Review: Wario Land 3 (Game Boy Color)

In this review, things get rather tiny in the Game Boy Color game Wario Land 3. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 2000. We are growing more familiar with this series. Previously, we reviewed the original Wario Land – Super Mario Land 3. that game got a pretty good score. Next, we tried Wario Land II. That game ended up being a tedious and repetitive play. As a result, it got a barely passable score. So, we thought we’d try this third game to see if things turn around for this series.

The game once again follows Wario. This time, he is flying his airplane through the air. Suddenly, something happens and the plane makes a crash landing in the middle of the forest. When Wario emerges, he explores the area. It is then that he stumbles onto a dark cave. Curiosity gets the better of him and he goes inside. Once inside, he discovers a music box sitting on a pedestal. When he gets closer, the music box magically floats up, then magically shrinks Wario down, pulling him inside.

Wario eventually comes to from the experience where he is greeted by a hidden figure. The hidden figure asks for his help. It offers Wario all the treasure he can find and a way back out when he returns with 5 music boxes scattered throughout the land. Wario agrees and sets out on his quest to help the mysterious figure.

Your experience will definitely vary somewhat depending if you have played the previous games in the series or not. If you’ve never played this series before, this is a great game to start with. The reason for this is that the game will gradually allow you to learn all the Wario moves as you go along.

If you are like me and have played the previous two games, then might be puzzled as to why some of the moves you would normally expect no longer working. This is because most of Wario’s advanced moves are disabled in the beginning. These moves can be acquired through special power-up items throughout the game.

Regardless, the game will give an explanation for all of Wario’s advanced moves as you progress through the game. The basic moves are available immediately and can be shown in the pause menu while in the level.

You start in the regular overworld map. There is only one level available that you can go to. So, you might as well guide Wario to it and go inside.

Each level has a number of different enemies and obstacles. As far as enemies are concerned, you may encounter the baddy with a spear for a nose, and electric spiders. In later levels, you’ll also encounter bots that light you on fire, bots that poke you with a spear, bots that slice you in half, various flying enemies, larger enemies, and a whole lot more.

As for obstacles, Wario will encounter thin ground that can only be passed through in an upwards manner, moles that block pits that you need to explore, cracked blocks, regular blocks, high platforms, water area;s, quicksand, and torches that drop embers around.

Aiding Wario is a lot of what is found in the previous game. You can light Wario on fire to let him smash fire blocks, inflate Wario so he can float upwards, fatten him up so he can smash down on destructible areas, zombify him so he can pass through thin platforms in a downward manner, and even entrap him in an air bubble so he can pass through swift currents underwater. Also making a return are switches that can alter platforms.

If you pause in the level, you’ll notice that there are four keys and four treasure chests. Each level has a color coded set of kets and treasure chests. These colors are grey, red, green, and blue. For much of the first few levels, you’ll only be unlocking the grey treasure chests. As you get further into the game, other colors will start to unlock. You can even skip a few along the way, depending if they are mission critical or not.

Finding the key and unlocking the treasure chests are the only way to complete a level on your first pass through. Once you obtain a treasure, you’ll be able to leave a level with that and any coins you’ve collected along the way. IN subsequent passthroughs, you can leave through the doorway where a treasure chest was previously located, but unless you are attempting to collect every music box coin, the most you can accomplish as a result is more regular coins (which is extremely easy to max out).

If you are stuck on a level or happen to be on a level where no treasure chests are accessible, the fastest way out is to select the map option in the pause menu.

As you can no doubt tell, you’ll be making return trips to these levels. You might also guess that treasures tend to unlock things. While some pieces of treasure have seemingly no value, others can unlock new levels. If they don’t unlock new levels, they may offer you an item that either unlocks a section of previous levels or remove an otherwise impassable obstacle. Initially, this seems to be a rather linear thing, but you’ll find out in a hurry that multiple paths begin to unlock as you progress.

If you obtain a new power through a treasure, you’ll not only get shown a demonstration, but also which levels now have newly accessible levels. These come in by flashing the level icon briefly before letting you take control. In later levels, you are given an option in the select menu to replay the last movie so you can remember what those hints are. Initially, remembering these locations are no big deal, but as levels get more complex, it becomes easier and easier to forget which level you can enter to obtain more treasure.

Fortunately, this game comes with a built-in hint system. If you forget which level you need to enter next, you can always go back to the beginning and enter the temple. From there, the hidden creature will tell you which level you need to enter to further your progress. Do note that the hints will only show you which level you need to enter next for the sake of getting critical pieces of treasure. These hints do not cover optional pieces of treasure.

To make things more interesting, the levels themselves can get very complex after a while. So, even if you know which level you need to go to next, you may not always know where you need to go to either find the key or find the treasure chest. For these reasons, I definitely recommend pulling up a guide and having it on standby just in case you need an additional hint along the way. For most players, these hints will definitely come in handy.

In total, there are 25 levels. This means there is a total of 100 treasure chests (and keys of course) to find. While you don’t necessarily have to find every piece of treasure in the game, you do need to collect a large portion just to see the end of the game. Apparently, obtaining every treasure will allow you to unlock an additional level for a mini-game.

