Wario Land 4 Review
Wario Land 4 launched in 2001. Along with the Game Boy Advance, it was a first-year title. Among a number of stellar titles that released on the same year, Wario Land 4 became the unsung hero. Amidst the many titles featuring the heroic plumber, Mario’s less-attractive, portly rival came out with his fourth adventure.
As a fan of Super Smash Bros. and anything Nintendo, I always love to uncover the history of the characters and the games they’re from. While I loved the Super Mario Land trilogy on Game Boy, I never played the sequels to Wario’s own adventures. Wario Land II and onward took the series out of the safe “Super Mario” formula that built Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. Therefore, I decided to look into one of Wario’s own adventures and see how it held up today. Would you believe me if I told you this game was handled by the very team who would later develop the WarioWare series?
Wario Land 4 has some bright colors on the Game Boy Advance. This might be due to the original GBA model lacking a backlit screen. However, it’s well-animated, colorful, and contains some spectacular level backgrounds. I’m especially fond of the haunted mansion and factory stages, personally. Even Doodle Woods features a coloring book background akin to Yoshi’s Island on the SNES.
The boss animation design is incredibly bizarre. I would daresay it’s not even appropriate for a kids’ game! But alas, I played Mortal Kombat when I was 5, so who am I to judge? These bosses are quirky, strange, and grotesque, but certainly memorable.
The music in Wario Land 4 is eclectic, to say the least. It’s largely upbeat and catchy. Arabian influences are featured in the desert stage, while others feature some hard rock. There’s even a few vocal tracks in the game, which includes the opening. If this game gives you any WarioWare vibes, I promise it’s not a coincidence. This game is as strange as it gets, and the aesthetics most certainly carried over.
As someone who played WarioWare first, I can tell you I was not surprised. I didn’t know the same team made both games till I looked it up. But once I did, it made perfect sense! As a result, the vocal songs likely lead to the theme for Dribble and Spitz’ theme in WarioWare as well.
Wario Land 4 separates itself from other platformers, and that includes its own series. Wario Land II broke the mold of “clear the stage from Point A to Point B,” the standard formula for platformers. In Wario Land II and III, you were hunting for coins and treasure. Wario Land 4 deviates even further.
You’re in large levels that can take 10-15 minutes to beat. You collect treasure, battle enemies, and find a key. The interesting part is that, once you step on the frog switch, a time bomb activates. You must now exit the stage within a time limit! Plus, the routes are often different from the way you came. You can use this to find additional treasures or even a CD, which unlocks a song in the Sound Test!
The game controls well. Wario can jump, crawl, and shoulder ram. He also now has a fast dash move where he can crush walls and enemies. In addition, he has the rolling move and transformation abilities from past Wario Land titles. Zombie allows him to sink through platforms, while Bat lets him fly until he touches light. Fire Wario runs around ablaze until he’s engulfed in flames, burning down new paths, while Bubble Wario floats to the top of water.
Wario Land 4 is based heavily in stage puzzles to progress. Unlike Wario Land II, however, you can die. Dying brings you back to the beginning of the stage. Also, there are no lives. Just complete the stage and keep your health replenished so you don’t get sent back. While no pitfalls will kill you, enemies and obstacles are out for your life!
Clear four stages in a world, and you’ll fight a boss. With several phases, they can be difficult. If you don’t kill them within the time limit, they take your treasures, too. This affects the ending as well. You can always enter the mini-game room to earn coins for the Shop. Here is where you can buy an item to weaken the boss’ health. You can also get a free smile from the shopkeeper, too!
In Wario Land 4, you can play on Hard Mode and even a Super Hard mode. Take note if you enjoy a real challenge. With the level of exploration in this game, everything comes together with plenty to do. Even though the main game won’t last more than 4-8 hours, it’s a replayable experience. Short-but-sweet is a common theme for Nintendo GBA titles, and that includes The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Metroid: Zero Mission, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, among others.
I never had many issues with this game. But I will say some bosses were quite frustrating. The Cuckoo clock boss could swarm you with chick bombs, and it was hard to pass over it. But again, once you figure out the pattern, you can definitely manage with ease. It’s just that sometimes, bosses will launch attacks out of nowhere to stall time and it can get irritating.
But as far as stage design, visuals, and audio go, this game is wonderful. The game’s polish honestly surprised me. Just feels like a complete game overall. Having never played Wario Land: Shake It, I’m not sure if this tradition ever continued. But when I go back and play this, it makes me wish Nintendo would make a new game in the series. I greatly enjoyed the soundtrack, stages, and all the humorous little touches and animations in Wario Land 4.
Find a treasure in a pyramid, meet a black cat, fight the Golden Diva, and meet a pretty princess. It’s a simple story that can lead to a happy ending. If that sounds like your adventure, then Wario Land 4 is right for you. All-in-all, it’s another quality Nintendo game!
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