Buckets of fun

Like many Nintendo peripheral devices, the Super NES Mouse never really caught on in the U.S. If its unpopularity wasn't the only reason why Mario & Wario was never released in the states, it was definitely a major factor. Regardless, the mouse is the perfect tool for this unique action/puzzle game.

Here's the deal. You pick your character at the beginning, choosing from Princess (slow), Mario (medium), or Yoshi (fast). As your character is walking along, Wario flies by in his plane and drops a "hat" on your character's head, rendering them blind! For some reason, the only person who can take it off is Luigi, who paces back and forth at the goal. Of course, the path to Luigi is never a safe one, and that's where you come in. Your mouse pointer is "Wanda," a fairy who flies around the screen as you move the mouse, and swings her wand when you click the mouse button. Since your temporarily-blinded character constantly walks in the direction he or she is facing, Wanda serves as a "Seeing Eye fairy" for your character, using her wand to create or destroy blocks, smash enemies, and snuff out fireballs. Though your characer will do an about-face when he or she runs into a wall or block, Wanda can also turn your character around by knocking him or her on the noggin. The levels are filled with spring boards, automatic ladders, spikes, and various enemies, and on top of all that, each level gives you about 2½ minutes to find Luigi. Luckily, Wanda never gets hurt, but, your character will lose a life after one hit. If you successfully beat an entire world, you'll be treated to a bonus round where you can earn extra points for hitting Wario as he flies back and forth across the screen for a short time.

You'll encounter about six different blocks during the game. The most basic block is the "diamond block," which always starts out as a dotted square that your character can walk through. Hitting it with your wand makes it solid, and safe for walking on. Hitting it again will turn it back to a dotted square. The trickier "clock blocks" will be solid for about three seconds, giving your character something to stand on momentarily. There are a few other blocks, but the only ones that cannot re-solidify are "rock blocks," which get smashed to bits with one hit. And of course, there are invisible blocks. These are similar to the "diamond blocks," but they don't have a dotted outline when they aren't solid, and you'll usually find them by accident.

What Mario game wouldn't be complete without items? Mario & Wario has only four, but that's about all that's necessary. Coins are found in "coin blocks;" Wanda can collect a maximum of ten Coins from each "coin block," depending on how fast you smack it with your mouse button. Collecting 100 Coins will give you an extra life each time. The Mushroom refills about 30 seconds on your timer, and the rarer 1-Up Mushroom gives you an extra life. The last item, Stars, come as a set of four in every level starting in World 2-1. Collect one and it's worth 200 points, two, 400 points, and three, 800 points. If you collect all four, you'll get an extra life. (For an even greater challenge, try getting all four Stars in each level!) For more points, kill all the enemies you see, and find Luigi as fast as you can, because you'll also get points for any time remaining on the timer. This is why your character selection is important; if you want to be safe and choose the slow Princess, you might run out of time before reaching Luigi in the bigger levels. If you pick the fast Yoshi, you won't burn off as much time, but there's a greater chance that he'll fall into a bed of spikes if you mess up.

The first thing I noticed about this game was the different character design. The whole game feels more cartoony than Super Mario World, but the characters and enemies look great, with excellent animation to boot. No complaints here. Unfortunately, the backgrounds are a bit washed-out and dull, featuring only a couple familiar characters from Super Mario World.

The background music is your usual up-beat Mario music. The themes for the title screen and World 1 are less than outstanding, but the music gets better as you get into higher worlds. Music composer Junichi Masuda's best piece is World 5's theme, a song with Arabian-esque riffs trickling through a thick layer of percussion. Another nice song is the theme for the submerged World 6. With its soothing ascending/descending melody and bubbling effects, you'll feel as if you're really underwater. As for the game's sound effects, they are even better. Everything from the smash of the "rock blocks" to Pidgit's screeching death-cry are well done. Even the different hats for each world have a slightly different sound effect when Wanda wacks them with her wand.

It seems like every puzzle game has a multi-player mode... except Mario & Wario. Although, I couldn't really imagine what it would be like, since you would have one controller and one mouse plugged in. Still, at least something would be better than nothing.

Overall, Mario & Wario is another great Mario game, blemished only by its lack of multi-player mode and battery save, which might translate into a lower replay value for most players. However, its 100+ levels will keep you busy for a long time. The bottom line is, if you get a chance to play M&W, don't pass it up.

Pros & cons
  + More than 100 unique levels.
  - No multi-player mode. No save feature.

Ratings (ranging from 0.0 - 10.0, with a 10.0 being the best)
Satisfaction: 8.6 A unique action/puzzle game.
Graphics: 8.0 Interesting character design, unimpressive backgrounds.
Sound: 7.3 Simple sound effects are perfect. Not enough memorable tunes.
Challenge: 9.6 An excellent brain workout.
Play control: 8.0 The ease of point-and-click, but only two mouse speed settings.
Replay value: 7.0 After beating the game, try the insane extra levels, or go for a better score.
Overall: 8.0 Puzzle game fans won't be let down.

Review by Deezer, 08/14/99

The Mushroom Kingdom \ The Games \ Reviews \ Mario & Wario