Ohayo gosaimasu! I have never played a Wario Land game before and since I want to practice my writing skills, here is a review of my own, about the latest game I played: Wario Land 4!
The title screen from Wario Land 4
Wario Land 4 is a platformer, the type of game a person like me, with no knowledge of videos games, would consider to be “yet another Super Mario Bros.” type game. Far surprised I was, when I gave it my first try!
The game is quite different from what you’d expect from a traditional platformer. Not only can Wario defeat his enemies by ramming into them with a shoulder dash, or squish them to pulp with a butt smash (or ground pound), but the stages are open spaces, forcing you to go in different directions and explore them for treasures! Overall, the gameplay feel very different, as you go along, than you’d expect from a traditional platformer, making the whole experience quite pleasing and new!
The layout of the game is simple, you have a map screen, with paths to each corridor, the sections of the game, and each of those corridors have a certain number of rooms with paintings, that are, in other terms, the stages you have to face in order to progress the game. In each stage, you are free to explore as much as you want! You can find treasure chests with pieces of a jewel, a ghost with a key-shaped beak called Keyzer, and even diamonds, most of which are hidden in a puzzle room, which you have to access through a recognizable purple pipe.
There’s an objective to each level, though, one that requires you to collect Keyzer to unlock the next level in the corridor, another is to collect 4 pieces of one of the jewel, necessary to unlock the Boss room, and the final objective is to press the frog switch, hidden in the level (usually not hidden at all), in order to open the entrance portal for you to get out of the level under a certain amount of time, while a terrifyingly stressing music plays in the background! (Huff, let me catch my breath!)
The game starts slow, introducing the very simple story, in which Wario, the main character, drives his car on the way to a jungle pyramid he saw on the newspaper. After that arriving at the scene, our protagonist finds a black cat, which he follows inside a deep and dark shaft. “Waaaaah!” goes Wario, while falling onto, what will be, the game’s map screen. However, the map only has one way to go, a path that leads to the very first stage of the game! It is a really simple and well explained tutorial stage, that allows the player to learn the controls and the game mechanics.
As said before, simple and well explained, you will end the stage knowing everything you need to go through the game! After collecting everything in the stage, you will unlock the other possible path, that leads to the first boss, Spoiled Rotten. Although this first boss is simple (and really cute!), his final form opens a new challenge, forcing the player to go around him and bash his backside to finish him! Upon defeating him, the map expands and reveals 4 new areas to explore, all based on gems, Emerald, Ruby, Topaz and Sapphire passages, where the fun really starts!
From that moment forward, the choice of which passage to go first is up to the player! Each passage has 4 stages, all with different themes (Emerald Passage is nature, Ruby is industrial, Topaz is toys and Sapphire is eerie themed), at the end of each passage, there is a Boss (which look so much like Yokai, it’s eerie!) you have to defeat in a certain amount of time to gather all 3 treasures he has to offer. If you take too long, one after the other, the chests will start to disappear! Depending on how many treasure chests you collect from those Boss challenges will dictate which ending you get! (I got the second best ending, apparently!) But that is not all, if you complete all 4 of the Boss battles, you unlock the final area on the map, the Golden Passage! I will leave it up to you to discover if you have not played yet! (Let’s just say it has a somewhat stressful challenge and the Final Boss!)
The map screen of the game (or main area)
I spoke about the controls, on how easy they were, and that is accurate, trust me! Wario runs and crouches with the D-Pad, jumps with the A button, does a shoulder dash attack with the B button and leans his head forward to headbutt while sprinting if you hold the L or R buttons, while moving! These are the basic controls, which are simple to understand, and you will find yourself using the L or R button to sprint a lot!
These are not all the possible controls, though! Wario can ground pound if you press Down on the D-Pad, while in the air, and the longer you hold it, the stronger it gets, creating an earthquake! Wario can also grab enemies that are stunned and throw them with the B button, which you can hold to increase the power of your throw, or even hold up while throwing to send them flying upwards!
More advanced techniques include crouch-sliding, by pressing down during a shoulder dash, and nose picking… wait, no, that’s not part of the game!
All of these moves are used throughout the game to solve puzzles in a really creative way, some of them will make you scratch your head thinking what to do!
You think that is all? Well, think again, because Wario has more tricks up his short sleeves! Upon touching enemies, Wario can get hurt, causing him to lose a heart. Upon losing all hearts, he will be forced out of the stage, and you will lose all your treasures in the process. However, some enemies don’t hurt Wario, they change him! Usually, those changes are positive, allowing you to solve puzzles, but sometimes, they hurt your progress requiring you to go back and start that room of the stage again! These transformations include Fire Wario (Wario with his butt on fire), Spring Wario that turns him into a spring allowing the reach of higher places, Flat Wario as flat as a pancake (Uishii!!) allowing Wario to fit through gaps on the wall and keeping him from falling small gaps on the floor! These transformations are fun to find and each work differently, so have fun playing around with them and good luck solving those puzzles!
