Review: Wario Land – Super Mario Land 3 (Game Boy)

In this review, we show our greedy side in the Game Boy game Wario Land – Super Mario Land 3. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1994. It is the third game in the Game Boy Super Mario Land series. We previously played Super Mario Land. That game got a fairly mediocre score. We also tried Super Mario Land 2 – 6 Golden Coins. That game got an excellent score here. So, we thought we would continue the series by playing the third game.

If you were expecting a third Super Mario style game, you might have been surprised to find that this game is a completely different game. Instead of playing the famous character Super Mario, you play his brother Wario instead.

The game follows the events of the previous game. After being defeated by Mario and getting kicked out of the castle, Wario arrives at this large island that is seemingly inspired by food. He is on a quest to find a genie that will grant him a single wish. With this wish, Wario hopes to get a brand new castle in this new land.

The health system in this game is based off of hats. As the loading screen suggests, you start off with the basic explorers hat. This hat allows you to do a shoulder charge while on the ground. This charge allows you to bump enemies off the screen. It also gives you a chance to earn a coin for every successful body check. Careful you don’t hit enemies that have spikes that can damage you.

If you get hit, then you lose your hat and shrink down. In this form, you only have basic moves. You can jump and land on enemies. Landing on enemies allows you to pick them up and throw them at other enemies. You can also jump and hit boxes and breakables from above. That’s pretty much it.

Along the way, you can collect other hats too. The first one you’ll likely encounter is the bull horn hat. This hat gives you a better charging attack. It also allows you to perform a ground pound (jump and press down). In addition, you can stick to the ceiling (useful for the two locations that have a conveyor belt).

Another hat, which happens to be my favorite one, is the jet hat. With this hat, you can walk faster and jump higher. In addition to this, you can body check through the air for extended periods of time. This allows you to cross over gaps with relative ease.

An additional hat you can find is the dragon hat. This hat will allow you to basically carry a flamethrower attack. The attack is limited in duration and (to a degree) distance. Still, you can bust three breakable blocks at a time and defeat enemies with little effort.

Along the way, you’ll be able to collect coins. Unlike previous Mario games, earning 100 coins will not grant you an additional free life. Instead, you accumulate them and put them in a bank at the end of the level. You can collect single coins through boxes, defeating enemies a certain way, or picking them up along the way. On occasion, you can also come across a larger coin with a plus sign on it. This coin is worth 10 coins. If you are lucky, you can find the extremely large coin. This coin is worth a whopping 100 coins.

Instead of coins, you earn free lives through a heart system. For every enemy you defeat, you earn 1 additional heart point. You can also find hearts in containers as well. Each heart is worth 10 heart points. For every 100 heart points you earn, you get a free life.

One of the few items that has been carried over from the previous game is the invulnerability star. Collect this item from one of the boxes and you’ll be able to defeat any enemy simply by touching them. As an added bonus, for every enemy you defeat while invulnerable will earn you 11 hearts instead one 1.

One final item of note is the key. This key is used to unlock the treasure room. Where the key and the treasure rooms are located is up to the player, but if you touch the treasure room door with the key (has a key hole on the top), the door will rise from the ground and allow you to enter.

If you make it to the end of the level, you’ll notice a coin door. This first door you encounter will be a demonstration, so it’ll be free. There are a few coin doors towards the end that are also opened, so those will be free. The rest, however, will cost you 10 coins. To drop 10 coins in it, you need to hold up and press “B”. This will allow Wario to hold a larger coin. Touch the door and the coin will be deposited, allowing the door to open up. This allows you to beat the level.

An additional note on levels is that most, if not, all, have another item you can deposit coins in to. This is the skeleton coin location. If you drop 10 coins into this, the crystal ball will activate. While it’s unclear at first what this does for you, you’ll eventually discover that this is a checkpoint. If you deposit the coins and die shortly after, you’ll reappear at this checkpoint.

One final note about levels is that the final level will have a boss for you to defeat. Defeat the boss and you’ll advance to the next area.

After you beat the level, you’ll be given a chance to try one of two mini-games between levels. The choice is either the coin game or the heart game. The coin game is free to try, but the heart game costs money to play (how much money you spend impacts how many free lives you can possibly earn).

The money game is pretty straight forward. You enter a room with two buckets. One bucket contains a coin bag. If you get the coin bag, you’ll double the amount of coins you earned in the level. The other item you can get is the 10 tonne weight. If you get this, then the amount of coins you’ve earned in the level is cut in half. You can leave at any time before your decision, but you can also play for a maximum of three rounds. Essentially, the game is a coin flip as to whether or not you’ll be successful.

