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The Virtual Boy's flagship title.
Author: B. Hodges | Date: 2003/03/13 | Rating: 10/10


Introduction

Wario Land was released in December of 1995 for the Nintendo Virtual Boy. It was produced by Gunpei Yokoi, the designer of the system. It is considered by many to be the best game that was released for the Virtual Boy.

Gameplay - 10/10

This game plays a lot like the 2D Mario/Wario games. There are a total of 14 levels or floors in the game. Four of these are boss levels where you must fight a guardian first, then an actual boss. In each of the ten regular levels there is a key and a hidden treasure. You must find the key to unlock the exit to the level, but the hidden treasures are optional. There are also the standard coins, hearts, and powerups. Powerups come in the form of hats that transform Wario into different forms that give him special powers like the ability to breathe fire or fly. At the end of each level you can use your coins to play two bonus games, one that gives you hearts and 1-UPs, the other gives you more coins. What sets this game apart from the other games in the genre is the 3D aspect. In Wario Land, Wario and enemies can travel back and forth between the foreground and background which adds an extra dimension (pun intended) to the game. What seems like a harmless goldfish in the background suddenly becomes a giant pirahna in the foreground. Traveling back and forth between the two is also crucial for bypassing obstacles and finding items. All in all, gameplay is innovative while sticking to the tried and true platform formula.

Play Control 10/10

The controls are absolutely perfect. Running, jumping, and attacking work just like you think they should. Surprisingly flying is a breeze, all you have to do is hold down A after jumping, no running to charge up a power meter or anything!

Story - 9/10

In this game Wario is vacationing in the Awazon rainforest. While he is checking his eyelids for light leaks, he is rudely awakened by some beavers. When he looks around, he sees some strange creatures wearing masks entering a cave behind a waterfall. When he follows them, he sees a room filled with treasure. After he overpowers the guards he tries to steal the treasure, but just before he enters the room, the floor collapses and he falls down to the very bottom of the cave. Wario vows that he will then steal their treasure. This story is presented to you in a brief cinema scene when you start the game. You are also treated to a short cinema after you beat the game, which one you get depends on how well you did. It is a nice change of pace to play the role of a bad guy in a video game. The story sets up the game well and the cinemas, while short, are nicely done and very funny.

Graphics - 10/10

In a word, WOW. The graphics are just amazing. Everything from the characters to the levels are incredibly detailed. In my opinion, the first two boss levels have some of the best graphics available for the Virtual Boy. The game also makes great use of the Virtual Boy's 3D.

Sound - 8/10

This is the category that most Virtual Boy games have trouble with. The sound effects in Wario Land are on par with those of Super Mario Bros 3. They could have been better, but are still okay. The music is good, it fits the levels really well.

Playing Time/Replay Value - 9/10

This game has ten hidden treasures, a second quest, and multiple endings so you will be playing this one a lot. The only drawback is that compared to Super Mario World and other games of this genre, it seems a little short.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid? - Buy

This is THE must own game for the Virtual Boy. If you have a Virtual Boy and don't have this game, you should buy a copy immediately. If you don't own a Virtual Boy, you should buy one (they're pretty cheap now) just to play this game.

Overall Score - 10/10

This is an amazing game. If this game had come out for any other system besides the Virtual Boy, it would be one of the classic greats. If this game had been available at launch or if there could have been a few more high quality games like this one, the Virtual Boy might have made it.