Every gamer has lists. “Best games of all time” and “Worst games of all time” are two obvious ones. Some gamers believe in particular franchises, so you’ll find “Best Mega Man games” or even more specific lists like “Best Castlevania games where you can also turn into a bat”. And there are the lists of specific things from games, like “Best Bosses” or “Best level environments”. … Come to think of it, this is the running gag of High Fidelity. Alright, I suppose it’s not just gamers that are obsessed with listing their medium’s hits and misses, but if Gamefaqs is any indicator, you can make a gaming list about anything.
Wario World is the top game on one of my lists: “Games I played for twenty minutes, really enjoyed, and then never played again.”
Well, I guess it no longer qualifies, because I played more of the game for this article, but I still haven’t finished it!
And it’s only like 8 levels!
So… what happened here?
Wario World is a good game, full stop. It is a “classic” Wario game, which means, as opposed to a Wario presiding over a minigame marathon, this Wario is an action platforming hero. Well, “hero”. And, while I think Wario, minister of minigames, is a perfect place for the big gas bag, I have always had a particular fondness for platformer Wario, going all the way back to the pea-green Gameboy days. Something about that 0-to-90 dash and the unstoppable butt stomp have always seemed fun. Heck, subtract any powerups, and I’d much rather play as Wario than Mario. Who needs amazing jumps when you’ve got massive muscles powered only by insatiable greed?
What’s more, Wario World is a combination Nintendo/Treasure joint. I love Treasure games! Okay, maybe not all of them, but even when a Treasure product is smeared with the thick layer of muck that must be applied to every N64 game, I still have a good time. Treasure has a tendency to place hardcore, mile a minute action ahead of pretty much all other concerns, and, geez, that is exactly what I want from a video game. Have I ever told you my idea for the ideal action game? Well, it starts with… no, never mind, save that for another article. Point is that it would probably be a joint Platinum/Treasure release.
So Nintendo and Treasure aligned to create what might be the most promising concept to please a Goggle Bob on the Nintendo Gamecube. I like the character, I like the basic gameplay concepts, and I like the development house’s previous output. Maybe make the thing crossover with Mega Man (hey, it’s not like Wario didn’t already fight Bomberman), and you’ve got all I ever would have wanted out of 2003.
So, why didn’t I play it?
The first issue, most likely, is timing. 2003 was one of my more frugal years (the expression “broke college student” comes to mind), and, for better or worse, the Gamecube era was one where I rarely purchased a game new on release date. To my eternal shame, I did not reserve Super Mario Sunshine, and did not receive the custom beach blanket from Toys R Us. I don’t know how I’ve been able to live these many years without that preorder bonus in my life. Regardless, Wario World was another game that I purchased well after any and all hype had died down, and I want to say that greatly impacts my playing habits. I’m a total lone wolf badass that doesn’t care what The Man thinks, but if I’m “late to the party” with a piece of software, I’m about 80% more likely to quit, because none of the cool kids want to talk about last year’s fad. This is the primary reason I haven’t played through a number of JRPG franchises (Tales comes to mind), because if I’m investing forty hours into a story, I want someone to talk to about it, dammit!
This “wait to play” had another impact, too: by the time I bought Wario World, it was all of ten bucks. According to my database (you don’t have a database of your video game collection?), Wario World was purchased on the cheap with a handful of other games I’ve also generally ignored, like Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses and Sonic Mega Collection Plus (who wants to play some Game Gear games?!). This led to a debilitating bout of “Steam Syndrome”. Just bought a pile of games for less than a Jackson? Oh man, look at all these great games! That was such a great deal on these games I’m never going to remember I even own! Look, I’ve got “achieve 100% completion” in my blood, a “shortcut” like a great deal is going to trick my lizard brain every time, even if I’m never going to… play a card game based on the War of the Roses?… I can’t believe that happened.
Oh, and the database reminds me that GTA: San Andreas came out around the time I got Wario World, too. That can’t have been good for the ‘cube.
