The other modes offer some nice features. You can go into the Time Mode where you try and clear a series of levels in the fastest time possible, or if you want to learn the moves, you can go into the Lesson Mode which will teach you various techniques to help you. Since this is a Nintendo puzzler, you also get a Vs. Mode, pitting you against another player in a best-of-5 contest. In a split-screen confrontation, you try to either clear your side of the screen first, or cause you're opponent's side to fill completely up. As you make matches, you can cause havoc on your opponent's side; eliminating four or more pieces lowers you opponenet's ceiling, while making chain reactions causes a stack of creatures to appear, reaching all the way to the top. You can also set handicaps to even the playing field.
The graphics are not the best but still pretty good. The forest in the background looks nice but never changes; some variety would have helped a little. Toad looks small but has some good animation, including making a V sign when you complete a round. The monsters also look good and have some nice animation, and the portraits of Birdo and Wario near the top are well done. As for the audio, the sound effects are nice, with a decent BOOM sound when bombs detonate, but the background tunes are a mixed bag. Some of them are fun to listen too, others not so much. At least the music manages to sound appropriate for each segment.
The controls work very well here. Toad has a nice variety of moves to get him out of each jam and it's pretty easy to pull them off, which is good considering the NES controller only has two action buttons. It may take some practice to get them down, but once you do you shouldn't have too much trouble.
As usual, the main part that counts for a puzzle game is the gameplay, and Wario's Woods does not disappoint in the least. This game is very fun and innovative, since it focuses on moving Toad instead of the old "manipulate the falling pieces" gameplay of other Tetris clones. This game also has a decent learning curve for the most part. The early stages are easy enough and you'll be able to blow through them without too much trouble. Around level 40 things start getting a little tougher, and the last few stages will really strain your brainpower and reflexes. Often times you may have to try them a few times to get past them and at times it can get frustrating, especially when you lose and you don't have any continues, forcing you to start over from a few stages back. At the same time it also has that charm that compels you to try again. The versus mode is good fun for two players, though it would have been nice to have a vs. computer mode (like the SNES version does). All this is helped by the battery backup feature, letting you save your best times and progress so your hard work doesn't disappear when turn your NES off. It would have been nice to save more than one file, though.
The bottom line is Wario's Woods is without question another great title from Nintendo. While the audio and visulas won't blow you away, this game excelles with its great gameplay, plus its many features will keep you addicted and occupied for hours. This is a game that puzzle fans and action fans should definetly check out. It may not be the big finish some NESers envisioned for their trusty console, but Nintendo definetly came through and the NES got one last great game before heading into videogame retirement.
- Review posted on December 1, 2006