Today, we have two contributions to Game Club #8 — Wario (series)! These were provided by Zebei, and Kenith! They have been regularly contributing to Game Club, and are active in the SG Discord. Feel free to join us, and say hi!
The two posts focus on Wario’s GameCube title, Wario World. If you haven’t had a chance to play it, please read these two wonderful reviews and check it out!
Welcome. . .to WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARIOOO WORLD!!! Well this is a certainly a game with. . .charm. It is pretty over the top in everything. A gigantic castle of cash, absurd enemy designs, and attacks that make professional wrestlers look comatose. The game is pretty much a 3D platformer with some beat-em’ up elements. Running around the worlds looking for treasure and obliterating weaklings is pretty fun. Wario moves pretty fast, so fighting never feels like it is just slowing you down. His cool shoulder bash ability makes this even better since you can just plow through anything you just don’t feel like fighting (with exception of course). The actual fighting beyond a pacing standpoint isn’t too spectacular. You only have 2 moves and a few grabs, and enemies aren’t particularly varied. There are a few interesting enemies to keep things from getting too stale, but you are going to see a lot of reskins of the same enemies you saw in the very first level. A weakling, a slightly stronger enemy, a big brute with some weapon, and a flying enemy. There are a lot of reskins of these same enemies with the only difference being visual can get pretty tedious, although I suppose it is better than the same exact enemy over and over. There are a few other enemies like flying magnets that keep things from getting absurdly stale, but it isn’t enough in my opinion. Since you only have a punch, the shoulder bash, and grabs, this usually meant I simply ignored every non-mandatory enemy after the second level or so. And to quickly address the grabs, the throw was pretty much useless for me other than a few switches, the spinning was nice to clear out the “mooks” for required fights, and the super piledriver is probably the most satisfying things in the game. Bret Hart would be proud of such a piledriver.
Speaking of those bad guys, a lot of them have some really weird designs. The bosses are especially strange and honestly only one or two look “normal,” in any capacity. The fact that this game seems to be an experiment with early 3d graphics certainly does not help in this case, but I’m not sure creepy bosses are a bad thing. At the very least, most of the boss fights are quite memorable and most of them are enjoyable, with most being at least somewhat clever. The final boss however, is a bit disappointing because it is so easy, although the intro of the world being destroyed and getting help from the spritelings was quite nice.
Welcome to Wario World!!!
Released for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2002 and developed by Treasure (a fitting choice), this incredibly strange and short action-platformer is Wario’s first and only 3D adventure and stars the portly plumber (?) venturing to a strange world to pummel millions of treasure-turned-monsters back into treasure (that he stole) and defeat the evil Black Jewel (which he also stole).
Wario World is pretty overlooked, mostly due to being outshone by many other Gamecube games and never getting a sequel or much press. Those who learned about it when it was new probably did so through its strange advertisements – or, if you’re like me, through the Ocarina of Time: Master Quest disc, which contained some trailers for Gamecube games including this one. Since I was a fan of Wario, I naturally picked this up and its now one of my favorite Gamecube games.
At its core, Wario World is an honest and simple beat-em-up and platformer hybrid, but, and I can’t say this enough times – it is incredibly short. And strange. There are only eight levels, but each one is filled with tons of weird enemies and gimmicks – and of course, lots of treasure. And lots of Wario.
Wario himself, by the way, ties the whole experience together. His personality, which falls between brutish strongman who only solves problems by punching things and a greedy, lazy slob gives him a comic charm. This portrayal of Wario helps in painting Wario World as a game Wario would create about himself. He does sick wrestling moves and spouts memorable one-liners, while amassing a hoard of treasure including golden statues of himself doing various masculine poses. These bizarre, almost disturbing enemies seem like things Wario would design. The marketing and presentation of the game helps confirm – this is WARIO’S game. He made it. It’s about him.
Luckily, Wario is not a shabby game designer, either. Each level in Wario World is creatively and elaborately designed, with unique enemies (although some are reskinned to match the level theme) and tons of collectibles to find. They also gave each level a unique visual theme and gimmicks, and they all have multiple sections that flow organically, usually accompanied by a music change (by the way, this game has some solid music too).
Your goal in each of Wario World’s levels is pretty simple – collect all the treasure, complete the gold Wario statues, and beat all the bosses. You can find eight treasures dotted around each level, usually matched to its unique theme, which range from jewelry to even Nintendo consoles. While near-meaningless gameplay wise – only unlocking some WarioWare microgames for your Game Boy Advance – it shows that Wario is a man of refined taste who doesn’t just collect gold coins. Or a shameless glutton that steals everything shiny that he sees. That works too.
