Wednesday 21 March 2018

Mario and Wario (Super Famicom review)

Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1993

Mario and Wario is a Japanese exclusive action-puzzler that requires the SNES Mouse.

Controlling a fairy named Wanda, your job is to safely guide your chosen character through each level, reach Luigi and remove the item that Wario's placed on his head! The available characters are Mario, Peach and Yoshi, with the only difference being their automated walking speed. Using the SNES Mouse, Wanda can change their direction, destroy enemies and obstacles, as well as adding / removing platforms. Gameplay-wise, the level design is top-notch with lots of variety to keep the concept engaging, and in some ways it resembles a simplified Lemmings (1991, Amiga). One minute you'll be swatting away bats and cannon balls up ahead, then bouncing off springs to reach higher platforms, before quickly creating walkways for Mario and team; this multitasking angle is fantastic and you'll constantly be juggling how far ahead to seek while keeping the team's immediate environment free from hazards. A nice feature is how each round only begins on your mouse click, as it allows you to strategise before the action starts. Speaking of the SNES Mouse, it's highly accurate and results in quicker, more accurate movements when compared to a standard controller. The game has a wealth of content and it's great that the first eight worlds are playable in any order; however, it's a shame there's no option to save your progress. Another downside are the end of level Bonus Stages where you hit Wario as he pilots an aeroplane; these play like Whack-a-Mole, only much less interesting, as you can just spam the attack button repeatedly. Also, most of the game's environments don't really feel 'Mario-like.'

Mario and Wario is a fun action-puzzler with lots of charm, challenge and content, and it's a real shame that it didn't see release outside of Japan. It has great controls and superb level design, and while it's simplistic in nature, Game Freak really managed to get the most out of the concept.

Random trivia: The game was designed by Satoshi Tajiri, who later went on to create the Pokémon franchise.

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