Another thing you may notice is the fact that you can’t really die in this game. This is because you don’t get any sort of health. This is a system that has been carried over from Wario Land II. Instead of threatening to kill you, the game merely threatens to inconvenience you. You can either get knocked off of ledges, or, in the case of boss fights, get sent back in such a way to make you restart the fight all over again.

In previous games, Wario Land featured games of luck, chance, or skill to get specific treasure’s. In this game, mini-games now play a reduced roll, but have not been eliminated entirely. In this game, you play a round of Wario golf. In this game, you play a single hole from a randomly selected set of 3 (for completionists, a fourth hole can be unlocked). The goal is to make Par by body-checking the baddie for a stroke.

For those of you who have played Mario Golf, the energy meter will be a very familiar thing to work with. For those of you who have not played that game, the energy bar requires good timing. When you press “A”, the Wario icon will move up the bar. You can stop it by tapping “A” again to determine the power. The further to the right you stop the Wario icon, the more powerful the shot.

You’ll then notice a second Wario icon heading back. The goal is to stop the second Wario icon in the red zone on the left hand side of the bar with “A” again. If you land outside of the bar, Wario will trip and you lose a stroke. If you get it a little to the left or right, you may introduce some spin (spin effects void when you land in anything other than a fairway. Stop Wario right in the middle and you’ll get a particularly powerful shot that will help your driving.

In short, think of this as a 2D version of Mario Golf, but with only 1 hole and a fire hazard thrown in while you are at it.

After you manage to obtain every single music box, you can either return them to the temple to put the wheels in motion to end the game or you can keep exploring to find as many pieces of treasure as possible. The choice is yours.

One thing I did notice is that this is frequently cited by critics as an amazing game. In fact, when some sites put together the greatest Game Boy Color games ever made, this game often makes its way over there. I honestly wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with this game because I was particularly disappointed with the previous game. So, I was hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

Like the previous game, this game is absolutely massive. You might not know it from the first few levels, but trying to complete this game requires a lot of time. I spent the better part of three days of non-stop playing and was honestly wondering if I was going to burn part of a fourth day just to see an ending. This concept didn’t work so well in the previous game for me because it only added to the constant repetition. For this game, I was surprised that this is one of the many strengths this game has going for it.

The length, in this case, is a particularly big strength because of the complexity and non-linear nature of this game. I never really found myself to be bored because this game constantly found a way to challenge my problem solving and exploration skills. At times, this was daunting, but I always had at least a vague direction of travel, so I was never really confounded as to what I needed to do next. The bigger challenge comes when you try and find some of the non-essential treasure. There are no real hints you can get from the Temple, so all you get is a brief flash and a, “hope you remember that” concept from the game itself. If you don’t get everything, no sweat, it’s still possible to beat the game. So, that I really liked.

Another thing I liked is the fact that this game switches back to the non-linear level concept. This is a big part why the first game, in my mind, is so successful. You can explore and re-explore levels as much as you like. While this is an alright concept by itself, it comes with an intriguing feature: ever changing levels.

as you collect treasures, areas become accessible in previously explored levels. Sometimes, you can collect items that alter the landscape of a previously explored level. The flute, for instance, wakes up snakes in pots, allowing you to access new areas. Seeds can grow vines. Octopus food can enlarge enemies so that certain locked off areas can be explored. There is a lot of this throughout the game. This is another reason why this game is so compelling.

While this game does have a substantial set of points that makes this game great, this game isn’t exactly perfect. One annoying element is the fact that some chest and key locations can be so confusing, it takes a long time to solve or you find yourself having to look up some material online to get you out of a jam. In some instances, you can find yourself backtracking through nearly whole levels just to obtain that next key. The red key in the City in Chaos is one example of this.

Sometimes, there are just plain frustrating moments in the game. Fortunately, these don’t happen that often, but they are there. Probably the best example I can think of is the Rabbit Ball boss. While I did eventually defeat him, winning in this game is a royal pain as far as I’m concerned. There are lots of boss fights after that one that are easier than the soccer rabbit boss, that is for sure.

Still, this game is a pleasant surprise for me. You can add me to the list of reviewers that say this game is an excellent game to play through. The fact that this game constantly saves and can even save your position is certainly helpful on battery life. The length is impressive and the complexity really makes this a compelling game – even if it can be daunting and frustrating at times. A very enjoyable game.

The graphics presented here are impressive. The animation cycles, the different forms of Wario, the enemies, and the settings are all very well done. The variety of scenery all works well for this game. Each bit of scenery is very nicely realized as well. A very good job here.

For me the only weakness is the audio. The music is certainly not bad, but it does get to be a tad repetitive after a while. I don’t know if it is thanks, in part, to the backtracking or if music gets re-used in some levels, but the variety could have been a little better in my view. The sound effects, however, are pretty good. They really add life to the game.

Overall, this is an impressively good game. The variety is there and the length makes it that much better. The non-linear nature helps make this game a great game to play. The changing landscape as you find things makes this game a very immersive experience. The game can be confusing and frustrating at times, but that doesn’t stop this game from being a nevertheless enjoyable game. The graphics are very well done. Meanwhile, the audio can be a little repetitive at times, but the sound effects are nicely done. An overall highly recommended game.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Beat the game. Collected 74 treasures.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 86%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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