Friday, February 19, 2010
Wii VC Puzzle Challenge! Yoshi's Cookie vs Wario's Woods
There are two kinds of competitive multiplayer types when it comes to puzzle games. One involves winning only when the other player loses, much like Tetris or Puzzle League where filling the opponent's screen with stuff is the only way to earn a win. The other is more goal-oriented where, though you can win by default if the opponent messes up enough, a win is normally earned by completing some sort of task. The most famous of these is Dr. Mario where you get rid of all the viruses, second most famous is Making Out With Your Girlfirend where you get rid of everyone else for an hour...and instantly lose when your parents walk in. The two NES-era puzzle games I'm reviewing today, Yoshi's Cookie and Wario's Woods, fit the latter example (meeting a goal, not making out). But as each one is 500 Wii Points and, assuming you don't have either, you are stuck with the choice of purchasing only one, which one of these classic puzzlers should you plunk down your digital dollars on?
The gameplay of each, though both goal-oriented, couldn't be less similar. Wario's Woods has a goal of getting rid of an assortment of colored monsters with bombs before said monsters and bombs fill the screen. Very similar to Dr. Mario but, instead of controlling the falling pieces, you control Toad as he runs around tossing and kicking everything in sight to match three. Yoshi's Cookie, on the other hand, involves rearranging a grid of various baked goods with a goal of matching the same all the way across or down. In multiplayer it's always a 5x5 grid but in single player it's constantly changing. And, as with any good puzzle game, good play rewards you by putting the screws to your opponent.
So, with the basics out of the way, how does each game stack up against each other?
Both games had the honor to come out at the end of the NES era. The visuals do show some definite age but Wario's Woods has a definite edge over Yoshi's Cookie. Wario's Woods is filled with color and charm with its only flaw being it's not as good as the SNES version of the same game. Yoshi's Cookie has more brown than today's first person shooters. Both games, surprisingly, don't suffer from slowdown. The sounds of each are so forgettable that, even after replaying both games within the last 24 hours, nothing stuck with me. If it wasn't for an episode of Hey Ash Whatcha Playin' I wouldn't even remember some of the music for Yoshi's Cookie.
Spot-on control is essential in any puzzle game. Sadly, it's something that I have a problem with in Wario's Woods. The simplicity of Yoshi's Cookie lends well to the control scheme, making everything easy to do. Wario's Woods frustrates with slow movement and confusing controls (the latter fixed in its SNES counterpart's ability to use more buttons).
Hands down, Wario's Woods. 100 levels plus bosses, tutorials, and a timed mode gives single player enough value to be a great game without another soul in the room. Yoshi's Cookie, on the other hand, was quite possibly the worst single player puzzle game I've ever played. After the first 40 stages of boredom I had to skip ahead to the last 10 and see if things got any better. Each stage consisted of a mad dash to delete all but about two or four cookies and hoping the correct ones fell to get rid of the remainder. Lonely gamers need not apply.
Multiplayer, however, goes the other way. Wario's Woods has little interaction between the players and feels like a footrace. The best player will win but, in the end, you'll feel like you were each playing your own game. In Yoshi's Cookie, you can blind the other player, take control of their movements, stall them for a few seconds, subtract from their score, add to yours, or reverse all that and accidentally hinder yourself if you aren't careful. Each game, as basic as it is, feels different and fun.
So, where does that leave us? Well, if you plan on flying solo or playing only the occasional multiplayer, get lost in Wario's Woods. If the only way you like to play is with others, however, Yoshi's Cookie should taste just right.
Yoshi's Cookie and Wario's Woods are both available on the Wii's Shop Channel for 500 Wii Points each. The reviewer played Yoshi's Cookie for an hour before wishing for death and switching to roughly two hours of obsessive Wario's Woods. After the gratifying whooping he gave his best friend in multiplayer Yoshi's Cookie, however, he may need a new gaming buddy. :(