Wario Land 3

A game by Nintendo for GBC, originally released in 2000.

Wario is an odd choice to be the star of a Nintendo game, given his greedy and power-hungry nature, a nasty habit of freely letting loose with his bodily functions, and his morbid obesity. Wario was obviously based on the character of Mario, the famous and somewhat portly plumber who travels the world collecting coins and grabbing powerups to defeat the evils of the land. Wario, on the other hand, is a character built on the same foundations, except that he grabs coins to line his pockets, and seeks power for personal gain.

Western gamers may look at Wario’s name and say, “How clever, they turned the ‘M’ upside-down, and made it into a ‘W’”, and Wario sounds very antagonistic. However, Wario actually gets his name from a combination of the name “Mario” and the Japanese word “warui”, which translates to “wrong”. Thus, Wario’s name literally means “Mario gone wrong” (just as Waluigi is “Luigi gone wrong”), which suggests less that Wario is an “evil” character, and more that he is what Mario would become if he let money and power go to his head, and if he let lots of pasta go to his belly.

In Wario’s own games, he often finds himself in a position to defeat bad guys and save the land, but he only takes on the task because he’s being promised loads of treasure as a reward (and often saves the land purely by accident), whereas Mario does it out of the goodness of his heart, expecting no payment in return.

Wario got his start as Mario’s antagonist in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, which was a platformer on the original GameBoy. The Super Mario Land series started out as the portable little brother to the Super Mario Bros. series on the NES. It was a way for Nintendo to cash in on Mario’s success while simultaneously offering gamers a reason to take Tetris out of the GameBoy’s cartridge slot. The Super Mario Land games weren’t simple ports of the console games, however – as later portable entries would be – but completely original adventures that eschewed some of the “standard” mechanics of the Mario-verse (many of which had yet to be established).

Then, something crazy happened. After his defeat in Super Mario Land 2, Wario returned in the sequel, Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land, where he became the star of his own adventure. In his first outing, Wario uncovered various hats that each granted him a new set of abilities. For instance, the hat with bull horns let Wario break through stronger blocks, perform a ground pound, and even stick himself to the ceiling. A jet-powered hat let him fly, and a dragon hat effectively gave him a head-mounted flamethrower that killed enemies and broke through blocks.

After his first adventure, Wario claimed the Wario Land name for himself, which branched off into an entirely new series of games. While Wario hasn’t seen the same level of success as Mario… a fact that surely gets under his craw… he has become a staple character in Nintendo’s lineup, starring in several other games outside of the Wario Land series and appearing in various Nintendo sports games and the Smash Bros. series.

Wario Land 2 was the game that introduced the “no death” system, whereby Wario couldn’t actually be killed by enemies. Enemies might stun him, or set him back a bit, but they couldn’t actually kill him outright. This not only removed the need for the 1up system prevalent in the Mario games, but also offered an opportunity for some completely new gameplay that was unique to Wario. Nintendo R&D1 took the idea and ran with it.

Rather than using hats, Wario was instead impacted by enemy attacks and the environment around him. Depending on the type of damage he received, Wario could be inflicted with numerous status effects. For instance, if he touched fire or was attacked by a fire-based enemy, he would catch fire himself. As amusing as it was to watch Wario go through different animations based on how he was hurt, it didn’t stop there.

Many of these status effects directly impacted gameplay, changing Wario’s abilities and the way he controlled. Thus, rather than simply bursting into flames for a few seconds and waiting for the fire to go out, being set ablaze actually gave Wario the ability to set other enemies on fire, light torches, and even access new areas.

Each new type of enemy or obstacle presented a new possible status effect, and the environments were built around clever use of these tools. Suddenly the game became more about figuring out when to get yourself attacked by an enemy on purpose so that you could use the temporary ability to progress through the levels or to unlock its many hidden secrets. Wario Land 3 continued this gameplay mechanic, bringing over several abilities from the previous game, and adding a few new ones.

From the instruction manual:
Wario couldn't believe it! It had been such a lovely day, with not a cloud in the sky – a perfect day to fly his plane. Then, without warning, his engine began to sputter, and Wario crash-landed in the woods! He spent the rest of his afternoon wandering amongst the trees and underbrush, muttering to himself about his miserable luck. Without looking where he was going, Wario stumbled right into a cave!

Inside the cave, he found a beautiful music box, but no matter how much Wario wound it up, no song could be heard. "What's-a this?!? It must-a be brok…" But before he could finish, Wario vanished with a flash! Only the music box remained, right where Wario found it.

Wario soon awoke to very different surroundings, and it wasn't long before he realized he was inside the music box! A mysterious figure informed Wario that he had once ruled the world inside the music box, until an evil being sealed away his magical powers in five music boxes.

Naturally, Wario wasn't too interested in this story… that is, until the figure promised to send Wario back to his own world and let him keep any Treasure he found, if he'd only recover the hidden figure's powers. Enticed by the thought of returning to his own world with a cache of Treasure, Wario departed on his quest – in search of the music boxes and the many Treasures of this mysterious land!

Of note is the fact that the full title for the original Japanese version of the game was Wario Land 3: ~The Mysterious Orgel~. “Orgel” comes from the German/Dutch word for organ (as in the musical instrument). The word was adopted into the Japanese language as well, where it became “orugoru”, which translates to “music box”.




* Wario’s control scheme and abilities change depending on his form and the powerups he has collected.

Despite the fact that Wario concluded his adventures in Wario Land 2 with a bevy of useful abilities, he suffers from a severe case of Samus-itis when he arrives in the sequel, losing all but his patented dash ability. He must reacquire his former abilities – and learn some new ones – by exploring the world and locating secret treasures.

Wario can, of course, run and jump, and his basic abilities are on par with his “do-gooder” doppelganger, Mario. But Wario does have some additional tricks up his sweaty sleeves, and his moveset is built to work within the slower pace and more explorative nature of the game. For one, he has the ability to duck, and to crawl across the ground. And when pressed against a narrow passageway, he automatically ducks and starts crawling through it.

He also has a move that not many platforming stars have: the ability to jump while ducking. By crawling across the ground and jumping, Wario can actually jump up and squeeze into narrow passageways. Also, Wario will regularly need to climb ladders, and he can slide down them quickly (and butt-stomp once he gains that ability).

Wario can also use his dash move to charge across the ground and run into bricks to break them, or run into enemies to kill them. In fact, at the start of the game, this is effectively the only way that Wario will be able to permanently disable his foes. Jumping on most enemies’ heads merely stuns them momentarily, allowing Wario to pass them without fighting, or perform a dash move to eliminate them altogether. It’s not until later in the game that Wario earns the ability to perform the butt-stomp move, where he can kill enemies and break bricks from above.

Wario also gains the ability to defeat enemies and clear certain obstacles by becoming afflicted with various status effects. Per the conventions of the “no death” system introduced in Wario Land 2, when Wario is damaged by an enemy or environmental hazard, he may assume a new form, with different controls and abilities (see Status Effects section below). Some enemies and obstacles only stun him, however.

Wario will also encounter some unique environments that change the way he controls. For instance, when approaching a slope, Wario can duck and slide down the hill. But rather than just skidding to a stop on his butt, he will roll into a ball and continue moving forward, hitting enemies and breaking bricks. The player has no control over Wario’s speed or trajectory during this time, but one control is still available, which is the ability to hop.