Wario escaping the stage with Keyzer
Aside from the gameplay, simple story and easy to master controls, the game offers fantastic visuals for such a small screen! The colors are vibrant and the levels are extremely detailed, enough to make the game feel alive! There are a lot of funny enemy designs which makes them so hard to hit sometimes (poor things!!), from little round creatures that look like Daruma dolls, and little cute spearmen that change their color and aggressiveness each time Wario ground-pounds, to giant scary ghosts that try to steal your money and even Keyzer!
That scary ghost! Stop stealing Wario-sama’s Money!! c(>.<)º
The level design is incredible! Each stage has its own little quirk, like the Pinball Zone stage, in which you have to throw balls inside devices that open and close their mechanical mouths, in order to unlock part of the stage, or the Big Board that has several roulettes throughout for you to take your chance between a transformation, taking damage, getting a heart or even Diamonds! One of the stages that stood up to me, was the Fiery Cavern, in which you explore a lava filled cavern all the way to the frog switch, but once you press it, all of the stage freezes, creating a whole new stage for you to race back to the beginning! Impressive!
But it’s not just the stages that have a great design! The Boss battles are also interesting on their own! Stating with Cractus, the Emerald Passage Boss, which is too tall for Wario’s small jump to reach his head to deal damage. So, to go around that, you need to hold on to a ladder made of vines attached to the ceiling, but if you hold too long, Cractus will sweep the ceiling!
Then, there is also Cuckoo Condor, from the Ruby Passage, which starts with a mechanical shell, made of a cuckoo clock and a big claw! In order to break it, you will need to hit the claw back at him with the proper timing! However, that’s not it yet, after breaking the shell, you still have to defeat Cuckoo himself, by catching the eggs he lays and throwing them back at him, and if any egg touches the ground, it will release an explosive baby chick!
Then there is Aerodent, Boss of the Topaz Passage, floating around inside a huge teddy bear balloon, and to defeat him you have throw the enemies he sends at you to pierce the balloon, so he comes lower for you to reach his feet with a shoulder dash, in order to flip him around, to then be able to bash Aerodent’s face to pulp! If you miss your hits, though, the Boss will flip back up and you’ll have to try all over again!
Finally, hidden in the depths of the Sapphire Passage, is Catbat! With his ugly and eerie smile, this floating monstrosity will push you back with waves, that Wario has to stand on, to hit the little bat bust he has on top of his head, but each time you hit him, he will reply with spike balls you have to avoid to not get hurt!
Crazy, but so much fun! The game can definitely keep itself new and fresh the whole time!
Catbat, the Yokai-looking feller and Wario riding a wave!
Oh! All that talk and I have not even talked about the music of this game! From soft and pleasing Hawaiian style music of the beautiful Palm Tree Paradise, to the strong and intimidating hard rock track of the Fiery Cavern, this game offers plenty of memorable tracks, each of them really well put together to give you the right feel at the right moment. Remember how the description made of the stressful music that plays during the escape sequence of the stage? It is a perfect example of a well placed song, giving the player a sense of urgency that carries on until you finally reach the goal into a peaceful, yet psychedelic sound of comfort for being back at the main area of the game.
Overall, the music is on point, and the game offers you a set of sound based collectibles to gather in each stage! A chest, hidden in an obscure place in each stage, contains a CD, that is stored in the Sound Room, found in the top-most section of the main area. These are usually really weird sound sequences or music you can listen to, ranging from dogs barking to flies buzzing, each telling a story in sounds. My personal favorite is the sound of a person walking, as they go from a crowdy and agitated city to a lovely forest, through a river and finally opens the door of his cabin in the woods. Relaxing, if you ask me!
The Sound Room in all its glory!
After all that time spent on writing, I should really tell you what I though of the game.
To be fair, I don’t have anything to compare it to. However, I can tell you I had way too much fun exploring all corners of each stage. Besides, there is a Hard Mode! I cannot wait to try that, although I am afraid of the challenge that awaits! I haven’t even talked about the Minigame section before the Boss stage or the Shop that lays even closer to the Boss entrance!
In the end, the game is really good, addicting, fun and easy to play! I wish there was a few more stages to explore, although that is being nitpicky about such a well designed game!
Would I recommend it? Definitely!
Will I play it again? Without a doubt!
If I had to rate it, what would it be? I would give it a solid 8 out of 10
So if you have not played it yet, go pick it up!
— Yonde Kurete Arigatou! Yui-Chan desu! ~♡