Complete on 2020-05-02
4 / 5
Release Date: Jun 9, 2004
Meta Score: 75
Sabrewulf is a real hidden gem. A simple platformer where you cross a level to the right until you find a treasure outside the titular wulf's den, then run back to the beginning being chased. Short levels keep this formula from being too obnoxious.
What makes this game is the creature system. You accumulate and inventory of creatures you can place down in levels at any time, to do stuff like creating platforms, dropping bombs, or spawning a friendly creature to club enemies. The game allows really interesting emergent interactions between these creatures, enemies, and the environments, creating quite cool and unique gameplay possibilities. Have a creature kick a bomb over a gap to open up a wall. Place a platform to make an enemy bonk its head and fall into a pit. The possibilities are endless.
However, this system is kind of underused and you can often just platform or bruteforce your way through levels. I think it would benefit a lot from more puzzle style levels rather than straight platforming, requiring you to mess with the creature interactions.
The game has a ton of polish, with quite a fleshed out overworld to explore between platforming levels, with sidequests, minigames, and amusing dialog from NPCs. This is less surprising when you realise this game was made by Rare.
Overall I think Sabrewulf deserves more credit than its 75 score suggest. The game has flaws, like a very slow and easy start, and perhaps overstaying its welcome a little (with 8 worlds that become a bit of a slog later when the difficulty ramps up). But it's really one of the more unique and interesting games on the GBA.