Metal Gear Solid has come and gone, and its effect on the gaming industry is undisputed. Stealth-themed games are springing up left and right, offering varying degrees of variation from MGS. Koei's WinBack isn't one of the most original, but it aims to achieve success by aiming at a new market: Nintendo 64 owners.

So you're going to fight against me? You damn fool.

   WinBack opens with a premise quite similar to Metal Gear's. A terrorist group known as the Crying Lions has seized control of the GULF Strategic Weapons System, an SDI-like weapon capable of mass destruction. In response, the government sends its S.C.A.T. (Strategic Covert Actions Team) into the terrorists' compound to "WinBack" the weapons system and stop the terrorists from firing.

   Unlike Metal Gear, however, this is not just a one-man mission. Your character, Jean-Luc Cougar, is accompanied by 9 teammates who assist him in defeating enemies and avoiding traps. Also unlike the Metal Gear games, WinBack is divided up into various missions. Four main areas (the Office Grounds, Office Building, Abandoned Factory, and GULF Control Center) are each divided up into smaller objective-based missions; between levels, cut-scenes keep the story moving towards one of three possible endings.

Uh oh! The truck have started to move!

   Stealth, of course, plays as a big role. Even when accompanied by his teammates, Jean-Luc is vastly outnumbered, so you'll need to hide out of sight and take out terrorists without being seen. The latter task is aided by the laser sighting that all of your weapons possess; holding down R will allow you to aim your weapon with the analog stick and snipe any enemies you spot. Should they return fire, a tap of the duck button, C, will put you out of harm's way.

Lau and Steve battle.

   The Crying Lions aren't the only ones you'll be needing these skills to fight. No Nintendo 64 would be complete without some sort of multiplayer diversion, and Koei has gone out of its way to include one. Up to four players can participate in any of three different games, using any of the S.C.A.T. members. Aside from the standard deathmatch, a quick draw (one shot kills, a la Goldeneye's Golden Gun) mode and a "treasure hunt" game (in which you race to collect items) are available. Koei may add still more multiplayer modes if time allows.

   It might not be Metal Gear Solid, but WinBack should provide the next best thing for Nintendo 64 owners without a PlayStation. Look for this second dose of Tactical Espionage Action in the late summer.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA
WinBack: Covert Operations
Developer W-Force
Publisher Koei
Genre Adventure
Medium Cartridge
Platform Nintendo 64
Release Date  Unknown
54 screenshots
S.C.A.T. members / Crying Lions
U.S. box art