displayed or revealed by shooting crates and barrels, coconuts in trees, and animals such as pigs and chickens. Dynamite bombs cause heavy damage to every target on the screen, both enemy and friendly, and a special machine gun power-up allows unlimited ammunition and an increased rate of fire for 10 seconds.

Enemies attack with gunfire, knives, grenades, mortar and bazooka rounds, and missiles; all but the first of these can be shot out of the air. The player has a damage bar that slowly fills as hits are taken; in addition, shooting friendly targets such as nurses and boys adds to the bar. Damage can be recovered by picking up health power-ups and completing stages.

The six stages, and their objectives and effects on gameplay after completion, are as follows:

  • Communication setup -- Mission: obstruct. Completing this stage reduces the number of enemies the player must eliminate in all other stages.
  • Jungle -- Mission: intelligence. Completing this stage allows the player to access the concentration camp.
  • Village -- Mission: rest. Completing this stage heals a large amount of the player's damage, as opposed to a small amount after all other stages.
  • Powder magazine -- Mission: ammunition resupply. Completing this stage grants the player a full supply of ammunition (nine spare magazines and one loaded into the weapon) and either five additional grenades or a total of eight, whichever is less.
  • Concentration camp -- Mission: aim (a poor translation of "objective"). The player must protect the five hostages as they run to safety. In order to advance to the airport stage, at least one hostage must survive.
  • Airport -- Mission: getaway. The player must protect the surviving hostages as they run toward the open hatch of an airplane taxiing down a runway, then shoot down a final, heavily armed helicopter. Skipping the powder magazine or village stages adds two helicopters or two armored vehicles to this stage, respectively.

Completing the airport stage with at least one hostage rescued awards a bonus based on the number of stages played and the number of hostages who boarded the plane. A new operation then begins at a higher difficulty level, with a fully healed damage bar and a fresh supply of ammunition.

The game ends if any of the following events occur, with each outcome showing a different "game over" screen:

  • The damage bar fills completely, resulting in the death of the player's character.
  • The ammunition and grenade supplies are exhausted, resulting in the player's character being taken prisoner.
  • None of the hostages escape the concentration camp.
  • None of them successfully board the plane at the airport, resulting in an infuriated rebuke from the President for failing the mission.

Continuing the game allows the player to restart the last stage played.

When the language of the game is set to English, the six stages are always played in the above order. As a result, the effects of the communication setup and jungle are not obvious, and the number of enemies in a particular stage remains constant from one operation to the next. When the language is set to Japanese, only the first four stages are initially available and the player may choose the order of play, allowing for strategic planning.

The ported version to the Nintendo Entertainment System allowed for multiple endings depending on how many hostages were rescued. The player would be awarded points in the form of "combat pay" and be greeted by the President of the United States. The number of surviving hostages corresponded with the president's tone to the player:

  • 0 - Angry
  • 1 - Unhappy
  • 2 - Disappointed
  • 3 - Satisfied
  • 4 - Happy
  • 5 - Very happy

Home conversions[edit]

Gameplay screenshot of Operation Wolf on MS-DOS

The game was ported to the Amstrad CPC, DOS, the NES, the Master System, the FM Towns, Commodore 64 and the PC Engine. Most of these ports lack any kind of light gun support (with the exceptions of the NES, Master System, and the ZX Spectrum, which featured Magnum Light Phaser support) and must be played with a keyboard or a controller. The box for the Master System version features promotional art from Operation Thunderbolt.

In 2005, Operation Wolf was released on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Windows as part of Taito Legends; however, light gun support is unavailable. On February 4, 2008, the NES version of Operation Wolf was released on the North American Wii Virtual Console. Whereas the NES version allowed NES Zapper support, the VC re-release does not feature any kind of light gun support (including the Wii Remote's pointer functions), making the game only playable with the standard controller mode.


Review scores
AllGame4.5/5 stars[3]
Sinclair User90%[6]
Your Sinclair9/10[7]
Commodore User9/10[9]
The Games Machine90%[10][11]
The One89%[13]
Golden Joystick AwardsGame of the Year (8-bit),
Best Coin-Op Conversion (8-bit),
Best Coin-Op Conversion (16-bit)
Sinclair UserOver The Top Game Of 1988
CrashCrash Smash
Computer and Video GamesCVG Hit

The game was commercially successful. In Japan, Game Machine listed Operation Wolf on their December 1, 1987 issue as being the second most-successful upright arcade unit of the year.[15] On the Coinslot dedicated arcade game chart, it was number four, behind Street Fighter, Continental Circus, and WEC Le Mans.[16] On the Spectrum sales charts, it was number two, behind RoboCop, which was number one every month for most of the year.[17]

The game was also critically acclaimed. It won several awards at the 1989 Golden Joystick Awards for 1988, including overall Game of the Year (8-bit) as well as Best Coin-Op Conversion (8-bit) and Best Coin-Op Conversion (16-bit).[18] Sinclair User gave it the "Over The Top Game of 1988" award, for the "shooting game most likely to push you over the edge" in 1988.[19] It was later voted number 26 in the "Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time" poll.[20]


  1. ^ "Operation Wolf". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 3 Oct 2013.
  2. ^ Taito. "Operation Wolf (arcade maintenance manual)" (PDF). Taito. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Operation Wolf - Review". Allgame. 16 November 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-11-16.
  4. ^ "World of Spectrum - Magazines". www.worldofspectrum.org.
  5. ^ "World of Spectrum - Magazines". www.worldofspectrum.org.
  6. ^ "World of Spectrum - Magazines". www.worldofspectrum.org.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-27. Retrieved 2012-06-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "World of Spectrum - Magazines". www.worldofspectrum.org.
  9. ^ "Operation Wolf arcade game review". www.solvalou.com.
  10. ^ "Operation Wolf review from The Games Machine 34 (Sep 1990) - Amiga Magazine Rack". amr.abime.net.
  11. ^ "World of Spectrum - Magazines". www.worldofspectrum.org.
  12. ^ Gen4, issue 7 (December 1988), pages 56-57
  13. ^ "TheOne Magazine Issue 03". 1 December 1988 – via Internet Archive.
  14. ^ "Operation Wolf review from Zzap 45 (Jan 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". amr.abime.net.
  15. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - アップライト, コックピット型TVゲーム機 (Upright/Cockpit Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 321. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 December 1987. p. 25.
  16. ^ "Sinclair User Magazine Issue 077". 1 August 1988 – via Internet Archive.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-01-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-25. Retrieved 2015-07-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Operation Wolf arcade game review". www.solvalou.com.
  20. ^ "Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair: 11. September 1993.

External links[edit]