Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wario Land 3 (Game Boy Color, 2000)

Wario Land 3 is a game I missed entirely when it first released. It continues in the vein of Wario Land 2 by having Wario be invincible, a unique but weird choice. It also features some highly unusual level design. One of the things that made the original Wario Land so great was the simplistic style of gameplay. The sequels are slower-paced and a bit on the complicated side for platformers of this nature, and I don't think they're anywhere near the fun level of the original.

This game pushes the color palette of the Game Boy Color, I'll give it that.

Much like the original Wario Land, the goal of this game is to find treasures. Wait, is that... axe? My God, he's got an axe! OH MY GOD! KIDS GET BACK IN THE CAR!

...but yeah, this game revolves around seeking out treasure chests and grabbing their contents. Unlike the original Wario Land, treasure finding isn't an optional endeavor that will get you a better ending. No, here it's a requirement to progress in the game. This is cool on one hand, and frustrating on the other. You never have any sense of true progression (i.e. how far along you are) because you're just bouncing between the same level sets collecting treasures in an attempt to open up further levels. But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

The world map. This game is already a lot more like the original Wario Land than the strange Wario Land 2 was. I know there are people out there who sing the praises of the second game, but I'm not one of them. This game is a significant improvement, but it still can't touch the original.

The next level I do is a sand river. By God, is it the sand river from Skyblazer?

Aw hell yeah!, not quite. Never does this game manage to hit Skyblazer levels of intensity.

There's something to be said for the treasure-gathering premise, though. It can be a lot of fun, and this game has a lot more exploring than the first two.

One of the interesting things about this game is that while Wario starts out with few powers, he gains new ones from finding certain key treasures. In that sense, it's a little bit like a Metroid, Zelda, or Castlevania game. Getting a new power unlocks more areas of the land to explore. The difference between this game and the above masterpieces is that this game never feels organic about it. When you get a new power, it bludgeons you over the head with the one place you can go to use it. The powers might as well just be keys.

Another boss. This is a really weird-ass fight. Each Wario Land game seems to get progressively weirder-ass. I like the bosses in this game, but I don't like the immortality mechanic. It just means that when you take a hit you get bounced out of the boss' room, and that quickly gets irritating because you're losing progress regardless.

So, who is the villain in this game, you ask? It isn't Captain Syrup (she's very syrupy) any more. Her story arc concluded with the second game.

Here's the bizarre "golf minigame", during which Wario must punt a small Pikachu-esque rodent. What does it all mean?

All things considered, and weirdness aside, this minigame is actually somewhat fun. The downside is that the game forces you to partake in it on a pretty regular basis in order to clear levels. Why? I don't know.

The Tower of Revival has a "final stage" vibe to it and I was hoping that'd be the case. On the contrary, I had a ways to go.

This stage deserves props for an inventive first section where Wario has to get lit on fire and platform-jump to reach the top of a vertical passage. The personality of the game comes through during moments like this; said personality is pretty rad, and I just wish the game itself were more compelling to go along with it.

Next a flying rat? Squirrel? Fox? I DON'T KNOW! BY GOD WHAT IS THAT THING?

Wario stands atop a beanstalk, surveying the perfect skies.

I like that the pipes in this game seem to be directly lifted from a Mario game. It's a nice bit of continuity within the Nintendo universe.

The game is full of ANGRY POLAR BEARS. Why are they so mad? I'll say this much: this game is a lot more colorful and fun than Wario Land 2. Makes sense, since this was a Game Boy Color original as opposed to a simul-cast. The fact that it even has ice areas is refreshing.

The next boss is Basketball Rabbit II: The Revenge. He has returned from the dead as Soccer Rabbit, who cheats profusely. While this fight in Wario Land 2 was a lot of fun but over in mere moments, this time around it's difficult, takes a while, and isn't that much fun.

The reason this fight sucks? The turtle goalie. Guy is a total punk.

Continuing on, the next area is a cave full of breakable walls. This game loves breakable walls, and they're found all over the place.

Water is usually pretty cool, but not when it HAS HANDS.

