Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wario Land (Game Boy, 1994)

Wario Land was one of the first Game Boy games I owned. I got a hell of a lot of enjoyment out of this game. Even though it was billed as "Super Mario Land 3", personally I found it to be a much better game than the other two Mario Land themed titles on the Game Boy. With the advent of the actual Wario Land series (four games altogether!) the "Super Mario Land 3" tag quickly dropped off the face of the Earth. Now it's referred to universally as simply Wario Land. Join me as I take a look at the game - the best part is, Waluigi is nowhere to be found.

We begin with a pirate ship sailing along, minding its own business, when...

...Wario comes crashing into the picture, knocking the boat over. "ONE THING I AM NOT...IS A GOOD GUY" he says.

Yes, this isn't your father's Mario game. This is the ERA OF THE ANTIHERO!

Wario is all like "what's up, homies". Guy is way cooler than Mario already!

Not only is he like a cosmic evil twin of Mario, he also starts big and gets small when he takes damage. He's Reverse Mario in every conceivable way.

This game has an overworld map. Overworld maps make any game cooler, in my view.

The object of this game is to get as much treasure and gold as possible so that Wario can buy his own castle, since Mario kicked him out of his original castle. Gold coins are everywhere, while treasures are limited in number and found in treasure chests hidden throughout the levels.

The first "world" of the game. For some reason, all of the areas in this game have food-related names. This is bringing back a ton of childhood memories for me right now. It may look simple and plain (much like...rice), but there's something super-compelling about this first world.

Wario is a big bully. He's a lot less fragile than Mario, and can literally just bump into most of the enemies in the game to take them out. Watch out for pointy objects, though.

Between stages, you can partake in games of chance. However, if you have my luck, you'll end up losing seven times in a row even with 50/50 odds. My 23 coins are GONE!

A glimpse of the extremely creepy Small Wario. Seriously, this game takes on a completely different dimension than the Mario games simply by way of having him start out as Big Wario.

This game is legendary for having powerup hats. Here's the Dragon Hat. It breathes fire in a short line straight ahead. This is one area where Wario is inferior to Mario. The Dragon Hat is no fire flower. The range is very limited in comparison.

These knife-wielding wolf-men (or whatever they are) are fearsome. Small Wario is really helpless compared to normal Wario, so once you get down to this point you might as well just get killed and start over. His only offense is jumping on enemies, and in a game where dashing is 75% of your offense it's a complete transformation of the gameplay.

Here's Bull Wario, the second of the three hats. Bull Wario has some cool powers, like being able to cause earthquakes by stomping. What a great game this is.

He can also break blocks with one charge, as opposed to the usual two. Bull Wario is awesome.

And here's the first boss, a koopa. The fact that we're still in the Mario-verse means we can see things like this. Jumping on him gets you nowhere, so once again dashing is the way to go. At this point I notice that a lot of the sound effects in this game are taken from Metroid 2; most notably, the sounds bosses make are the same as the effects during Metroid battles.

Fast forward... guess who won the fight? Yeah. Here's the second world. It's cool because it's an aqua-themed area.

The first appearance of the Jet Hat, the final hat. This lets you soar through the air. It's as fun as it sounds.

A secret exit in one of the levels takes you to Sherbet Land, the "secret world" of the game. It's completely optional, and only exists to get you more treasure.

Fun fact: This is the same iceberg that sank the Titanic. DAMN YOU, ICEBERG! LEO WAS A GOOD MAN!

I manage to skip a number of levels by flying over them with the Jet Hat. Yeah, this is sorta cheating... but I've got stuff to do.

Sherbet Land is the ice level du jour of the game. It's cooler than most ice levels. Very distinctive. If I haven't already made it clear... this game rocks. In my view, it's the best Wario game of all time, and everyone should play it. This post is just going to continue being me gushing over the game.

I'm pretty much speed-running, so it was only here that I got my first treasure. I'm not planning on getting a good ending. Back in 1994 I got every last treasure and the best ending, so I have nothing to prove this time.

The first treasure I get...is a knight shield. Well, that's cool. Too bad I can't wield it.

Look at that treasure collection! Aw yeah!

The second boss is this bastardly penguin. Well, technically this is the third boss, since this is a side world. I'm fighting it second, though. Beating this boss nets you something like 20 lives, so I replay the stage once over. Armed with 40 lives, I'm good for the rest of the game. This is the only boss that gives you lives for winning; since it isn't needed for progression like the other bosses, a reward was in order.

Jet Hatting over more levels as I return to finish off Mt. Teapot. LOOK, I'M IN A HURRY OKAY!

Third...second boss! While this guy had an illustration in Nintendo Power*, the fight is pretty easy. Honestly, that spiked koopa boss at the end of the first world is the hardest boss of the first few. I tried to teach my mom how to play this game when I was a kid and she couldn't get past the spiked koopa. It's a definite roadblock.

