Yowzers, has it really been eight years since I last played a Wario platformer? I'd played through the previous Wario games at a pretty good pace (the previously most recent of which was Wario Land 4 on GBA), but it's taken me this long to finally finish the next Wario game, Wario World for GameCube. I have some affection for the character, but I suppose part of the problem is that the game was developed by Treasure rather than Nintendo. As a result, the game lacks the typical sunny and cartoony Nintendo aesthetic and opts for weirdness and creepiness instead, which I found off-putting (although I like Treasure as a developer in general).
3-D platformers don't really appeal to me that much in general since I didn't grow up with them. They also tend to be big collectathons, and although Wario World isn't nearly as bad as most, you'll definitely need to look in every nook and cranny to find every collectible. I've gotten to enjoy this type of exploration more over the years, and although each level feels distinct, the game is a bit repetitive. The game consists of several types of gameplay. There's the typical large-level exploration you'd expect with a game like this, and in these sections the focus is on exploring and brawling rather than platforming. Then there are small puzzle rooms that require a combination of brains and dexterity in order to collect the reward at the end of them. There are also self-contained platforming sections over a bottomless pit, very reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine in general, although in this game you're given unlimited chances to get to the end. These platforming challenges suffer from all the problems of most 3-D platformers, namely, a manual camera that can be frustrating at times, and difficulty in judging distance and mastering the game's physics.
The exploration sections are pretty fun, except there's very little enemy variety. Basically there are three types of enemies in the whole game, and the levels just re-skin them with minor tweaks to their behavior. The other big complaint I have about these sections is that instead of losing a life when you fall into a pit, you're forced to go to an area (different for every level) where you have to avoid enemies and hit open boxes until you find the random one that has the spring that propels you back to the regular stage. These sections are a huge bore, and really put the brakes on any momentum in exploring. The puzzle rooms are generally fun, but the platforming sections can get a bit tedious, especially since in this game the platforming is often based on mastering the mechanics of the game's physics rather than just requiring strategy and good timing. I find 3-D platforming to not be nearly as immediately gratifying as 2-D platforming in general anyway, and this game doesn't change my opinion of that.
The locales are a bit more varied than a lot of other similar games, and there are some nice twists in the levels, such as one that has areas where you can't see yourself and have to rely on a mirror's reflection instead. The final stage, a large and elaborate pyramid that you have to climb up the exterior of, was also a highlight, although the platforming sections in that level in particular were tedious and frustrating. As with other Treasure games there are plenty of boss and mid-boss fights, but although they're generally enjoyable, I wouldn't say they're particularly brilliant in this game.
Overall I enjoyed Wario World, so much so that I actually completed it 100%. There were some really tedious and frustrating moments, however, and the lack of enemy variety really hurts the game. The game doesn't connect to the Mario or Wario games at all, and it had been a game that didn't feature Wario it might have left a slightly better impression. As it is I'm glad that I'm finally finished with it and can get back to a more traditional 2-D Wario platforming experience.