WILD FANG / Tecmo / Arcade
Wild Fang (also released as "Tecmo Knight" in some territories) was made with the same engine as the arcade Ninja Gaiden, and thematically it's also similar with the overall dark vibe, even down to the morbid continue screen that shows your character on the brink of a gory death.

Tecmo really doubled down on the violence and blood with this one, however, with the most memorable and lurid bit being an "attract mode" that shows a guy getting his head bitten off and a close-up of a woman getting a dagger driven into her head. These scenes do cut away just before they show anything that might really get Tecmo in trouble, but even as-is I think it was still a little too Nightmare Fuel-y for most arcade owners, as I never actually saw this anywhere as a kid and didn't know it existed until MAME came around.

There's no more gruesome cinematics once you pop a quarter in, but the in-game action remains gory as you fight a passel of giant monsters and sever their heads with every kill. There's no dialogue to expand on the story, but we can infer that the humans of this vaguely medieval world are under siege by an army of monsters that are around five times their size at the smallest, and two of them head out on a quest to even the odds by fighting on the backs of a giant and a tiger.

You can actually switch freely between the giant and tiger, and I guess they are meant to be swapped out for different situations, but I honestly found just staying in Tiger Mode was the way to go since you get a Rygar-like chain weapon with superior range. It doesn't hit quite as hard as the giant's punches, but the speed of it more than compensates. You can only swap a few times, however, and then you'll have to collect star-skulls dropped by dead enemies to earn extra swaps. You'll also see a dragon in the screenshots; that's a special limited-time "invincibility mode" that you only get in certain spots of certain levels.

Wild Fang is on the tougher side of beat-em-ups and gets off to a rough start when you know nothing about the game, but the difficulty isn't actually super-high once you realize that the name of the game is keeping your distance and not getting surrounded, and trying to quickly knock down one enemy before repositioning to knock down another.

While the intro is a little schlocky and over-the-top, the combination of the in-game gore with the giant monsters and setting do give this game a bit of edge that is unusual for arcade brawlers. It's too bad the gameplay doesn't stand up, never really rising above "meh" at absolute best.
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