Wrecking Crew '98's two game modes are actually two different games. The first mode is basically a port of the classic NES Wrecking Crew. The second mode, also titled "Wrecking Crew '98," is a different sort of puzzle game based on the original Wrecking Crew. While the original Wrecking Crew challenges you to demolish every structure in the level without getting stuck or running into an enemy, the format of Wrecking Crew '98 is akin to the more mainstream puzzle games like Tetris Attack and Dr. Mario -- with a couple twists, of course.
Your playing field is 6×9, with a column of cranks to the left of the first seven rows. The game pieces are "blocks," which can be manipulated both by the cranks and with your hammer. With each turn of a crank, that row of blocks moves over one space to the right (the last block in the row will go "through the screen" and become the first block in the row). Most blocks can be smashed with your hammer, causing the column of blocks above it to move down. There are some platforms allowing access to the higher blocks.
The object of the game is to make at least one column on your opponent's field overflow over the top of the screen. Random blocks fall down periodically, but that alone is not enough to finish off your opponent; we must first understand how the blocks work. The majority of the blocks in the game come in four different colors: red, orange, green, and blue. Blocks can be cleared byyou guessed itmatching three of the same color. By matching more than three, or by nailing a combo, each color has a different way of messing with your opponent's playing field.
- Red - The red blocks make an enemy emerge from the pipe at the top. Enemies slowly make their way to the pipe at the bottom of the screen, disabling you temporarily if touched; jump on their heads or just plain avoid them.
- Green - When cleared horizontally, the green blocks will cause a few columns to rise up from the bottom for a short amount of time, one block per second. When cleared vertically, it causes one column to rise for about eight seconds, one block per second.
- Blue - Will shoot a magic spell that coats a couple rows of blocks with bricks.
- Orange - Drops at least four steel blocks on the other side, one per column.
The overall severity of the attack on your opponent's field depends on the amount of blocks cleared. Also, if you manage to clear your playing field completely, the game tells you "NICE!" and places a Mushroom in the top corner of your screen above the cranks. The next time you're attacking your opponent's field, the Mushroom combines with the attack and increases the severity by about 50%. Unfortunately, you can only have one Mushroom at a time.
There are three other blocks, which work a bit differently: brick-coated, steel, and bombs. The brick-coated ones need to be hit with your hammer to reveal the underlying color before they can be cleared or smashed; the steel ones cannot be smashed nor cleared, only moved; the bombs, when hit, will blow up all the blocks in its general area (including steel blocks).
Overall, Wrecking Crew '98 is a solid puzzle game, complete with Story, Vs., and Tournament modes, with the inclusion of the classic Wrecking Crew being the icing on the cake.