Let’s say you work for a game company. You come up to your boss with what you believe is a great idea. “So there’s this dog. He can shoot magical stars and float with his dog eared helmet.” By this time boss man already has a crazy look on his face but you decide to unleash the story on him. “Now now, just listen to this: The planet K9 is being attacked by the Pit Bully Empire. Dr. Kibble is desperate to save his planet so he decides to test a serum out on his son. He then sends his son and a suit I like to call the Wonder Suit to Earth.” After the ten seconds of awkward silence your boss tells you to collect your things and not to return to work. At least, this should have happened, but it didn’t. Why, you ask? Because it was the 90s, you see, and after the success of Sonic the Hedgehog, everyone tried to cash in on the “mascot with an attitude” formula and Wonder Dog was no exception.
Wonder Dog doesn’t add much to the platforming genre unless you count an irritating way of attacking foes. Your first response is to jump on top of the enemy. Nope, doesn’t work here! Tapping the A button makes Wonder Dog shoot stars from his paws. This may not have been a bad concept, but the stars bounce around and seem to have a mind of their own. Sometimes they will shoot far and low. Other times they seem to bounce far and straight up in the air. Holding the A button charges the star meter and seems to make them bounce extra high. This comes in handy for the weird boss fights, but I’ll get into that later. A safe way to play is to just keep tapping A so stars are bouncing around constantly.
One thing I noticed while playing is that when an enemy gets hit, they sound like a high pitched Homer Simpson shouting “doh!” At first I thought I was crazy until I came across bigger enemies. They sound exactly like Homer! The boss fights in the game are super weird. Remember those big, huge disgusting people from the Ren & Stimpy Show? That’s basically what the boss fights consist of. Some big nasty person walking back and forth trying to hurt you. Just hold A so the stars bounce high and hit them in the head. The planets you visit are your typical platformer fare: Ice planet, a forest planet, you get the idea. Although Planet Weird was, well, very weird! An example is an enemy which I think is a bear. It could be a little person but it has an umbrella coming out of its… back end. Planet Weird indeed.
Behold: A bad case of Umbrella Ass.
I believe Wonder Dog didn’t make it because it was made for the Sega CD. While I do enjoy the console it wasn’t the big success Sega had hoped for. The only reason I have one is because my cousin didn’t want it anymore. Not to mention it was 1992 and most of us were too busy playing Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario World to notice. Wonder Dog was one of the first games available for the console and seems to be forgotten by time. Even its Wikipedia page
is bare except for the plot. We were just too busy with better games back then to notice the poor pooch. Honestly, I myself had never heard of the game until I began researching online for mascot games. A lack of marketing could be to blame, too. I never saw him in any magazine back then and I even had a subscription to Sega Visions, the super cool Sega magazine!
Oh yes, there was something I wanted to mention about the games opening cut scene. First off, it’s horribly animated. Almost like those old DOS games but with a little more animation. Well, once Wonder Dog crashes on Earth he comes across a boy and they play and walk around. No voice acting whatsoever. It seems Wonder Dog has found a new home until the boy takes him to his father, then ask if he can keep the Dog. Dad tells him no and Wonder Dog returns to his crashed rocket for the Wonder Suit. I can’t help but think of what would have happened if the boy’s father let him keep the dog. Would Wonder Dog say screw it and just live a happy dog life on Earth, or would he still try to save his home Planet of K9? Another thing, what was the point of sending him to Earth? I guess we will never know. Sadly there is no Wonder Dog fan fiction… yet.
Today it’s pretty popular for old franchises to be remade or even have sequels. Mega Man is a great example. A couple years back they made Mega Man 9 and 10. Both brand new entries in the series that keep their old style of gameplay and graphics. DuckTales Remastered did a fantastic job of giving an old game new fresh graphics while keeping that classic NES gameplay we love. Do I think Wonder Dog deserves the same treatment? No, no I do not. While I did find it fun at times and even hummed some of the music here and there, I think it’s better to be left in the past. Sadly, Wonder Dog is just another dog in need of that Old Yeller treatment.
Not even Sad Puppy Eyes can save you, Wonder Dog.
Chris Carboni or, as he’s better known on Twitter, Retrocore_RCVGM is a retro gamer who loves almost anything to do with old games. He can find fun in games that most would consider to be bad but that’s just because he is a Bad Dude. Bad enough to both rescue the President and not be a tuna head at the same time.