When you hear the phrase “It’s Pizza Time,” you might conjure up memories of classic arcade games, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, or simply a rumbling in your stomach. But for me, after experiencing the eccentric and exhilarating world of Pizza Tower, those three words trigger a unique response. My palms get sweaty, my heart races, and an odd sense of anxiety creeps in as the game’s iconic soundtrack starts playing in my head.
Developed by Tour de Pizza, Pizza Tower is far more than a mere spiritual successor to the Wario Land series. It’s a whirlwind of 2D platforming speed, a love letter to ’90s Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network shows, and a treasure trove of secrets and challenges. The game’s eclectic soundtrack masterfully captures the essence of each level, notably the pulse-pounding main theme that plays as you race back to the start to avoid a pizza-faced nemesis. Pizza Tower isn’t just an adrenaline-fueled joyride; it’s one of the most creatively refreshing 2D platformers in recent memory.
A Tasty Plot:
The narrative in Pizza Tower is straightforward – you step into the shoes of Peppino Spaghetti, the beleaguered owner of Peppino Pizza. His mission? To frantically scale Pizza Tower next door and prevent a colossal pizza in the sky from obliterating his pizzeria with a laser beam. The intentionally low-grade art style, resembling something drawn in MS Paint, somehow manages to create a visually distinctive and unforgettable look. Peppino himself is a character with a range of absurdly expressive emotions, fluctuating between a nervous wreck, a frenzied maniac, and a musclebound anime hero. It’s pure ’90s cartoon humor brought to life.
A Sonic-Wario Hybrid:
While Pizza Tower draws mechanical inspiration from the Wario Land series, its levels embody Sonic the Hedgehog’s “gotta go fast” ethos. Peppino’s most crucial ability is his dash, which, once he gains enough momentum, lets him bulldoze through enemies, objects, and even walls without losing speed. This technique, reminiscent of Wario Land 4, is given a unique twist here – Peppino can maintain his momentum while running up walls, allowing for continuous full-speed navigation through levels. In essence, Pizza Tower feels like a modern Wario Land game developed by a speedrunner.
Peppino’s other abilities complement his fluidity. He can perform a diving roll to maintain momentum, execute a shoryuken-style uppercut for extra vertical reach and to attack enemies above him, and employ a dashing grab attack to snatch enemies and use them as projectiles or gain momentum for a dash. This combination of mechanics grants the game a pace and agility rivaling that of a Sonic title.
Unique and Challenging Levels:
Every one of Pizza Tower’s 20 levels revolves around a creative central hook, whether it’s a unique level feature or a transformative power-up. For instance, “Don’t Make a Sound” takes inspiration from Five Nights at Freddy’s, with enemies triggering alarms if they spot you, leading to an adrenaline-pumping chase. In the “Pizzascape” level, Peppino can wield a sword to become a knight in armor, enabling him to slide down slopes, break metal blocks by standing on them, and pierce through otherwise invulnerable rats.
Return to the Start:
One of Pizza Tower’s best features borrows from Wario Land – a countdown timer that kicks in once you reach the end goal of a level, demanding a rapid return to the entrance. This isn’t a simple backtrack; paths are altered, and the urgency intensifies as the timer nears zero. The anxiety-inducing soundtrack during this frantic rush amplifies the tension, turning success into a satisfying relief and failure into a punishing challenge.
Boss Battles and Replayability:
Pizza Tower features a handful of entertaining boss battles that utilize Peppino’s diverse moveset. His taunt doubles as a parry, adding a defensive layer to the confrontations. Some fights arm him with a gun, resembling a Mega Man battle with structured boss arenas and pattern analysis.
While Pizza Tower isn’t a lengthy game, with my first playthrough spanning about five to six hours, it offers endless replayability. Levels are designed to encourage mastery, and secrets abound, including three bonus rooms per level, hidden treasures, and pizza portals for additional points. Achieving the elusive “P” rank by discovering all these elements in a single run adds a fun, challenging dimension to the game.
Pizza Tower transcends its inspirations and stands as a unique and enjoyable 2D platformer. Whether you aim to replay levels for high scores or simply appreciate its outstanding art style, humor, and inventive design, Pizza Tower has something for every gamer. It’s an absolute blast and a refreshing platforming experience that pays homage to ’90s cartoons while delivering an unforgettable soundtrack.
Move over Wario; Peppino Spaghetti has taken the throne. Pizza Tower is a number one hit that’s sure to leave a lasting impression in the world of 2D platformers.