Wario World

The world was first introduced to Wario, the “anti-Mario” as the villain of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the Game Boy in 1992. He would then go on to star in his own series of Mario Land spin-offs – Wario Land which released on the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance, respectively. Wario also appeared as a playable character in games like Mario Kart or Mario Party, but it wouldn’t be until 2003 that he would star in his own adventure on a Nintendo home console.

Wario World was first released in June 2003 on the GameCube and was developed by Treasure, the studio behind games such as Gunstar Heroes, Sin and Punishment and Radiant Silvergun. The game begins with Wario sitting inside his castle, pleased with the riches he has accumulated. Suddenly, the evil Black Jewel is awakened after being stolen by a greedy treasure hunter and transforms the castle entirely and the riches located inside become a legion of enemy monsters. The titular antihero then embarks on a quest to put a stop to the Black Jewel and restore his humble abode to its former state. Wario must navigate his way through four worlds, each consisting of two stages and a final boss fight.

credit: MarioWiki

I played a small portion of Wario World shortly after its release, but for one reason or another had never made much progress. I was curious to return to the game and evaluate my experience in 2022. Having finished it recently, I can say I’m actually a bit upset I didn’t play more of the game back then. It’s a delight to play and has held up very well for something released nearly two decades ago. 

One of the very first things I noticed when starting up Wario World again was how the controls still feel remarkably nice for a game released in 2003. GameCube games haven’t suffered the ravages of time to the same extent of many N64 games, but can still feel dated by today’s standards. As with most other Nintendo platformers, Wario’s movement sits right in the middle ground between feeling too heavy and too floaty. I still find it interesting how I spent so many years playing games with exclusively inverted camera controls. It’s a little jarring going back to early 2000’s games after spending some many years with games where inverted controls are an afterthought(thanks, Halo).  

While the primary gameplay mechanic of comparable GameCube games like Super Mario Sunshine or Luigi’s Mansion centers around a particular item – F.L.U.D.D. or PolterGust 3000, Wario World takes advantage of Wario’s greater level of physicality than the brothers Mario, making the game a much more straightforward action/platformer as the garlic-breathed antihero can punch, grab and slam enemies. Some advanced maneuvers such as the spinning piledriver or screw attack-esque Corkscrew Conk will need to be utitlized in order to reach certain areas of a stage. The red jewels needed to complete a level can be found in underground treasure rooms; some consisting of little more than stone pillars to pulverize or platforms to ascend, and others require you to traverse a sprawling expanse of 3D platforms very similar to the ones found in Mario Sunshine. I’m reasonably confindent in saying I felt the camera controls in Wario World are noticeably better than Sunshine, making these sections less nerve-wracking.  

credit: MarioWiki

I was also pretty impressed with the boss fights in Wario World, each one of them feeling innovative and enjoyable. There was only a couple boss fights that presented any significant challenge – one being my battle against Red Brief – J., this being (just about)entirely due to the fact I hadn’t grasped the fight “gimmick” just yet. I was able to knock the Speedo-clad bull into the liquid-hot magma by doing a ground pound on the metal platform where the fight took place. I don’t know if I’d call Wario World a “difficult” game, especially when compared to some of Treasure’s other games(Hello, Radiant Silvergun). It’s a very approachable action/platformer, but certainly ratchets up the difficulty in the later levels. One thing that makes Wario World much more forgiving than other Treasure games is the ability to purchase a continue whenever your health is depleted; it can also be acquired by eating bulbs of garlic dispensed by vending machines in each level. Garlic and continues are purchased using the gold coins scattered across the levels and dropped by defeated enemies. I accumulated plenty of gold coins throughout my time in the game, so I never really felt I was in danger of running out of continues – this could be considered a pro or con, depending on the person playing.    

