perjantai 11. helmikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Wario's Woods (1994)

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

Wario's Woods on the NES is a game I've wanted to play for a long time for two reasons; the first and most important one is, that I more or less hated the SNES version, which I already reviewed a long time ago. It was so out of control, and I firmly believed that the NES version would be much less chaotic. The other reason is, that being the last official game released on the legendary Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, Wario's Woods possesses extremely high cult value. Without further due, let's take a walk in the woods one more time. Win or lose.

How much wood would a woodch... ah, forget it!

To spare you - and myself - from an unnecessarily long litany of supposedly funny anecdotes about what sort of feelings I have for the original 16-bit version of Wario's Woods today, and what my feelings were going into the NES version, I'll just get right to the point, and explain things very simply right off the bat: the NES version of Wario's Woods IS better than the original. Is it essential to the puzzle genre? No. It's a different puzzle game, it's pretty much mandatory for Mario completists, but even in its most playable form, the game is simply not good enough to rise above the average of its kind. The main reason? Bad controls.

Graphically, the game is like the SNES version after an acid rain. It's the same all over; just the sprites are smaller and of course, the colour palette is different. The music is just as pleasant as you'd expect from an 8-bit puzzle game that the developers didn't really put that much thought into.

To do a quick recap: in this game, you control Toad. You pick up bombs and monsters ("blocks") of different colours, stack them in any direction and try to blow up lines of monsters with a corresponding bomb. Instead of simply stacking the bombs and monsters horizontally or vertically, you can also stack them across, and use different tricks to speed up your progress. For example, if there are two monsters stacked across, you can pick up a bomb and hold it in place where it would make for the third block if stacked, and get rid of the line that way.

In the SNES version, the controls were way oversensitive. Same goes for the NES version. There's a bit more traction, and of course, the control scheme itself is limited - but Toad still keeps running like a maniac, picking up the wrong stuff very easily, and a huge problem comes along when you accidentally fall into a deep gap, can't get rid of whatever it is you're holding, and all the blocks which form the "walls" are different, meaning you can't just wait for blocks to stack and blow the walls around you to hell. There's just no way to get out except the good old Reset button. It takes forever for the screen to flood. This game isn't over until the whole screen floods, not just one vertical line.

For a puzzle game enthusiast and/or a cult follower of the Mario franchise, Wario's Woods is certainly an experience. Personally, I won't speak of an experience impossible to ignore, since I still don't understand why Nintendo couldn't just have settled with a standard puzzle game instead of a chaotic, caffeine-soaked variation of Bomberman. It's a bit more playable than the SNES version, but surprisingly not that much. That's why I preferred to keep this review short; I think I pretty much said everything else there is to the game, last time around.

Graphics : 7.1
Sound : 4.8
Playability : 6.2
Challenge : 7.5
Overall : 6.5


GameRankings: 67.50% (SNES)

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

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