So, if they spent that much time and effort on polishing the story to its obviously pristine shine, the gameplay must be fabulous to match, right? Unfortunately, that’s not quite the way Wild 9 works out. At first glance, what we have here is a simple, classic side scroller. The hero runs to the right, avoiding enemies and taking out bad guys. We even have a very original weapon, the Rig, which is a sort of a tractor beam. You can shoot it a certain distance away from you, with a very cool Ghostbusters-type effect, and use it to pick up objects, swing from ceilings, or pick up enemies and slam them into walls or floors or flame jets or grinders or spikes or exposed electrical wires or any one of dozens of different painful looking apparatuses that are liberally sprinkled throughout the levels.
Torture is a major theme of Wild 9, and surprisingly enough, that allows for some delightful little puzzles. You will find yourself impaling your foes on spikes in the floors in order to afford yourself safe passage across, and using their corpses to beat out flames. One problem I found, though, was that the Rig, for all of its enormous limitless power, really isn’t all that effective of a weapon. You grab a typical grunt with it, swing him over your head, smack him onto the floor behind you, swing him over your head, smack him onto the floor in front of you, swing him back over your head again, smack him onto the floor behind you, and swing him over your head yet again before his body crumples on the floor ahead of you. Go ahead and read that last sentence again. Read it a few times, in fact. Until your eyes hurt. Now you have some idea what combat in Wild 9 is like. Run, grab, smack, smack, smack, smack, run, grab, smack, smack, smack, smack…. Granted, this is periodically broken up by the occasional fan that you need to find a battery for, a giant robot trying to pummel you to death, or a spike pit that you can toss the hapless grunts into, but on the whole, it can get very tedious.
In fact, if I had to think of a single word that best stated Wild 9′s general feel, “tedious” would probably be it. After playing through the first three levels, I started to lament the fact that I had so far in the game to go. This is compounded by the fact that the game starts you off with three lives, and no continues. This often causes you to have to replay earlier levels in an attempt to get to the higher ones with a decent stockpile of lives. However, 1-ups aren’t too rare, with one or two usually being hidden throughout each level. Continues, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. The only way to get any continues is to collect 99 gears in a level before exiting. What they neglect to tell you is that the levels only contain 99 gears. This means that you have to collect each and every single solitary one of the little buggers, no matter where in the level they’re tucked away, or you get nothing. If you have 98 gears at the end of a level, you don’t get squat. It is extremely frustrating to get to the end of a level, see your bike there, ready to be jumped on where it will transport you to the next level, and then suddenly realize that you only have 96 gears, which leaves you with two choices: either leave the level and forfeit an extremely rare and useful continue, or go wandering back through the entire level in search of the ones you overlooked. Once more, this is tedious.
My final real complaint with the game is a pretty minor one. If you play Wild 9 with a dual shock controller, my sincere advice is to turn the vibrations off at your earliest possible opportunity. Just go ahead an play the first level for a few minutes, and you’ll see what I mean. I’m used to the controller shaking a bit when I fall from a great height, or when I get hit by something, or during an earthquake, but Wild 9 really takes it to an extreme. Game Designers should be forced to get a license before programming any kind of force feedback into a game, and I think that Shiny’s license should be revoked. Everything in Wild 9 makes the controller shake. Every time you jump, and come back down, the controller shakes. Every time you shoot the Rig’s beam, the controller shakes. Every time you swing an enemy into something, the controller shakes. Every time you encounter something in a level that moves in any way, the controller shakes. It seemed to me that the controller spent more time vibrating than it did holding still, and on top of this title’s other, more serious flaws, this was a major annoyance.