 The significant interest/demand in GameCube games the past few years can be easily attributed to the inevitable wave of nostalgia for something around 20 years ago – hell, I’m writing this while listening to music from Majora’s Mask, but combined with the perceived “failure” of Nintendo’s adorable little hexadron has resulted in many games becoming hard to find…as well as quite pricey, almost unreasonably so. This is unfortunate for games like Wario World(or Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, F-Zero: GX, Metroid Prime 2…I could go on) as it is an excellent game that could should have reached a bigger audience. The biggest criticism of Wario World at the time was concerning the game’s length(6-10 hours) and that perhaps it wasn’t “unique enough” to stand out against other first-party Nintendo GameCube games…again, like Mario Sunshine or Luigi’s Mansion. Wario World is a very approachable action/platformer, but can still provide enough of a challenge to keep longtime fans of the genre engaged. A solid game and heartily recommended…   

Thanks for reading!

credit: MarioWiki

Hunter’s Journal Pt. 4 – Morningrise

Having completed my venture through the Nightmare Frontier, it was now time to return to the Lecture Building and vacate the premises via the second-floor doorway, taking me to what is essentially the penultimate area of the game – the Nightmare of Mensis. The area begins with a relatively short hike uphill to Mergo’s Loft, an ominous castle containing some powerful(and frustrating) enemies. There’s also two more boss battles – Micolash, Host of the Nightmare and Mergo’s Wet Nurse(I’m still impressed with only 50% of these).

I mentioned previously that this is where I feel like I fail to grasp, not completely anyway, where I am and what the hell is going on. My understanding is…<deep breath>both Nightmares – Frontier and Mensis are realms existing within another plane, one which cannot be accessed in any physical form? Micolash and the other students of Mensis(scholarly slugs in the Lecture Building) sacrificed their physical bodies, but inhabit the nightmare in mind and are typically identified by the Faraday-like, Mensis Cages on their head. Their offering was a way of gaining access to the Great Ones through Mergo, child of the formless Odeon and Queen Yharnam…or something like that. I don’t know. I feel like half of the fun(?) of replaying Bloodborne has been the accompanying homework assignment(NOT sarcasm, actually) of researching and attempting to keep track, both on paper and mentally, of the game’s bafflingly dense lore. Shoutout to r/bloodborne for the many bullet point explanations posted for individuals like myself who lack sufficient Insight to comprehend all of this!

The Nightmare of Mensis begins with a relatively short uphill hike to Mergo’s Loft, an ominous castle containing some powerful(and frustrating) enemies to contend with. I managed to avoid the few silverbeasts and rock-tossing yetis before reaching the entrance to Mergo’s Loft, which is divided into three parts – Base, Middle and Wet Nurse’s Lunarium. Once inside, I ran straight past the swarm of spiders and Mergo’s attendants. Going through the next doorway, I finally met up with Micolash, Host of the Nightmare. The fight itself is pretty simple, but you spend most of the time chasing this fuckin’ weirdo through a series of hallways avoiding endless skeleton enemies as he rambles on about “Kos…or some say, Kosm” or sometimes just begins howling like a wolf. Once you finally corner him at the end of a hallway it’s only a matter of avoiding his attacks, of which there’s only two, one of them being an annoyingly strong barrage of seeker projectiles. After Micolash had been awakened from his nightmare mind palace, it was time to continue my ascent to the top of Mergo’s Loft.

Mergo’s Loft also has one of the best blood echo farming spots in Bloodborne. Starting from the Mergo’s Loft: Middle lantern, you can take out seven different Shadows of Yharnam(much easier at this point in the game) and three gigantic pigs with a set of eyes like those of a spider <insert ‘Peter Porker’ joke here>. Making a short trip through the neighborhood, you can rack up an easy 40-70k blood echoes, so I spent a few minutes doing a little bit of farming. I believe I was around level 85-90 at this time.

