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It's unfortunate that so few people had a chance to play this remarkable game. Wonderdog has been a part of my large video game collection since it was released around 1992. My copy is in mint condition (box and all) and I will never sell it.
The creators of this game, Core Design, are largely known for their Tomb Raider series. The TR series eventually lead to their demise. This has become their legacy unfortunately. But older gamers like myself remember them for their incredible 2D platformers released for the various 16-bit systems.
Wonderdog shows off the very unique art and character design of these talented artists from Core Design. Wonderdog pushes the envelope of the Genesis/Sega CD system; more so than any other game in my opinion -- a 16-bit graphic powerhouse. The color palette is way above the 64 color limitation that the Genesis is suppose to have. The game is running in the Genesis' super-high resolution mode (very few games ran this high). The graphics are extremely colorful and vibrant (be sure to check out the screenshots I uploaded).
The sounds come from the 16-bit sound processor built into the Sega CD hardware. Samples come out at a very high resolution. I have experienced some drop outs on at least one sample (when Wonderdog does a sliding stop). Unfortunately for the Sega CD system, most games turned out to be nothing more than enhanced conversions of Genesis games (i.e. the same game with a custom CD soundtrack). This is not the case with Wonderdog. Wonderdog was designed as a Sega CD game and is one of the few games to take full advantage of the hardware; the system would have been more successful if more game designers did this. Speaking of soundtracks, it's pretty wacky...you'll have to judge for yourself.
The story of the game is similar to the Superman story...a puppy from another planet lands on Earth in a pod. He is befriended by a boy. The boy realizes that his new friend has super (puppy) powers. As the dog comes of age, he learns of his true purpose and becomes Wonderdog. As Wonderdog, he must go back to his home planet and save it from the invaders (I am going by memory here so this may not be entirely accurate).
The game play consists of running and jumping like in most platformers. In addition, Wonderdog has these gold-colored stars that he can throw to knock out his enemies. They bounce around the screen until finally hitting an enemy or disappearing. He can also spin himself and dig through the ground beneath him to find hidden areas; this can only be done in certain places. His ears act as wings that allow him to glide across the screen, enhancing his jumping ability.
The levels are extremely varied with each one looking completely different from the other. I was very impressed with the bosses, especially when first playing this back in 1992; they take up almost the entire screen! This is rare for a Genesis game. With no flicker or slowdown no less.
In closing, this is one of the top 50 16-bit games of all time, in my opinion; it's a shame that so many gamers missed it. If you enjoy oldschool platformers, it's worth giving this game a try. If you already own a Sega CD system or play your games on a Genesis/Sega CD emulator, your collection is not complete without this!