That’s not to say he doesn’t amass coins in this game. Because he does – by the literal thousands. Enemies explode into coins when defeated (as they should, since they’re transformed treasure themselves) and they’re littered all over levels. The game focuses so heavily on the coins and treasure aspect that you don’t even have lives in this game – you lose coins when coming back from a death and upon falling into pits. Of course, the penalty for failure never catches up to the amount you actually pick up, so death is a non-issue.
Finally, each level has a number of trap doors leading to hidden challenge rooms. Some are puzzle rooms, while others are platforming challenges. They start off pretty easy but get ramp up quickly. Upon completing them, you’ll usually receive a gold Wario statue piece – which, upon their completion, net Wario more health, presumably because his ego gives him strength. But more importantly, you’ll get red gemstones – shiny keys needed to destroy the Stone Doohickeys (yes, that’s what it’s called) blocking the boss doors.
Each level has a boss at the end that needs to be put in its place before you can progress to the next level. Once a world’s two level bosses are defeated, you’ll move on to fight one of the four world bosses whom each guard a key needed to unlock the giant treasure chest, which houses the final boss, the wicked Black Jewel. The bosses in this game have pretty basic strategies – usually involving stunning them them using a slam move on them – but they make up for it with their…interesting designs. Some are cool, but most of them range from funny, to weird, to downright horrifying. The Winter Windster in particular scared me to death as a kid. Something about that face…
While most of the faces in Wario World are incredibly hostile – even the garlic vendor wants you beat him up (he’s a living garlic man, an item which heals you…I meant it when I said it was a weird game…) – you do have the Spritelings, little forest guardians who give Wario advice when you find and rescue them. While again they’re pretty irrelevant to gameplay, I think the devs added them to break up the tension a bit. Wario World is a pretty off-putting game when it comes to its characters, so the Spritelings contrast that by giving players something cute and less ugly to look at and interact with…aside from Wario himself, of course.
Once you acquire all four of the world’s keys, it’s time for a showdown with the final boss, the Black Jewel. It destroys the four worlds and replaces them with a massive arena where a…dissatisfying conclusion takes place. The Spriteling show up to stun the Black Jewel (regardless if he actually saved them or not) so Wario can finish it off, smashing it to pieces and returning the world to normal. The Spritelings help rebuild Wario’s castle when you beat the game, the quality of which depends on how many you save (if you ignore most of them, you don’t get anything worth calling a castle..) and the credits roll.
That’s right. Eight levels, thirteen bosses, and a massive pile of treasure later, Wario World is over. No New Game Plus either. This game is woefully short, but that’s its one major flaw,a flaw that is worsened by how superb everything else is. While I’ve thrown in bits of praise and criticism here and there, I am far from over. Let’s break down what this game does right.
Wario is an expressive and extremely entertaining character to play as, controlling and animating very smoothly, although he has a tendency to be so bouncy as to thrown himself over edges pretty easily. The level design is great – thanks to the camera system of this game it has the advantages of sidescrolling platformers and 3D platformers – dynamic linear level design but with total freedom of movement. It’s actually pretty similar to Super Mario 3D World in that regard. The trapdoor challenges are a bit worse, being a bit obtuse (especially due to the aforementioned Wario liking to jump off cliffs bit) in some of the later stages, but they’re usually pretty fun. The platforming ones are way better than the puzzle room ones in my opinion.
The presentation is fantastic, although it IS Nintendo so that’s not surprising. Still, all of the characters and enemies and even the worlds themselves are colorful and bursting with personality, some more likeable than others (again, Windster is super out of place). The music is also pretty good, with a few standout tracks such as the glorious Greenhorn Forest, which has no reason not to be in Super Smash Bros. There’s one exception and that’s the main menu – I guess it’s supposed to be funny but it gets really, really annoying, *really* fast.
This game’s combat system, while pretty easy due to Wario being overpowered, is still fun. Knocking lighter enemies flying with basic punches and using KO’d larger enemies to take out groups of enemies with crazy wrestling moves is super satisfying and is helped by all the coins that go flying from them. Collecting said coins, on top of the unique treasures you get from each level, is fun to collect, even if they don’t impact gameplay that much.
There’s not much more to be said about Wario World. It’s incredibly underrated in my opinion, and it’s always stuck with me for being so weird and out there but extremely fun and funny. Since Wario World is so brief, if you haven’t played it it wouldn’t be too much effort to take some time out and give the game a try. At least…if it wasn’t a hard-to-find Gamecube game…The Nintendo Switch really does need some Virtual Console games for Gamecube. Because everyone needs to experience it in all its weird glory. Also, why is there no sequel with co-op where you can play as Waluigi? Get on that, Nintendo.
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)