While rolling, Wario can hop up through thin platforms and jump over obstacles. As long as he doesn’t come in contact with a solid object, he will continue rolling, and this is used on more than one occasion to access hidden areas and treasure chests.

There are also zip lines, which allow Wario to slide down from a high area, and if he ducks while falling from the line, he’ll roll into a ball in the same way. There are some enemies that will cause Wario to roll into a ball when hit as well, causing him to lose progress.

Wario can swim, but not very well, at least not at the start of the game. At first, Wario can only flail about in the water, moving left or right until he can make it to solid ground. Eventually, he will gain the ability to swim underwater, and even swim against strong currents.

The game world is technically set within the confines of a music box, but the overworld map and the individual levels are themed as you’d expect from your standard pastoral platformer, with forests, lakes, caves, etc. About the only outright gripe about the level designs – most of which are quite clever – is that doorways are simple black rectangles, and they can sometimes be difficult to make out against a dark background, causing you some pain as you try to figure out where to go next. This issue was even more prevalent on a non-lit GameBoy Color screen.

As treasures are found, new areas are opened on the map, and players may revisit any previous locations at will, which is a necessity for locating all of the game’s hidden treasures.

Every level is impacted by the day/night cycle. Each time Wario leaves a level, the environment will go from day to night, or night to day, and certain paths are only accessible in daylight or darkness. Players must also be aware that certain enemies will not appear during certain times of the day, or they may behave differently.

For instance, some daytime enemies may be sleeping when you enter a level at night, but you may have to contend with creatures such as zombies that will not appear in the sunlight. You can elect to exit a level at any time and return to the overworld map, which will change the day/night cycle to the opposite setting. One of the game’s optional treasures gives the player the ability to switch between day and night from the world map on command.

Late in the game – after you’ve collected the proper treasures – you’ll find owls in certain stages that you can grab hold of and use them to fly you around. Still, there’s a bit of a trick to it, as owls are nocturnal and sleep during the day. If you arrive in the level at night, they’ll be flying out of your reach. But at night, they’ll be sleeping, and you can use Wario’s dash move to wake them up.

A wakened owl will start flapping around fairly low to the ground, and if you jump up, you can grab its feet, and it will carry you. By default, the owl moves in a straight line left or right, and will reverse direction when it hits a solid object, but you’re free to maneuver it in any of 4 directions. If you hold the D-pad, the owl will fly very quickly in that direction, which can make it difficult to dodge objects, such as spikes, that will cause you to lose your grip on the owl and fall to the ground. If this happens, the owl will fly away, and it will only respawn at its original position, meaning that you’ll have to backtrack to get to it.

But you can steer the owl in a specific direction and then let off the D-pad to allow him to fly in a straight line until you need to change direction again, thus allowing you to more slowly navigate the environmental hazards. You’ll still need to keep a watchful eye, however, as the owl will still bounce off of solid surfaces, potentially sending you into danger.

Most levels can be completed regardless of the time of day, so you won’t often have to restart a level if you’ve entered it at the wrong time. It does make repeat playthroughs more interesting, however, which is important since you’ll need to visit most levels multiple times in order to complete the game. And if you hope to find all 100 treasures, then you’ll need to play each level at least 4 times.

There are 4 different colored keys hidden throughout each level: gray, red, green, and blue, and 4 treasure chests of the corresponding colors. The gray keys tend to be the easiest to find, and tend to be located on the “main” path (i.e., the one that is easiest to reach from the starting point). Many keys and treasure chests will be inaccessible when you first enter a level, and may only be reached by gaining the proper abilities later in the game.

Each time you gain a new ability or find a new treasure, you’ll be shown a brief view the world map that gives you a hint as to which level(s) you should head to next as new ones become available. You can re-watch the most recent cinema from the pause menu on the world map. Many of these cinemas have a bit of humor in them, and there are plenty of cinemas reserved for uncovering the optional treasures.

Even within the levels themselves, new sections become opened by collecting treasures. For instance, some levels have pots spread throughout them that appear useless when you first encounter them. But when you get a flute, each of the pots will then have a snake rising up out of it, and you can jump on the heads of the snakes to access higher platforms that you could not reach previously.

In another example, there are a couple of rooms that have huge blowers sitting beneath the floor – and you’ll encounter these fairly early on in the game – but there’s no switch within the level to activate them. Much later, you’ll find the treasure that activates the blowers, allowing you to return to the level and ride the air currents around to reach higher areas, and more treasure.

Certain treasure chests contain objects that give Wario permanent powerups, allowing him to access new areas within the levels themselves. In this way, the Wario games are very nonlinear. Despite being divided into specific levels, Wario Land 3 is very much a Metroidvania game. It is impossible to progress without backtracking to a previous area and using the appropriate abilities to discover new paths. Unlike most of the Metroid games, however, the short length of the individual challenges and the auto-saves between levels make the game much more “bite sized”, supporting the handheld nature of the game. This is in stark contrast to a game like Metroid II: Return of Samus, where you could easily spend an hour traveling form one save point to the next.

If you simply looked at the number of levels in the game (there are 25) and the length of time it takes to complete them, Wario Land 3 doesn’t look terribly impressive. However, if you consider that each level must be replayed, that each has a day/night version, and that there are multiple exits and side-paths that can be accessed with new abilities, the world becomes much larger.

At the outset, Wario is confined to the northern quadrant of the island with only one level available to him. As he progresses through the game and discovers various treasures, new levels open up on the world map, and eventually Wario will be able to travel to all 4 quadrants with multiple levels in each. In fact, it’s not until near the end of the game that a path opens that connects the first quadrant with the last, and you’ll need to travel between the sections frequently, so you’ll likely be spending a fair amount of time between levels navigating from one section of the map to the next… although there is an option in the pause menu to warp from one section of the island to an adjacent section.

With each of the levels containing multiple exits, it can become difficult to keep track of where you’ve been and where you need to go next, making progress a bit daunting. The game balances this somewhat by allowing you to revisit the Temple whenever you like, and the mysterious figure will tell you which level you need to visit next. But even when you know which level to tackle, you still need to navigate the level itself, find the path to the key, and then find the path to the treasure chest of the corresponding color. Also, the hidden figure only sends you to the levels that are required for completing the game, meaning that you’ll be bypassing about half of the available treasure chests if you rely entirely on his instructions.

You can enter the pause menu to see which chests you have opened already, but you won’t know which chest you’re attempting to locate when you re-enter a level. In the early going, with only a few powerups under your belt, you’ll find yourself restricted to a fairly narrow path, often leaving you only one or two possible routes of travel. But in the back half of the game, you’ll essentially be able to travel to any point in any level, so you may be left exploring the place from end to end looking for the correct route.

Each level also contains 8 large gold music coins, which are in place to offer some additional challenge for players attempting to 100% the game (in addition to opening all 100 treasure chests). Many of these coins cannot be reached until you acquire the proper powerup, and you can’t just collect a few coins on each playthrough of the level; you have to collect all 8 coins in one shot. So, you’ll need to make a dedicated “coin run” in each of the levels, and you’ll need to wait until the end of the game – or after you’ve beaten it – to make the attempt. Your reward is more golf.

Breaking blocks and defeating enemies often yields coins. Fortunately, Wario no longer loses coins when he is hit by enemies as he did in the previous game, so collecting and keeping your money is all the easier. Yellow coins are worth 1, and all of the other colors of coins are worth 10. The reason that there are so many colored coins – with no difference in value – is that different colored coins will appear if you are in close proximity to a key. For example, if a red key is nearby, blocks broken in the vicinity will yield red coins, offering players a clue as to the key’s location. You can hold a maximum of 999 coins.