Once I had leveled up a few times, I took the third and final cage lift to the Wet Nurse’s Lunarium atop Mergo’s Loft. Upon reaching the lunarium, you will see the area is completely vacated except for a black stroller in the center of the courtyard. You can hear the sound of a baby crying – Mergo, child of Odeon and Pthumerian Queen Yharnam, who can be seen just outside the boss arena. As you approach the stroller, a short cutscene plays showing the arrival of Mergo’s Wet Nurse, guardian of the infant Great One. The menacing boss is covered in a black cloak, resembling a ringwraith and brandishing not one, but six curved blades. Wet Nurse also has the ability to shroud the area in an arcane mist and will summon a duplicate of itself to teleport around the area and attack. This can be a tricky boss fight, fortunately I remembered its biggest weakness is to eletrical attacks…and I had a fistful of bolt papers and had become quite adept at timing charge attacks with my threaded cane. Nightmare slain.

Moving into endgame stuff now, so consider this the obligatory spoiler warning…

It was at this point, I returned back to the Hunter’s Dream, now ablaze after defeating Mergo’s Wet Nurse, indicating I had reached the endgame of Bloodborne…well, kinda. Despite how little it appeared I had left of the game, I still had a couple quick errands to complete before moving forward I looking through my weapons and blood gems, I realized that I had never found the tool to equip any of the Odeon runes I had been acquiring since the early areas of the game. I honestly didn’t remember where I picked this up during my previous playthrough. It turns out that I needed to return to Hemwick Charnel Lane as the very next room after the one I fought the Witch of Hemwick. Oh, right…got it.

In doing some preparations to get all three of Bloodborne’s endings, I realized I still hadn’t unlocked the back entrance to Iosefka’s Clinic. I had meant to do this probably a dozen gameplay hours ago, but had gotten distracted and forgot about it…story of my life. There’s a locked door immediately behind you when you first begin the game which leads to the upper areas of the clinic. This can only be accessed coming from the opposite direction, which is accessed through a lengthy detour in the Forbidden Woods. Once I found my way back to the Forbidden Woods and crawled through a poison cave(of course), I was able to take a series of ladders that eventually lead to the back of Iosefka’s Clinic. I took out the sole celestial emissary wandering the hallways before meeting up with Iosefka. This not the real Iosefka, but an imposter, and is found lying on an operating table seemingly delirious with pain and can be heard saying “God I’m nauseous… Have you ever felt this? It’s progressing. I can see things… I knew it, I’m different. I’m no beast… I… Oh… God, it feels awful… but, it proves that I’m chosen. Don’t you see? How they writhe, writhe inside my head… It’s… rather… rapturous…”. She then drops a One Third of Umbilical Cord, which would imply having been impregnated by a Great One. Uh….huh…

There was still one final area to visit before moving on to the final boss fight(s) and chalice dungeons – Castle Cainhurst. This frigid estate is home of Annalise, Queen of the Vilebloods whose bloodline have been at war with the Healing Church. This area can only be accessed after picking up the Cainhurst Summons, found in the upper rooms of Iosefka’s Clinic, and catching a ride on the spooky carriage crossing the lake on the edge of Hemwick Charnel Lane.

Similar to most other areas found in the second half of Bloodborne, Cainhurst isn’t particularly large. The main objective is to reach the roof of the castle and the next boss fight – Martyr Logarius. After making your way through the castle grounds, you find a throne at the far end of the roof sitting in darkness and snow. Logarius sits there, looking like a two hundred year old corpse, before standing up and unleashing swift hell upon you…as one would expect. Nine out of ten times squaring off against any matter of human(oid) enemies will feel much more difficult than facing a giant, Monster Hunter-like beast, for me anyways. Logarius is no exception to this as he casts a number of spells that can attack from a range as well as some vicious sword/scythe combos that can quickly end you. It was a tough battle, but I again emerged victorious…and after only two attempts. Back to the Hunter’s Dream…

My previous playthrough of Bloodborne had been on an alternate PSN account that I use primarily for streaming purposes, so this would be my first time playing through the game in its entirety. As such, I made the decision while playing that I would maybe….possibly go for the platinum trophy so I’d have that on my main account, which meant I would need to collect every weapon and defeat every optional boss in the game. This also meant I would need to go through the gauntlet of chalice dungeons…again. The chalice dungeons consist of 3-5 layers, each one requiring you to find the lever to unlock the door leading you to the boss fight before you can descend to the next level. I’ve decided to skim over my time with these for the sake of brevity

  • Pthumeru Chalice – “E.Z.”
  • Central Pthumeru Chalice – “Still pretty easy this late in the game”
  • Lower Pthumeru Chalice – “Starting to present a challenge”
  • Ailing Loran Chalice – “Just here to find the Bastard of Loran”
  • Defiled Chalice – “Fuck this place. Seriously”
  • Great Isz Chalice – “Everything’s covered in slime. Got any Red Jelly?”
  • Pthumeru Ihyll Chalice – “The Queen lives here, right?”

