Review: The Great Waldo Search (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we find ourselves on the lookout in the Sega Genesis game The Great Waldo Search. We find out if this puzzle game is worth a play.

This game was released in 1992. It is based off the much more famous books.

The storyline in the game is fairly straight forward. Wizard Whitebeard as lost all five of his scrolls. He decides to ask Waldo for assistance in locating them again. where you come in is that you need to look for both.

You control a magnifying glass with your directional pad. There are two critical things you need to look for: The Wizards scroll and Waldo. Find both and complete the level.

Of course, there are other things you can look for in the process. There are the “150” icons that add to your score. In addition, you can locate clocks which adds time to your timer. Finally, you can find Waldo’s dog. If you find the dog, you’ll be transported to a magic carpet ride level where the objective is t collect as many bones as possible. The more bones you collect, the more bonus points you get.

If you select something that isn’t what you are looking for, then you’ll take a small time penalty. If you run out of time, you’ll be taken to a screen where you’ll be told better luck next time.

What you need to find and the scene itself is fixed, so if you fail, you can return to the level and find that nothing has changed location. This makes the second attempt easier.

In total, there are 5 levels. While the first four takes you to various locations, the 5th has an added challenge. The added challenge is the fact that you are in Waldo Land. so, instead of looking for Waldo specifically, you need to locate the one Waldo with one shoe missing.

There are three difficulties in this game: Normal, Expert, and Waldo. In Normal, most objects you need to find are more visible and easier to find. Waldo and Waldo’s dog is the same way. The extra challenges consist of you looking for something while someone repeats what you need to look for. In Expert, the objects are better hidden. Waldo and his dog are both also find behind something else. The extra challenge has you looking at a text version of what you are looking for once before you need to find it. Also, the bones you need to collect with Waldo’s dog are a bit more challenging.

The Waldo difficulty takes to straight to the Waldo Land level. This is the only instance where Waldo and the scroll do move around. You have 5 consecutive rounds to find both within the time limit. This is definitely more challenging than the other two difficulties and a difficulty worth trying if you find the other two difficulties less than challenging.

A lot of complaints come from the games difficulty. In Normal mode, the game has a trivial difficulty. It is likely geared towards young players. The Expert mode is definitely more like the difficulty you find in the books themselves. The Waldo difficulty, is a little more challenging, though not exactly being particularly hard. At most, it takes two attempts to complete the round. I will agree that the difficulty leaves a fair bit to be desired in this game, but it’s not quite as severe as others make it out to be. I get the feeling some people chose easy mode, complained that it’s too easy, and wrapped up gameplay without trying the harder modes.

One thing I will agree with critics on is that the game is very short. You can easily spend less than an hour completing all of the difficulties found in this game. As a result, it becomes little more than a small distraction for a little while, but little more than that.

What might have improved things is adding horizontal scrolling. As it stands, the playing field isn’t all that big and can only be panned left and right. If it was many screens tall as it is wide, it probably would have alleviated some of the problems facing this game to some degree.

On the plus side, the learning curve is trivially easy. You can’t not get how this game plays. Playing one level is likely sufficient in fully understanding how this game works.

Generally speaking, the criticisms that this game is way too easy are somewhat justified, but likely didn’t take into account other difficulties. It’s less extreme than what some people make it out to be, but it is a problem for this game as so much of this game is very easy. On the plus side, the learning curve is virtually non-existent. Still, the criticism that this game is short is definitely justified. You can spend less than an hour clearing out every difficulty in the game. So, it left a fair bit to be desired. While this game is an interesting effort to bring the Waldo experience to a video game environment, this effort didn’t turn out quite as well as the books.

The graphics are OK. While the Sega Genesis is certainly capable of showing off a cartoon style of game, this is probably not the greatest result. The animations are pretty basic, and there is some detail to be had here. So, it’s a decent job, just not particularly amazing.

What I will say about the audio is that it is very fitting to the style of gameplay you would expect for a Waldo game. It’s often circus-like feel to some of the music tracks fits well to the circus-like feel you get when you look through the various chaotic scenes you expect from a Waldo experience. Is it amazing music? Not really. Is it fitting music? I’ll give it that. The voice samples are OK and the applause sound is decent. So, a decent job, but nothing much more than that.

Overall, some criticisms directed at this game are more warranted than others. The difficulty is a bit too easy, but it is not as severe as some people make it out to be thanks to the harder difficulties that can be found in this game. The criticism towards length is definitely justified as you can easily complete every difficulty in less than an hour. Probably the only positive is that the learning curve is trivial. The graphics are OK. The audio, though fitting, is only OK. A very mediocre game.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game on normal, expert, and Waldo modes.

General gameplay: 15/25
Replay value: 4/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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