North American cover art for the NES
Wario's Woods (Japanese: ワリオの森 Hepburn: Wario no Mori?) is a puzzle game developed and published by Nintendo, released on both the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Super NES (SNES) video game consoles. It was first released in Japan on February 19, 1994 and was later released in North America on December 10, 1994 and in Europe in 1995. The SNES version was released exclusively in North America in December 1994. Wario's Woods is the last official licensed game released for the NES in North America, and is also the only game in its library to have an official rating by the ESRB.
Wario's Woods is a falling block game where the objective is to clear the playing field of monsters by using bombs, arranging them into rows of matching colors. Unlike other puzzle games such as Tetris, where the player directly manipulates the game pieces, the player controls Toad, who moves around the playing field and arranges them after they have fallen.
The game was re-released multiple times, first as a broadcast on the Satellaview from April 23, 1995 to June 30, 2000, and as a Virtual Console title for the Wii in 2006 and for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U in 2013.
The objective of Wario's Woods is to clear the playing field of monsters of varying colors by using bombs of matching color, which are dropped into the field from the top of the screen. In order to do so, the monsters and bombs must be rearranged by the player such that three or more objects of the same color are placed adjacent to one another in horizontal, vertical, or diagonal rows, with at least one object being a bomb (such rows are called a "match"). For example, a match may consist of two red monsters and one red bomb, but may also consist of two red bombs and one red monster. When the play field is cleared of all the monsters, the player progresses to the next round, where the initial number of monsters increases.[nb 1] There are different monster types that can only be destroyed in specific ways, such as requiring two matches in quick succession or being placed into a diagonal match.
Unlike other action puzzle games such as Tetris or Puzzle League where the player directly manipulates the game pieces, either as they fall or via a cursor, the player directly controls the character Toad, who moves around inside the playing field atop the fallen objects. Toad can pick up individual objects or lift entire stacks and place them elsewhere in the playing field, but is unable to manipulate objects he cannot immediately reach. However, Toad can perform a variety of additional tricks, such as kicking objects across the play field and scurrying up the sides of stacks to retrieve specific objects.[nb 2] If the player cannot clear the playing field of its objects quickly enough, the play field will eventually fill to the brim and trap Toad, resulting in a Game Over.[nb 1]
The events of Wario's Woods are first witnessed in a once peaceful area in the Mushroom Kingdom known appropriately as the "Peaceful Woods" where Wario had cast a spell over the forest's inhabitants and manipulated them in order to make them his minions. In an attempt to take over the Mushroom Kingdom, Wario uses his band of monsters to destroy the peace of the forest and as a result, peaceful creatures were no longer welcome in the woods. Toad, who is introduced as the Mushroom Kingdom hero, makes his way to Wario's Woods in order to quiet the sinister lout and win the woods back for the sprites (fairy like beings who kept the peace in Wario's Woods until Wario gained control).
With the help of a fairy known as Wanda (who can create bombs) and Birdo (who provides encouragement for Toad), Toad must rescue the Mushroom Kingdom from Wario's greed and power. When Toad's time bar runs out, Birdo is replaced by Wario, who occasionally lowers the ceiling, and Wanda is replaced by a pigeon, who spawns monsters insteadof bombs. Birdo and Wanda replace them after Toad's time bar runs out again, ad infinitum. Toad's job is to take the bombs and line them up with the enemies of the woods, to defeat Wario's monsters. If Toad clears enough monster-packed sections of the forest (including various mini-bosses), he'll go up against Wario himself. After defeating Wario the first time, it is then revealed to Toad that the villain that he had just defeated was a "False Wario", and that the real Wario in the meantime had prepared for the final battle by inflating himself to a massive size. Upon defeating the real Wario, the antagonist soon shrinks back to his regular size and is soon chased out of the woods by the victorious Toad; thus, allowing peace to finally be restored to the woods. The ending to the SNES version of Wario's Woods is slightly different as it instead involves Toad destroying Wario's Castle through the use of a large bomb which as a result causes the castle to go crumbling down and puts an end to Wario's rule and spell over the Mushroom Kingdom and its inhabitants.
