Help Wario regain his jewels in this fun platform adventure.
"Wario World" stars the most confusing of Mario characters -- Wario. He's the evil greedy version of the benign, put-upon plumber, Mario. Now while the two characters have met up in various all-star games like "Mario Tennis" and "Mario Golf," how on Earth these two are connected is beyond me. Luckily that doesn't matter to enjoy "Wario World," as you'll see in tonight's "X-Play." It's a fun romp of classic platforming. Unfortunately it's over too quickly and a little too easily.
I know there's a story here, because I read it in the manual. All of Wario's beloved treasure has turned into monsters. The culprit is a black jewel and Wario sets off to deal with it, once and for all. You have to wonder if these stories are conceived in some sort of random narrative generator deep inside the bowels of Nintendo.
Spin and stomp
The game contains typical jump-and-attack gameplay. Unlike Mario, Wario uses his fists and an effective dash attack to rid himself of enemies. Some other fun moves involve taking stunned enemies and butt-stomping with them or swirling them around by rotating the control stick and releasing them into other enemies.
The game is far more traditional than "Super Mario Sunshine." It's 3-D, but you play on a restricted path. For the most part, the camera always stays to the side, like an old-school "Mario Bros." game. The game primarily tests your timing of when to attack and jump. You also explore to find hidden treasure in the level to move on. Thankfully, there's no heavy emphasis on the obsessive collecting of random objects.
You do acquire gold coins used to bring Wario back to life when he dies. The cost of reincarnation increases as the game goes on but you'll be hard pressed find yourself in a monetary bind.
"Wario World" is similar to Namco's overlooked platformer "Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil." An entire level in "Wario World," one that takes place in a malevolent circus, seems lifted almost directly from "Klonoa 2."
That game used the same mix of 3D graphics and 2D movement on a fixed path. "Wario World" is less restrictive, but they both share the same emphasis on quick action.
As opposed to "Klonoa," the game isn't terribly adventurous in its challenges and level design. The levels of "Wario World" are large, but tasks are repeated from level to level. You never encounter any showcase moments of game design. This is even more evident with the enemies that change appearance depending on the locale but behave more or less the same.
These drawbacks sound worse than they are. The game is still pleasurable to play. The controls are amazingly responsive, and the action stays fast and engaging. Never when playing the game did I tire of what I was doing. I only wished I was doing more.
Does length matter?
"Wario World" is amazingly short, a skilled gamer could knock it out in five or six hours. The game is fun enough to want to go back and find every last doodad, but having a couple more worlds instead would have been far more appealing.
The length is also a result of the game's ease. Not until the last level will you experience some head-scratching challenges, and that's when you'll notice what's missing. A couple of boss battles might trip you up, but you'll find it incredulous at how simple it is to zip through a level.
These flaws don't ruin the game because the fundamental gameplay is so strong and so well executed. But it's over so fast without enough challenge that you can't help but want more. Never before have I found a game that screams rental so loudly. It's not a waste of your time but since you can finish it in a casual weekend there's little reason to plop down the $50 unless, like me, you have a need to have every Nintendo game displayed on your shelves, like an aging taxidermist.
"Wario World" (GCN)