Coins have no other purpose but to be spent on golf minigames, and the only purpose of these minigames is to clear out the special “mini-game” blocks within each of the levels. In other words, the existence of these minigames is a complete contrivance. None of Wario’s earned skills are required to remove these blocks, and their presence is not explained by the story. The only thing keeping you from progressing is a block that literally states that you must complete a minigame before you can move on. As such, these minigames are not well integrated into the experience (but Wario did go on to release a number of minigame collections later in his career, so at least he got something out of it).

Golf mini-games are spread throughout the adventure. It’s a bit challenging to get the timing down on these games at first, which is unfortunate since each of your attempts will cost you a minimum of 10 coins. Later the cost to play the golf mini-games increases to 30, and eventually to 50 once you’ve beaten the final boss. Humorously, rather than hitting a ball, you’ll be hitting one of the game’s common yellow enemies.

The fundamentals are similar to many other golf games. There is a power meter along the bottom of the screen. You press the button once to send an arrow to the right (you only get one chance; the arrow does not bounce back and forth). When it reaches the desired power level, you hit the button again, and wait for the arrow to slide back to the left. There is a narrow red zone on the left side, and you’ll need to hit the button while the arrow is within this zone in order to get a hit. Otherwise, Wario will fall on his back and miss the shot.

You only have a certain number of strokes to clear each hole, and if you don’t make par, you’ll be booted out of the game and have to try again (and pay the requisite number of coins). However, if you fail a course and have to retry, you’ll find that the course is completely different when you return, with new bunkers, water hazards, and the like. You do not encounter these courses in an order of escalating difficulty; it’s possible to fail a hole, only to retry and encounter one that’s significantly easier, or significantly more difficult. Difficulties range from an easy hole-in-one with no hazards, up to courses with multiple hazards requiring a series of near-perfect strokes to complete.

Unfortunately, the game does not readjust the maximum strength of your hit to the distance that you need to reach the hole, as is the case in many other golf games. So, rather that just shooting for the strongest hit you can manage, you’ll also need to carefully consider how far away the hole is from your current position. You do have the ability to slide the screen left and right to judge the distance to the hole, so you’re not shooting completely blind. And, an outline appears showing you where the “ball” will land if you hit it at full strength. Still, it’s difficult to avoid traps, and you generally only have room to make one mistake if you hope to make par.

At the start of the game, Wario doesn’t have much in the way of offensive prowess, and most areas cannot be reached with his default abilities. However, in many cases, the environment and enemies hold the key to progress. Each enemy you encounter has the ability to affect Wario’s body in some way.

A great number of enemies simply stun Wario for a moment, but there are a few somewhat amusing ones, such as an enemy that climbs onto Wario’s face and blinds him, turning the screen dark until he runs into a wall and flings it off. And there are robots slice Wario in half with their lasers, until he magically rebuilds himself.

Most enemies will afflict Wario with a specific status effect. During this time, Wario will gain new abilities, and new controls. As a rule, water will cure almost all status effects – whether you want it to or not – although a few are more tricky to banish. Outlined below is a complete list of all of the status effects that actually grant Wario new abilities.

  • Fire Wario is quite a bit different than Fire Mario. When Mario encounters a Fire Flower, it gives him the ability to shoot fire from his hands. When Wario encounters fire, be it from a flame spout, a flame-tossing robot, a pit of fire, or an ill-tempered sun (similar to the one Super Mario Bros. 3, but considerably larger), he will burst into flames. To be specific, his butt will catch on fire, and he’ll start flailing his arms, running uncontrollably, and bouncing back and forth between indestructible objects. During this time, the only thing you can do is make Wario jump, but he won’t stop running.

    After a while, the flames will engulf Wario’s entire body, and you will regain directional control over him. In this second phase, his movement is very slow, and you can only move to the left or right (no jumping, no climbing ladders, no entering doors, etc.). Eventually the effect will wear off, turning Wario to ash, which he simply shakes off, and resumes his journey. The player can end the effect early by jumping into the water.

    There are some advantages to a fire-engulfed Wario. For one, he can kill enemies by simply walking into them, he can destroy special flame blocks to access new sections of the level. He can also light torches, which remove special flame blocks from his path.

    However, because he goes running at full speed whenever he gets hit with fire, the challenge comes in lining him up properly with your end goal. If you want to burn through some flame blocks, you may need to use your only control – jump – to let Wario bounce back and forth and keep him near your goal, lest he go running elsewhere. Since Wario moves very slowly once he is completely engulfed, and since he can’t jump or climb ladders, you’ll need to remain close to your target.

  • When Wario encounters a silkworm, he’ll get wrapped up and start rolling around in a ball. This is similar to the early phase of the Fire Wario effect, except that you have absolutely no control. You will kill enemies that you run into, and you will destroy special yarn blocks, but otherwise you’ll just bounce around until the effect wears off on its own (after 5 bounces). This status effect is generally used to inflict a minor setback on Wario, but it can sometimes be used strategically.

  • Wario is already a pretty fat guy, at least in comparison to the “pleasantly plump” Mario, but he can get even fatter. There are a few food-tossing enemies in the game: a chef who tosses donuts and a frog-like creature who tosses apples. In both cases, consuming the food will cause Wario to become very fat. You can still move to the left or right, but your movement is significantly slower, and your jump height is greatly reduced. You cannot climb ladders or enter doors in this state.

    There are a couple of upsides to this power: you can jump on a stack of bricks and you’ll break the entire stack all the way down (although this ability is no longer useful after you gain the butt-stomp powerup), and you can also break through solid blocks and special donut blocks.

    Fat Wario can kill enemies by simply walking into them, and landing from a jump shakes the screen and stuns ground-based enemies. The effect lasts, logically, until you walk it off. Standing still does nothing, but Wario will sweat when he walks, until he is eventually downgraded to his standard level of obesity.

    Often food-tossers are put in place to slow you down. For instance, if you need to make a long climb, a food-tosser might pop out and chuck a scrumptious morsel at you, forcing you to lose your grip and fall to the ground. You do have one defense against skyward edibles: ducking will cause the donut or apple to simply bounce off of Wario’s head, giving you time to go after the enemy and stomp him before he can toss another.

  • Wario can be squished by a hammer, which makes him become springy. Wario will not be able to stop bouncing, and this is sometimes used as a trap to force Wario to jump up into an area where you don’t want him to go. However, it can also be used to your advantage to reach higher platforms. By pressing the JUMP button just as Wario hits the ground, his jump height will be greatly increased, and you can even bounce off of enemies’ heads to get an extra boost of height.

    Eventually, time will run out, and Wario will return to his normal form, but when he does, he flips over and bounces to the side. So, if you were standing on the edge of a hard-to-reach platform, you could find yourself being flung off. Time to try again.

  • Ah, zombies. It’s hard to believe there was a time when having zombies in a video game was a novelty. When Wario touches a zombie, or gets hit by the zombie’s detachable boomerang head (not a joke), he will turn into a zombie himself. Sadly, he does not retain the boomerang head attack.

    Like Fat Wario, he moves very slowly and cannot jump very high. But, if he lands on a thin platform, he will fall through it. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it can help you get to new areas, but is often used as a trap to make Wario fall down and lose progress. Walking into the light restores Wario’s dirty soul to his body.

