Not the Waldo tome you’re looking for.
GENRE: Early Childhood
RELEASE DATE: December 1992
Who didn’t love a good (or great, even) Waldo search back in the day? The “Where’s Waldo” book series was in the vein of “I-Spy,” though in my opinion, was the better of the two. I’m not sure which came first, but Waldo gave some personality to the whole spot-the-item-amidst-a-buncha-crap ordeal. Finding him in his blase’ red-and-white ensemble on a busy Calcutta street (or alien planet or the American Revolution or wherever) was not always as easy as it seemed. Converting such an exercise to a game? Games have been made from stranger sources, I suppose, but I’ll give The Great Waldo Search this: it’s the first game that I’ve beaten in ten minutes or less. Seriously.
This game should not have been made. I’d like to end the review here and encourage you all to discover Waldo Just Ain’t Trying Anymore for yourself. After all, the overall crappy flavor of this game can not be described: it must be sampled, savored, and lived! The game’s not even torturous. It’s just really bizarre, dull, and short. But enough adjectives. To action!
The gameplay: find Waldo and a scroll in five themed levels. Find Waldo in Arabia! Find Waldo in hell (for realz)! Find Waldo in Waldo Land!… and so on. Now, Waldo was really tiny in the books, making him difficult to find. In this game, he’s as large as any other character on the screen. Oftentimes the characters and their environments are colored in such a dull way that Waldo’s peppermint apparel shines exceedingly bright. Once you find all five scrolls and all five Waldos – ta dah! – the game’s over! Unless you want to play on Expert mode (which does nothing except limit your time to find Waldo) or… well, that’s it. Beating it on Expert mode is the only incentive to replay.
This lack of gameplay in and of itself should be offensive enough, but because THQ really wanted to stick it to the consumer, they decided to make each level’s music unbearable as well. In 268 games, I have never heard such terrible, off-key, melodically offensive music as this. Yes, I will include a video of gameplay at the bottom so you can all hear for yourselves. The title screen, in particular, bears a faux-hip blatty beat, punctuated by a muffled voice saying “Where’s Waldo?” like he’s KRS-ONE or some other early-90s rapper. The whole song sounds like the original recording was run over by a car (repeatedly) and then pasted into the cartridge’s memory. Seriously bad, but the title screen’s composer Jeff Barry took full and complete credit for it. FYI, he’s available for any and all weddings and bar mitzvahs. Jeff Berry is available, not Waldo. Waldo’s gone missing again. It happens.