Game Review: “Willy’s Wonderland”

   Did you know Willy’s Wonderland had a videogame? Well, you do now.

   Released in 2021, Willy’s Wonderland beat Five Nights at Freddy’s to the punch, so to speak, bringing animatronic horror to the film industry. I would describe it as a fun film, even if it doesn’t exactly meet the out of this world potential for such an absurd, surreal concept when paired with the absurd, surreal Nicholas Cage. In fact, pound for pound, I liked it more than the Five Nights at Freddy film we eventually received. It’s a totally different beast, of course.

   Five Nights at Freddy’s is a straightforward horror film with a whole, whole lot of complicated backstory and lore hidden in the nooks and crannies of its presentation. Willy’s Wonderland is a basic, unsophisticated horror film, and can adequately be described as Nicholas Cage punching characters in colorful costumes. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it was a fun diversion. 

   How do things bode for a Willy’s Wonderland videogame, you may ask? Well, not great.

   The final score for the videogame isn’t graded on a curve, but I do reflect on it with certain factors in mind. Firstly, Willy’s Wonderland was released on major consoles with a retail price of only $4.99, which means I wasn’t expecting very much. All I expected was an amusing couple hours with characters from an alright film. I knew not to expect Alien: Isolation or some other major licensed videogame.

   Frankly, Willy’s Wonderland fails to meet the low bar I set. Again, I’m not upset about it. It’s whatever, but, man, oh, man, is this a thrown together cash-in. The Willy’s Wonderland videogame is half a dozen beat ’em up stages, offering nothing to write about. The most immediate comparison I could make is Streets of Rage or, more recently, maybe, Shredder’s Revenge, seeing you fight waves of enemies. This isn’t that. Nor should you go in with that expectation. Your character has a small handful of basic attacks to choose from, and there is no variation to speak of, offering little more than a glorified proof of concept. As an experience, this is more comparable to the Space Jam videogame that was released for free on consoles – this is significantly inferior to that videogame, however.

   I completed a playthrough of Willy’s Wonderland in thirty-two minutes with local co-op, and, in that time, I also unlocked the Platinum trophy. This is not a complicated videogame. It is a no frills button-masher with no challenge and little to say for itself. The graphics are par for the course, the story doesn’t exist, and there is little to no variation to speak of. The setting is uninteresting and the animatronics blur together, devoid of personality, with nothing distinct about their respective boss battles.  

   The best way I can describe the experience of Willy’s Wonderland is to describe it as going to a fast-food restaurant when you were a child. You would order a kid’s meal and that kid’s meal would come with a toy. Maybe there was a new movie coming out, and the sponsored restaurant was offering an exclusive toy to go along with your meal. When I was a kid, I was always at least a little excited for that toy. But, if we’re honest, the toy was always a generic, cheaply made hunk of plastic. Of course, that didn’t mean you were angry about it. I can’t ever remember being unsatisfied with a toy I got from a fast-food restaurant, per se. In a similar way, I can’t necessarily say I am unsatisfied with Willy’s Wonderland the videogame. It is a generic, cheaply made beat ’em up with the Willy’s Wonderland license slapped on it, but I also didn’t pay a full retail price for it.

   Should you buy it? No.

   Not unless you are a big, big fan of Willy’s Wonderland. If you are, this is your reward from ordering off the kid’s menu. Hold the food.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.0