Do you every feel like ‘Hey Mario is fun and all but I’d really like something a little bit different’, like a Mario game but not? Well this log has just the thing for you, and it’s a big deal; it’s
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.
I know I have a habit of ending reviews early, letting you know what I think first then going into details after the fact, but it saves people the trouble of reading long a review if they’re not inclined (they’re loss right). So let me say this, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 is great, better than
high-fiving the sky or feeling the flow, I’m not exaggerating, and it’s a must own for anyone who wants to play the best the Game Boy has to offer.
Now that’s out of the way let’s get into why. You know Wario Land and Mario Land are almost identical names, but that inverted M (some people call that a double U but what do they know) makes all the difference. Why? Because you’re replacing Mario with Wario, and that turns a few things upside down. So at the beginning I wrote that you might be somebody who wants a Mario game that’s a little different, same great quality just a bit of a twist, and that’s just what you get here.
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 will still see you platforming, still running and jumping, landing on enemies and collecting coins, but with Wario comes a change in feel and tone. The devious doppelgänger carries a little extra weight for one thing, and you feel it when he walks or jumps. I’m not saying the game is sluggish or anything, just that Nintendo did a great job of making it feel like you’re not controlling Mario but Wario, the bigger, stronger, badder guy. To accompany this new hero (if you can really call Wario a hero) comes some new tricks. The most basic of these is a shoulder charge that Wario can use to smash through some blocks, as well as some enemies, who usually drop a coin afterwards. Then there’s the jump, and even though Wario can land on the head of his enemies this doesn’t usually take them out, but instead stuns them, letting Wario carry them around and use them as a projectile. These skills are available by default, but Wario also finds different power-ups that take the form of headgear.
First up is the bull pot, that gives Wario a horned helmet that increases the power of his charge, as well as the ability to preform a ground pound by pressing down while in the air to stun nearby foes, and to use his horns to stick to some ceilings.
Next is the my favourite, the Jet hat. This one lets Wario fly forward a big distance when he uses his shoulder charge. In the air you can travel really far using this hat, bypassing lots of obstacles. Not only that, but the Jet hat lets Wario run faster, jump higher and boost underwater.
Finally you’ve got the Dragon hat. It is what it sounds like, a hat shaped like a dragon. Wario loses his ability to shoulder charge with this one, but swaps it with a stream of fire instead that makes taking out enemies really easy. Most won’t even be able to get near you with the dragon hat on.
Be careful though, a single hit and Wario will lose his hat. Not only that, but he’ll shrink to half his size, and in this diminutive form it’s only one hit and you have to restart the level from the beginning, unless you’ve activated a check point. These different skills, and the different feel of Wario give the game it’s own identity. Sure, if you’ve played one of the classic Mario games you’ll feel comfortable with Wario Land, but it’s different enough to let you know you’re playing a Wario game, and I am very impressed that Nintendo managed to do that. Not only that, but Wario Land encourages level exploration much more so than most Mario games did at the time, with Wario going on a treasure hunt for hidden goodies. There’s a couple of mini games thrown in too for good measure. The first is a 50/50 game of chance to either double of half the coins your currently carrying, and the second is a timing based bomb tossing game that can net you a few extra lives. Overall that’s really solid, familiar, but still differentiated gameplay.
Now let’s talk just a little bit about the story. So the game takes place after the events of Super Mario Land 2, and Wario is smarting over his lose. So to show Mario what for, Wario decides he is going to buy his own castle, but how? Well rumour has it that Captain Syrup and the Brown Sugar Pirates have stolen a golden statue of Princess Peach. If Wario can find it he can ransom it back to the Mushroom Kingdom, then use the money to buy a castle. The story is what you’d expect from a Nintendo platformer, silly fun, and to Wario’s credit, his plan is more intelligent than Bowser’s hundredth ‘Kidnap the Princess’ scheme. The story also opens up the treasure hunting idea I mentioned above, with pirate treasures hidden in some stages waiting for you to find them.
Giving you a reason to replay levels to find everything. (This and you total coin count also effects the ending, but I won’t spoil it for you).
Graphics are great, with big sprites that have clear details and lots of character. This is actually another place where you see some of Wario Land’s unique character, with enemies that deviate from Mario’s classic staples, like boomerang throwing ducks and and armoured penguins. Music is good and keeps up with the differentiated style, with a slower, heavier sort of feel. It all goes really well with what’s on screen, and fits Wario and his anti-Mario shenanigans.
So there’s Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. It’s an awesome Game Boy game. I bought a loose cartridge for £3, and as of writing, a search of Ebay has loose games from £6. Even unboxed and incomplete (I wish had a box and manual) this game is still well worth a £10, maybe even a little more. It’s great fun and I give Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 an 8.6 out of 10. Great gameplay, great graphics, fitting music and replay value for the completionists out there. I’ve got no problem recommending this one.
For Stage – Select, this is Ed, signing off.