  • Invisibility occurs in very specific locations with very specific purposes. When you encounter a mad scientist, he will toss potions (madly) about, breaking them against the ground. If Wario gets hit by one, he’ll turn invisible. Being invisible allows you to pass certain gates that have eyeballs above them. If you are seen by the eyeball, the gate will close when you get near it, but if you are invisible, you can pass through unfettered.

    You have to choose your path to the eye-doors carefully, however, as passing through a pipe will remove the effect. Also, since you cannot see yourself, it’s possible that you might accidentally get afflicted with another status effect, which will also remove your invincibility. You can check the ground for puffs of dust when you jump or dash, which helps you determine your location. And every few seconds Wario will flicker into existence for a moment, allowing you to get a lock on his position. It’s also important to note that you cannot open treasure chests while invisible, so you’ll need to turn back to normal before you can complete any of the stages.

  • Certain enemies will cause Wario’s head to inflate like a balloon, at which point he will float upward, and you cannot make him stop his ascent. The only thing you can do is move him to the left or right, and he’ll deflate on his own after being pressed against a ceiling for a bit, or if he comes into contact with spikes. This does allow him to reach some high areas, provided you can navigate the vertical corridors lined with enemies and spikes.

  • There’s also an underwater equivalent to Wario’s inflated head form. If you touch a bubble while underwater, you’ll get trapped inside and float toward the surface. Usually this is just meant to push you back and make you lose progress. Bubbles emerge from underwater cracks at a fairly slow pace, so patience and proper timing will allow you to dodge them.

    However, bubbles are not always a curse, as you can use them to move upward through opposing currents. You can also steer Wario to the left and right while you ascend, and the bubble will pop once you reach the surface, touch spikes, or get pressed up against a ceiling for a while.

  • Getting smashed will flatten Wario into the height of a single tile. He can still move to the left and right, albeit quite slowly, and he’ll be able to fit through narrow passages. Also, when jumping, he’ll float down to the ground like a piece of paper, swaying back and forth as he falls. This can make it a bit difficult to line up landings, but it does allow you to cross some gaps. The only way to turn back to normal is to fall into water or allow yourself to be picked up by one of the little blue helicopter enemies, which will stretch you back to full size.

  • There are polar bears that breathe giant snowflakes that freeze Wario into a (rather stunned-looking) statue and send him flying backward until he crashes against a wall and breaks free. Snowflakes are large and hard to avoid, and these are often used as traps to set you back and lose progress, or to make you slide off of a high platform. However, you can also use them strategically to kill certain types of enemies. You have no direct control over Wario while he is frozen.

  • Getting hit by a bird will cause Wario to become dizzy. He’ll spin around in place for a while, and then he’ll start to stumble back and forth, potentially making him fall off a ledge or otherwise causing the player to lose progress. You can only jump during this time, so you have a bit of control and can keep yourself out of danger somewhat. It also lets you keep Wario stumbling in a particular direction. You’ll need to hit another enemy or fall into water to remove the effect.

    This is similar to the effect in Wario Land 2 where penguin-like birds toss mysterious jugs, making Wario sick. His face turns red and he starts staggering back and forth, belching as he goes. In the Japanese version of the game, the birds are holding mugs of beer and tossing the beer at Wario, so he’s actually stumbling around due to drunkenness.

    Sick/Drunk Wario from Wario Land 2

  • Vampire Wario… this is one of the more interesting status effects in the game. When Wario touches a bat, he will turn into a vampire. At first, this new form may seem completely useless, as Vampire Wario can only move to the left and right and jump. He cannot climb ladders, perform special attacks, or suck the blood from his victims.

    However, pressing the ATTACK button transforms him into a bat. You can alternate between forms at will with the ATTACK button, but chances are you’re going to want to remain in the bat form.

    As a bat, you have free flight, although it is somewhat erratic. Rather than simply holding the JUMP button to ascend, or rapidly pressing it Joust-style, you have to press and hold, then release, and then press and hold again. In practice, this means that you’ll be ascending somewhat awkwardly, but that is fitting with the characteristics of the animal.

    As in zombie form, touching a beam of light will turn you back to normal, causing you to fall to the ground. Often you’ll need to use your erratic flight pattern to navigate around the beams of light to get to your goal. You’ll also want to avoid pools of water and water dripping down from the ceiling.

  • When Wario gets hit by snow, he’ll turn into a walking snowman. During this time, he moves identically to his fat form, waddling slowly along and shaking the ground when he lands from a jump or a fall.

    When he reaches a slanted surface in snowman form, he will automatically start rolling and turn into a snowball. And the further he rolls, the bigger he gets. Unlike Wario’s standard rolling from, he cannot jump while he is a snowball.

    This snowball form is used specifically to break through snowman blocks, but the trick is that you have to be big enough to break them. Some of the blocks will allow you to break through even as a small snowball, but others will require that you reach the largest possible size before you can pass.

Most of the game’s 100 treasures merely open up new paths within the levels or on the world map, but a few of them give Wario permanent abilities. These change his offensive powers and his ability to navigate the environment. As new powers are earned, players may return to previous areas to access new sections of the levels and discover new treasure chests. You may enter the pause menu at any time to see a demonstration of each of Wario’s moves.

Throughout your adventure, you will encounter all of these powerups, as gaining them is the only way to complete the game. This is also the primary driver behind much of the backtracking you will need to do to unlock all of the chests. Each time you gain a new ability, you’ll be shown a short demo scene that illustrates how the ability can be used in the environment and against enemies, including the controller inputs required to execute them.

Including his default dash maneuver, Wario will eventually have a total of 10 moves in his repertoire. Sadly, many of them are just more powerful versions of existing powers, allowing him to break stronger blocks or overcome larger enemies. So, in actuality, he has 6 abilities, and 4 enhanced versions of them. Outlined below is a complete list of all of Wario’s permanent powerups.

  • The butt stomp is a Nintendo classic and Wario interestingly unlocks this power by opening a treasure chest containing blue overalls. Wario will gain this new fairly early, and it’s a very important part of his offensive abilities.

    Prior to learning this technique, he is only be able to break blocks from the side, and jumping on enemies’ heads only stuns them; it does not kill them. Thus, until this point, Wario has to rely solely on his dash maneuver to dispatch his foes. Once gained, however, you can jump into the air and press DOWN on the D-pad to slam downward, killing enemies and breaking blocks.

    The enhanced version of this power allows Wario to break through solid blocks and shake the ground to stun enemies. There’s even an enemy that is equipped with this ability: a round guy with a down arrow on his chest. His butt-stomp can shake the screen, making you fall from ladders, screwing up your jump timing, and making you drop carried objects or enemies; and Wario will be flattened if this enemy lands directly on him.

  • Swimming is another important ability, because until Wario learns to do this, he will be completely useless in the water, flailing about and only able to move left or right until he reaches the shore. Once he learns to swim, he’ll be able to move in any direction, and will be able to hold his breath indefinitely (take that, Sonic).

    Pressing the JUMP button allows him to swim upward quickly, and pressing the ATTACK button along with a direction on the D-pad gives him a short burst of speed in that direction. He still can’t fight against opposing currents…

    …but the enhanced version of this powerup does allow him to fight these currents.

  • Grabbing the spiked hat treasure allows Wario to break blocks with his head, like his do-gooder counterpart, thus opening new upward avenues. The enhanced version of this power allows Wario to break through solid blocks as well.

