Review by Genjuro Kibagami

Reviewed: 05/26/03 | Updated: 07/19/06

The Number of the Beast

El Viento is one of the coolest action-platformers you’ll find on the Genesis. Not only does it offer smooth, awesome mechanics, but you play as strongest heroine since Nintendo introduced us to Samus Aran. You play as Annet, a green-haired Peruvian sorceress, in the rough and tough backdrop of a mafia-run 1920’s America. Through many awesome levels, you’ll be dishing out tons of pain with one wild boomerang as well as a repertoire of power spells. The game even has an amazing story complete with dynamic, beautiful cutscenes and interesting characters. Annet will have to battle her inner demons as she learns of her unholy bloodline giving her mysterious powers. But she’d best learn to cope with her otherworldly power because she must use them to stop an evil cult hell-bent on resurrecting a powerful demon.

Stopping evil from ruling the world will be a piece of cake thanks to smooth, dead-on controls and an lithe and agile heroine. You’ll have two means of attacking: your iron boomerang and magic. The boomerang is trusty, reliable weapon that Annet can toss out quickly to break down an enemy’s defenses, but magic is far stronger and more impressive. At first you’ll only have a small fireball that’s only slightly better than the boomerang, but throughout the game, Annet learns cooler spells. Soon after you’ll obtain the water spell allowing you to command a small wave that crawls along the floor looking for enemies to bust into. Next you’ll get a wide wave weapon that can take down enemies easily thanks to its huge scope. And magic only gets deadlier once you’ve acquired a powerful, bulbous fireball that explodes over most of the screen or electric needles that seek out and eliminate enemies.

Of course, just throwing out all this magic whenever you want wouldn’t be fun. Busting out beefy fireballs and waves all over the screen would make combat too easy, so first you have a Magic Meter that constantly replenishes forcing you to use some moderation. In addition, you’ll have to charge the button designated to casting spells until the cursor appears on the spell you want. Obviously this means you’ll wait longer for stronger spells. But never fear! You only have to wait a couple of seconds and you can still easily dodge enemy attacks thanks to the excellent controls and Annet’s speed and agility.

The level design is definitely one of the finer aspects of El Viento. Each stage is completely different and totally interesting. You’ll start out on the streets battling machinegun wielding mobsters, crazy bikers, and angry guys that toss chairs out of their apartment windows. Then you’ll move on to Mount Rushmore, home to an awesome gauntlet of platforming. Other sweet moments include traversing through a deadly car factory, riding a dolphin while fending off gigantic, pixilated octopi (you have to see it to believe it), and racing up a skyscraper while battling kamikaze bird-demons and armor-glad serpent-men.

And thankfully El Viento is challenging too. Action games like Super Castlevania IV and Valis are really fun, but they’re just too easy. You find yourself plowing through them with no sweat at all. I mean, they’re not bad, but I’d prefer a good challenge. El Viento is a prefect balance between too easy and too hard. You’ll note that all of the game’s enemies are fast, therefore, making it a common occurrence to find yourself taking several hits in the span of seconds. However, Annet is one tough girl and each attack does little damage to her. As you progress through the stage, you’ll learn enemy attack patterns and find yourself taking little to no damage. Even if you do take a lot of damage, each stage has one or two healing potions hidden particularly poorly to patch Annet up before facing the one of the many exciting stage bosses ranging from a gigantic tank/gun to a nasty dragon.

The game’s graphics are pretty damn good for a Genesis game. Certainly you’ll find more aesthetically pleasing games on the SNES, but Wolfteam down played using lots of color and went with smooth animation and campy, pixilated explosions that you can’t help but love. The music composer also knew what he was doing. The soundtrack consists of fast, upbeat tunes with an epic feel yet at the same time have the rough sense of guitar you get from the Genesis sound chip. The sound effects are also loud and intense giving you a sense of action.

Sure there are better 2D action games out there, but that doesn’t mean El Viento is undeserving of a 10 or your worship! Along with some great Genesis aesthetics, the game features a sweet story, smooth mechanics, impressive spells, fun levels, and fair challenge. El Viento is simply an awesome action game worth playing and then playing again sometime in the future. It’s awesomeness is on the same level as an Iron Maiden guitar solo, which is about as awesome as you can get. The Brotherhood of Annet demanded that I give the game a 666/10, but I had to round it down to a 10 for GameFAQs.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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