In the midst of all of the Pokemon craziness and all of the copycat games it is nice to see Nintendo going back to its roots, good 1 player platform fun. Leave it up to Nintendo to create a villain with so much charisma that he not only gets his own game but three of them, no less. In his latest adventure the sinister Wario has never looked or played better. Despite limited technology on the Gameboy Color, Wario Land 3 delivers a wonderfully detailed and complex game that is as fun as it is simple.
Apparently Wario has gotten himself in a bit of a predicament. Through some magic force he has been shrunk and transported inside a music box. If he aids the spirit also trapped inside then he will be able to get back to his world with any treasure that he may acquire in his journeys. That’s the great thing about Wario, he is only in it for the cash. Freeing the spirit means finding the 5 music boxes that are hidden in chest among the four areas of the music box. (Does finding music boxes to get out of a giant music box seem redundant to you too?)
What separates this adventure from the countless other Wario, Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, etc. platform adventures is that death is non-existent. You cannot die at all. That does not mean that there are no enemies, however; there are tons. What it means is that every time Wario gets poked, electrocuted, burned or frozen, he returns to his normal state after hitting a wall, falling in a lake, or disintegrating. (Think Wile E. Coyote) Though the hit may set you back a bit in your goals, you rarely have to start all the way from the beginning. This puts the focus of the game on puzzle solving rather than simply defeating enemies and getting to point B.
The puzzles in the game are nicely varied. You may have to navigate through a maze or figure out what switches raise what platform. The most original puzzles are the ones that deal with the enemies and their effect on Wario. For example there are some blocks that are too strong for Wario to break using his regular stomp, so he must find a donut-throwing enemy to feed him a snack. This turns Wario into BIG FAT Wario, who can break heavy bricks with one thunderous jump. However, you must make sure he is in the right place when he eats since Big Fat Wario cannot jump too high. There are many other transformations like Snowman Wario, Flat as a Pancake Wario (for those narrow areas), and Vampire Bat Wario. In addition to charging and jumping these transitions keep the game fresh and interesting.
The Gameboy is beginning to show its age, but with games like this you would never know it. Each level is wonderfully designed using just about all of the colors that the Gameboy is allowed. Each of the characters is presented in great detail and do not just look like blobs of color as they do in most of the other games. (Sports anyone? Thought not.) The 25 levels are packed with multiple paths and alternate routes. Many of the paths are not seen available unless Wario has gained a power-up or a treasure found in a level in a completely different area. Plus there is a mini-golf-game. Needless to say there is a lot of gameplay packed into this tiny little cartridge. A handy save feature will save your progress so you can turn off the game at almost any time and not miss anything.
We count on Nintendo to support its systems and they do a good job of it. Even with Gameboy advance on the horizon they still manage to push out top quality hit for their pocket wonder. If you are a fan of the side-scrolling platform then Wario Land 3 is for you. Capturing that simple to play, hard to beat feel that made all of the other Mario games great, this version should definitely not be overlooked as a cookie-cutter sequel. Now if we can just get this little bastard his own N64 adventure…
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