A screenshot of a level from Pizza Tower.

Pizza Tower Review: Madcap Platform at 100 MPH

Pizza Tower Review: Madcap Platform at 100 MPH

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What is it? A platformer inspired by Wario Land and 90’s cartoons.
Expect to pay: $19.99 (Steam)
Developer: touring pizza
Publisher: touring pizza
commented on: steam deck
multiplayer game? No
Association: Steam Page(opens in a new tab)

Nintendo classics have always been ripe choices for independent reimaginings. Series like Mario and Zelda directly inspired greats like Shovel Knight and Tunic, and you can’t walk five feet without stepping into a new Metroidvania. But I’ve often wondered, where is the revival of Wario Land? It blends high-speed platforming, exploration, and anarchic, slapstick energy for some of the Game Boy’s crown jewels.

Well, it looks like I’m not the only one thinking this way – we’ve had a sudden influx of Wario and the like over the past few years, from the groundbreaking Antonball Deluxe and upcoming sequel Anton Blast, to the famous Mod for Treasure Tech’s Doom. Back in 2018, Pizza Tower was announced at the beginning of the trend, and now it’s finally here. As it turns out, the wait was worth it.

(Image credit: Tour De Pizza)

We sit with aging pizza chef Peppino Spaghetti in his pizzeria, worried about not making enough money to turn on the lights. Suddenly, he’s visited by the evil Pizza Face – a giant floating pizza with a face, of course. PizzaFace tells him that his home – the titular pizza tower – will soon fire a giant laser at the pizzeria, destroying it instantly. So Peppino sets out on a quest to climb the tower at high speed and stop his cheesy nemesis.

You could say that this game delights in the absurd. In addition to its Wario Land inspiration, it also incorporates vibes from alternative ’90s cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, making for a very quirky combination.

Peppino himself is a joy to control. He may be a timid, anxious little chef, but he plays like an army tank with a Ferrari engine. He’s got a grab attack, dash, super jump, and a dedicated taunt button that doubles as a parry–a swiss army knife of satisfying platformer tools. Even when he’s sprinting at full speed, the game is intense and responsive. It feels primed to be the next great speedrunner, and it best evokes the glory days of Sonic the Hedgehog.

(Image credit: Tour De Pizza) (opens in a new tab)

In these levels, you need to rescue captured, sentient pizza toppings.

Outside of boss fights, Peppino is invulnerable, and hits only lower your total score–an idea complemented by a Devil May Cry-style combo system. This also plays into the game’s creatively grim power-ups, which subject him to various punishments–including being set on fire, transformed into a cheese monster, or squished into a sentient pizza box. He suffered for his wonderful art, but it never slowed him down.

Pizza Tower has 19 floors of platforms, each with its own secret areas and treasures. In these levels, you need to rescue captured sentient pizza toppings (yes, sickos, pineapple is one of them). Each earns you cash, which in turn is used to unlock bosses in each of the game’s five central areas. Toppings are usually hard to miss, but secret areas and treasures will test your exploration skills–though none of them feel like an unfair find.

Each stage has its own wild gimmick, from the chicken sitting in Peppino’s hat using its flaps to give him extra mobility, to grabbing him and grabbing his overalls to swing his paws back and forth. It’s impressive how much variation there is to discover, and it really never stumbles, which speaks to the versatility of Pepino’s mobile set, which he can seamlessly adapt to so many different scenarios.

(Image credit: Tour De Pizza) (opens in a new tab)

The game’s bosses are just as creative. You’ll face challenges like a shootout with a conscious cheese cowboy, or a brawl with Peppinos arch-rival The Noise, a mischievous pixie who may or may not be based on some ’90s pizza mascot. I won’t spoil things here, but the game’s final boss and subsequent ending are both unbelievable and, compared to the likes of Bayonetta, pure spectacle.

Vibrant pixel art gives every enemy, item, and background a tense, frantic personality throughout the game. Pepino himself never speaks, but by the power of animation alone, he feels like a rich, complete character. Each level’s title card takes this art style in a new direction–from a Terminator parody to a Castlevania homage. It’s been a joy to watch, it’s genuinely entertaining, full of visual gags, and makes me laugh out loud more than anything I’ve played in years.

(Image credit: Tour De Pizza) (opens in a new tab)

Coupled with a suitably strong soundtrack, it combines retro-inspired themes with clever sampling that reminded me of Jet Set Radio. My personal favorite tune is It’s Pizza Time, which plays as you race against time to escape each level after the ending – it’s definitely a very dangerous song that won’t get you through a stage in a good mood.

Pizza Tower is an unashamed ode to Wario Land – but it’s been eclipsed in my eyes. Before, I was eagerly anticipating a new entry in the Nintendo series, but now I’m not in too much of a rush because it’s hard to imagine it being as creative and exciting as this copycat. It takes what made the series great and expands it tenfold. The result is one of the best and most satisfying platformers available today. Simply put: you knead it to play.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.