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Wario World Package Art
GENRE
Platformer
DEVELOPER
Treasure
PUBLISHER
Nintendo
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1
CONNECTIVITY
yes
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Wario World

After years of being trapped on a liquid crystal display, Wario's finally hit the home market with an adventure that's, unfortunately, not nearly as big as his ego. When his castle is destroyed and he finds himself in another dimension, thanks to a mischevious black jewel, Wario sets off on a quest to reclaim his missing treasure and annihilate anyone and anything that gets in his way. What follows is a game that'll tickle the nostalgia bone of anyone who grew up with classic 8-bit and 16-bit platformers. Although short for a platformer by today's standards, Wario World is one sweet ride while it lasts.

visuals

Wario World holds its own against other 3D platformers on the GameCube. Though nothing will pass for photo-realism, the off-beat style found in Wario's Game Boy adventures comes shining through on the GameCube. The only recurring annoyance is some slowdown that pops up when too much is going on at once.

audio

Wario's got a nice jazzy soundtrack to accompany him on his adventure. As is traditional for Wario's games, the music is a deviant little variation on typical happy-bop platformer tunes. Though sound effects are typical to the point that they're barely noticed, Charles Martinet steals the show once again with his loud, burly rendition of Wario. His one-liners get a little repetitive, but "Have a rotten day!" is worth a smile the first few times you hear it.

gameplay

Wario World is presented as a 3D platformer with 2D sensibilities. Although Wario can explore freely in all three dimensions, the levels are set up to be traversed in a particular linear path -- left to right, front to back, up and down, or around an axis -- and the camera is fixed to the most appropriate angle as things proceed. There's even a unique level which takes advantage of the unusual camera setup, where Wario is out of sight and you have to depend on his reflection in a mirror to see what's going on. Though it lacks the complete freedom of games such as Rayman 3 and Super Mario Sunshine, it's gloriously refreshing to play a 3D platformer where the camera barely gets in the way. Those who miss the simpler, busier layout of platformers from the SNES years will be in for a treat with Wario.

This all sets the stage for a highly entertaining brawler/platformer hybrid of a game. As Wario traverses the game's eight main worlds, he's assaulted by huge gangs of enemies. The smaller ones can be knocked away with a quick punch or with Wario's trademark charge and butt stomp attacks, but the larger ones will simply fall unconscious and rise again after a short time. To finish them off, you'll have to pick them up and throw them, piledrive them, or swing them around in circles, smashing anything that gets too close. Though the brawls can get repetitive after a while, a great majority of the fights can be avoided -- if you don't mind skipping the coins that you can use to buy extra energy and continues. Sometimes it's just fun to wade into a crowd of enemies and knock them all senseless in a matter of seconds.

All of the brawling could have easily overshadowed the platforming aspects of Wario World, but fortunately, there are still plenty of challenges that depend simply on your ability to traverse Wario's colorful worlds. As you make your way toward the end of each level, you need to keep a lookout for glowing trap doors in the ground. Slamming through them will warp you to a brief platforming puzzle world akin to the secret challenges found in Super Mario Sunshine. These levels will feel much more familiar to fans of Mario's 3D platformers, and they feature a fully-controllable camera to give you the best view of what's going on. Your goal is to reach a red crystal which is either hidden or lying at the end of a platforming obstacle course. You must collect several of these crystals before you can open the hatch that leads to the level's boss and your goal. Of course, the main levels themselves are set up to put your jumping skills to the test with the usual assortment of moving platforms and trapped areas. If you fall into one of the bottomless pits, you'll find yourself in the troublesome Unithorn Lair, where you'll have to dodge ghostly unithorn heads as you search for the spring that will bounce you back up to the real world.

It's the boss encounters in this game that truly take the cake. With 13 big bosses and countless mini-bosses, you'll have plenty with which to keep yourself busy. Each one is better than the last, and many of them look like the product of a very troubled mind. They can usually be defeated in several different ways, and half the fun is trying to come up with the most successful tactics; although most bosses will eventually succumb to punches and piledrivers, many of them have a trick that will allow you to knock them out with a minimum of fuss.

What Wario game would be complete without a treasure hunt? Wario World stays true to the spirit of the Warioland games by offering players heaps of goodies to go back and find when they've completed a stage. Every stage has eight special treasures hidden within. You need to find a switch and hit it to make a treasure chest appear on the same-colored panel, then find the chest and break it open to claim your reward. Not only can each of these lovelies be viewed and rotated in your inventory menu, but collecting all of the treasures in one stage will allow you to download a quick Wario Ware Inc. demo to your Game Boy Advance. For all of the mystery and hype surrounding these gems, they're really not worth all of the trouble to find them. Still, fans of the GBA game may be surprised by the "grid-style" demos available, which offer cool new variations of a few of the familiar microgames. You can also find caged Spritelings, which offer gameplay hints if freed, and golden statues -- excuse me, Mr. Wario's Golden Statues -- which can be found and completed to increase your energy meter. Collecting all of these extras would be a chore if the game itself wasn't so well-designed and engaging; these levels are huge and filled with little nooks and crannies that beg to be explored by a seasoned treasure hunter like Wario.

Wario World doesn't come without its pitfalls, however. With only eight proper levels, this game feels much shorter than most platformers these days. Even if you try to get everything hidden in the game, it'll still only take most gamers a day or two to complete. This is easily forgiven if you're looking for some old-school platforming fun that holds up well to replay. Unfortunately, the game also features a continue system that makes it far too easy. Every time you die, you can fork over some coins from your collection to return to life at the exact point where you died. The only real problem with this feature is that the cost to continue when you die is often less than the cost of refilling your health meter at one of the game's infrequent "garlic dispensers". Suffice it to say that taking damage becomes unimportant, and the game lacks the sort of penalties that came with Wario's immortality in the Warioland games. Hardcore gamers will opt not to continue, which takes them back to the start of the stage with whatever treasures they've already found, but it's discouraging to see the shift toward easier games in full effect here.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

In spite of its shortcomings, Wario World is a fun throwback to the simpler games of the 16-bit era and is most certainly worthy of the Wario name. It's not for everyone though, and those who are turned off by its length would do well to just give it a rent over the weekend. Those expecting an experience akin to Super Mario Sunshine are bound to be disappointed, but gamers looking for a little quality old-school platforming -- and Wario fans in particular -- will eat this one up.

final score 8.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Ed Griffiths
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"Nothing can kill the Grimace!"


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