  • One of Wario’s more interesting powerups is the ability to pick up and toss small stunned enemies and objects. These can be thrown at one another, tossed safely away, or even used to break through special blocks. You can press the ATTACK button to toss the enemy a short distance, or hold it to wind up and throw the enemy farther. You may also press UP on the D-Pad to toss the enemy upward.

    The enhanced version of this power allows Wario to pick up large stunned enemies as well.

  • Wario eventually gains an enhanced version of his dash maneuver, which allows him to break through solid blocks, and also allows him to break through entire rows of cracked blocks in one shot. As an added bonus, getting this ability allows Wario to roll through solid blocks when in ball form.

  • Increased jump height is a staple powerup in the Metroidvania subgenre, and this game is no exception. By pressing UP and JUMP, Wario will jump higher, and he can also do this when bouncing off of enemies’ heads to get an extra bit of height.

The combination of Wario’s powerups and each of his many possible forms allow for some creative – and often complex – puzzle solutions. Most of the player’s progress comes from figuring out how to make it through the level, which goes pretty far to setting the slower pace of the game.

Wario is rarely in any immediate danger, and succumbing to an enemy attack or failing a puzzle solution usually just means that you’ll need to repeat a few steps. In most cases, the game’s only system of punishment is frustration. Frustration is one of they key elements that a developer needs to consider when crafting a game, and tipping the balance too far in one direction may result in players giving up and walking away, but going too far in the other direction reduces the tension and may make the game uninteresting or just too easy.

In the Wario Land series, frustration is often built into the core of the design, and this becomes more apparent as players attempt to get their heads around the various puzzles in the game. The notion of “getting stuck” is tempered by the fact that levels are fairly short, and the game’s nonlinear design gives players the freedom to select any available level from the world map, allowing him to make some progress and come back to the puzzle later. Players also have the option to manually exit from any level whenever they choose.

In general, all of the tools needed to solve a given puzzle are in the immediate vicinity, although there are certainly some puzzles that require action across multiple screens.

An example of one of the game’s clever puzzles places Wario at the bottom of a set of platforms, with a row of donut blocks at the top. There’s also a donut-tossing chef to the right, but there’s no way for Wario to get to where he is. You know that you need to make it to the top of the platforms and become fat to break the donut blocks, but eating a donut makes it impossible for you to climb up.

This is one of the puzzle solutions that becomes apparent through experimentation. By eating a donut and then attempting to jump, Wario will miss his target and fall back down, shaking the ground as he does so. But when the ground shakes, the little donut-tossing guy bounces up a level or two on the far side of the barrier.

Suddenly, it becomes clear that you need to keep shaking the ground until the donut-tosser gets to the top. Then you can become normal Wario again, jump up to where he is, eat a donut, and clear the blocks.

More complex puzzles may require you to change forms multiple times or to change forms and move to another room to use it, which requires a bit of planning on the part of the player. For instance, one level places you in a tower with a chest blocked by both fire blocks and donut blocks. The enemies required to transform Wario are on different levels of the tower, so you’ll need to get to the proper level, get transformed, and then make your way back to the bottom before the effect wears off.

Through the course of solving this puzzle, you’ll need to climb the tower to reach a donut-tosser that makes you fat, and then drop back down to break the donut blocks. Then you’ll need to go to the bottom level of the tower to get yourself set on fire, make a mad dash back up before the effect wear off, and allow yourself to become fully engulfed near the fire blocks so that you can burn through them. And that’s just to get to the chest...

The key to that chest requires that you get yourself turned into a zombie so that you can get to a switch that opens the path to the key, and then get re-zombified to get back down to where the chest is. It’s all do-able, but it’s certainly a puzzle that takes some work even once you know what the solution is, and it may take you a few attempts to get it right.

Some of the crazier challenges are the optional treasure runs in the latter portion of the game. There are entirely optional levels that are difficult in and of themselves, plus you can access most of the 4 keys and chests from the beginning, so it's extra challenging trying to figure out where to go next. You can take these levels on during your quest to get 100% of the chests, or you can opt to go back and try your hand at them once you’ve completed the game.

There is some enemy respawning in this game, but this generally occurs so that the player will have all of the tools he needs to solve a given puzzle. It is possible to screw up a puzzle solution, but puzzles reset on screen transitions, and you can always exit to the overworld and restart the level if need be.

Also notable is that Wario has a temporary “ineffectibility” period after many of his forms wear off. Wario will usually have a brief window after he transforms back to normal before he can become afflicted again, and this gives the player a brief respite from enemies like zombies and silkworms that can negatively impact his progress.

There is also a fair bit of humor in the game, most of which takes place at Wario’s expense. For instance, Wario has a couple of different idle animations. Rather than tapping his toes or looking at the player for input, he cocks his head back and proceeds to fall asleep while standing up, complete with a snot bubble growing out of his nose. If you leave him alone while he’s standing on a ladder or other climbable surface, he’ll eventually reach back and scratch his butt.

Robot Logger In the Stagnant Swamp level lies an interesting enemy that is basically just a motorized box with a claw and a flashing light on top, but the player is left to outwit the machine if he wishes to reach a required key.

In your first encounter with the machine, you’ll be dropped into a wooded area, and the thing will almost immediately be alerted to your presence and start giving chase. There isn’t much room to run, and if the thing gets a hold of you, it will eject you from the area, and you’ll have to re-enter and start again. This is very similar to the battle system in number of the game’s boss encounters.

Throughout the area are trees that have breakable portions in their trunks, and you can dash through to break them and try to get away from the machine. The encounter plays out like a chase scene. Every now and again you will find yourself cornered, in which case you can lure the robot toward you and jump over it, causing it to break through the trees for you. It will back off for a second, letting you make a mad dash to the next temporary dead end.

You can jump on the robot’s back, which will turn its light blue and stun it momentarily, allowing you to get a bit of extra distance between you and it. However, the robot cannot be killed. It only makes a couple of appearances throughout the game.

Fortunately, if the robot does catch you and eject you, all of the previously opened paths remain intact, so you can get a bigger head start on your next attempt. Eventually, you will reach a series of platforms that allow you to climb out of the robot’s path. But it’s still down there… waiting for you.

Since there aren’t any enemies in the game that actually kill you, it might seem odd to even have a section dedicated to Bastard Class Enemies. But since frustration is the game’s primary form of punishment, there are still some enemies that fall into the BCE category.

Zombies The shambling dead. Cute and lovable, or flesh-hungry menace? As mentioned above, becoming a zombie is the key to completing some of the game’s puzzles, but more often you’ll find that zombies aren’t the solution to the puzzle, but rather the thing keeping you from completing it.

There are several places in the game (always in dark areas or at night) where you will encounter these undead creatures. Unfortunately, since they rise up from the ground, they’re impossible to spot from a distance, and they only appear when you are directly in front of their spawn points.

Touching one means instant zombification for Wario, but even attempting to dodge a zombie can be tricky. If you see a zombie rise up in front of you, you may be inclined to quickly jump over it, but then you could find yourself victim to the zombie’s terrible boomerang head attack.

See, the zombie can pull off its own head and throw it at you, and then the head will reverse course midair and fly back toward you. The best solution is to duck and wait for the thing to safely pass before you can continue. But in true BCE fashion, zombies are often placed in areas that require you to jump frequently, making them extra difficult to bypass. This may try your patience – particularly when dealing with multiple zombies in a single area – but slowing down and taking the proper precautions is far better than being turned into a zombie when you don’t want to be.

