This is the first Wario side scroller that I’ve played so far so it was definitely interesting to see how it would stack up against the average Mario or Yoshi title. I can definitely say that it’s not quite as impressive as those, but it’s good to see Nintendo taking a fairly original stance here. This title brings some more strategy into the typical side scrolling genre. It’s more of a miss than a hit, but fun nonetheless.
There isn’t much of a plot since Wario is just out for treasure as per usual. He wanders into a Pyramid and it has many labyrinths full of treasure and danger. Beyond all of the tombs is the legendary Pyramid of Gold. Wario will have to find all of the locks and jewels so that he can gain entry into this wondrous place. Can he handle all of the guardians who stand in his way? There is also a cat that seems to be guiding him somewhere the whole time….hmmmm.
The soundtrack is noticably different from the average Nintendo game. It fits Wario’s character I suppose….but I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of it. The music during the gameplay is not bad, but every level has a timer effect on it (Which I shall talk about in a second) so it drowns out the music for at least half of the level. What we do hear is good though. The cutscenes have odd songs in them though with lyrics that aren’t really pleasing to the ear. I think the game dropped the ball in this area.
The gameplay is pretty smooth. You can move and jump like in Mario and a lot of emphasis is placed on grabbing objects and throwing them with your super strength. One of the new features in this game is a shoulder throw which can let you break through blocks and other objects. Wario can also run fast enough to shatter walls that cannot be broken with a dash. The key difference in this game is that your goal is not to get to the end of the level. It’s actually to find 4 gems and a key that are hidden inside of it and then making it back to the starting point before the level’s timer runs out. There are secret passages to watch out for and you have to really be observant so that you remember where to go. Each level also has a puzzle area where you have to figure out where to go and all the things to do. You can only second guess yourself once after all.
Graphically speaking Wario Land 4 isn’t very impressive, but what Game Boy Advance games were? They were fun portable games to play and we didn’t really care about the graphics back then. They were simply sprites and those can look good or bad depending on how they are used. I don’t think that they look quite as good as your average Mario GBA title, but they’re still not downright bad. On the contrary, the blurriness actually works well for some of the spookier bosses.
Which, I do have to note that some of the boss designs were quite clever. We had a giant Teddy Bear and there’s even a mysterious being who has many faces. It’s pretty intense and it’s a fun way to wrap up the game since it has the abilities of all the previous bosses. I think some games could take notes on this since this is a very good formula to use for the final boss. It makes you think back to all of the old fights to remember how you should go about fighting this thing. One section involving a hammer took me a while since I forgot how to hit myself.
The game doesn’t really have any big negatives, but there is naturally a reason why I am only giving it a 6 and not a 7. Most side scrollers automatically get 7 stars so something did hold it back a little. The puzzle route of going through levels may be unique, but I don’t think that it worked out so well. Maybe if this just occurred for some of the levels, but it’s in all of them and sometimes you just want to jump your way to the goal. One of the reasons why Mario is a series that will always be considered elite is that the levels are always fun. Whether you keep losing on an insane long jump or breeze through a world 8 stage in under a minute, you will have fun. The game never feels unfair or intellectually challenging to the point where you’ll need to go watch a Transformers film to feel relaxed again. This game just wasn’t as fun as your average Mario game and that’s because the puzzles made it feel more slow paced than it should have been. I still can’t call them bad per say…the gimmick really wasn’t bad. The game just works better as a fast paced, race to the finish kind of game.
The game’s length is pretty decent. There are roughly 20 levels in all and each one can take 5-10 minutes. For replay value, you can try to get all of the jewels and swirlies along with the maximum number of treasure chests by beating each boss as quickly as possible. This will also allow you to get a longer ending so that’s a decent incentive right? I’m definitely satisfied with the length of this title and it’s worth the big bucks. (Although I got it at a relatively cheap price anyway)
I’ve now played around 3 Wario games and I’ll improve that soon with Wario Land Shake It or Wario World. His series definitely loses out to Mario, Luigi, DK, and Yoshi, but that can always change with one really great game. I haven’t played Super Princess Peach yet so I really can’t comment on that one. The gameplay also seems slightly different from the norm so it’ll be interesting to see how Nintendo switches it up. It’s a little regrettable that none of the Wario supporting characters have ever managed to be popular, but maybe they will someday. The Final boss from this game should seriously appear again because it was just that awesome!
Overall, Wario Land 4 is a pretty fun title. It’s interesting to see Wario play the lead character for once. The ending was a little much, but I can at least admit that I didn’t see it coming. Stay tuned for the after credits scene as well to see what Wario spends his riches on. It certainly fits his character and you have to wonder when he will go on his next treasure trip. I can safely say that I will be buying Wario Land Shake It at some point, but I also wouldn’t expect to see a review for it this year. Bottom line is that I recommend Wario Land 4 is you like side scrollers or if you want to see some strategy in a game. It can be a little slow paced, but it’s ultimately still a pretty fun game. The portable video game marathon continues next with another strategic game!