Starting up the new Mario Land game back when I was nine or there abouts, I was shocked to see Wario taking the stage and Mario nowhere to be seen. I shouldn’t have been shocked really though, the game was called Wario Land and did feature only Wario on the box. Therefore, I was an idiot. Super Mario Land 3 signified the end to one series and Wario Land the beginning of another. Though they did make a new Mario Land last year, which makes that point a little moot now. Ah well, the subtitle is just there to get the Mario fans on board the pirate ship Wario is set to pillage.
Wario Land plays much like the previous two Super Mario Land titles. Wario is a bit slower and more aggressive with a shoulder barge, but you still move left and right through side scrolling stages jumping over pits and grabbing coins. Everything is a little more aggressive in terms of moves and powers thanks to Wario being a bit of a git, so you use flamethrower, ground pounding and jet charging hats rather than flowers and rabbit wings. He also eats cloves of garlic over mushrooms. What a man! Levels are also full of more sinister objects such as skulls to give a more evil feel to Wario’s Land. Villain versus villains doesn’t leave much room for cute hills and Lego block platforms.
Wario is a slower character to control than Mario, but with more focus on duffing up enemies and finding treasure this helps differentiate the new series from Mario. Despite Wario being all brawn and full of greed, the game has more exploration and light puzzles than the Mario Land games before it, which helps extend the game’s length. You can choose to blast through and ignore the secrets, but depending on how much treasure you amount the ending changes. It’s all about the benefits of being greedy. While being great fun, the Mario Land games were brief, so the replay value is very much welcome and helps make a more complete experience closer to the console platformers on the SNES. Much like Wario, we’re all greedy and want more, more, more!
The game still stands up well today thanks to the chunky visuals, easy controls and well designed levels, though the slow movement of Wario and the bland early levels make it a game some may struggle to jump into who weren’t there when it first popped up. And the amount of time spent waiting for the money collected to deposit into Wario’s account must take up about an hour of playtime. Whoever thought that was a good idea probably enjoys sitting through long loading times on MySims. Such a sick individual.
Half Mario Land, half the direction Wario Land went in, this is a transitional evolution which made the big W a world star. It’s good to be evil (mischievous).