Well, the time has finally come. The final boss showdown awaits. As soon as you clear Mergo’s Loft, you return to the Hunter’s Dream and see the workshop has gone up in flames. You are then informed that Gehrman, the old wheelchair-bound hunter who has been there to provide vague information and guidance through your journey so far is waiting to speak with you. Making sure I had weapons durability checked and fully upgraded, Odeon runes set, blood gems equipped, and a plentiful stock of blood vials and Quicksilver Bullets, I ventured through the courtyard of the Hunter’s Dream to speak with him. He sits waiting for you in an open area that feels reminiscent of the flowery field where the final Boss fight takes place in Metal Gear Solid 3. The stage is set as Gehrman offers you a choice: submit your life or refuse, with each choice corresponds results in a different ending. Accepting the elder hunter’s offer shows hunter Dude waking up to the morning sky as if the entire ordeal was but a nightmare, this unlocks the “Yharnam Sunrise” ending. Refusing the offer causes Gehrman to basically shake his head and stand up, pulling out a sword and scythe as you now get the pleasure of fighting yet another hunter. The fight can be pretty challenging as the old man is deceptively agile and can dish out the pain(see above comment about fighting hunters vs. beasts), but I had spent roughly 10 hours scouring chalice dungeons so being under-leveled was definitely NOT a concern. After defeating him, hunter Dude looks into the sky as the blood moon is in full view, suddenly the Moon Presence appears. This elusive entity simply floats midair, tentacles flowing(of course, wouldn’t be Lovecraft-inspired without it) for a moment as it closes in and embraces the victorious hunter. The game then cuts to hunter Dude, who is now in a wheelchair, being pushed up to the Hunter’s Dream workshop, indicating the cycle has began anew. This unlocks the “Honoring Wishes” ending.

Time to call it a night then, right? Nope. There’s still one more ending in Bloodborne to unlock. As you make your way through the latter areas of the game you will come across items called “One Third of Umbilical Cord”. These consumable, yes…consumable items are needed to access the third(secret? true?) ending of the game. Three of these are to be…used before defeating Gehrman – lucky I’ve had plenty of practice, which allow you to fight the Moon Presence. The battle actually feels a little easier than the prior one against Gehrman, I’m guessing the fact that it’s fairly susceptible to fire, bolt and arcane damage is a big factor here and reminded me a bit of fighting Majora’s mask form on the N64. It only took me a single attempt to defeat the Moon Presence. Once the fight it over, a cutscene takes place showing no trace of the Moon Presence or hunter Dude, except for a small squid-like creature that is shown lying on the ground, unlocking the “Childhood’s Beginning” ending. My hazy understanding of this is: the Moon Presence attempts to embrace the hunter after defeating the current watcher of the Hunter’s Dream and was able to sense the “inside eyes” as a result of the One Third of Umbilical Cords used. This caused the Moon Presence to become enraged and fights the hunter. The little squid creature shown indicates the hunter has transcended everything and become an infant Great One. The trophy description kinda says that one outright…

And Bloodborne is complete once again, along with another platinum trophy for the collection! Coming off Elden Ring I was curious to see if my feelings about the game have changed at all. If anything, I’d say it’s made me appreciate the game even more. There’s so much to absorb in Bloodborne that I could spend nearly as much time reading and attempting piece together what everything means as playing the game itself. I have the Old Hunters DLC downloaded on my PS5 and will be playing through that next before finally moving on to something other than a From Software game.

“You have the whole night to dream. Make the best of it.”