Review by panargirou
"Wario Land isn't just a Mario game with altered sprites"
I own and have finished SML 1 and 2 but have never played Wario Land. Expecting it to be a short, badly made platformer with similar sprites to Super Mario Land 2 but much worse thought put into it, I put it in my Super Game Boy at the encouragement of Edward.
I was rather surprised. Wario Land really wasn't like Super Mario Land 2 at all besides being a platformer set in the same universe. Unlike Mario, Wario starts big and only gets smaller when hit. The gameplay is drastically different between the two sizes. When big, one button jumps and the other causes Wario to bodyslam/headbutt his opponents or blocks. However, when small Wario can't bodyslam. When he jumps on enemies, they get stunned, but without the ability to bodyslam, the only way little Wario can hurt enemies is by picking them up and throwing them at other enemies or off cliffs. While bodyslamming is pretty slammin', there are still a couple ways to power-up Wario even more. The first hat introduced gives Wario horns. With this hat, Wario's bodyslams are about twice as powerful. This doesn't really affect most enemies, but Wario can break blocks faster. It also allows Wario to hit the ceiling with his head and stick for a second. The next hat introduced is the dragon hat. This completely removes Wario's ability to bodyslam/headbutt but gives him the ability to shoot fire. It comes out in a small stream, only hitting enemies near him. The big advantages of this hat are being able to strike enemies or blocks on the other sides of obstacles and being able to kill enemies that are in the water. How he can shoot fire under water is still a mystery. The final hat is some sort of jet hat that allows Wario to shoot forward through the air. Very useful for searching areas or skipping parts of levels!
Throughout levels Wario can collect both coins and hearts. Finding 100 hearts will earn Wario an extra life. Coins are used at checkpoints and to exit levels. When Wario reaches a checkpoint, holding up and pressing B will result in Wario pulling out 10 coins which can then be spent to activate the checkpoint. Some levels also require 10 coins to exit. Any extra coins are put into Wario's treasure stash.
The graphics in this game are very pleasant and quite playable even in 2007, 13 years after its release. Everything is rather large, to be contrasted with the small sprites in the original Super Mario Land, which I find nice. While this forces there to be less on the screen than if the sprites were smaller, it allows for greater detail and fun graphics. The music and sound were also nice. I can't say they were spectacular, but it is a Game Boy game. That's not to say they were bad. Nice, just nothing special. The story was also surprising. While still only very slight, there was one. After Mario took his land back from Wario in Super Mario Land 2, Wario leaves to search for his own land. Finding out that Captain Syrup and the Brown Sugar Pirates (all the levels are food themed as well) have stolen Princess Peach's statue, he sets off to find it himself, return it, collect the reward, and buy a kingdom.
If you're relatively good (mediocre?) at platformers, this game won't take longer than a few hours to complete. There is a little more to the game though for those inclined to explore. At the end of each level, all the coins that have been collected go into Wario's treasure stash. In some levels, special treasures can be found that are also put into his treasure stash. For those of you who have played Kirby Super Star, Wario Land reminded me of the treasure finding game in that regard. At the end of the game, each treasure Wario has collected is given a coin value and added to the number of coins Wario has. His riches are then rated from 1 to 6, and he's rewarded with a kingdom in proportion to the rating. Because my treasure was only rated 2, I was awarded a tree stump to live in. Awesome! But I'm definitely going to go explore for more treasure soon!
This game itself is a real treasure. I'm sad that it even has "Super Mario Land 3" as a subtitle. It's drastically different, and in my opinion, more fun. Now, I really love platformers, but this is one that I haven't seen before. There's also a Wario Land on the Virtual Boy, two on the Game Boy Color, one on the Game Boy Advance, Wario World on the Game Cube, and Master of Disguise on the DS. Despite not hearing much about this series before, it seems to be doing okay. I can't wait to play more of them!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/19/07
Game Release: Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land (US, 02/28/94)
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