Wario World – GameCube
Release Date (NA): June 23rd, 2003
Genre: Beat ’em Up
Nerd Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Oh dear god, you mean to tell me that was just one level? No! No more! I can’t! I can’t…
Wario, what have they done to you?
For a series that made itself right at home in Nintendo’s portable realm, one could only hope his first 3D title, Wario World, was handled with care, right? After all, it features the titular character of one of the best handheld franchises from Nintendo: Wario, the spin-off, bizarro Mario. Who’d expect his launch to 3D platforming would be as boring, generic, and forgettable as it was in Wario World?
You can tell they attempted to go all out; the game is glitzy, over the top, and bursting with loud, unforgiving personality – much like Wario. All the elements are present on the surface. He’s as greedy as ever; he’s strong, powerful, and boasts his signature ramming move; he sounds like Wario, with many of the same phrases and exclamations heard in Wario Land 4. Something, however, just isn’t right. Beyond the creepy, pulsating face of our antihero, something feels off about Wario World. All these glorious details pumped into the game are just a bunch of shiny distractions to hide the fact that Wario World is otherwise a very shallow gaming experience. And it only took me one level to know exactly how I felt about this game.
(Actually, as the game progressed it did grow on me to a point where I was having fun, but not enough to rank it up there with the Wario Land games)
What exactly is so bad about Wario World, you may ask? I pondered this very question as I soldiered on through the lengthy, monotonous, daunting first level. After all, you have a solid list of abilities at your disposal, moderately satisfying puzzles, and the game has style.
For one, there is a sickening abundance of coins. Now, by controlling a protagonist who is the very embodiment of gluttony, this would make sense, right? But here’s the problem – you can squeeze so much chump change out of your foes, you’ll soon lose interest entirely.
Enemies, who by the way are completely drab and unappealing, reappear as they do in games such as Mega Man or Ninja Gaiden, and no matter how many times you’ve mowed ’em down, they will always return, just to leave behind ample coin for you to inhale with your lungs of greed. Such an oversupply of enemies and coins completely drains the fun out of fighting and pillaging. If one was so inclined, one could occupy the same general area for hours mining coins. After a while, you’ll lose your appreciation for the value of a dollar entirely and probably wind up sinking all your real money into a minty copy of Stadium Events just for the hell of it.
The only way to gain even the slightest amount of enjoyment from this game is to ignore and bypass the worthless onslaught of enemies. Unless, of course, their lifeless corpse is needed to make further progress.
As stated before, Wario’s ramming ability is present, but it’s washed out in an assortment of dull fighting maneuvers. It
may be powerful, but it’s just another way to damage enemies in a sea of punches and wrestling moves. After besting enemies, you can pick them up and toss ’em, pile drive ’em, and…oh yeah, guess what feature is brought back that Nintendo apparently loves to incorporate in their games? Yup, analog stick rotation. You can spin enemies around and send them flying as well. You’d think they would have learned from the whole Mario Party 1 debacle, but nope! Get ready to buy a new controller!
While Wario’s attacks may be kind of fun in the beginning, after a while you will be so bored with cracking skulls, you may find yourself wanting to join a peace march somewhere, maybe plant a tree, or “love thy neighbor.”
Jumping is a painus in the anus. The controls are a bit touchy, and having to land precision jumps are…well…it works more often than you’d expect, but you’ll be tense every time you try to clear one of the platforming puzzles and the platform is just a hair smaller than you’d like.
When you fall off a cliff, you land in a pit where some narwhal-looking creatures shake you down for cash and you have to break open boxes to find the escape coil (all but one are packed with bombs). You also shed your monetary earnings whenever you slip off the narrow walkways into the water. This is where the less-than-stellar handling is most obvious. Can’t you just kill me when I fall off a cliff, like any normal game? Or in real life for that matter. These segments are worse than Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.
Hey, Treasure. If you want Wario World to stand out, why don’t you try using unique gameplay instead of pulling off crazy stunts like this?
Wario certainly feels different from Mario. While Mario is swift, agile, and fun to control, Wario is slow, limited, and flat. Sure, it makes sense that he would move the way he does considering his ample size, but he definitely isn’t this awkward in the Wario Land games. And don’t even get me started on that miserable Corkscrew Conk move, which is about as easy to execute as threading a needle with your butt cheeks. I expect better from you, Treasure.
Speaking of Treasure…
Each stage has eight of the following: treasures, gold Wario statue pieces, and crystal-looking things called “Red Diamonds.” Additionally, you are tasked with freeing five “Spritelings” per level.
Wario collectibles have always been fun and manageable enough in the past, but not this time. Honestly, this is the first game in the franchise in which I simply gave up on 100% completion. And what are you missing out on? Additional heart containers and bonus mini-games you can play on your Game Boy Advance via link cable? A better castle?
Ugh. No. Still not worth it.
There is something of a puzzle-solving element here. I’m not talking anything as creative as what you’d find in Wario Land II or 3, but you will scratch your head from time to time. You will also get stuck and feel the urge to consult a walkthrough, which is to be expected in a Wario title.
Boss battles are inventive. You will need to flex your creative muscles to figure out some of their weaknesses. The only problem is Spritelings will often give away vital clues, spoiling the problem-solving aspect.
“What about the music?” you might inquire. It’s over the top, like everything else, of course. I like it. It’s catchy with lots of attitude, much like our man himself. I will note, the tune playing over the pause menu is incredibly obnoxious, with Wario chanting “nah, nah, nah nah, nah” over a horrendous jam of miserable noises.
Playing Wario World feels more like playing some cheap, third-party cash-in game that does little, if anything, to bring a single identifiable element of its own to the table. One could blame it on third-party development, though it is crafted by Treasure, who brought us terrific titles like Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy. They tried, anyway, by giving Wario those little breakaway segments commonly found in newer Mario games, but all this does is make Wario World feel even more like a cheap Mario knock-off. Some are rather clever, but they’re either too easy or way too…not hard, but…annoying. Unreasonable I think is the right word. Being forced to master such an aggravating feat as the Corkscrew Conk is downright unfair.
The first Wario Land was great. It wasn’t a huge departure from the Mario franchise, but where Nintendo’s prime mascot failed to hit the mark on the portable front, Wario picked up the slack, establishing a Mario-esque title that was enough of its own to be a success. And then Wario Land II came along and redefined the Wario franchise as its own special entity on the Game Boy. From there the series further refined a style totally unique from Mario. With hat power-ups (predating Mario 64), Conditions/Reactions, invincibility, and so on, the Wario Land series became a staple for any Game Boy owner.
None of those defining elements made their way into this game. It’s a shame too, as playing a Wario Land-type puzzle/platformer in 3D could have been amazing. Instead, we get yet another one of these collectathon routines. It’s overdone and completely devoid of the charm and individuality the series had been cultivating up to this point.
This isn’t an absolutely horrible game. There is a modicum of fun to be had here. And if you can push on through, you might find yourself kind of enjoying it. While most tasks feel rather uninspired, you will occasionally encounter something noteworthy. This doesn’t change the fact that this is terribly ordinary and, at times, irritating to play. I wouldn’t recommend it, however, I don’t think I will part with it either.
Wario…I expect better from you.
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