Wario Land 3 review by Yui-Chan!

Ohayo gosaimasu!

I am back with another review! This time, we will be looking at the sequel to Wario Land II: Wario Land 3! What a surprise, they’re numbered!
As always, thank you to all the beautiful members and friends of the Wario Forums for pointing me towards this very fine-crafted game from the past.
What are we waiting for? There is so much to say about this game, we should start now!


Wario Land 3’s title screen, as seen in the Nintendo 3DS version.

Plot

Wario is back for another adventure. Apparently, he looks to be going somewhere on his red plane? I don’t recall ever seeing a red plane in the posse of Wario. Never mind, the greedy anti-hero always find the necessary tools to find more gold!
Suddenly, the engine stops and our protagonist crashes in a deep forest! Somehow Wario survives, and makes way to a suspicious cave somewhere close by. As he peeks inside, he find what looks to be a music box on a pedestal. The beautiful gaze upon which you can make out a very lively island, posing as the decorative piece of mysterious object.
Without warning, the music box raises up, shining above Wario and without warning, sucks the greedy man inside!

“… Wario? Wario! Wake up, Wario!” – says a voice echoing in the dark, as the fat man stands up, only to be greeted by a ominous and unrecognisable figure. This Hidden Figure explains Wario of what is happening, explains how the world that lives inside the Music Box has been taken over by creatures, which sealed away this very sinister character’s powers and split them in 5 music boxes across the world.
Of course, asking Wario to help is not easy, unless you can promise him he’ll keep the treasures he collects along the way. With a big thumbs up, Wario runs out of the dark place and the adventure begins!


A Hidden Figure looking down upon Wario.

Gameplay

When you gain control of Wario after the story has been introduced to you, it will happen on a map screen. At first you are shown your objective, which is literally to the left of your starting point. That way the game introduces the basic map mechanics and how they work, and soon after, you will find yourself in the very first level of the game.


The simple yet beautiful map screen from Wario Land 3.

In the whole game, there are a total of 25 levels, each with 4 chests to open. Each of those contain treasures that help Wario to progress in his quest to find the music boxes. Those same treasures chests are also the end of the level, which you can only open after you found the corresponding key. You’ll have to find the right key to open the right chest as they’re colour-coded Black, Red, Green and Blue.
You won’t be capable of opening all four chests in one run though, as you will notice that Wario feels… less powerful than the previous game. I guess the trip inside the music box shrunk his powers too, who knows?
This point might be the reason some people may feel a bit underwhelmed if they played Wario Land II first. Wario can’t jump high, can’t break most of the blocks nor but stomp. Overall, Wario feels… Washed down. Don’t worry, as this is just the beginning and Wario will become much stronger than the previous game, just give it time.
Wario’s powers can be upgraded by finding the right treasure with the power up inside. You’ll know when it happens, as you’ll be shown a tutorial on how to execute the new moves introduced at this point. I should mentions that you can see a basic controls tutorial if you wait long enough in the title screen, a demo will play showing you how to jump, attack and even move Wario. All tutorials are accessible in the pause menu of the game, so don’t worry.


Hands made of sand grab Wario into the quicksand.

I almost forgot one of the major gimmicks of this game! There’s a day and night cycle which switches every time you end a level. Switching from day to night will cause some changes to happen in each stage, for instance zombies appear at night in the Peaceful Village, and the desert level is entirely meant to use the day and night cycle, as one side opens during the day and the other opens only at night!

Treasures

Some treasures can open several paths on the map, others won’t opens anything new for you to progress, so be sure to make notes on where you can or should go next if the path splits. If you collect a treasure that points you to 2 different stages, go collect the treasure in one of them, which unlocks the next stage and so on, until you hit a dead end, you might end up struggling to remember which levels are left for you to visit to progress. And from my point of view, if you dare taking a break at any point, good luck remembering the next stage you need to go to!
This might sound bad for some players who want to try out this game, but if you like to explore, this game will give you plenty!


Wario finds a treasure!

Enemies

As you guide Wario through that maze of entangled but masterfully created stages, you’ll encounter the ever-so obligatory enemies, of which you’ll have to defeat in order to progress. In this game, enemies do not drop money, in fact they do not drop anything at all (and there is a reason for that, a very nice touch from the developers). Some enemies are so cute it hurts me to hit them, others are aggressive and annoying. You have your spearmen which work the same as previous games, spark shooting creatures hanging on the wall ready to electrocute Wario, silkworms who turn Wario into a ball of string rolling out of control, and many new transformations those apply to you which may help or not in your progress. Some enemies are tiny robots which come in different colours (Kawaii!) There’s a green one who yields a spear if it sees you, a red one who spits fire and a blue one that cuts Wario in half. Wait, what? That’s gross!
Speaking of gross, if you stand still for few seconds in a stage, Wario starts sleeping as a huge ball inflates from inside his nose… Such a wonderful character.


The spearmen in Wario Land 3

Minigames

Wario Land is known for having some sort of way to use the coins you collect to get something in return. In Wario Land 4, you could play 3 different minigames by paying with your collected coins, and the more successful you were, the more Frog coins you could get, to buy items to help you defeat the boss. In Wario Land II, you had to play a minigame in each stage to get a treasure, and another one at the end of the stage to collect pieces of a map to unlock the Real Final Chapter, all in exchange of your own collected in game cash. Wario Land 3 is no exception, although this time it’s not as interesting as it was before. Not only are you forced to play the only minigame in the whole game, but you have to do it in places you just don’t really feel like playing, all that and you still have to pay to play. I am talking about the infamous Wario Golf game. Why is it so infamous? I gave you some of the reasons why, you’re forced, you waste money and time, and you have to play it in the worst situations in the stages.