*Here's the Nintendo Power bull illustration in question. The first boss is there too. It's a good summation of the game, and got me pumped for it well before it was even available.

You win this fight by charging the guy, then picking him up and throwing him off the platform. The fight is so easy that he might as well just jump off himself.

Next world... the fire world. Now this one is kinda cool. If you play the game on Super Game Boy (which I always used to do) and switch to the red color palette for this world... whoa. It's pretty bad-ass.

These areas are full of lava. Wario may be tougher than Mario, but he still fears lava.

Another treasure is found here. It's the holy grail, of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade fame.

The boss of this area is a weird disembodied head. It snorts meteors out of its nose, which Wario has to catch and throw back at it. ...no, seriously. This would be a good time to mention the rockin' boss music in this game:

This tune is way too good for an 8-bit game with such limited hardware.

Fifth world. This one is really short and I don't particularly like it. The first four worlds are a lot more varied and interesting than the last three. This one in particular has a lot of pits.

Heck, just go play this game. It's easy enough to emulate. At least check out the first couple of worlds. Man, I love this game. I don't even have any jokes to make, busy tripping out at the memories it evokes. Fast-forwarding a bit past this difficult world...

The boss is one of the tougher fights in the game. Animal Control had to be called. I...I don't want to talk about it.

Second-to-last world. This one is...weird.

It's full of spiked balls rolling around. Watch out for the spiked balls, Wario!

This world is also full of train levels. They auto-scroll, which is a bit irritating. Nothing here is particularly difficult, though. That may be the one problem with this game... it poses little challenge.

Boss. It's a ghost. You beat up smaller ghosts and throw them at the big one while the background gives you a headache.

The final section of the overworld, as the nefarious enemy castle looms. Looks like something out of a Mega Man game...

This is no Wily Castle, however. This...is Syrup Castle!

Small Wario is way out of his league in here.

That's more like it. Watch out for the lava, bruh.

Guillotines abound, but luckily Wario can crawl while ducked. It's something that you rarely need to use.

This guy just exudes personality.

The final level, a series of sky platforms over a huge pit, might be difficult... I don't know. I just Jet Hatted over it. Hey, the game designers made it that way. The Jet Hat really does make the game even easier, and is a friend to speed runners everywhere. If they didn't want you using the Jet Hat they would have put more obstacles in the air, especially up above the screen where I like to hang out while flying.

The sole miniboss of the game awaits here. It's an extremely simple-to-beat knight. Jump over it, dash from behind.

Here's Captain Syrup, the villain of the game. Weirdly enough, you never actually fight Captain Syrup one-on-one. That must be something they're holding off on until the next game.

So, is Captain Syrup a dude or a chick? I don't know. Nobody knows.

The final boss itself...is a genie that Captain Syrup summons from a lamp. This fight is a little bit tricky, but nothing to get too worked up over.

Winning is a matter of knocking the lamp around until it creates cloud platforms, then using those to stomp on the genie's head. Or you could just use the Jet Hat and air-charge into his head repeatedly, ending the fight way too quickly. Har har, the Jet Hat rules.

In any case, victory nets our hero a giant Princess Toadstool statue. This should be worth a mint!

...unfortunately, Mario suddenly appears and takes it away. This just in: Mario is a complete asshole in this game. I'm surprised Mario isn't the final boss.

Now THAT would have turned the world upside down.

Wario asks the genie for a wish. "You gotta pay" says the genie. Well I never!

I...have almost nothing from this playthrough. I've got the shield, the Holy Grail, and a glove signed by David Ortiz.

Still, I get a surprising amount of bank from my treasures. Let's see what kind of castle this will buy for our hero.

The genie hefts the sacks of doubloons while hovering about. This is... a bit ominous.

Wario gets a treehouse as his new home. This is the second-worst ending; the worst is a birdhouse.

If you get all (or most) of the treasures, Wario gets the castle he wants so badly.
This game... man. It deserves iconic status, but sadly it seems pretty forgotten. I'm bringing it back in my own little way here. It might not look like much, but this is gaming history.


  1. You're right, the best part really is the lack of Waluigi!

  2. "Initially it was billed as "Super Mario Land 3"... personally I found it to be a much better game than the other two Mario Land titles on the Game Boy. With the advent of the actual Wario Land series (four games altogether!) the SML3 tag quickly dropped off the face of the Earth. Now it's referred to universally as Wario Land. Join me as I take a look at the game."

    Not unlike how Yoshi's Island also has the "Super Mario World 2" tag.

  3. The best ending is actualy not a castle, but even batter - THE MOON! OH YEAH!

    1. Really? Wow, I didn't know that. When I was a kid I played the hell out of this game and got the castle.