Sunday, 2 June 2013

Obscure Retro Gems - Wani Wani World (Mega Drive / Genesis)

Stop! Hammer Time!

Apart from the wonderful Bubble Bobble, single screen platformers have never really been my thing - I have always preferred my 2D running and jumping antics to be of the scrolling variety. Bubble Bobble is one of the first arcade games I ever played, so will be forever etched into my memories as a stone cold classic. The imitators that followed, namely titles such as; Parasol Stars, Snow Bros, Rodland, Don Doko Don, Joe & Mac Returns, Tumble Pop and even the ludicrous Super Methane Bros didn't really do anything for me as they failed to improve on the bubble blowing dragons' adventures. But occasionally one will come along that I really enjoy, Penguin Brothers, an arcade game from 2000 was one, and Wani Wani World on the Mega Drive is another.

I feel your pain. Out poor hero gets molested by robots.

Anyone who has ever played a single screen arcade platformer will know what to expect – move around the single screen, collecting fruit and other food items, dispatching any foes that get in your way with whatever gimmicky method the game in question allows you. Kill them all and it is onto the next stage. It's as simple as that. Where Wani Wani World stands out, for me at least, is the super cute presentation and the methods for dispatching meanies.

Showing that red bastard who's boss as a fat hippo watches in horror.

You take control of a cute crocodile (or maybe a dragon) with 'attitude' – by which I mean he wears trainers (sneakers) and grins at the camera a lot. He has not been gifted with any natural means to defend himself, instead opting to carry a large mallet with him. The first mistake you will make is probably to run up to the first enemy and try to bosh him on the noggin. This is wrong! Wani Wani World takes a leaf out of Loderunner's book and requires you to smash the blocks either to the left or right of you, creating a hole in which the enemies fall into. Once they are struggling around in the hole, they can be bludgeoned to death with a mighty swing of your mallet. Upon hitting the floor they explode into a shower of stars which will kill anyone else nearby, and creating chains of kills in this fashion will reward you with edible collectibles of simply ludicrous proportions. Another mechanic that Wani Wani World borrows from Loderunner is the inability to jump. Instead you access higher platforms by climbing ladders or using springs to propel yourself upwards. It all becomes second nature very quickly, and you will soon find yourself addicted to the simple gameplay – much like the game it is inspired by. Later stages add further elements such as teleporters, and blocks that quickly respawn, making it much harder to trap foes.

Croc prepares to bash the ground in as two enemies creep up the nearby ladder

The graphics are sickly sweet and extremely colourful, with bright stages and cute characters that range from robots and  to farting skunks and fuzzy balls of hair that look like 'Cousin It' dipped in paint. The main character is the star of the show, with lovely animations that show off all manner of expressions on his cute little mug. His face contorting and increasing in size as his eyes bulge and tongue protrudes from his mouth when taking a hit is especially amusing. It almost makes you feel guilty to laugh at his pain.

Multicoloured penguins slip and slide around as Croc squirms up a ladder. 

The gameplay is incredibly fun, despite being slightly repetitive – much like any other game of this nature – and it will keep you hooked for a while. The worlds can go on for a few too many stages, and you may start to find your attention wondering before you reach the boss that guards each world's end. The level that precedes the guardian is a vertically scrolling stage that requires you to keep ahead of the bottom of the screen as it scrolls ever upwards. These add a little variety, and are a welcome break to the standard levels. The game also comes into it's own in 2 player mode. Single screen platformers are always better with another player and here is no exception. Wani Wani World is fantastic fun with a pal, and it makes for a more chaotic and fun experience, as well as adding a level of competitiveness that will see both players scrambling for the most kills and most juicy collectibles.

After trapping an enemy in the hole, Croc swipes them with his tail, 
sending them to their doom.

Overall Wani Wani World is great fun in short bursts and well worth checking out. The visuals may be incredible sweet and garish, but they are full of charm and the main character is adorable. I would recommend playing it via emulation so you have the luxury of save states, allowing you to take a break when it all gets a bit much, and come back another time.

Title : Wani Wani World

Developer : Kaneko

System : Mega Drive / Genesis

Year : 1992