Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wario World (GCN) Retro Review

We have a new review for this Fourth of July weekend. Game & Wario released for the Wii U just over a week ago, and to celebrate Mario's plump rival, we have a retro review of Wario's GameCube platforming romp, Wario World.

It's Wario's World-- 
We Just Play In It.


Ever since his debut on the Game Boy with Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Wario has been a favorite among many Nintendo enthusiasts. His gross behavior, such as mining for nose treasure, passing gas, and chomping on copious amounts of garlic cloves, is just one interesting facet of this lovable lug. In 2003, Nintendo and Treasure gave Wario his own platforming game. Not content to have his own land anymore, Wario went and got himself a world to conquer with Wario World.

After taking treasure from lands near and far, Wario has just finished construction on his colossal castle, where his round rump rests on his gold throne. However, his greed has once again gotten the best of him. In his pilfering adventures he nabbed a black jewel. This black jewel awakens and begins taking Wario's treasure and turning it alive. The entire castle is transformed and Wario is booted out. With garlic on his breath and a strong will, Wario decides to teach the black jewel a lesson by heading to four themed worlds to collect the key pieces needed to open the treasure where the jewel has taken up residence.

Laugh it up while you can, Wario!
Wario World is a side-scrolling 3D platformer featuring four worlds of three levels each. The first two levels are fully explorable, complete with treasure, hint-giving Spritelings, pieces of gold statue, and red diamonds to collect. The latter is used to open the boss hatch at the end of each level. These red diamonds are located in trapdoors that must be found and ground pounded through either by Wario himself or with an enemy in hand for the steel trapdoors. The areas are either simple puzzle/platforming rooms or special platforming challenges that occur in another dimension. Unlike the main levels of the game, these special rooms and dimensions allow you to rotate the camera a full 360 degrees.

Clear out areas of enemies with
Wario's spin attack.
The garlic-chomping Wario wants nothing more than to get his greedy mitts on anything and everything golden. There are eight treasures in every level, but before they can appear, buttons marked with a "W" must be hit to spawn them. A treasure will appear on the tile the same color as the button hit. In addition to treasure, there are multiple pieces of gold. Not only do these create a stunning gold statue of Wario, impressive all to itself, but collecting them all in a given level bestows Wario with a boost to his health in the form of half of a heart.

Enemies and boxes drop coins, and these are as valuable as the treasures Wario covets so much. You see, when Wario loses hearts from damage, he can go to a garlic-dispenser to pay for a clove of the helpful garnish. This will revive one heart, as long as Wario has got the coins. If Wario loses all of his health, you can opt to pay an amount of coins to avoid a game over. Otherwise... it's game over. Wario can also lose coins by falling into a hole within a level, entering a lair of the Unithorn creatures. These purple heads will chomp at Wario, taking away his coins, as he scrambles to find the exit spring, hidden underneath one of many boxes.

Even Wario's jaw drops at all those coins!
Every level and world ends with a boss battle of some sort. These generally have Wario dodging the attacks of the boss or bosses in question and waiting for an opportunity to strike. For instance, one boss has Wario needing to run to its rear to leap onto its tail, which will then rise into the air over its backside, allowing Wario to perform a ground pound on its weak point.

This boss may be large, but
Wario's greed is larger!
In normal levels, Wario is still a much more brute force kind of plumber than his rival Mario, and he assuredly shows it in Wario World. Wario talks with his fists, able to pummel foes into a dazed state. Then he can pick up an enemy and choose to chuck them, spin them around like crazy or pile drive their face into the ground. For a plumber so... plump, Wario can get around. He can dash and jump to cross large chasms or to just make up a great distance across the fairly linear levels.

Wario gives his brute strength a spin.
As for the levels, there are but eight in the game, not including boss levels. This might seem like a low number, but if you're trying to collect everything, they can take you upwards of an hour each to complete. With no way to save during a level, I think the developer could have split up levels into more manageable bits. That way there would be more levels, there would be less getting burnt out on a particular level-- what, with being stuck in a level for almost an hour, and the player could save more often without worry of losing a good portion's worth of progress.

Another issue with Wario World is that the camera is always at a fixed position. This makes some jumps near impossible to judge, causing Wario to fall down into Unithorn's Lair, or have to redo whole sections of level all over again. The camera's abhorrent behavior shines particularly true in some boss levels, where it tries to keep up with Wario but cannot, or it can't decide if it wants to spin around or not.

Sloppy seconds? No thank you!
Wario World looks rough around the edges graphically, but Wario's animations are absolutely top notch, especially his facial reactions. Lighting is quite good in levels, particularly special effects like lightning, and most level geometry comes across as competent in looks. Enemies might be the same archetypes each and every level for the most part, but they, too, look competent and occasionally foreboding. Unfortunately, Wario World doesn't run the greatest, with severe frame-rate chugging when a lot of enemies or moving environmental objects are on the screen at the same time. For the audiophiles out there, Wario World's music is a mix of truly catchy tracks and forgettable background noise. Hearing Wario's quips like "good luck" and "have a rotten day" seldom get old, even after the hundredth time.

Wario World is far from a perfect game, and like his rival's GameCube platforming installment, it has a fair amount of issues that prevent it from being truly terrific. If you have that need for greed, Wario World is a title you can get for cheap and play through it for about 8-10 hours and then forget about it afterwards. Seeing how Wario World was developed by Treasure, the minds behind Gunstar Heroes and Ikaruga, it's disappointing to see how unspectacular Wario's GameCube debut really was.

[SPC Says: 7.0/10]

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