Wario World for the GameCube was developed by Treasure and published by Nintendo in 2003. It was the first 3D Wario game and, unusually, was released in Europe and North America before it eventually came out in Japan (almost a year after its initial release in the West).
Wario World sticks to a similar format as the previous Wario games, in that it is a platform game with the focus on negotiating blockages in the route, combating enemies, and uncovering secrets. You begin in a courtyard with access to one set of levels, which you must work your way through, opening-up other routes as you complete them.
Wario can punch, pick up and throw enemies, and can even piledrive them into the ground, although his famous shoulder barge is not present this time (at least not at the beginning). Enemies drop coins when defeated and these are used to purchase items and even to return to life (conversely, if Wario doesn’t have enough money to buy a new life then it’s game over). Wario can also punch switches and blocks (which he needs to do to find hidden items), and can stomp on trapdoors to access underground caves. Inside these caves are usually hidden a certain number of red crystals, which must be collected to unlock the boss battle at the end of each stage (you need three in the first level, and more as you progress, and if you don’t have enough at the end you can ride balloons back to start of the level and scour for more).
Wario‘s health is indicated by the hearts positioned at the bottom of the screen. Finding (or buying) garlic will replenish health if it’s running low, and the number of hearts Wario has can be increased by finding every gold statue in a level. If you miss any treasures during a run, the good thing is that you only have to find the ones you’re missing if you re-run a level. You don’t have to re-do the whole thing. In fact: you can easily find what you’re missing because all the treasure chests you collected during your previous run will be greyed-out, and you can then return to the courtyard from the menu when you’re done.
Each level usually introduces new gameplay elements into the game, whether it’s climbing poles; using enemies as piledrivers; spinning enemies around to move gears; sticky balls that Wario can cling to and jump between; trapdoors that will only break if you’re carrying an enemy when you stomp them; or any one of a plethora of interesting mechanics.
Another new addition to the gameplay in Wario World is that, when Wario falls down a crevasse, he will end up in an underground pit (called the Unithorn’s Lair) and the longer he remains down there the more money he will lose. To escape from these you must run around, punching blocks to eventually reveal an escape spring which will bounce you back to the surface again.
Although Wario World is fun to play I felt that it was more like a beat ’em up this time around. At times it feels more like Final Fight than a 3D platform game… Maybe that’s unfair to say because some levels are very reminiscent of Mario 64. The gameplay is varied overall, which is a good thing, although Wario World doesn’t feel much like Wario Land 4, which is my favourite game in the series.
Wario World is action-packed, varied and fun to play through even now, although it was criticised for being too short at the time of release. Like most platform games in the Mario/Wario series, Wario World is a dense/layered experience, so it does have significant re-play value. The game is certainly no push-over and should appeal to games-players of all ages. It did sell reasonably well too (although nowhere near as well as many Mario games seem to), which is an indicator of the game’s high quality.
One final note: if you collect all the treasures in certain levels, minigames from the Game Boy Advance title WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! are unlocked and they can be played using the Game Boy Advance link cable, which is a nice touch.
More: Wario World on Wikipedia