Wario can be quite the, shall we say, foreboding character. It seems that after every game in which he stars, even though he ends up with sacks upon monstrously-sized sacks of coinage, he's simply never satisfied. Thankfully, based on his situation in Wario World, he has the opportunity to sit around and bask in the glory of all the loot he has amassed over the years, much of which could be attributed to the sale of many copies of WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$. As we learn in the game's introduction, there's something else buried under the pile of coins and doubloons: an evil black jewel that's stealing all of Wario's treasures (though we're not entirely sure as to the storage space he's using), all the while transforming Wario's spacious castle into a haven for monsters. Wario needs to step up and get his stuff back by visiting the various areas of his newly-remodeled abode and gaining back the keys necessary to unlock the evil black jewel's chest for a final showdown.
Each world of the game is divided into two regular stages and a boss battle, each connected by a central area. Sadly, this ends up feeling far too short; the game can be finished within a few hours' time. Wario travels through each of them, punching the living daylights out of goofy-looking creatures using various moves: he can punch them with his powerful fists of fury, he can grab enemies and spin them around using the Control Stick, and he can piledrive enemies into the ground. Enemies usually drop gold coins when they are injured or perish, so Wario can grab those as necessary or use a large-scale inhalation technique he learned from... uh, somewhere. Along the way, Wario also collects numerous things. By punching different coloured buttons during his travels, which causes similarly coloured treasure chests to appear. Eight pieces of a trashed golden Wario statue are also laying about; capturing all eight will add an extra half-of-a-heart to his life meter. And there are five spritelings, captured beings, to rescue; doing so may indeed help you in the end. You'll seriously need to search high and low because some of these items are rather well-hidden -- perhaps TOO well-hidden sometimes. At the end of each regular level is a mini-boss for a quick brawl.
Wario travels through every different "world" possible. Seriously.
Throughout each level are trap doors. By either bouncing your way in (or by using a large enemy to piledrive through the more well-padlocked doors), you'll have access to a very small level to snatch up red crystals, needed to unlock the door to the mini-boss (plus usually something else useful, like one of those golden Wario statue chunks). Some levels are very small, tucked away in underground caverns, where you simply have to figure out how to hop up to it. Others are a bit more platform-based, set in a strange middle-of-nowhere surrounding, not unlike the bonus levels of Super Mario Sunshine. With nothing but pure endless cloud cover below him, Wario must hop his way across treacherous platforms to the other side to get that red crystal or fall to his death. You get infinite tries, though, so relax.
Visually, the game has that indescribable look of a Nintendo game. It's definitely one of the more colourful outings on the GameCube; all the surroundings are very robust yet still comical in a way. This game definitely looks good: Wario's as rotund and grumpily jolly as would be expected of him in the third dimension, and the seemingly endless gang of unexpected baddies are all quite fluidly animated and dripping with childish charm. And what Wario game would be without his gritty, unapologetically forceful voice? Mario voice actor Charles Martinet returns to deliver a natural performance as our anti-hero, Wario, complete with all the anticipated grunts and guffaws. Though the music may not be entirely memorable, it will be the Wario sound effects and shouts that naturally stick in your mind.
It's a shame, though. Wario World would have been an amazing, impressive journey, if only it had been longer. Treasure (the developer behind such exciting projects as Gunstar Heroes, Bangai-O, and Ikaruga, among others) did a very nice job on all of the game mechanics, but they probably could have added more... game. Whether it was the fault of a rushed release or whether that's how it was designed, Wario World falls short. Still, if you're a fan of the Wario series on the Game Boy, this would definitely be a fine accompaniment to pick up on the cheap (so Wario makes little money off of it).