Once turned, Wario moves extremely slowly. If you jump or fall, Wario will crumple momentarily, and you’ll have to wait a couple of seconds for him to build himself up, making your progress even slower. If you land on a thin platform, Wario will fall down through it, crumpling up against the floor while his hat sails slowly downward to meet his body.

There are several instances where you will need to use this platform penetration ability to progress, but often this will be a setback to your progress. Zombie Wario can also walk safely through spikes without being affected. The only cure for zombification is to walk into the light or a blue flame, but shuffling toward one of them can take a long time.

Silkworms While they do make some nice ties, it’s best to just kill silkworms immediately if they’re blocking your path. In a few places, they can help you to break through yarn blocks to progress, but most of the time they’ll have the opposite effect. And, unlike most of Wario’s other forms, you have absolutely no control over him while he’s wrapped up in a silky ball. When afflicted, Wario will just bounce around the room, ricocheting off of any solid surface, dropping down through holes, and maybe even rolling you back to the previous screen.

Silkworms are the ultimate progress preventers, and letting them live is the key to your gaming setbacks. Fortunately, they can only attack in one direction, so dashing them from behind or stomping them from above will get them out of your way. From here on, they’ll be making ties… in HELL!

Not every level has a boss encounter, and some levels have more than one. However, even with the nonlinearity of the game, you will be facing off against each of them before your journey is through, as they each block the path to a required treasure. Defeating these bosses may reward you with a new permanent powerup, one of the 5 missing music boxes, or simply open up a new path.

In almost every encounter, the boss has an attack that forces Wario out of the arena if he is hit. These are usually status effects that send Wario back to a section just prior to the boss fight. You can retrace your steps and re-enter the battle, but you’ll have to face the boss again from the start. As such, there is generally very little margin for error. Also, it should be noted that it’s not possible to pause your game during a boss fight, so you need to be on your toes and be familiar with all of your moves. There’s no time to stop and check a FAQ!

The Volcano’s Base
The first boss looks like one of those stacker dolls, and it sits atop a trio of blue barrels. There are several rows of platforms, allowing you access to each of the barrels and the doll at the top. The doll tosses hammers in an arc, alternating between short, medium, and long range attacks. They fly up off the top of the screen, making it a bit difficult to predict their trajectory. If you climb up onto the same level as the doll, it will toss a hammer in a horizontal line straight at you, which you can avoid by ducking. However, during the first phase of the battle, the doll is invincible.

Periodically, one of the barrels will start to flash. This is your cue to perform a dash attack against that barrel, knocking it away and reducing the height of the stack. You’ll need to do this two more times with the remaining barrels, and it can become somewhat difficult to avoid the hammers as the doll gets closer to the ground and the arcs become shorter.

Once the doll hits the ground, the battle enters phase 2. The doll turns green and starts scooting along the floor attempting to hit you with the hammer in its hand (it no longer tosses hammers at you). It will pursue you around the screen, hopping up and down on the platforms, and it shakes the screen when it lands, momentarily stunning you.

Jump on the doll’s head to stun it, and it will turn red again. The doll will remain stunned for a few seconds, giving you the chance to get alongside it, and perform a dash attack and knock it away. You can also dash-attack the doll from behind to kill it without stunning it first.

If Wario is hit by a hammer at any point during the battle, he will turn into a spring and start bouncing up the platforms. Since there’s no way for him to stop himself, he is forced up out of the area until he reaches a row of spikes at the top which allow him to revert back to his standard form. You’ll need to exit through the door and return to start the battle from the beginning.

The Grasslands
This fight is against an angry earthworm with huge green lips and bloodshot eyes. The battle takes place on a floating platform, and the player needs to be careful not to get knocked off or he will have to leave the area and return to fight the boss again.

The worm rises up out of the ground from either the left or right side of the floating platform, whichever is furthest from Wario’s position. When he rises up, he shoots rocks out of his mouth, and getting hit by one will cause Wario to roll into a ball and fall off the platform.

As the worm is rising out of the ground, you can perform a dash attack to stun it, and it will start to retract back into the earth. Perform a butt-stomp before it fully retracts to cause damage. It will start to speed up at this point, attacking and retracting more quickly, but the same strategy is required in order to hit him a second time.

On the third attempt, the worm raises its head out of the ground and immediately starts shooting rocks, which could catch you off guard. However, the final attack is actually the easiest to land since you can just butt-stomp the worm rather than stunning it first.

The Pool of Rain
In this battle, you’ll face off against a magical flying fox wearing a form-fitting purple robe (it even has a hood that fits its ears!). The fox rises up in a wisp of smoke, taking form at the top of the screen. Then, it proceeds to conjure swirling puffs of smoke that bounce around the room.

After it fires off a couple of smoke swirls, it will drop a huge spiked ball that shakes the floor when it lands. This stuns you temporarily, so it’s best to jump or stay well away from danger so that you don’t accidentally bump into the spiked ball or a smoke swirl.

After a couple of seconds, the spiked ball will “hatch”, exploding in half and revealing a little mushroom guy that starts walking away from Wario. If you perform a dash attack on the mushroom, it will fly up at an angle and bounce off the wall, eventually flying off the top of the screen. The goal is to line up your shot with the fox while simultaneously dodging its attacks.

It can take a little work to line up a shot, and if you miss, you’ll have to dodge another round of smoke swirls and wait for another spiked ball to be dropped.

Once you hit the fox, he can immediately drop another spiked ball without sending out a set of smoke swirls. And after you hit him twice, the spiked ball will bounce around for a while before coming to rest. It doesn’t matter which way the ball is launched, it will always bounce toward you when it hits the ground. Get ready to jump because it can bounce most of the way across the screen.

If you touch the spiked ball before it hatches, or if you get hit by one of the smoke swirls, Wario will inflate and float up out of the arena.

A Town in Chaos
This is an atypical battle, where you take on a bunny and a turtle in a game of soccer. The bunny was actually an enemy from Wario Land 2 that you played basketball against, and the setup for the battle is almost identical. But this time around, you’re facing off against the bunny in a game of soccer, but he still grabs the ball with his hands before kicking it.

At the top of the arena is a board with Wario’s score on the left and the bunny’s on the right, with 3 lights under each to indicate the number of goals each player has made. The ball is actually the other character. So the bunny will try to jump on your head to roll you up and kick you into the goal, and you’ll be trying to do the same to him. Again, this is the same setup as the battle in Wario Land 2, except there you were trying to shoot the other player into a basketball hoop rather than a soccer goal.

A turtle acts as the goalkeeper, and you’ll need to get the shot past him in order to score. This is not a terribly easy feat. It takes a good deal of time to figure out exactly where you need to hit the bunny-ball from in order to score. And unlike the bunny, you can’t grab the ball; you have to perform a dash move to knock it past the goalie and score.

When the bunny hits you and turns you into a ball, you’ll start bouncing. You have limited control, which allows you to move to the left or right to dodge away. If you can avoid the bunny long enough, Wario will resume his normal form, but if the bunny manages to grab you – which he often will, as he drops down on you to turn you into a ball – he’ll pick you up and kick you toward the goal.

The turtle, rather than trying to block the shot, will duck and let it go sailing past, granting the bunny a point. If you manage to bounce your way to the goal without the bunny catching you, then the turtle will toss you back into play, and Wario will resume his normal form. This is one of the few instances where you’re not immediately ejected from the boss area for making a mistake, and as long as you keep the bunny from scoring 3 points, you’re still in the game.

