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El Viento

Wolf Team put out a number of quirky titles in the early 90s. Not many people actually remember what they did, but the studio had a knack for doing as they pleased. This made their library a bit hit and miss but when they got things right their games could be quite a bit of fun. Case in point, El Viento for the Sega Genesis. While the developers did a few things with the game that would raise some eyebrows, ultimately what we have here is an entertaining, fast-paced action game.

The game is actually a sequel to Earnest Evans. It’s always been a bit strange because Wolf Team insisted on calling this the Earnest Evans series, but he was only playable in the first game. El Viento and its follow-up both had players controlling Annet Myers while Earnest only showed up in cut scenes. In any case, Annet is a Peruvian sorceress who has come to New York to stop the awakening of an evil god called Hastur.

With that, Annet sets off on quite the journey, fighting her way through the streets of New York, underground caverns, and even rides a dolphin to infiltrate a cargo ship. There is actually quite a bit of variety to the levels in El Viento that help keep things fresh.

There are also a lot of baddies that Annet will have to fight. From gangsters to cultists to a notoriously pixelated octopus, she’ll have her hands full. El Viento is Spanish for “the wind” and one can see that Wolf Team tried to capture the essence of this with the pace by which combat happens. Annet is really quite swift. She runs at a good clip, can jump very high, and tosses boomerangs and magic with reckless abandon. There is a fluidity to the combat that makes getting through each stage quite a lot of fun.

Better still is that the game tosses a bunch of interesting, not to mention challenging, bosses at players. El Viento will throw tanks at players. They’ll fight giant gelatinous monstrosities. A huge octopus that looks like the company made the wrong sprites for but used anyway. There’s even a bubble monster. When Annet faces off against a dragon at one point it feels almost mundane by comparison to what she’s had to fight before then. Not only are the bosses exotic, but they have mechanics that will keep players on their toes. So be prepared for fun when locking horns with these things.

Graphically, the game is a bit hit and miss. While going through the level, there is a lot of creativity in the stages given their variety. The same holds true for the enemies, and, of course, the bosses. However, there isn’t a whole lot of detail to anything. It’s not super simplistic, but El Viento isn’t exactly pushing the Genesis to its limits. The game does have some very nice cut scenes, though. These have a lot of detail and are chalk full of 90s-styled anime art, so people into that will like what they see.

Motoi Sakuraba is responsible for the game’s soundtrack. In later years, he would do the music for Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile. In the early 90s, though, he was working with Wolf Team, and El Viento was one of the titles he contributed to. As a result, expect a lot of very good music, and a glimpse into the early days of this composer’s career.

Those looking for something a little bit quirky for the Genesis / Mega Drive may want to fiddle around with El Viento for a bit. The fast, fluid combat and boss fights alone are worth the price of admission. Toss in some very nice cut scenes and soundtrack and those are just icing on the cake.

- IroIro
March 19, 2019

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Wolf Team

el viento box art
JP Mega Drive Box Art

El Viento Genesis Screenshot 1
Wandering New York

El Viento Genesis Screenshot 2
El Viento's 90s anime art style

El Viento Genesis Screenshot 3
Subterranean stage