That's right, it's time for the final game in the esteemed Wario Land series. Aside from the first game - which is a gem from my youth - I didn't enjoy any of these games. Why did I even play them? Because if we don't, the terrorists win.
The title screen immediately brings the personality, as Wario speeds through the wasteland in his purple car.
He stumbles upon The Golden Temple, and decides to go inside to look for phat loot. While the last couple of games were generally directionless treasure hunts, this game has a clear end-point to it and an Uncharted-like theme.
After falling through some sort of weird warp, our hero arrives in the temple interior.
From here it's just a matter of sacking the temple for treasure while progressing through linear level sets. I'm happy to report that Wario actually starts with all of his powers in this game as well as - gasp - some new ones. That's a lot better than Wario Land 3 where you spend the whole game regaining powers he started with in the original game. Also noteworthy: he isn't immortal any more and has a life meter. Said meter is very forgiving, but not to the point of making the game easy. The lack of immortality also means the game can have a more normal level design that doesn't feature constant time-wasters.
The first boss. I don't know what this thing is supposed to be, but it's pretty easy to bea-
-WHAT THE SHIT??
Alright, that was weird and disturbing, but the victory screen has Wario doing Hulk Hogan's pose set. And that's awesome. It's fitting that he's wearing a lot of yellow, brother.
Here's the "stage select" though it's more of a world select. There are four level sets in the game, which you can do in any order and switch between at any time. It's pretty well-designed.
Each level set has four levels and a boss. Nothing groundbreaking here. I think that the easiest level outside of the intro is probably this one. The Emerald Passage is definitely the easiest of the sets, while the other three all seem pretty equal in difficulty above it.
Clearing the average level in this game means finding four shards of a medallion (and you need a whole medallion from every level to get to the bosses) and a Keyzer, which is the ghost with a key-nose seen here. What the hell? Why is there a ghost with a key for a nose? What kind of a rogue's gallery is this?
Wario has a showdown with a bee, in what may be the defining battle of the bee's entire life. If you're wondering who won... Wario did.
Wario swims in a lagoon. This game is incredibly colorful, I gotta say.
Here's one of the few levels I really don't like. There are a ton of swinging platforms to negotiate, but the play controls are really good so it isn't too difficult.
One of the new debuting moves in this game is a super-dash that requires a running start. Yeah, it's kind of a ripoff of Metroid's Speed Booster, but the Wario series has always shared some developer staff with Metroid so it isn't too surprising.
This reminds me of the iconic moon in Castlevania.
...and I suspect that might be on purpose, since you spend most of this stage as Vampire Wario.
A magic carpet ride follows in the final level of this set. It's pretty rad, and brings back Mario 64 memories to an extent.
Here's the shop. I don't know what any of these items do because I never bought any of them. Chances are, I wasn't missing anything. I was too distracted by the weird shadow guy on the left doing pelvic thrusts in various directions.
The next boss is this plant from hell. It isn't much of a fight, and-
"I am a Real American! Fight for the rights of every man!"
This is easily my favorite level in the game. Half of it is molten, then after you hit a switch the other half is frozen. It's an awesome contrast. One of the Super Mario Galaxy games would later steal this idea.
Wario crawls through a claustrophobic space in a scene right out of Alien.
Detroit Pistons crush our hero at this point. Luckily, he is an invertebrate and unharmed by this.
He proceeds to slither around in the dirt for hours.
Wario throws fun colorful shapes at each other as the battle for Middle-Earth limps along. Why is there a cat face on that block? What are those two weird things with faces in the background?
"This is nothing. One time I body-slammed the 800 pound Andre the Giant, BROTHERRR"
Wario Land 4 is definitely a game for druggies. At least the sun isn't too freakish. If you ever play Wario Land 4 for some reason, remember to toke up first. The designers of this game certainly did.
A bizarre flying pig-ghost flies around in the next area, drawing enemies which then come to life and attack our hero. Is that some sort of spiked pig-snail? These horrifying creations are right out of Prometheus.
WHAT THE CHRIST
BY GOD, KILL IT!
Here's one of the most annoying stages in the game, the sewer.
Spring Wario soars to great heights.
"WHATCHA GONNA DOOOO" says Wario as he Hulks Up through a bunch of walls.
This part had me stuck for a while. It's a puzzle involving a snowball and lots of ramps.
Speaking of ramps, the "pinball level" is a lot of fun.
All the levels in this game should have huge "sound effect" words in the background.
The next boss is some sort of flying clock. Finally, a boss that isn't totally freaky-
-what the frick
at this point i don't even know anymore
at this point i don't even know anymore
Another inventive level has Wario knocking over dominoes and racing them to their destinations.
The next boss... may be the creepiest of all.
The worst part is, you win the fight by repeatedly headbutting the teddy bear in the groin.
With all four level sets cleared, the final stage opens up.
Wario is, to quote Heems, on that Golden Temple Flow. He's kinda mental, 'yo.
After an underwhelming and semi-easy final level, our hero arrives at the final boss door. What lurks within? Is it the return of Captain Syrup? That giant psychotic clown from the third game? Or... is it Mario, finally bringing things full circle?
...nope, it's this weird-ass genie. "ALL MY LITTLE HULKAMANIACS TAKE THEIR VITAMINS" says Wario.
The genie throws phantom heads at Wario. All things considered, this isn't nearly as weird as most of the-
-WHAT THE FUCK?
Victory lets Wario escape from the temple with his loot, as a random black cat appears.
They have to hurry, though, because the temple is collapsing.
As our hero and his new pet look on, the pyramid collapses. Well, that was a close one.
The cat then transforms... into a lady. And by that I mean "a lady". Wait, what?
I'm not sure what's going on, and I'm not sure I want to know. In any case, Wario escapes and makes off with his loot.
Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo Kingpin and at-one-time Japan's Richest Man.
"I'll swallow your soul!"
Thanks again, Hiroshi.
Thanks again, Hiroshi.
Wario hallucinates about getting a box full of Game Boy Advances. Is this game just a thinly-veiled drug PSA?
The final scene has a comic book style presentation that is weirdly incongruous with the rest of the game.
Wario's car blasts down a street and nearly runs over a cat. Is that the same cat from before? Did the woman change back after she kissed Wario? Why did he just almost run over a cat, the heartless bastard? SO MANY QUESTIONS!
Incredibly weird music plays as the cat shadow slowly creeps over an ad in the paper. WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?
And that's the end of a creepy, creepy game. You know what, just take a look for yourself: