Review: Wario World (GCN)

Wish you weren't here

Nintendo is a company that's world renowned for its varied cast of versatile characters and Wario is certainly no exception. Since his first playable appearance in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Wario has starred in a plethora of 2D platforming adventures spanning the Game Boy right through to the DS, each one seeing everyone's favourite anti-hero utilising a myriad of costumes, undergoing strange transformations and acquiring useful abilities in his never-ending quest for treasure. Unfortunately Wario World, as Wario's first starring role on a home console, forgoes such eccentricities and is not nearly as entertaining as its handheld brothers.

Naturally, the story in Wario World revolves around treasure. While Wario is snoozing inside his newly built castle filled with all the treasures he's accumulated in his past adventures, unbeknown to him the evil Black Jewel awakens and causes some serious havok. When Wario himself stirs, he isn't best pleased to discover that his treasure's been transformed into monsters and the basement of his castle is now split up into four separate worlds, so he sets off to get his precious loot back and deal wth the Black Jewel.

The escapade that follows sees Wario running around, jumping on platforms, solving simple puzzles and battering waves of enemies along the way, across twelve levels (including four main boss levels). That platforming staple, the butt stomp, returns and basic attacks are carried out by hammering the B button, but are only any use against the standard enemies. Larger foes need to be knocked out and picked up before they can be defeated. You're able to simply throw them, or you can dispatch large groups of enemies by grabbing a foe and either spinning them around, piledriving them into the ground or performing a super-throw. These moves are also used to solve rudimentory puzzles within the environments — although they're less puzzle-like than they are glaring obvious — and gain access to trapdoors. These contain red gems that are required to finish each level and are obtained through the game's most challenging platforming sequences, which are a lot of fun.

However, those trapdoors hide Wario World's few highlights, as on the whole the game is a basic and by-the-numbers affair in which repetition sets in all too soon. Entering each new level provides a modicum of enjoyment as they're all vibrant, bursting with colour and no two levels are aesthetically alike, but every stage boils down to the same old routine: hammer B, jump around, find enough red gems to progress, rinse and repeat. Likewise, the enemies you face — even if they appear unique to each level — follow the same templates and fall into the same categories throughout the adventure. However, the boss fights are admittedly enjoyable, as they're impressive in scale, brilliantly designed and all require different tactics to defeat.

But entertaining boss fights aside, Wario World remains hugely disappointing. Wario is often Nintendo's ticket to doing something a little bit wacky and more "out there" than the core Mario games. When you take into account that even Super Mario Land 3, which was released way back in 1994, bestowed Wario with unique and interesting abilities in order for him to overcome obstacles, it's depressing that Wario World aspires to so little and appears perfectly content to degrade into a button-masher, and an easy one at that. Wario World can easily be polished off within six hours with little effort involved and also presents a minimal challenge. It's simple enough to extend your life meter through collecting gold statues and should you die you're able to respawn at the exact same spot. Doing so requires coins, but seeing as every enemy drops copious amounts of coinage the cost to respawn is miniscule in comparison to what you'll have collected.

Conclusion

There's nothing particularly inventive within Wario World and its appealing visuals and fun boss encounters can only go so far to offset its short length, lack of challenge and how incredibly tedious and repetitive it all is. Taking Nintendo's other Gamecube platformers into account — along with Wario's own rich heritage of handheld games — it's tough to give Wario World a recommendation. Even if you're not looking for a game that's particularly challenging or long, unless you're able to find any appeal in the idea of wearing out your Gamecube pad's B button while your eyes glaze over, you should really stick to Wario's Game Boy and DS adventures.