You can stomp on the bunny’s head to turn it into a ball, and then walk or dash into the ball to kick it around. As long as you keep regular contact with the ball, the bunny will not be able to resume normal form, which allows you to set up the ball for the optimum shot.

If your shot is blocked, the turtle will toss the bunny back into play, and it will resume its normal form. It is possible to stun the turtle by running into it, but it’s not necessary to stun the turtle in order to score a goal; you simply need to kick the ball into the narrow space above the turtle’s head and below the top of the net.

Each time you score, the bunny’s speed increases. Victory is yours once you score 3 goals. If the bunny scores 3 goals first, you’ll be ejected and have to start the match again from the beginning.

The Stagnant Swamp
In this battle, you’ll be climbing around on a set of thatched tree branches as you fight against a deranged beaver. A river is flowing at the bottom of the area, and if you’re knocked from your perch, you’ll fall into the water and get pushed back into the previous area. You can recover and jump back up onto the branches if you do so before you leave the screen, so it’s best to stay to the right edge of the arena to give yourself more time to react.

The beaver climbs around on the branches and tries to hit you with its tail, thus knocking you down into the water. You need to get above it and butt-stomp it in the face to hurt it. Once you do, the beaver will move faster and start climbing up on higher branches, making it more difficult to get above it. After another attack, the beaver will begin moving diagonally, making it more difficult to predict its movement.

Sea Turtle Rocks
This is an underwater battle against a squid with a green light on its head. As you might expect, you’ll need to make a beeline for the light and jump up on it, or swim down to hit it.

When you hit the light, the squid will begin bouncing madly around the room, revealing a flashing light on its bottom. It can be difficult to line up a hit on this second light because of the speed and unpredictable nature of the squid’s movement, but you can get hit by the bouncing squid without being ejected from the area. The only time you can be set back is if you touch one of its extended tentacles.

The boss can eke and send black ink out into the water, which isn’t terribly difficult to avoid. However, if you are hit by the ink, the screen will turn black for several seconds. You can still see Wario and the squid’s face, so you’re not at too much of a disadvantage. As the battle continues, the squid ekes more frequently and moves more quickly.

Desert Ruins
This odd-looking fellow has a balloon for a body and spears for hands (how does it go to the bathroom?). If you get touched by a spear, Wario will inflate and float out of the top of the arena.

You’ll need to wait until the boss swoops down, so that you can jump over it and butt-stomp its head. At this point, the boss vomits up an air pump, which lands on the ground. You’ll need to butt-stomp it as soon as you can, because the boss will start tossing spears if you wait too long. If a spear hits the air pump, it will be pulled back to the boss.

When you butt-stomp the pump, the boss’ body will inflate, and the pump will disappear.

From here, just rinse and repeat, and each stomp of the air pump will inflate the boss’ body a bit more, making it swell up until it explodes. Fortunately, its balloon body is filled with air instead of guts.

Stagnant Swamp
This time, your foe is a pirate ghost, and you have to make sure not to touch him or Wario will get scared and will be forced out of the room.

At the start of the battle, 4 skulls appear and move to the corners of the room, extinguishing each of the 4 lamps. When this happens, the room will become completely dark, and all you’ll see is Wario, the 4 skulls, and the ghost, who was formerly only portrayed as a painting in the background.

Without light to guide you, you’ll need a pretty good notion of the layout of the room, ladders and all, so that you can navigate unassisted, which may give you flashbacks of the dark rooms from Montezuma’s Revenge. You’ll need to act quickly, because the pirate ghost will start following you around the room, potentially forcing you into a dead end if you’re not careful.

You’ll need to dash into each of the 4 skulls to knock them away from the light, and each time a lantern is revealed, it will add a bit of light back to the room. As soon as one light is revealed, you’ll need to immediately move to the next, because the skulls will eventually reappear and move back into position. You need to reveal all 4 lights simultaneously.

The tight quarters make it difficult to navigate around the large ghost, and the strict time limit makes it even more difficult to string together a series of attacks before the skulls start reappearing. Chances are that you’ll be doing plenty of trial-and-error to find the optimum path.

There are several possible paths to victory, and the layout of the room – with its slow ladders and quick drop-offs – allows you to do a little bit of strategizing to find the path that works best for you. Once all the lights are on, the battle is over. The ghost shrivels up and dies (again).

Bank of the Wild River
This is another water-based encounter, but this time you’ll need to alternate between the water, land, and sky to defeat the boss. Here you’re facing a very mean looking spiked fish who swims angrily through the water, chomping its jaws at anything it sees.

Along the bottom of the area is a fast-moving current that will suck Wario back into the previous screen. It’s actually OK to take damage during the battle, which will leave Wario stunned for a moment. However, if you are eaten by the fish, it will spit you out into the current, and you’ll have no way to fight its force, even with your super swim fins.

There are several facets at play here. First, there is the spiked fish in the water below, and a set of platforms on either side of the tank where Wario can stand without fear of attack. Next, there are two insects flying above the tank. One is a red dragonfly that moves in a simple patrol path to the left and right. The other is a big-lipped yellow insect that appears to be holding a chunk of moldy cheese. It drops down from the top of the screen, moves horizontally just above the dragonfly, and then exits from the top of the screen. Its cycle is infinite.

What you need to do is get the yellow bug to drop the moldy cheese into the tank so that it falls in front of the fish, who will eat it and start to grow. The challenge is in lining up this cheese-shot, as you will need to jump onto the head of the cheese carrying insect and hopefully avoid falling into the water yourself (or at least avoid being eaten if you do).

You can actually jump on the red dragonfly’s back and ride it across to the cheese carrier, giving you easier access to jump on its head.

Continue to overfeed the fish, and rather than flipping upside down and floating to the top of the tank, it will get heavier and sink to the bottom, eventually getting caught in the current and shoved backward until it blocks the hole. Now you can go around behind it and grab the treasure that you were not able to reach previously.

Out of the Woods
This is actually the very first level of the game, but now you’re revisiting it with all sorts of new abilities. To get to the boss, you’ll pass through the now-open mouth of the scary tree that you saw on your first time through. Once you make your ascent to upper reaches of the tree – dodging birds and silkworms along the way – you’ll face one of platforming's staple bosses: the giant spider.

The spider bounces up and down near the ceiling, hanging from the webbing that’s emerging from its abdomen. However, unlike real spiders, this one can also vomit wads of webbing from its mouth, and they slowly float to the ground, flitting back and forth as they do, in a somewhat unpredictable fashion.

If you get hit by one of these webs, you’ll get wrapped up and start rolling around, in the same way as if you were affected by a silkworm. There’s an opening on the right side of the room, and you’ll roll right out the door and fall back down. In fact, you’ll need to be careful of this opening during the battle in general, as its possible to get knocked back through it at any point.

Once one of the web wads hit the ground, it will form into a nice round ball, all the better for Wario to pick up and toss. You’ll need to be somewhat quick about picking it up, because it will disappear after a few seconds, but once you have it, you can throw it at the spider.

When hit, the spider will retract and then quickly drop down to shake the ground. Soon it will start shooting short waves of webbing across the floor. You’ll need to jump over them and get in a butt-stomp to cause damage.

The pattern repeats with the spider tossing 2 globs of webbing instead of just one. After being hit again, it will turn red and start dropping 3, which can be somewhat difficult to avoid since they cover a wide area.

