Wario has always been used to fill the guest spots in Mario titles. But times are changing - could Wario could be a superstar in his own right?
First off, let me warn you: Wario World is unreservedly influenced by a generation of side-scrolling classics, from Guardian Heroes to Final Fight. Whether or not you believe this to be a deficiency ultimately depends on your love for the developers of this title, the ingenious and brilliant Treasure. Treasure's departure from the norm with Wario World's will either excite or baffle fans. They have taken Wario, a long established character and weaved their unique and very special tapestry of gameplay mechanics around him. But does Treasure's methods mix with Wario's heritage?
Wario World's story is largely redundant in the face of what is fundamentally a platformer from yesteryear: Wario's hoard of gold and other treasure is being transformed into an army of bad guys intent on taking out the big W. Naturally, Wario sets off to retrieve his treasure and despatch all those in his way, going through 4 stages each split into three areas.
With that out of the way, we can get down to the game proper. Wario's arsenal is, very much like Mario, limited to his hands and feet. Let me assure you though that this is no bad thing, as Wario's repertoire is varied and decidedly more interesting than Mario's. Along with a standard array of punches and dashes, Wario also has a selection of grabs and holds that delight and keep the player very much entertained. Amongst my favourites are the "wild swing ding", reminiscent of Mario's N64 encounter with Bowser. However, whereas Mario was limited to using the move against Bowser and no one else, Wario World allows you to use it whenever and wherever, a nuance I'm sure some of you will enjoy.
Graphically, Wario manages to appease rather than please. Whilst none of the graphics are rendered an absolutely fine detail as such, they still manage to capture the atmosphere you'd expect of a Wario title, without resorting to the usual line-up of common platform levels. Enemies and environments lack the polygonal detail you'll have seen in Mario Sunshine or Zelda, leaving the aesthetic side of Wario trailing in a market still obsessed with eye candy.
However, don't let this fool you, especially with regards to the main bulk of the game itself. In terms of mechanics and controls, Wario World is perfectly suited, with both the control scheme and in game physics being of the highest quality, no less. Though you'll never find yourself overwhelmed by a horde of enemies, the emphasis of the game is much broader than that, with the collecting of treasure and the dispatching of enemies both integral to the experience.
Speaking of treasures, the developers have seen fit to litter the game with a great many collectables, presumably to keep you coming back for more each time. Collecting gold Wario statues is this games obligatory secondary objective, one that probably will require a few plays to complete. Along the way you'll also encounter boxes containing spritelings, little folk who give you hints as to where to go next. The amount of spritelings you save will also be displayed on the inventory screen, along with your golden statues, retrieved treasure and red Diamonds. Ah, the diamonds...
In order to face the boss, the appropriate amount of red diamonds are required to unlock the room housing him. However, comparisons stop there - Wario World proves itself to be distinctly different from any of Mario's efforts. In fact, collecting all of the treasures may seem like a fairly "hardcore" method of playing, it does however have its benefits. Once all of the treasures in an area are collecting, you'll be given a chance to sample WarioWare Inc. on your Gameboy Advance. The inclusion of these demos is most welcome (and frankly everyone should own a copy of WarioWare). Getting them onto your GBA is one thing, keeping them on is an entirely different matter, as once you switch off your GBA, the game vanishes, leaving you with the task of working through the areas again in order to sample the demos.
Does this, amongst other things, amount to a game with depth? Yes and no. Wario World is a fun romp whilst it lasts, but completing the game is a matter of course rather than a challenge. In terms of getting from the beginning of the game to the end, it simply doesn't provide a challenge. For all intents and purposes, you are provided with unlimited continues and therefore dying at the expense of lackadaisical effort is acceptable. With not enough tension or suspense as to how you'll progress, you may find yourself bored.
Even with a few trademark Wario quips in place, you'll find the game can wear on you very easily. But then, that all depends on what kind of gamer you are. They said the same about GunValkyrie and Panzer Dragoon Orta, that neither had the longevity to survive. What people missed out, like they will with Wario World, is that the game is designed for those who will come back for more and get their money's worth. Completists will be pleased with the structure; those with a short attention span will be bored after first completion, if not before. What does that make Wario World? A game with so much potential crippled by a lifespan that not everyone will appreciate.
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Nintendo brings Wario back with Wario World - see him in this direct feed footage.
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