Once upon a time, the Peaceful Woods was a peaceful home for sprites and other friendly creatures, until one day, when the wicked Wario and his followers used their magic powers to take over the woods. True to form, the sinister lout renames the woods after himself, and the gentle creatures are no longer welcome. With neither Mario or Luigi anywhere to be found, it's Toad — with help from Birdo — who comes forward to put a stop to Wario's antics and restore the serenity of the Peaceful Woods, by using bombs provided by the sprites.
In-game, the player controls Toad as he moves around monsters in the playfield and eliminates them by placing bombs next to vertical, horizontal, or diagonal rows of monsters that match the color of the bomb being used.
Both versions of the game have the following game modes:
- Round Game, where the player must pass 99 rounds of bombing enemies. In the NES version, this is basically the story mode, where in each 9th round the player has to fight a boss by destroying rows of enemies placed directly next to it.
- VS mode. The NES only has a two-player VS mode ("VS 2P"), but in the SNES version there's both a two-player VS and a single-player VS ("VS CPU"). In the single-player VS, the player has to fight several unique CPU opponents who only appear in this game by clearing their playfield of enemies before the opponent does.
- Time Attack. Here, you have to beat all of the rounds in the shortest amount of time.
- Lesson, which gives the player lessons about how to play the game and several techniques they can do.
The NES version of the game was the last first-party game to be released for that console, and was released so late in the console's lifespan that it is also the only NES game to have an official ESRB rating.
In 2012, the game was adapted for the 3DS touchscreen and included as a minigame in Brain Age: Concentration Training, under the name Blob Blast. This version was largely based on NES version and only included the Round Game mode. Instead of controlling Toad, the player could manipulate bombs and blobs (monsters) directly using the touchscreen, similar to Virus Buster and Planet Puzzle League.
Wario's Woods provides examples of the following tropes:
- Actually a Doombot: The seventh boss of the NES version is against Wario. But after defeating him, a cutscene plays where Wario feigns defeat and tells Toad what he defeated was a fake.
- Alliterative Name: Sam Spook and Harry H.
- Antagonist Title: If you thought it has Wario's name on it because you play as Wario in the game, you've guessed wrong. Wario messes with the Peaceful Woods, and the player must play as Toad to stop him.
- Cartoon Bomb: The player uses bombs of this kind to eliminate rows of monsters.
- Cute Witch: One of the opponents you fight in the SNES version's VS CPU mode is a witch named Sarissa, who actually doesn't really look that harmful.
- A Day in the Limelight: This is the first game in the Super Mario Bros. franchise where Toad is the sole playable character and The Hero, with Birdo as his assistant.
- Elite Four: The trope quote is provided by the first of the final four opponents in the SNES version, the elf Dedar. The other members consist of the knight Carlton, the rabbit Harry H, and finally Wario himself.
- Endless Game: The SNES version's Round Game keeps going indefinitely after you beat the 99th round and trigger the ending.
- Fish People: Another opponent in the SNES version's VS CPU mode is a fish person named Razor.
- Floating Limbs: The mushroom-like Spooks have floating hands.
- The Goomba: Fuzzes, Spuds, and Squeaks are the most common enemies in the game, and also the easiest to deal with, as any chain of bombs will defeat them.
- Heel–Face Return: After her debut as a villain in Super Mario Bros. 2, Birdo spends this game helping Toad in his quest to defeat Wario. No explanation is given as to why she changed sides between games.
- Inconsistent Coloring: In the NES version, Wario's clothes are purple and white instead of yellow and purple like usual due to the NES color palette's limitations.
- Match-Three Game: Monsters of the same color lined up won't do anything. But if there's a line of at least three units with one of them being a bomb, Toad can clear them out.
- Multiple Head Case: The animation used on Beakers, one of the rarer enemies, has them constantly spinning around, revealing that they have a second face on their backside. The front face displays a neutral look while the back face displays a sad look.
- Non-Indicative Difficulty: In the SNES version's VS CPU mode. The first opponent is easy, sure, but the computer amps up its intelligence starting with the next level, making it possibly the hardest level of the game. You both only have a few enemies to clear, so there's less opportunity to screw over your opponent, and even though the game gets more challenging from here on out, a skilled player is increasingly less likely to lose from here on out while against your second opponent it's almost a 50/50 crapshoot.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: In the SNES version, Aqualea resembles a typical mermaid in every regard except for the fact that she can walk on land perfectly fine despite having a fish tail.
- Palette Swap: The enemies in the playfield all appear in different colors. Dovos, one of the less common enemies, actually use something like this as their main gimmick; they take two hits, and the first time they're hit with a bomb they change color.
- "Pop!" Goes the Human: In the NES version's Round Game, Wario keeps increasing in size every 20 rounds. At the end of the game, it's revealed that he's been using a pump to inflate a decoy of himself, and ends up bursting it.
- Pumpkin Person: Sam Spook from the SNES version looks rather similar to Wario, but with a green pumpkin for a head and with orange clothes where Wario's are yellow.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Admit it, those enemies in the playfield are pretty cute. Too bad the whole point of the game is to blast them with bombs.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Halfway through the SNES version's Round Game mode, the setting changes to that of an ice area.
- Smashed Eggs Hatching: In the SNES version's VS mode, destroying multiple intersecting lines of monsters with the same bomb will spawn an egg on the opponent's field. If left alone, it will hatch into a monster and drop in six more of its kind. Picking up and dropping the egg, on the other hand, will cause it to hatch early into a single monster.
- Super-Strength: Toad can pick up stacks of enemies no problem. Though he struggles with moving diamonds in the NES version.
- Tailfin Walking: Aqualea the mermaid from the SNES version can walk using her tailfins.
- Tree Trunk Tour: In the Round Games of both versions, the first playfield is the inside of a tree trunk. In the NES version, the inside of a tree trunk is the only setting for this mode; in the SNES version, the tree trunks are still present, but only the first few rounds take place in them.
- Version-Exclusive Content:
- The "breakfast" mechanicnote only exists in the SNES version for some reason. Also with the advanced palette of the Super Nintendo, this version contains an extra black color for the enemies compared to the seven colors of the NES. Finally, the VS COM campaign only exists in the Super Nintendo version.
- As for the NES release, there are two different types of the Round Game. Round A is the normal mode while Round B pits Toad against a teleporting boss every ten round.