Use the same method throughout to make the spider go legs-up!

The Temple: Hidden Figure
As you may have guessed, the hidden figure who has asked you to restore his power is actually a bad guy who was sealed away by the good people of the land. When Wario presents the 5 music boxes, the hidden figure’s power is restored, and he reveals his true form… a giant maniacal clown! Oh, and now that he no longer needs Wario, he decides to destroy him.

This is the one place in the game where Wario can actually be defeated. If you get caught in the clown’s hands, he’ll stop to laugh at you, and the screen will go black. There, you’ll encounter the Game Over screen for the first time.

Wario is shown lying on his back sleeping, and is then suddenly startled awake. You’ll be kicked back to the title screen where you’ll need to continue your game and re-enter The Temple from the world map. Fortunately you can skip the cutscenes and get straight back to your anti-clown tirade.

This battle can be a bit confusing because the floor moves up and down as the clown attacks, making it somewhat more difficult to dodge his attacks. The clown will start by driving his spiked fist down toward you – always the one closest to Wario – which will stun you momentarily if you are hit.

The goal is to butt-stomp the fist just as it passes under you, thereby stunning it (the fists are disconnected from the clown’s body). Then you can run over and pick it up and toss it at the clown’s nose to cause damage.

However, you’ll need to remain aware of the other fist during this time, as it can slam down against the ground, making you drop the fist that you’re carrying. If you don’t toss it quickly enough, you’ll miss the opportunity to attack and will have to wait until the cycle repeats. There’s no need to charge up a super-throw; jumping it and tossing it works just fine.
Between punches, the clown will place his hands along the sides of the screen and move them together to attempt to grab you. This is the one attack that you must avoid, which you can do by jumping over the hands as they come together.

After you hit the clown once, it will start attempting more grabs, and it will be able to grab up in the center of the screen as well as the bottom, so sometimes you’ll need to jump, and other times it’s easier to duck.

Things speed up a bit as the battle goes on, and after 3 hits, the clown’s face turns red and he becomes very aggressive. His hands move more quickly, and he will make multiple grab attempts. This also means that it’s harder to line up a butt-stomp and to toss the fist before the other fist hits the ground.

But eventually you can chant “Stop hittin’ yourself! Stop hittin’ yourself!” as you throw the final fist into the clown’s face and save the land from this evil foe.

From here, you can revisit the world map and replay any of the levels you choose. Every level that still has an unopened treasure chest will be highlighted with a flashing red light, so you’ll know which ones you need to replay if you’re trying for a 100% run.


Why this game should be part of your 2D heritage:
  • Numerous different status effects that impact gameplay in a variety of ways
  • Permanent powerups for character growth
  • Clever multi-layered level designs and puzzles
  • Non-linear
The downside:
  • Nonlinearity and multiple paths make for a somewhat daunting world
  • Golf minigames are poorly integrated into the experience
  • Some doorways can be difficult to see

Wario’s first foray into 3D was Virtual Boy Wario Land. Interestingly, the result was an entirely 2D adventure with some 3D effects added in, such as pendulums swinging into the foreground, 3D-style boss encounters, and the ability for Wario to jump back and forth between foreground and background layers to find keys and solve puzzles. This was all done in standard 2D spritework with nary a polygon to be seen.

The game is one of the better titles available on the short-lived system, though there’s not much competition on the Virtual Boy’s tiny library. The game does hold true to many of the things that define Wario, such as his lust for treasure, his dash attack, butt-stomp, and the ability to carry and toss enemies. He also has a number of gameplay-altering powerups.

As in the original Wario Land outing, powerups come in the form of gameplay-altering hats rather than status effects. These hats are equipped by finding special items in the environment, often by crushing blocks Mario-style:

  • Bull Wario: A Viking helmet (or garlic bottle when he’s in his normal form) turns Wario into Bull Wario, allowing him to do a super butt-stomp, stunning enemies and breaking blocks below him.

  • Eagle Wario: Touching an eagle statue equips Wario with a winged helmet, giving him the ability to fly.

  • Sea Dragon Wario: Touching a Dragon Crystal lets Wario breathe fire which can destroy enemies and blocks.

  • King Dragon Wario: This is the ultimate Wario form, and is actually a combination of the Eagle Wario and Sea Dragon Wario forms. By touching both an eagle statue and a Dragon Crystal, Wario can take to the skies and deliver some serious hurt with a long-range projectile attack.

  • Small Wario: Just like Mario, this adventure sees Wario becoming small and weak when he takes damage in his normal form, a he’ll lose a life if he gets hit again (yes, there is a life system in place here). Grabbing a garlic bottle will return him to his normal form, and grabbing any of the other items listed above will transform him instantly into that form.

The first truly 3D game in the Wario franchise was Wario World on the GameCube, but even there, the player’s viewpoint was generally locked to a side-view perspective, with a few areas where the camera could be turned in 90 degree angles. It’s also debatable whether this game truly falls into the Wario Land series, since it eschews a number of the defining gameplay characteristics from that series, not the least of which is Wario’s ability to change forms due to status effects.

It’s also well worth noting that Wario World was developed by Treasure, known the world over for their well-crafted and mechanically deep 2D games. Yet this game was developed entirely in 3D, with most of Wario’s varied gameplay dynamics tossed out entirely in favor of wrestling moves. Again, this adds to the debate of whether Wario World technically fits into the Wario Land series, since it’s not really a larger version of the same game, nor a simple 3D extension of the series in the same way that Super Mario 64 was an extension of the Super Mario Bros. series. There were no direct sequels to Wario World to establish that it belonged to its own self-contained series (like the WarioWare series), and the next console release, Wario Land: Shake It! not only reclaimed the “Wario Land” moniker, but also reestablished some of the status effects, and was presented entirely in 2D.

So, despite the argument that Wario World may not be a true Wario Land game, and the fact that many of Wario’s core mechanics have been tossed out, Treasure was at least true to the spirit of the Wario character for his first 3D outing, and it’s a fairly solid game overall.

The game starts out with Wario in a huge castle with golden walls and rooms stocked with treasure, presumably the spoils from his previous adventures. As expected, things quickly go awry, and a magical black jewel begins transforming all of his treasures into monsters.

Wario is still equipped with some of his staple moves, namely the dash attack, butt-stomp, and the ability to pick up monsters. But this time, the game places a heavy focus on what Wario does once he gets a hold of a monster. Grabbed monsters and objects can be thrown, charged up for a super throw, pile-driven into the ground, or swung around in circles, at which point they burst into a bevvy of bouncing coins.

Rather than solving form-based environmental puzzles, most of the progression here is made by brute force, swinging enemies and objects into one another, and simply attempting to grab as many coins as possible. There are a few optional level-specific goals that add a bit of extra challenge, and there are large wide-open challenge areas to complete. These challenge areas are very similar to the FLUDD-free challenge areas in Super Mario Sunshine, and require a bit of extra ingenuity to complete. Though the areas are in full 3D, you’ll find that Wario’s movement is locked to a particular plane, and the camera only moves in 90 degree increments.

Wario is as fat and crude as ever, and he laughs madly as he attempts to satiate his endless lust for treasure. Wario has a heart meter this time, which can be extended by collecting gold Wario statues spread throughout the environments. Once his health has been depleted, Wario can purchase a continue, if he has enough coins. Otherwise, you’ll have to start the stage over from the beginning.