Two modified versions of the SNES version of Wario's Woods were released in Japan for the Satellaview, a satellite modem add-on for the Super Famicom. The first version was copyrighted in 1994 and released under the name Wario's Woods: Bakushou Version (ワリオの森 爆笑バージョン Wario no Mori Bakushō Bājon?) The Bakushou Version featured personalities from the Japanese radio comedy show, Bakushō Mondai.
The second version of Wario's Woods broadcast for Satellaview was released under the name Wario's Woods: Again (ワリオの森 再び Wario no Mori: Futatabi?). It was broadcast from April 23, 1995 to June 30, 2000, throughout the lifespan of the Satellaview. The game was quite popular and it was rebroadcast at least seven times throughout the tenure of St.GIGA's Satellaview-broadcasting period. The game was also broadcast at least once as one of the Satellaview's special event versions.
The NES version of Wario's Woods is available as a collectible item in the 2001 game Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, obtained through special means. This version is one of the first titles available for the Wii Virtual Console, released alongside its launch in North America, Australia, and Europe, and on December 12, 2006 in Japan. It is currently available for purchase at the Wii Shop Channel for 500 Nintendo Points. It was released for the eShop in Japan on May 29, 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS and on January 29, 2014 for the Wii U, in Europe for the 3DS on October 24, 2013, for the 3DS and the Wii U eShop in North America on November 7, 2013. This makes it the first Virtual Console game to have been released on both the 3DS eShop and Wii U eShop simultaneously.
Wario's Woods has received mild to favorable reviews. Reviewing the SNES version, GamePro called it "a ho-hum puzzler", commenting that though it has some interesting gameplay mechanics, it ultimately fails to be more than a standard Tetris clone. They also regarded the controls as difficult. Nintendo Power reviewed the game noting that it had a fun two-player mode and was challenging and fast-paced while saying that it's not as easy to control as Tetris 2. For the individual scores, the game ranked scores evenly for graphic and sound for both systems, but gave slightly higher scores for the Super NES in the Play Control, Challenge, and Theme and Fun categories. A reviewer for Next Generation argued that the gameplay mechanics are too complicated for an action puzzle game, concluding that, "After a while you can become interested, but the learning curve is just too steep, the rewards too slim."
In retrospective reviews, Allgame rated Wario's Woods 4 stars out of 5 for the NES version, and 3.5 stars out of 5 for the SNES version. Christian Huey, who reviewed the NES version, stated that the controls were "both surprisingly complex and completely intuitive" while the gameplay has a "surprising level of depth", and labeled the two-player versus mode as "an extremely welcome addition to the core game." Scott Alan Marriott, who reviewed the SNES version, felt that the game "doesn't quite measure up to the addictiveness of either Tetris or Dr. Mario", citing the game's "extremely awkward" controls and complicated gameplay. While Marriott appreciated "that the developers were trying something new", he concluded that "Sometimes when you add things to an already proven formula [for action puzzle games], you dilute the ingredients that made it a success."
The reviews for the Virtual Console release ranged from mixed to positive, applauding the gameplay and depth, but criticizing the choice to release the primitive NES version over the more comprehensive SNES version. Lucas Thomas of IGN awarded the game an 8.0 out of 10, praising the game's unique approach to the puzzle genre and graphics that "took full advantage of the 8-bit hardware [and were] full of character", but recommended "saving [one's] points for the SNES version, if it becomes available." Aaron Thomas of GameSpot gave Wario's Woods a score of 7.0 out of 10, admiring the "fun, addictive game play" and "surprising amount of depth", but criticizing the game's repetitive music and poor sound effects, adding that he also prefers the "ideal" SNES version. Nintendo Life scored the game 6 out of 10, stating that while the game is fun, "enjoyment for most will no doubt be short-lived."
- Thomas, Lucas M. (December 6, 2006). "Wario's Woods Virtual Console Review". IGN. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- NES Player - Special Features
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- Marriott, Scott Alan. "Wario's Woods - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
- Huey, Christian. "Wario's Woods - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
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SNES: Graphics and Sound: 3.1 / 5, Play Control: 3.4 / 5, Challenge: 3.6/5, Theme and Fun: 3.4/5. NES: Graphics and Sound: 3.1 / 5, Play Control: 2.9 / 5, Challenge: 3.0/5, Theme and Fun: 3.1/5