The heart game, meanwhile, allows you the chance to earn hearts and even whole free lives. If you spend little to play, the prize ladder will mostly consist of heart prizes. If, however, you spend a lot, then the ladder of prizes will consist mostly of free lives. The more coins you spend, however, the harder the game will be.

You get a limited number of bombs. You stand on one side of the river. On the other side is your target enemy. The enemy will run across the screen. IF you hit it, then you’ll earn a circle. If you miss, then you’ll get an “X”. The more circles you get, the better the prize you earn at the end (all misses means you leave with nothing). You can move a little bit, but the timing is the big thing. The power you can throw is on the lower left hand side of the screen. If you throw at the weaker levels, then the bomb won’t even make it across the river, so a more powerful throw is key. Combine this with a constantly moving target, and you got yourself a difficult game to score well in.

While this game does divide up the various levels into different worlds, there is still a fairly linear level number. In total, there are 40 courses in the game. While there are 40 courses, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to revisit some. The events that results in you beating a level later on can impact levels you have previously beaten. For instance, putting the top on tea pot mountain will flood and drain different levels on Rice beach. In fact, one of the treasures can only be collected by completing the Teapot zone and returning to the modified level.

Finally, there are a number of enemies you can encounter. Some enemies include a small spear holding enemy while others wander around wielding morning stars at you. In addition, there are obstacles you can find like the Exclamation switches that gently modifies the level and even a wall of level you race against (a race you definitely do not want to lose).

This game is billed as a game that gives players the chance to play as the bad guy. If anything, it is definitely a marked departure from the previous games released in this franchise. Unlike previous games, you aren’t attempting to rescue a princess from oversized apes and turtles. Instead, the whole point is to accumulate as much as possible by the end of the game. This is a positive in that it finally breaks a very classic mold that has defined the franchise for so long.

While this game is certainly a departure from the previous games in the franchise, this game does have its pitfalls. The biggest one is the fact that the learning curve is a bit steeper than the previous Mario games. It takes a bit to figure out how to pull out some coins or even figure out how everything even works – even for seasoned Mario gamers at the time. Still, it can be learned, it just takes a bit of getting used to first.

A positive in this game is the concept of a modified level. If you, say, drain a lake, then enter a previous level, the entire level has been changed. This is certainly an impressive element for the time as most games just have one level or a level that you can lightly modify on the way through.

Another impressive aspect of this game is the way it saves what you’ve done in the levels themselves. If you hit a block with a different had powerup, you can move part way through a level and return to see it still there. It also remembers what enemies you’ve defeated instead of simply respawning after every pass through. I thought this was great. If you beat the level and return, everything is respawned, though (items, breakables, enemies, etc.).

The difficulty curve ends up hitting a sort of Goldilocks area. It isn’t too hard and isn’t too easy. It’s just right. Some areas will challenge the player more than others, but the truly difficult stuff is typically optional. This is one of the things I always like to see in the game and it’s definitely present here.

Another element I didn’t like is the lack of running ability. Normally, you can use B to run, but in this game, all you get is one walking speed (only modified with the jet hat). This can make movement somewhat restrictive from time to time – especially when jumping over larger gaps.

All in all, I found this to be a pretty solid game. The large differences between this and previous games in the franchise is a bit jarring and the learning curve is steeper than others. Still, the level modification and the games ability to remember what you did are part of a list of great elements in this game. The difficulty curve is about right as well. So, solid gameplay.

The graphics are not bad. The backgrounds are pretty decent and the characters are decently drawn. The only thing is that the animation sequences are stuck in all of two or three frames (save for Wario walking maybe). While this does set this game back a little from other handheld games released at the time, it’s not a huge deal. The blurring is very minimal which is great to see.

The audio is pretty decent. Some of the level music like the first level music really says Mario. In fact, it says Mario so well, I thought it was somehow re-used in the N64 game Paper Mario, but a quick look around revealed nothing close to it. Other than the upbeat nature of the music, I can’t put my finger on what make it so Mario-like, so it fits very well. The sound effects work quite well in this game as well. So, a great job here.

Overall, this is a very solid game. The departure from the rest of the series may be jarring for some players. The leaning curve is also a bit steeper than normal. Still, the fact that the game remembers your deeds throughout the level is a great feature. The modification of levels later on the game gives this game so much more replay value and a greater life span. Movements can be a bit sketchy from time to time though. The graphics are pretty good and the audio is great. A solid game to play.

Furthest point in game: Won the game. Earned the log cabin with over 60,000 coins.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 76%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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