Wario gains the power to throw enemies, and the power-gain screen uses Not-Pikachu to demonstrate this. STOP ABUSING NOT-PIKACHU! ...and it's a little lame how all these powers he's getting are powers he had by default in the first game.

Next boss is a weird one that stumps a lot of people. Basically, you just jump off the fence and land on the non-spiky end of the... whatever the hell it is. What is that thing?

This turtle is WAY cooler than the last turtle we met in the game. Wario: turtle-riding for fun and profit since 1994.

The distant sound of anime girls moaning can be heard as Wario faces the next boss, a fearsome squid. Animal Control got brought in to help deal with this thing... I don't want to talk about it.

Another place that sounds like a potential final area... but nope. None of these areas are any more final than the others. None has any substantial sense of progression, as you continue to ping-pong around the overworld map.

Vampire Wario can fly, but has to avoid contact with sunlight. This is one of those moments where the game is pretty entertaining.

Next boss is a rare easy fight. Not much to report here, except.........what the hell is that, and why does his lower half look vaguely condom-esque?

This next level is not based on pundit Ann Coulter... that we know of.

Wario hovers into the abyss via The Owl From Link's Awakening.

I never thought I'd see a sun that frightened me more than the one from Teletubbies, but it has finally happened.

One of the late-game bosses is this pirate ghost. This is likely the toughest fight in the game. I'd explain why, but I doubt anyone reading this is ever going to play the game if they haven't already. Suffice to say, it's rough.

Wario walks past Whispy Woods' disgruntled brother in law.

Wario struggles to stay afloat as fearsome looking rodent-fish draw near. This game has so much personality that sometimes it's like playing a cartoon. Pretty rad.

This giant frog looks familiar...


Wario gets the final ability in the game! ...and it's the power to lift slightly bigger enemies. Well, that's underwhelming. And indeed, the final ability is STILL something he started with in the original game.

Drunkio makes an appearance here as he stumbles around in the woods. This is pretty much how my Saturday afternoons are.

Giant spiders tend to be pretty nasty in most games, and this is no exception. This is also the last thing you have to get through to unlock the final boss.

The very first area of the game is The Temple, and it's the last area of the game as well.

I never touched on this at the outset, but the whole story of this game is driven by this mysterious figure asking Wario to go around collecting items for him/her/it. Wario, for some reason (greed, I'm sure) basically just does as he's told.

Wario STILL isn't at all suspicious, as he gives up all the treasures he's collected.

I know that we can't take this game particularly seriously, but this just doesn't seem to fit Wario's character at all. So he gives up all his treasures to restore this mysterious figure's power...

...and then an earthquake hits, and the figure steps out of the shadows.

Wario STILL hasn't realized that this guy is actually a villain. Wow.

After a standard villain speech, he attacks. This is our final boss du jour: a giant clown. Er...yeah. It isn't a very difficult fight, all things considered. It's the one enemy in the game that can actually kill Wario, though. It has a hand-clap attack that is hard to avoid and results in Wario being smashed to bits.

After a few tries, I eke out a win. Kind of an underwhelming final fight, and the creepiness factor was turned up to 11 for this one.

A bunch of random people appear now. Seems that all the enemies Wario has been fighting were actually people that were cursed by the evil clown. So Wario, completely accidentally, just saved all of these people by defending himself against the clown he idiotically helped restore to power. Whatta hero!

Credits roll....

...and that's all for this one. Pretty good game, but I can't say I found it terribly enjoyable. It was certainly better than the second game, though. Going into this expecting a fun platforming romp, it was disappointing to find out how slow-paced it actually was. At times it feels more like a Metroidvania with the item collecting, but the lack of any kind of maps makes it somewhat tedious.

Like I said, it's a good game. Just not really my cup of tea, and too slow-paced to really work as a regular platformer.


  1. I think we're all glad Captain Syrup got the closure she so greatly deserved.

  2. Wait, was the Pirate Ghost a pirate that died and became a ghost, or a ghost that decided to become a pirate?