Name: Wario World
Genre: 3D Action Platformer
Region Reviewed: NTSC
Year of Release: 2003
The Nintendo GameCube was a pretty sassy little console. Like the min-toyetic box that could, the system housed many top franchise titles for the Big N brand, as you’d well expect. So, today I crack out the GC and pop in a little disc I’m very familiar with and hope you all are, too. But it is one that is often overlooked in the grand scheme of the fairly (especially in recent years) over saturated market of “Mario games”.
What am I talking about, Willis? Wario World, of course!
Back in 2003, Wario World hit shelves across the world (well, barring Japan) and it was, for me personally, one of the most highly anticipated releases. Why, you ask? Well, the pics of the game in mags made it look more similar to the likes of Mario 64 than either Luigi’s Mansion or Mario Sunshine, which obviously had me intrigued. The excitement meter ramped up tenfold upon discovery of the folks behind it all. Wario World was, of course; developed by Treasure. If you call yourself a fan of video games that come very close to perfection, you know all about Treasure. For those who don’t, they’re the folks who brought the world some of the best games to ever hit Sega’s home consoles, not to mention being the creators of my all-time favourite 32-bit title in Guardian Heroes! So yeah, I was hype. Not to mention, I’d always had an affinity for Ninty’s disgusting lil anti-hero. All the sense, this did make.
The story is typical of anything related to Wario, in that it’s cantered around greed. Basically, Wario’s just chillin’ like a villain in his castle of ill-gotten goods (mountains of gold, maaan), when Black Jewel (an evil gem) awakens amongst his treasure and goes all Toki. It literally takes the castle over, turning fellow treasure into monsters and splitting Wario’s surroundings into four separate lands. Crazy times, or maybe Wario was just high, not sure. Either way, it’s Wario’s job to do what he does best and that’s smash the crud out of everything and recollect his treasure, all the while releasing captive Spritelings and bringing peace through menace once again.
While I had initially thought Mario 64 upon laying eyes on screenshots, the beat ‘em up elements are a lot stronger here, even if the 3D platformer elements remain intact. The pick-up and play factor is tremendous, as ease of use is like hand-in-Power Glove within the earliest moments of firing it up. That has always been a strong point of Treasure games though and it’s no less ‘a thing’ with Wario World. Unlike Luigi’s Mansion and Mario Sunshine, there’s no crazy powered-up backpacks for Wario to get to grips with. Oh, no. You got your fists, feet and gob. You use them, you use them wisely. Not to say that it lacks variation in moves, as there’s multiple combos and special moves to pull out of the plumber hat. There isn’t much more fun than bashing skulls open with an epic piledriver, after all.
The game is quite fair with how you decide to play, allowing some sort of preference. This is effected most by which ending you view at games’ end, which I think is a lovely touch. Greed is obviously rewarded, but as is being more of a positive influence on the ‘world’ with Wario in the case of releasing the aforementioned Spritelings. After all, you don’t want Wario to try and be big pimpin’ from a tent now, do you!?
There’s two stages followed by a boss in each of the lands, which you travel to from a nicely designed overworld that becomes more Wario-friendly as you progress through the game. The themes of the lands may be pretty standard fare, but are brilliantly designed nonetheless. Puzzle sections that become more intricate litter these stages and it is worth noting the regeneration of certain enemies (but that can be a good thing here as it allows you to grind out some gold, natch). The bosses, while nicely designed (again) are all a bit too easy, though – with little genuine payoff due to that nature of things. A tad disappointing there, but too easy is better than too hard, I guess.
Therein does lie some of the major problems with Wario World which stops it a few pegs short of gaining the overall praise it perhaps rightfully deserves. While the simplistic gameplay can make for great fun, it can also bring about its own form of frustration. While the controls are perfect (no really, they pretty much are) and I do really, genuinely love the game with every fibre, I can’t help but feel it’s somewhat a let-down simply due to how easy it all is. With Treasure, you expect difficulty to ramp up significantly after lulling you into a full sense of security – it’s kinda what they do/did as a studio. But here, it all stays pretty much on a similar level, which makes the somewhat repetitive mechanics numb in the long run, staying a breeze as opposed to a storm. I can’t help but think this was Nintendo’s doing, however. I don’t know the full story on the history of the games release and production cycle, etc. – but it just feels a bit odd from the studio that, y’know, dealt in odd (Dynamite Headdy, much?)
Graphically speaking Wario World looked lovely then and still does a decade later, which is testament to good design if nothing else. It does just enough to work for the generic conventions, while not pushing the envelope enough to make the system it’s made on overload from the work; because of this careful balancing act it has made the game age much healthier than some of its generational counterparts. Props there, y’all! It features a decent soundtrack fitting of a Wario title, but certainly not as memorable of some of its contemporaries. The legendary Charles Martinet is back elsewhere in the audio department to bring the character to life, which is always nice.
I feel like I’m dogging the game, which I’m really not attempting to and it even pains me to insinuate such things. Genuinely speaking it really is one of my all-time favourites for the GameCube and it is the games charm that wins it the most, but that’s always difficult to describe in words for a review. It’s one of the titles in the systems library that almost at any time, if you’re bored and wanna kill time; it’s easily a best bet situation. Much of it is dependent on your love of the Wario character, though as it’s that that’ll keep you coming back for more. The lastability is that charm. But otherwise you can squeeze out some extra longevity for other points previously made here, such as the preference of play. Instead of once beat, put away – perhaps you want to give the collectathon side of things a real shot?
One thing fairly unique is the unlockable mini-games for WarioWare with the GameCube’s cross-compatibility with the Game Boy Advance, something Nintendo were really pushing back then that Sony have apparently picked up the mantle of in more recent times.
Overall though, I must be honest with myself and my fellow retrobates. If you take Wario World at face value and its utmost base, you may not get everything that I have out of it. You may not feel that charm, thus having it resonate much less. What this will equal, ultimately; is a standard 3D platformer of the ‘128-bit’ generation that features everything you’d think but not much else to warrant a higher scoring and praise. I would however implore you all to give it a go. Wario World is a game I’d much rather spend time with than many other available “Mario games”, with its story and characters being a major seller for me. Why spend any more time and effort rescuing the princess and bouncing off Koopas, when you can be punching monsters in the face and rebuilding your own private world of luxury!? Exactly!
Wario may teach us it can all be good to be a little bit selfish, but the most selfish thing is that Nintendo have refrained from giving the once antagonistic purple n’ yellow wearin’ fella a true sequel, with expanded stages, tougher boss fights and more depth.
No matter the final score, I still love this game…
Verdict:- I know, I know - part of me without nostalgia goggles or strict-reviewer head on says this is average, hence the score - the other part is hyping this to absolute hell and back.
Wario World, despite an average score, is still a very good game. In my opinion, that is. However, to be completely subjective it is freakin' awesome. I've always loved Wario and specifically his 2D platformers, so this 3D jump is something that happily speaks to me, on a console that for so long was underrated, by one of the most talented outfits in gaming.
Whether you want the objective or subjective slant, I still recommend you give this a shot. Whatever Wario World really is? It'll never be considered a bad game, by any stretch of the imagination.
Second Opinion:- Even whilst flying through the 2 levels of intense space combat shooting Transbot sometimes get's himself caught up in knots on how he feels about certain things.
You see Wario World really is great, it's full of lovely things, neat touches and has a great feel to it. The problem is in what's missing which is that magic 'it' factor and again I don't know what that is. All I know for sure is that 'it's' not there.
Absolutely worth playing, great to own and a future collectable means you won't be wasting your time at all. It just means you won't be playing one of the greats, but I guess sometimes that's okay, right..?
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10