Retro Scope: Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

Take control of a Nintendo villain in this Game Boy classic!

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 07/24/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Wario? Maybe you think he’s dumb due to the stupidity of his actions. Maybe you think that he’s just weird for the kind of microgames he makes in WarioWare or for farting on his opponents in Super Smash Bros. However, when I think of Wario, I think of him as a powerful, menacing force to be reckoned with.

I can understand if you disagree with that statement. These days, Wario has intentionally become a joke character due to his implementation in recent games. Even Yoshio Sakamoto, one of the developers of the WarioWare franchise, explained that they picked his character because, “Wario is always doing stupid things and is really idiotic.” However, when Wario was first introduced as a character in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, he was a diabolical mastermind! In that game, he overtakes Mario’s castle and brainwashes everyone to attack him with a mind controlling spell. A lot of people argue that the absurdity of Wario’s personality today makes him a lot more interesting, but I can’t help but feel that he was so much cooler as a powerful antihero.

This is a big reason why I absolutely love Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, as being able to play as a bad guy in the Super Mario franchise feels incredible. Right off the bat, you can tell that the game has a darker feel to it than a Mario platformer. Mario games typically have upbeat music, but Wario Land sets a twisted tone with its offbeat music. Wario himself has a lazy eye and a sadistic smile that perfectly displays his sinister personality. Oh, and the object of the game is to selfishly collect treasure to fund the enormous castle that he wants to build. He doesn’t care about saving a princess’s life from the clutches of a fire-breathing turtle, he’s just doing everything for himself!

The tone of the game is set by Wario’s abilities as well. Mario can attack enemies by jumping or collecting items, but Wario has a designated attack button that lets him tackle his enemies to death! He also has a bunch of awesome power-ups that are a ton of fun to use. Bull Wario wears a viking hat that lets him stick to ceilings and ground pound, Dragon Wario wears a dragon hat that breathes fire, and Jet Wario wears a plane helmet that lets him glide across levels. Each power feels truly unique and fitting for Wario’s character, making Wario Land feel a lot different than other platformers.

The level design is absolutely fantastic as well. Each and every level is a blast to play and feels completely different from the last. The game has standard world tropes like fire and ice, but there are also interesting levels that take place on pirate ships and moving trains. The game also has a large world map that’s full of branching pathways, as a bunch of levels contain hidden exits. These exits will bring you to new levels, or in one instance, an entire optional world! But that’s not all, as levels are also brimming with hidden treasures that are worth a ton of money. You’ll want to collect these too, because the amount of money you collect determines the size of your castle at the end of the game.

Wario Land still holds up remarkably well and remains as one of my favorite platforming games. If you consider yourself a fan of this genre, then I highly suggest that you give the game a try. Being one of the few Nintendo games in which you control a villain, Wario Land creates a rare gaming experience on a Nintendo console that is a ton of fun to play. Being evil has never felt so good!

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