Wario’s Woods (Video Game Review)

Video Game Review
Wario’s Woods
Super Nintendo
1994
Developed by: Nintendo
Published by: Nintendo

Even back before there was a Mario themed title being released every month, Nintendo liked to put their main franchises in the simplest games to sell tons of copies. Wario’s Woods is an example of that since even though Wario and Toad are featured prominently in the game, there’s no good reason for either one of them to be there. Despite that nonsense, it’s a surprisingly interesting puzzle game that feels different from most “match-three-or-four” type games.

The main character of the game is Toad and he wanders from tree to tree defending the forest from Wario. There are evil creatures dwelling in each tree and it’s up to Toad to save the day. Using bombs dropped by a magical fairy and with the help of Birdo, Toad can destroy enemies by arraigning them by the same colour in a combination of three or more with at least one bomb in the mix. Making a chain of five will cause a coloured diamond to appear. Putting the diamond into the appropriate chain will cause all enemies of that colour to disappear. Birdo only sticks around for a limited amount of time. Once the timer ends, Wario shows up dropping both bombs and more enemies into play. After Wario’s timer is up, Birdo returns, and so on. The level ends once Toad defeats all the enemies.

The controls are relatively intuitive in that you can do many things with Toad. You can pick up an entire stack of enemies from the base or you can run up the pile and pick up an item from the middle. When dropping items if you’re holding a pile, you can either drop one item at a time or you can drop the entire pile. You can even kick bombs or enemies across the screen. To do any of these actions it’s a simple press of the assigned letter button. The d-pad moves Toad across the screen left and right or up and down to run up a pile of items (he can also run up and down alongside the edge of the tree).

The graphics look fine although considering that it’s a single screen puzzle game; it’s not exactly pushing the boundaries of what the SNES can do. Everything is very colourful and looks much better than the NES version of this title. The sound is a little lame. The sound effects are adequate but the music is another story. It’s the same two songs throughout the entire game during the Round Game mode; one playing while Birdo is there and the other plays when Wario arrives. Considering that the Round Game mode consists of 99 levels, it’s a little displeasing to the ears. It’s not that the songs sound awful (they don’t) but 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall can sound good the first couple of times too. Around beer number twenty though, you want to strangle the person singing it.

The Round Game mode offers up 99 levels of puzzles. They get progressively harder as you go along and throw in some twists along the way such as: enemies that can only be killed by making a chain diagonally, ones that switch colours after the first chain and need to be chained again to be killed off, and ones that need to be chained twice in a short period of time before they’re retired. Coins are given if you finish the level quick enough. The more trips Wario makes within a level, the less coins you’ll earn once you complete it. 50 coins earns a continue which can be used if you don’t succeed in passing a particular level.

There are other options other than the Round Game mode. There is a multiplayer option that allows you to play against another player. There is also an option to play against the computer if you don’t have any friends around to play with. There’s also a timed game that throws you into a couple of levels of varying difficulty and it tracks your completion time. You’ll be given a ranking depending on your total finishing time of all the events. It’s really interesting and it will keep you hooked trying to constantly get a better personal record.

As a puzzle game, it’s very good but it’s no Tetris. It’s easy enough to know what you want to do but during the heat of the moment it’s very easy to press the wrong button. The biggest reason for that is because there are so many options for you to do what you want to do in the game, it can get a bit complicated. It’s an interesting concept and those who tire quickly of “match-three” type games will get more mileage out of this puzzle game. However, the Round Game mode does feel a little long since other than getting harder, there’s no variety. There’s no endless mode; just complete the level and move on. Meaning, to complete an entire game can last a couple of hours which feels too long for a puzzle game. Sure, you could play the game a couple of levels at a time but every time you power off the game there doesn’t feel like any compelling reason to go back other than to beat all the levels. It’s not motivating enough. There’s also no score which feels like a big omission considering the genre. Adventure games are more suited for elements like levels; not puzzle games without a score.

The other options are fun but won’t hold people for months. The multiplayer game is enjoyable as well and the option to play against the computer. It’s not as addictive as Dr. Mario but the gameplay feels similar enough that those looking for a variation of the format will enjoy the multiplayer from this game. The speed round is strangely the most addicting part of the game as every time you make a mistake you make a mental note and try again. Trying to get the fastest times to get the best rating will surely suck away a couple of hours.

Nintendo’s Wario’s Woods feels like a cash-in title but under the hood rests an interesting puzzle game. It’s fun to play although it does lose its flavour after a while. Puzzle addicts will enjoy this one but it’s far from the best puzzle game on the system or the market.

☆☆☆

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