tiistai 17. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Wario's Woods (1994)

Genre(s): Puzzle
Released: 1994
Available on: NES, SNES, Virtual Console
Developer(s): Intelligent Systems, Nintendo
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Players: 1-2

After his stint as the primary antagonist in Super Mario Land 2 and his rather surprising role as the main character in Wario Land – Super Mario Land 3, Mario’s evil cousin Wario became one of the fabled cult characters of the Mario franchise. In 1994, he got his namesake puzzle game. This time, he was once again cast as the antagonist, pitted against Toad, who was previously a playable character in Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Kart. The game’s quality is debated to this day, and I must say at least the SNES version isn’t one of my favourites in the genre.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?

I’ll start with a compliment. The graphics are damn good for a genre game! They’re very colourful and cheery, great appeal to kids. The music is upbeat and also represents the better in this particular genre, but it gets boring after a very brief while. If there’s nothing else the game has to offer, at least it looks and sounds decent, and I like said, it’s extremely rare for a puzzle game.

The gameplay’s where the fun stops. Wario’s Woods has a concept which is pretty similar to those of the Yoshi puzzles and of course, Tetris – line up, eliminate. You control Toad as he picks up different coloured bombs and monsters and stacks them in any direction, blowing up the lines of monsters with a corresponding bomb. Yes, even the lines across count. Sounds like a pretty fun idea, but very often you’ll find yourself cursing at Toad as he moves just the way he wants and keeps on picking up the wrong stuff. The controls are way too fast and oversensitive, and in intense situations which there a lot of, even if you know what button to use, you get confused and the game just systematically goes to hell. There’s simply no room for confusion. This is one of the reasons I absolutely loathe the VS COM Mode, a battle game against the CPU. It seems impossible to win! Yeah, possibly ‘cause I suck at puzzle games in general, but more likely due to the fact that the A.I. is totally unfair to players who just don’t get everything about the game right from the start. Even the easy difficulty level isn’t that easy, if you haven’t already mastered the game. Again, it may be just me, I admit that, but no one can deny the sensitivity of the controls. It’s ridiculous!

The easy part
The best one among the five game modes (VS COM, VS 2P, Round Mode, Time Race and Lesson) is the Round Mode, which is kind of like the “Story Mode”. The objective is to save the forest from being taken over by Wario. This mode begins nice and easy and if you can somehow gain and maintain control, you shouldn’t find it too hard to make progress. However, between each ten rounds, there’s a boss battle which is a total bitch. The boss actually comes between you and the monsters/bombs, making it even harder for you to move inside the screen. Add in the extra stipulations every now and then, and you’ve got yourself a total mess. Puzzle games used to spell “relax”. Wario’s Woods is all about everything else.

Instead of letting that shroomy, caffeine-soaked bastard run around on the screen and arrange the blocks by hand, how about just making a standard puzzle game? It’s not the most original idea, but the game would’ve certainly been at least ten times more playable. The game is ridiculously difficult, but I still blame the controls for the most part. If someone, in some wicked way, masters them... I congratulate you. May you have fun, the fun I never had.

Wario’s Woods is a totally restless puzzle game, fit for those people that are seriously into the genre. The Round Mode might amuse other players for a short while, until the boss fights and other stipulations kick in. I could try the NES version, just because the retarded VS COM Mode is out and I would assume the game is easier to handle, too – and after all, I kinda like the idea.

Graphics : 8.5
Sound : 7.2
Playability : 5.8
Challenge : 8.0
Overall : 6.1


GameRankings: 67.50% (SNES)

The NES version of the game was the last NES game officially released in North America.

The NES version was re-released as part of the 2001 Nintendo GameCube game Animal Crossing.

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