But Wario World isn’t going to get away with just being a victim of circumstance. Wario World is a great Nintendo/Treasure game… but it also tends to rely on Treasure’s worst indulgences. There are four worlds in Wario World, each comprised of two general action stages and one big boss. Each action stage requires finding an increasing number of hidden diamonds, and then battling a stage boss (not to be confused with the later big boss). As a result, each action stage seems to take, at least, twenty minutes or so.
I find this… exhausting.
Like, alright, 20 minutes isn’t all that long. I have been known to play some videogames for continuous hours and never noticed. I literally beat Bioshock Infinite in two sessions over the course of one day, and it’s entirely because I felt like I couldn’t put the controller down. Wario World is the exact opposite: after searching over stages for secret areas, grabbing monsters to spin for maximum scores (or to unlock further bonus areas), and battling through random arena matches and “puzzle” bosses with healthy life meters, I need a damn break. It’s entirely subjective, but I feel like there is too much to do in each Wario World stage, and I’d be a lot more likely to soldier on if each stage was about a third of its size. Seriously, there are enough things going on in each of these individual stages that they easily could be separated into more… micro challenges. Hey, Wario, try this mini thing, I think it might work out for you.
Yes, I’m blaming Treasure for this one, because three bosses per world seems a lot more like Gunstar Heroes than Mario Bros. But, bad news, add in as many beat ‘em up elements as you like, Wario is still a Mario clone (shocking, I know), and that kind of gameplay isn’t exactly well suited to nearly a half hour per stage. The average Super Mario Bros. 3 stage has a time limit of 300 seconds, and if you’ve ever seen that timer tick down (and you’re not in World 7 Fortress 1), you’re doing something terribly wrong. In Wario World, 300 seconds is barely enough to get past the first quarter of a stage.
And the punch line? The game that I’m deriding for being too draining to finish is also a game that was poorly reviewed for being too short. There are only four worlds in Wario World, which makes for eight action stages and four big bosses. And that’s about it. Like Luigi’s Mansion before it, Wario World was reviewed as a very slight, very quick game. And, yeah, it makes sense, you can probably clear this game (though not 100%) inside of five hours or so. Super Mario’s World was larger, and it had a friendly dinosaur. Wario sees victory before a hobbit can walk a ring across town.
But, short game or no, Wario World is too long for me. I cleared half the game for this review, and I could easily go back and finish some more. And who knows? Maybe the final two worlds offer new and exciting gameplay that I’d never expect from the opening stages. But, right now, with so many other games on my plate, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Everything here is fun, it’s just more wearing than it is compelling, and Wario’s time has passed. Sorry, Wario, you’ll just have to refill your coffers with another player.
Wario World: Goggle Bob’s #1 Game That He Thinks Should be Better Paced, And Refuses to Finish.
FGC #142 Wario World
- System: Nintendo Gamecube. Actually, given the size of this game, it would probably work really well on the 3DS. …. Scratch that, it would probably destroy my analogue pad.
- Number of players: Greed is good for one person at a time.
- Where have I seen you before? Is the Wario model from this game reused from… Double Dash? Or one of the Tennis titles? I swear “this” Wario looks really familiar, but I can’t place from exactly where. Wario’s freaky proportions wind up being pretty distinctive between adventures.
- Favorite level: Well, from what I played, obviously. There’s a “hell circus”, so that’s got to win. I really don’t think you can top “Wario vs. Murder Clowns”.
- Influences: I maintain that Mario gained his now standard butt stomp from Wario. Now, in Wario World, the “glue balls” are sticky little platforms that Wario may crawl around… and they seem deeply reminiscent of how Bee Mario crawls around honeycombs in Super Mario Galaxy. Mario keeps stealing from the thief.
- Did you know? Dinomighty, the gigantic dinosaur boss of World 1, wears rings that are very similar to the jewelry Birdo traditionally showcases. This is because both of these bosses are faaaaaabulous.
- Would I play again: All signs point to no. Like, I feel like I should, but…
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Rayman Raving Rabbids. Hey, now we’ve got some minigames going! Please look forward to it!