Wrecking Crew Review


This is my first deep dive into the world of Wrecking Crew. I did play the first three or four phases of the game a few years back and enjoyed what I experienced. I was a little excited to see the game come to the Nintendo Switch Online service and thought this would be the perfect time to revisit Wrecking Crew. My excitement quickly faded as I began to reach double digit phases. It was then that I realized how tedious and monotonous my journey would be. With that being said, let’s get on to the joys and cons of Wrecking Crew.

Early Difficulty Curve Leaves Me With A Mixed Opinion

Wrecking Crew pits you against 100 phases with the goal of destroying every grey object on screen. You can only move Mario left and right, up and down ladders, and use his hammer for destruction. This may sound easy, and for the first two phases it is easy, however, the game really kicks up the difficulty early. While you’ll be destroying grey walls and ladders, other obstacles such as dynamite, barrels, supports, and enemies will challenge you to think about how you approach each phase. Essentially, this is a puzzle platformer game with a heavy emphasis on puzzles. You will be forced to adapt as early as the third phase with the goal of manipulating enemies and objects to your advantage.

First, let’s take a look at the game’s enemies. Gotchawrenches will chase you relentlessly, Eggplant Men only climb ladders and won’t chase you down, while Spike, a Wario lookalike, will chase you down and try to destroy things you may need. That ladder you’ll need to clear the phase? He will knock it down, and you as well if you stand around too long. You can deal with some enemies by hitting special green doors with your hammer and causing them to go “behind the stage.” However, just because a phase has enemies, doesn’t mean those doors will also exist. This left me wishing there was a more practical way to handle enemies. As you can see, you’ll need to pay attention to your surroundings and figure out how to clear the phase. Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t easy to study your surroundings because you are placed in close proximity to the enemy.

Wrecking Crew is extremely fun in the beginning, and technically it plays exactly as you’d expect. However, the difficulty can make it quite hard to continue playing. Some phases are quite clever in their design and are the fun phases to complete. The more complex phases are a pain in the ass and a chore to complete. Sometimes you’ll take out a ladder and actually need it later, or maybe you’ll destroy the wrong support and a barrel tumbles down blocking your path. Maybe you’ll accidentally trap enemies in a tight spot with the last wall that needs to be wrecked; something that actually happened to me and made the level nearly impossible to beat.

This trial and error type gameplay is tedious and really turned me away from the game. To gain the upper hand you can use doors to trap your enemy, or strategically use dynamite to break down walls and throw enemies to the floor. Also, you can catch a break if you die after wrecking the phase’s last element as you will still get credit for clearing the phase. Another good thing I can say about the game is that despite having a lives system, you can choose to begin on any phase even if you haven’t reached it yet. Oh, and there is also a two-player mode and course design should you want to torture your friends.

Nostalgic Black Box Presentation

All black box NES games share a similar aesthetic and that can be found here in Wrecking Crew, as well. The sprites are what you’d expect to find from an early NES title and are good for the time period. While they may not stand up to the pixel art of modern games, they still have a charm that is hard to deny. Rounding out the package here are some fun, arcade-like jingles that can easily get stuck in your head.

Conclusion

Wrecking Crew is a unique concept and one that I’d like to see updated with modern standards in mind. However, this game will likely only appeal to hardcore Nintendo and puzzle fans, making it hard to recommend. A few tweaks to the gameplay might make it a more tolerable game to play. Despite what seems like scathing feelings toward the game, I did enjoy playing some of the easier phases, and I adore its black box presentation.

Final Score: +1

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