Wario Golf in all it’s glory.

Wario Golf, as the name implies, is a game of golf in which you have to tackle a parasol enemy into a hole, with a limited amount of hits, much like golf, in order to get a “Par”. If the Par is 3, you have to hit the parasol guy into the hole in 3 tackles. Simple? I’m not finished. It would be too easy to just press the B button to bash the enemy in throw the course, so they give you a gauge to figure out. To make it work, you have to press A, and an arrow moves across the gauge. The further right it goes, the further away the enemy is launched. Press A again to stop the arrow at the right power, as you do so another arrow continues back to the start of the gauge. This second arrow indicates the spin you give the enemy. Notice how there’s a blue-red-blue pattern near the beginning. If the arrow hits the red section, it’s a normal hit, if it hits the blue sections (right or left), the enemy will bounce more or less (forwards or backwards respectively.) If it hits outside that pattern in any other place of the gauge, Wario will slip and fall on his face. It’s funny at first but it gets old and annoying quite fast. Now you understand why it’s so frustrating to be forced to do this after having a frustrating platforming time! In my opinion, if this wasn’t an obligatory minigame, it would be perfectly fine, and could be fun to get bonuses and unlocking secrets by playing Wario Golf.
If you collect all crayons hidden inside random chests, you will be able to unlock a section dedicated to Wario Golf, where you can play 3 courses of 18 holes. You can also unlock a 4th one by collecting all 8 Music Coins hidden in each stage once you completed the game.

Controls

We talked about new abilities, minigames and other aspects of the game, and if I sounded a little negative back there, I apologise, don’t let this prevent you from enjoying the game! Let me explain how the controls work and you will see.
To control Wario, you press left and right on the D-pad, jump with A and do a tackle (or Shoulder Dash) with B. Later you will be able to Butt Stomp by pressing down on the D-pad while in mid-air. Sounds familiar? It’s because the controls are the same as the previous game, and they play even smoother! Controlling Wario is spectacular and newcomers will adapt to them very fast, and will master them also as fast. They are on point, allowing you to perform perfectly throughout the game. If you ever fail in this game, it’s entirely your own fault, I can guarantee you that. I never once felt cheated by the controls, ever! Well, I can’t really say they’re perfect, as each player with find the same game easier or harder to control depending on their preference, but I can say I was very happy with what I got. Still a bit stiff like Wario Land II compared to Wario Land 4, but on it’s own, they felt great!


The tutorial screen showing Wario’s movements.

Transformations

As I mentioned previously, Wario’s transformations are back from Wario Land II and some have been reintroduced in Wario Land 4. The new transformations in this game include Ball o’ String Wario, which makes Wario roll around and react as Fire Wario does, but without the ability to jump and much faster, Electric Wario when zapped by one of the enemies mentioned before, reacts as if he was hurt but destroys enemies as he moves back, Invisible Wario allows passage through protected gates with an eye who watches any intruder, and it is dismissed by entering a pipe or falling in water. And there’s also Vampire Wario, which grants invulnerability and by pressing B, switch to Bat Wario (like in Wario Land 4) to fly around.
Old transformations are back as they were from Wario Land II and they’re still as fun to trigger as they were before, used in various new and creative ways!


Vampire Wario is here to bite you in the neck! Watch out!

Sound and Music

While confronting the challenges that this game offers, turn up the volume of your console and have a moment to listen to the very well composed soundtrack that this game has to offer. From Out of the Woods to the dark sounds of Peaceful Village at night and even the map theme, the music is fun, upbeat and fits the mood perfectly, setting the difference between night and day works like a charm, making the sound as much worth as the rest of the game, complementing it perfectly. Sound effects are also very fun to listen to, and they translate what happens onscreen very acutely. Fun, goofy and amazing, just like Wario!

Graphics and Visuals

Remember when I said Wario was improved in this game? Well, that includes the design too. Although the sprite looks very much the same, apart from him wearing white now for some odd reason, his movement animations are smoother and much cleaner. The overall feel is more bouncy and light-hearted just to look at, and the colour are vibrant and clear (maybe to show off the Game Boy Colour’s screen?) The backgrounds in each stage are unique and give life to the stage, you really feel like you’re walking in the woods when playing the first stage and you really feel the creeps when playing in stages at night, or the calm of it when playing in the Coastal stage. Of course, we’re talking about a retro game, these are not 4k graphics shenanigans, but they still shine bright with a lot of charm to them.


Thou shall not pass! Unless I can’t see you…

In the end, I can tell you how much work and love was put into making this game. You can see the team working in the same company of those who made the most charming games to date, showing off their wonderful skills in this title as well. So on that note:

Would I recommend it? Yes, another game showing what Wario Land is about! Very much recommended!
Will I play it again? Indeed, I still have the time trials to improve!
If I had to rate it, what would it be? I would give it a 9 out of 10, one of the best adventures of this series so far!

If you had fun with Wario Land II, definitely try this one next, it’s a definitive upgrade! If you didn’t the previous title, then give this one a chance, it will feel different for certain!

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— Yonde Kurete Arigatou! Yui-Chan desu! ~♡