Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/05/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Some things should not be made into video games. Other things would work okay as video games but only if done well. Where’s Waldo on NES is definitely an example of one of these two, probably the latter. I knew this would be a quick game and a stupidly short game, but I didn’t expect it to take me literally less than fifteen minutes.
As the name suggests, you have a handful of levels filled to the brim with people, and you have to find Waldo. The less-than-stellar graphics, however, make this difficult as there are several non-Waldo sprites who look a lot like Waldo at first. There are four difficulties – Practice which has no time limit, and then Easy, Medium, and Hard which are increasingly strict with time penalties for wrong guesses and change the size of the game screen to make it more difficult. The harder difficulties will sometimes have Waldo in different colors which honestly feels more like BS than honest difficulty; the red stripe shirt is kind of his thing.
There are some special levels that break up the monotony somewhat. There’s a cave level where you can’t see anything and have to wait until Waldo darts across the screen briefly. That one’s so easy that it’s honestly frustrating. Then there’s a subway level that’s like a maze that you have to navigate to get to Waldo and then get to the exit. Lastly, there’s final level is a slot machine that requires you to land all three spinners on Waldo’s face. Do that before the end of your time limit, and you win.
That’s it. That’s the entirety of Where’s Waldo. It’s a terrible game with terrible design. Bad graphics aren’t always a deal-breaker for NES games, but when the entire point is to find a specific character, that kind of depends on being able to see what character on screen, and that’s sometimes easier said than done here. Don’t bother with this game; it honestly isn’t even worth emulating.