Wai, Wai haven’t I heard of this game before?
As a child of the 80’s I was obsessed with my Nintendo Entertainment System. It was my duty to play every game that I could get my hands on. At that time I didn’t care about publishers or developers; I just wanted to play good video games. That was until I “borrowed” Castlevania from my cousin while visiting his house when he wasn’t home. Granted I didn’t steal the game, I simply asked his mother if I could borrow it and she granted my request.
Upon blowing my spit all over the games contacts I finally got it to work. As with most of you, I was taken back at just the sight of Simon walking up to the gates of Castlevania. I’ve never seen an intro like that at the time. Most early NES games just simply threw you right into the action at the press of the start button. Castlevania made sure you knew you were about to embark on a horrific adventure. I simply fell in love with the game. It remained in my console for weeks until my pop got me a new game for Christmas. That game was Blades of Steel. Once I got the package opened and carefully read through the game’s manual, it was finally time to remove Castlevania from my console and throw in my new hockey game. While doing this I noticed something. Both games had a silver border & a few vertical lines on the labels artwork. I vividly remember holding both games up side by side and seeing the word “Konami” printed across the top. It was at this moment that I started paying more attention to a game’s publisher before I started playing.
Blades of Steel was amazing, but I won the Championship over the course of the day on all three levels. I wanted to play another game. Castlevania had proven to be too hard and I couldn’t complete it at the time. I was wondering what other Konami games there were for NES. A beautiful thing happened while playing Blades of Steel. Advertising! During an intermission the game lets you play a section of Gradius on the jumbotron. Once you defeat the boss a quick advertisement follows informing you of other Konami titles. Contra was one of these. I rounded up my Toys R Us gift-cards I was gifted and begged my dad to take me to pick up what would become my favorite game of all time.
Fast-forward to 2015. While listening to a retro video game podcast the host mentioned a Konami game that was only released in Japan. This game took place in a “Konami World” that featured heroes and villains from various Konami games. The game they were speaking of was Wai Wai World. It featured the likes of Simon Belmont, Vic Viper, & a host of other Japanese only characters from Konami. How have I not ever heard of this? A sequel was also talked about on the podcast that featured Bill Rizer from the Contra series. I needed to play Wai Wai World 2!
Wai Wai (Japanese for very noisy crowded area) World 2’s story is your basic “save the damsel” fare, but the underlining tale is what you’re here for. The evil wizard Warumon decides he should be the one in charge of Wai Wai World. He kidnaps Princess Habu (Herbs) which in turn plunged the kingdom into chaos. Dr. Cinnamon sneaks off during the commotion and creates a Mega Man like robot boy named Rikkuru to put an end to Warumon & save the princess. Rikkuru has the ability to change into 5 different Konami heroes, 2 of them being Simon Belmont & Bill Rizer. The other characters Goemon (Ganbare Goemon), Upa (Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa), & Fuma (Getsu Fuma Den) are from Konami games that were only released in Japan. That’s the beauty of the title. Once you get into the game it beckons you to learn about the characters Japan got to grow up with.
At the start of Wai Wai World 2, the player must choose 1 of 4 teams to control during the game. The four teams include 3 heroes Rikkuru can utlilze during side scrolling levels. You must choose wisely because once you pick your three heroes you can’t change them from this point. At first I’d always choose Simon, Bill, & Upa since the former two are the characters I know, but after a few playthroughs you’re going to want to see what the other characters are all about. At the start the first thing you’re going to notice is the HUD that takes up the bottom portion of the screen. The hud contains a lot of information like health & the like but the main thing that will catch your eye is the three icons under your health bar. These are the three characters you chose at the start of the game to help you on your quest. They are distinguished by what that character is known for. Simon is a whip & Bill is a machine gun for instance. During your journey you will see “C” icons that enemies will drop at random or you can shoot out of the sky. Once you pick up this “C” the character icons will begin to flash from left to right. Once the icon of the character you would like to choose is highlighted simply press up and jump and Rikkuru will transform into that new hero. While Rikkuru is transformed the health bar is meaningless. A 60 second countdown in your hud will now be visible. If you get hit by an enemy during this 60 seconds you will be docked 5 seconds, but if you retrieve an “H” icon 5 seconds will be added. Each hero has different advantages. Bill for instance can use his gun to blow foes away that are across the screen. He also has the ability to aim up. Simon’s whip is one of the fastest weapons in the game. The character Upa creates clouds out of the enemies he kills that he can use as platforms to get to unreachable areas. I strongly recommend playing through the first level with each set of characters to see who you’d enjoy most.
Once you defeat the first level you’re on to Goemon’s stage which is similar to the first, but is set in ancient Japan. Be prepared to smile as ballerina sumo wrestlers try to take you out along with Kabuki sprites & other odd enemies. The difficulty ramps up pretty quickly as this is probably the toughest level in the game. Moving platforms will test your reflexes as you either dodge or blast away the enemy. It’s a fun and fast experience that peaked my interest in Goemon and the Japan only title Ganbare Goemon.
If you’re a fan of Konami shooting games, Wai Wai World 2 has you covered. Once you complete Goemon’s stage you will get a phone call from Dr. Cinnamon asking where you would like to go next. Whichever stage you choose will take to a Twin Bee shooter level. The game took me by surprise here since I figured side scrolling shooting was all I’d be doing. The Twin Bee level is a nice change of pace and it comes at a perfect time. Once you’re done with the Twin Bee-themed stage, Konami Man will give you a prize for the amount of different fruit you’ve collected in the level. These prizes he gives you are in the form of angels. Throughout the game you may collect little angle sprites & if you collect 9 of these you get an additional life. Thanks, Konami Man!
Now be prepared to be punched in the face with a fistful of nostalgia. The next level is titled “This Time, It’s Contra!!”. The Twin Bee, which replaces the iconic Contra chopper, drops off Rikkuru right at the beginning of the Contra stage. If you’re a Contra fan you’ll feel right at home. The level’s layout cannot be mistaken. This is Konami’s Contra and it’s just as amazing as it was in the original title. Even the icons you’ve been collecting don’t come from enemies anymore. They come from the huge silver boxes you had to shoot open to get different guns (in the original Contra). When the joy settles you notice one very cool feature you’ve probably already have noticed earlier in the game. The music is freaking unreal. It may not have hit you until now since you may not be familiar with the games music thus far but this song, if you’re a Contra fan, you’re guaranteed to know. It’s a prefect mix of a few different Contra themes. The game just feels right at this point. I don’t want to spoil the boss on this level because it’s the most bad ass boss in the game. Once you beat this stage your only about half way through the game.
At this point of the review I’m going to refrain from going from level to level as I feel I may have revealed too much already. But you’ll be pleased to know eventually you will be controlling Vic Viper from the Gradius series as well as whipping (if you have chosen Simon) your way through Dracula’s castle. The music in these areas are just as good if not better than the Contra stage. The game just gets better and better as it progresses. Even playing stages of games I didn’t grow old with were challenging and fun. Wai Wai World 2 is every Konami fan’s dream (Japanese & world-wide). I’m really surprised this didn’t somehow make its way out of Japan. I realize that most of the characters are from Japanese games only but a fast swap of a few of the sprites would have made the game a bit more accessible.
Wai Wai World 2 is a perfect blend of old school NES Konami. The platforming is spot on and the shooting is perfection. I chose this game in hopes that at least one gamer discovers what is now one of my favorite titles. Give Wai Wai World 2 a shot & you will not be disappointed.
Final Verdict: 5 / 5
Released on: Famicom (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Konami ; Developer: Konami; Players: 1-2 ; Year released: 1991