“Winback: Covert Operations” — The N64’s MGS?

Lately, I seem to have some sort of fixation with the Nintendo 64. I’ve been thinking about why this is, and part of it I think is because even though I have always been a Nintendo fan and, in turn, did love my N64 growing up, that period of gaming really fell in favor of Sony and even Sega. The N64 came out in 1996, and by that time the PlayStation and Sega Saturn both had good footholds in the console market, though the PS1 was quite a bit more successful. So many great RPGs and other games made it to the PS1 and then to the PlayStation 2 once it hit shelves in 2000 that it was easy for the Nintendo 64 to get swept under the rug. The thing is, the N64 did have many good games in its library, but certain genres were weaker than others. I know I’ve already talked about how the system was lacking in quality RPGs (though there were a few, yes), but it seems to have done well with adventure games (Zelda: Ocarina of TimeMajora’s Mask, Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, etc.) and certainly with first-person shooters.

Anyway, I remember way back when reading about a game called Operation Winback in an issue of Nintendo Power. It looked good, but it was one of those games I never tried. Recently, I was reading about good N64 titles and this game came up in a forum. Apparently, it was released in the U.S. under a newer title of Winback: Covert Operations in 1999 and in many ways was like the Nintendo 64’s version of Metal Gear Solid. It certainly wasn’t a blatant clone, though, and in fact it added quite a bit of features and functionality to the then-emerging stealth genre that would later be seen in Metal Gear Solid 2 and other titles in the next decade.

So, in the video here, I fire up Winback: Covert Operations and give the game a look. I play for a bit and, though I probably suck at it, I find the game quite hard. In fact, I don’t even get through the first stage! But, it is a lot of fun and it is certainly a strong title for the console that makes good use of the hardware. The graphics are decent for the year it was released in, and the game play is pretty solid. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely an admirable effort!

Anyway, enjoy the gameplay and stick around – more awesome stuff is coming soon!

Jessica Brown

Retro Games and Technology Editor. She'll beat pretty much every Mega Man game without breaking a sweat.

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.