Deep within Wario's castle lies a treasure room filled with the spoils he has plundered during his many adventures. A mysterious black jewel, ensconced among the treasures, has a strange power to transform gems into monsters. While Wario rests in his castle upstairs the jewel begins to morph his treasure trove into a host of monsters, turning the basement of Wario's beloved castle into a bizarre parallel universe. Awakening the next morning to monsters instead of treasure, Wario must step into that alternate world to win the treasure back. - from the game description
lands in his first solo adventure for a home console in this Nintendo Nintendo GameCube
game developed by software development house (and rumored new Nintnedo
second party) Treasure
. The player
is cast as Wario
who uses a variety of wrestling-style moves to bash
as he searches for hidden treasures in four different worlds (with two levels plus a boss fight each). Wario
can also inhale coins in a Kirby
-style move to make collection easier, plus he can interact with certain enemies to gain new abilities, such as being picked up and carried by a certain flying enemy. Charles Martinet
provides the voice of Wario
as always, and our greedy hero lets loose with his trademark phrases ("I'm-a gonna win" and "Have a rotten day!").
The game has had a long development period, much of which has been displayed to the public in the form of screenshots and video clips. The playable demo shown at the 2002 E3 show featured a part of the temple level where Wario would fall down a shaft if he wasn't careful. The programmers at the demo said that they had added a springboard at the bottom of the shaft days before the demo went on display. Without the springboard Wario would have been trapped in the shaft and the game would have been stuck. This shows how early on the game was at this point - level testing hadn't even been done yet. In December 2002 Nintendo showed off the game on the Nintendo Winter 2002 Preview DVD in the form of a brief video clip/trailer. At this stage the graphics has been refined and tight close-ups of Wario had been implemented. At the 2003 E3 the game appeared again, only this time in a much more complete form as its release date drew near.
But enough about history - how does the game play? Surprisingly, this is not a 3D adventure; the game has more in common with Yoshi's Story than it does Super Mario Sunshine. The camera stays fixed, making this game into a platforming side-scroller. I've been an avid fan of side-scrolling platformers since I was first introduced to Super Mario Brothers, so I found it a joy to see a new platformer on a next-generation system. Wario can move into the background and foreground as long as the path extends there, and often there are enemies and obstacles that must be cleared before he can proceed. Each level contains a number of treasures that make up the goals of the game. There are three goals in each level: collect the red gems to open the exit and beat the boss, collect all the golden statue pieces to increase Wario's life meter, and collect all treasures that have gone missing from the castle. Plan to make several trips through each level in order to accomplish all three goals.
Wario has several handy attacks that he can unleash on his enemies and they all involve the use of the B button. The most common one is a simple punch, although it can take several punches to knock down an enemy. One a baddie is stunned, however, Wario can pick him up and do one of several things. He can toss the baddie away, he can spin around like a whirlwind and throw it, or he can jump in the air and pile drive it. Enemies regenerate if Wario backtracks through a level, providing a near unlimited supply of the coins the baddies drop when defeated. It's a good thing, too, because Wario only has one life and continues cost increasing amounts of coins.
As part of Nintendo's recent in-game promotion efforts gamers can unlock and download to the Game Boy Advance playable demos of the portable release Wario Ware Inc. by discovering eight hidden items locked away in each level of the game. Unfortunately the microgames are the only reward for finding the hidden treasures, so unless you have a Game Boy Advance and a link cable, there is no point in collecting all the treasures.
The game was released in June 2003 after being delayed from its initial November 2002, January 2003, and April 2003 dates, although Japan didn't see the game until mid-2004. The reason for the first delay is presumably that Nintendo wanted to emphasize their big holiday releases, Metroid Prime and StarFox Adventures, and the remaining series of delays were probably to give the development team plenty of time to perfect the game. The one major gripe I have about the game is that it's too darn short. Expert players are familiar with the tricks of the platformer genre and can easily figure out the puzzles, making it easy to blast through the game in a few hours. After beating the final boss players are able to return to past levels to pick up those last hidden treasures or heart pieces, but there's no in-game reward for doing so. Heck, there's not even a percentage counter to let you know how much of the game you've cleared. Nevertheless, after much speculation and delay Wario World has finally arrived.