The latest platform game from the house that Earthworm Jim built puts you in the shoes of Wex Major, a teenage boy who lands far away from home, into a galaxy enslaved by the evil overlord Karn. Your goal is to travel from planet to planet within this star system, freeing the members of the rebel group you've fallen in with, the Wild 9 (which includes Nitro, the human bomb; the voluminous Volstagg; the many-pocketed Pokkit; and five others), and then destroying Karn.
To help you on this quest is a device called the rig and the glove, which allows Wex to grab objects using an extended energy beam and slam them about or swing along. This comes into play mostly when confronting enemies, whom Wex can beat into the ground by snagging and throwing them with the beam, dropping them into grinders, and so on. This is actually a large part of the gameplay, as you have to destroy obstacles (propellers, electric signs, flame spouts, etc.) using your opponents' bodies as clubs or, other times, spill them into a spiked pit so that you can use them as a stepping stone to pass by unscathed. There are also instances where you have to harness keys and other items with the device as well. Otherwise, it's pretty standard platform-game fare, with running, jumping, and occasionally shooting.
The graphics in Wild 9 look like a mix of Pandemonium and Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle, giving it a pretty dated appearance, save for some more modern-looking backgrounds. The animation also seems clunky and basic for all the characters, except the bosses. Wex, for example, stomps through the game like a big-booted ogre galloping through that cheapo '80s Tom & Jerry cartoon series.
At best, Wild 9's soundtrack is an easily ignorable background element. At worst, it demands your attention with crescendos of gut-wrenching cheese '80s power chords. The voice-overs also detract from the audio side, being some of the most abrasive heard in a long time. Delivered in a nasal surfer tone that makes people think disparaging things about California, the main character's comments sound like a 40-year-old ad exec's idea of what "the kids" think is "cool" "these days." "Wex-cellent?" Please. Luckily, the game can be played with the sound turned all the way down without affecting play.
But all of those detractions could be ancillary with decent gameplay, but in this case it doesn't save the rest of the game. The whole play mechanic of using the rig to move objects and enemies about may seem pretty interesting at first, but soon gets rather tiring. Really, bashing an enemy against an obstacle multiple times turns old after the first few tries, especially with the rig controls being as loose as they are. The bosses and flying levels break up the basic gameplay nicely, but the parts that connect in between those are dull. Wild 9 is one of those games that purports to have a unique concept behind it, yet falls flat in its implementation.