Wario World is an interesting game that certainly kept my interest, though I’d stop short of calling it a killer piece of software for the GameCube. It’s an enjoyable enough romp that sees you punch, shoulder charge, throw and pile drive your way to victory against a slew of respawning henchmen critters. Throughout the game’s levels you collect special gems in ever more difficult mini-games, which allow you access to the end of the stage and a battle with a monstrous boss.
It’s a fun “smash and grab” style brawler with platforming elements, in which you control Mario’s gruff, hefty and downright insane relative across standard “Mario Formula” worlds. It’s certainly not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it knows what it wants to be and does it well.
The game begins in Wario’s castle, which he has filled with piles of stolen loot from his years of misadventures. However, unbeknownst to him, he has stolen an evil gem called Black Jewell, which awakens and decides to seize control of the castle by turning his prized treasures into fearful monsters. Thus, Wario is thrown into a hub world surrounded by four other sub worlds containing levels. Wario is tasked with visiting each level, defeating the boss and reclaiming his lost treasure. Along the way, Wario can choose to rescue little creatures called Spritelings, which will assist him with helpful game advice.
It’s a relatively silly premise, but it works well enough, and adding the Spritelings at least gives us some reason to root for the thoroughly disagreeable Wario, outside of maybe him being ever so slightly less of a shah than Black Jewell in the grand scheme of things.
Playing as Wario is slightly different from playing as Mario, mainly because Wario is much more willing to get “stuck in”, so to speak, when it comes to fighting the amassed evil minions, which include club carrying Triceratops and pesky Pterodactyls. Wario’s basic attack is a punch, which kills most of the smaller enemies in one hit, but bigger enemies will require just a bit more to be vanquished. By punching bigger enemies, you can stun them, at which point you can throw them to their deaths, spin them around like an ultraviolent carousel of doom taking out all the surrounding enemies, or outright leap in the air and drill them with a vicious pile driver, which is not something you’d see from the cheery, moustachioed Mario.
Some areas will require you to kill enemies in certain ways to advance further in the level. For example, certain sections will require you to fling enemies into switches to open another part of the level. In other instances, you’ll need to pile drive an enemy through a locked trap door in order to access an important area. Should you mess one of these sections up, you have the option to run to another part of the level which will cause the enemies to respawn, thus giving you another bite of the cherry, so to speak.
Before you can access to the level’s finale, you have to collect a certain amount of red gems. Once these games are collected, you use them to open a gate, which then sends you to a battle with the level’s boss. Boss battles in general are fun enough to play but aren’t overly taxing either. To collect the red gems, you have to complete mini-games dotted about the level. The mini-games usually entail you climbing up structures to collect the gem whilst avoiding spiked hazards. One positive about them is they are one of the few sections of the game where you can actually spin the camera around a full 360 degrees, which is not something you can do in the main areas.
I feared at first that the mini-games would become tiresome and repetitive, but the difficulty is weighted very well and they generally remained engaging throughout. The boss battles mostly devolve into noticing the attack patterns of the bosses and taking them out accordingly. I can honestly say that none of the bosses I battled caused me any unexpected difficulty, but they are enjoyable enough skirmishes and one of the game’s better points.
Graphically, the game has the expected “Nintendo Sheen”, but it doesn’t do anything particularly exceptional. The camera doesn’t have much option for control outside of the mini-games, and this tends to make platforming sections rather annoying, as it’s hard to accurately put Wario where you want him. The game is also over rather quickly, which doesn’t have to be an overly bad thing on its own, but when you consider the sort of longevity you’d expect from a 3D Mario game, Wario’s brevity becomes even more pronounced.
Wario World is definitely worth a go if you can find it cheap. It’s a breezy and punchy game that provides good fun while it lasts. It would just be nice if there was a bit more of it and it had a camera you had more control over.
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