Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 – Review
While the first two games in the Super Mario Land series were traditional Mario platformers, Wario Land took a leap of faith away from the rest of the franchise, featuring completely new gameplay mechanics and a surprisingly lovable anti-hero in the starring role. The game spawned multiple critically-acclaimed sequels and spin-offs, and the series is known for its unique spin on the platforming genre.
The premise of Wario Land revolves around the aftermath Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, in which Wario had been left homeless and bitter due to a crushing defeat by his nemesis, Mario. Driven by greed and a desire to replace his castle, Wario has his sights set on the Brown Sugar Pirates and the immense fortune concealed within their hideout on Kitchen Island. Seven treasure-filled areas separate him from a confrontation with the pirate captain Syrup, and hordes of enemies and bosses stand in his way.
As a direct sequel to Super Mario Land 2, it should come as no surprise to know that Wario Land features gorgeous spritework. By this time in the Game Boy’s lifecycle, developers certainly knew how to get the most out of the hardware, and it shines through in this game.
The first thing you’ll see when you open up a new save file is a map screen that shows off the diverse environments that you’ll be able to explore as you progress through the game. Each new area is different from the last, and they all look great. One of the most exciting parts of the game is getting to see what kind of area you’ll be exploring next.
Rice Beach, Mt. Teapot, Sherbert Land, Stove Canyon, S.S. Teapot, Parsley Woods and Syrup Castle make up Kitchen Island
A physical manifestation of his own greed, Wario greets the player at the file select screen with his devilish smile, burly figure and pot belly. His humorous appearance sets the foundation for the quirky charm that has become ubiquitous with the Wario series. The enemies you’ll face follow suit – harpoon-bearing seals, duck-pirates and bucket-helmed snowmen will stand in the way of your treasure hunt, while a floating stone head that fires rocks from his nose and a boxing penguin are just two of the seven bosses you must confront. The wide variety of strange enemies provide a nice break from the familiar goombas, koopas and bullet bills that Mario veterans have become accustomed to fighting.
The true face of a hero
Unlike other Mario games, which focus mainly on jumping and stomping, Wario Land makes use of Wario’s bulk to overcome obstacles. You’ll find yourself bashing through brick walls and using enemies as projectiles in order to complete each level. One segment of the game involves quickly smashing through walls in order to outrun a wall of lava that slowly inches in on you.
There’s something very satisfying about the way Wario defeats his enemies, and it could come from his villainous nature. It just makes sense that he would be a cruel, brutal fighter.
As you progress through each level, you will find pots that turn Wario into either Bull Wario, Dragon Wario or Jet Wario. Each power-up gives Wario different abilities, such as Bull Wario’s ground pound that will knock down every enemy on the screen, making them vulnerable enough for you to pick them up and throw them as you see fit. These different abilities will allow you to access various hidden parts of the levels in which a variety of different treasures will await you.
Most of the levels in Wario Land harbor either hidden exits that will lead you to otherwise inaccessible levels, or to secret treasure that is essential for a purpose revealed at the end of the game. These treasures are usually very well-hidden behind locked doors. Locating the key and bringing it to the door provides a fun, optional challenge that is complimented by clever level design. Finding these secrets are incentivized by the game’s world map – level markers with two circles indicate a secret exit, while flashing level markers will indicate a hidden treasure, though the former do not appear until you have defeated the final boss.
The sound design in Wario Land is nothing spectacular, especially when compared to the rest of the series, but it is still very well-done. Though some of the songs can be more memorable than others, they always manage to complement the theme and feel of the levels. Similarly, the sound effects couple Wario’s actions and provide a deeper experience that would not be present with the sound off.
Wario Land is available for purchase on the Nintendo eShop for $3.99, and it’s definitely worth the price. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 offers 39 levels filled with secret exits and treasure, some of which you can only get after playing the level a second time. If your goal is to collect everything that the game has to offer, then you can expect to be playing for at least 9 hours, making it one of the lengthier Game Boy titles.
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 is an excellent game, despite the limitations of the Game Boy Hardware. It provides a surprisingly lengthy experience filled with beautiful spritework, clever level design, unique gameplay, incentive to explore, and the quirkiness that you would expect from a Wario title.
Final Score: 85 / 100
Alexandre Trottier is a connoisseur of the finer things in life, such as stomping on monsters, searching for treasure and hoarding gold. You can follow him on Twitter @NF_Alexandre, and like NintendoFuse on Facebook if you want to stay up-to-date with the latest gaming articles. He would also appreciate it greatly if you “liked”, “shared” and commented below, so he knows what you think of his work.