It always feels like you’re getting away with something in Pizza Tower. As you acquire new abilities (some of which are limited to specific stages) that allow you to do things like fly, spit fire, wear a suit of armor, become a ghost, and so much more, you’ll gleefully begin to explore all the places you can reach and do all the things you can do that weren’t possible before. Some levels even introduce more elaborate gimmicks that effectively change the game’s genre. Some of them honestly work a bit better than others, but most of them simply allow you to refresh your love for the core game design and appreciate it in a slightly new light.
You see similar ideas in most Metroidvania titles, but Pizza Tower never feels like an intricate labyrinth-sized puzzle that you slowly piece together (even when that’s exactly what it is). Actually, it always feels like you’re breaking something or getting through a level in a way that was never intended. There is method (and skill) to the madness of uncovering the game’s various hidden items and unlocking new areas, but the joy of the thing is often found in uncovering them without having to sacrifice the maniacal pleasure of the core gameplay.
Remember that feeling of discovering that first hidden block in Super Mario Bros? Imagine constantly recreating that sensation while blazing through a level as a middle-aged cannonball of a pizza chef who is typically fueled by some malady inflicted upon him by an enemy and is more than happy to return the favor.
The fear of returning to any game (or game concept) that has been dormant for a long time is the distinct possibility that you’ll realize you miss the idea of a thing, or your memories of it, more than the thing itself. Remarkably, that fear has been baked into Pizza Tower’s DNA. It’s a game that seems more interested in recreating your memories of Wario Land rather than exactly how those games played. As a result, Pizza Tower is faster, crazier, sillier, and, dare I say, sometimes even better than the material that so clearly inspired it.
I’d love to tell you that Nintendo will make another Wario Land game. However, I’m not confident they ever will, and you shouldn’t be either. Franchises don’t get revived just because they deserve it, and if took this long to get a proper new Metroid game, I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath for Wario to make a comeback. The shame of it is that I’m sure Nintendo could knock a new Wario Land game out of the park and that fans of the franchise would flock to that revival sooner than they would give Pizza Tower a shot.
However, don’t overlook Pizza Tower just because the name on the box says Peppino Spaghetti. It’s a slice of Wario Land built upon the sauce that makes that franchise so special and topped with a generous helping of cheese. It can be difficult to find room for games like Pizza Tower when our eyes are locked in on the biggest titles coming out this year, but when you play a game like this that is smaller, made with love, and designed to be fun above all else, you start to realize that it’s exactly the kind of game that’s often missing from the modern gaming experience. Wario Land fans certainly knead it in their lives, but dough not overlook this one if you’ve been finding yourself dreaming of a game that just wants to be a good time.