I was really into the whole “Where’s Waldo” fad when I was a kid. I think it had to do with the fact that I was reading a book without having to do any reading… I always liked to take the easy way out. I had all of the books: “Where’s Waldo?“, “Find Waldo Now“, and “The Great Waldo Search“. I even had the giant Waldo book, the small paperback with all the activities to do, and the fourth book, “Where’s Waldo in Hollywood?“, among various other puzzles and even a popcorn tin… yes a popcorn tin. So of course, it would go without saying that I had/have the Nintendo game. Strangely, though, the reason that I read the books was not necessarily to find Waldo. I know, I know, the title says “Find Waldo Now”, as if it were some sort of angry, authoritarian military leader, barking orders at me. Well, here’s the thing. Those pictures were filled with more than a guy in a tacky striped suit and hat. There were hundreds of sight gags per page, and always different ones throughout the book. The more you looked for Waldo, the more you found clever little drawings and scenarios. This was the real reason that I “read” these books; it kept me entertained for hours.
Anyway. This game, “Where’s Waldo”. The story is basically the same. You have to find Waldo in a bunch of different pictures. You have a certain amount of time at the start, and it counts down during each level. The time spent finding him is cumulative, so it’s best to find him as quickly as possible in the beginning levels, because the end levels will screw you over. In addition to that challenge, every time you guess that you found Waldo, and it’s actually not him, you get ten seconds taken off of your clock. And there are about 8 levels. Again, I say this as if these “levels” are some sort of obstacle course of bad guys or something. No. The levels consist of a still picture and a cursor. You move the cursor over to where you think Waldo is, and then push A. That’s it. That’s how you play the stupid game. I mean I guess I couldn’t ask for it to be closer to the source material; after all, that was my major gripe with Ducktales (that and the complicated attack method). Unfortunately, as the Waldo books weren’t all that exciting to begin with, this is a case where an upgrade was needed. There had just been a Where’s Waldo Cartoon show on CBS starring Brad Garrett from that Raymond show. Why couldn’t they have done something involving that?
Okay, so not only do they manage to take a boring idea for a video game, and actually create a boring video game, but they take all the fun out of the book. That may sound a little confusing and redundant, so let me explain. The idea of a video game where you search for an object on a still image is an incredibly boring idea for a video game, yet they made it, hoping it would sell on the brand name and the incredibly weird fans (of which it’s not innacurate to say that I was a member… but I was 8, sue me), instead of developing something interesting to do with it. Next, in making this book into a video game, they took all of the interesting things out of it by giving us a time limit to find him, making us rush through the picture. I guess, however, that it’s not that big of a loss, as the pictures are about as terrible as you can get. Waldo pretty much consists of about 5 pixels, colored in red white and blue, mixed in somewhere among other similar blobs, many of them also colored red, white, and blue, just to throw you off. In fact, Waldo doesn’t even look like the same blob in each level. Sometimes it looks like he’s wearing brown pants; sometimes he’s small; sometimes he blocked by a car, and only half of him is showing. The easy level is anything but easy because of this, and as you go down to medium and difficult, there is a big jump in difficulty.
As the levels get harder, your cursor gets smaller, the counter starts with less time on it, , and the kicker: the screen grows in size. So now, in addition to searching for “Waldo” on one screen, you have to use your cursor to scroll over to an entirely different screen of blocky, pixelated stick figures that may or may not be him. So basically the motto of this is, don’t play on medium or hard. In fact, don’t play it at all.
I do think that the people who made the game realized how boring it probably was, because they actually threw in three levels that don’t fit the regualr format. The first one is “THE CAVE”, in which you have to move your cursor around a black screen to find Waldo, whom you can’t see, but is walking around really fast. Your cursor acts like a flashlight, and if you see a bit of him and hit “A” in time, you turn the lights on and can move Waldo. You can then leave the room and go to the next pointless level, or take the biggest risk in the game and select the hourglass icon in the cave, which will either give you 100 seconds or take 100 seconds away. I think it’s about a 2/1 ratio in favor of subtracting the seconds. The second strange level is some weird 2-D maze thing called the subway, but it’s the last one that’s the killer. On the side panel of the rocket ship, you have to play a slot machine game, kinda like in mario 3, to get all of the windows to have a picture of Waldo on them, before time runs out. Then, and only then, can you ride in the spaceship and take a walk on the moon. That’s right. The only qualifications for Waldo to go to the moon are for him to walk through a myriad of places including, but not limited to, the circus, the city, a castle, and the woods, and have his face appear on the side of a rocket. No wonder the Russians have such a good space program.
This game sucks. There’s nothing else to say. This is THE reason why Roger Ebert hates video games. The people involved took such an incredibly easy concept and made it very difficult for themselves and the players, and what’s more, no fun to play. And if it’s not fun to play, it’s not worth buying. I mean seriously, if they can make plumbers go down pipes, and ducks “Pogo Jump” on snakes, you’d think that they’d be capable of making a decent still image, but you’d be thinking wrong. Also, just to mention it, this game did make seanbaby.com’s list of the twenty worst NES games ever, which kinda makes me proud to own such an abomination.