Virtual Boy Wario Land Review


This game has been on my radar for a number of years now, but I just never got around to playing it. That’s mostly because I try to experience games when I own them physically, rather than through the use of nefarious methods. However, I realized that this just isn’t practical when it comes to the Virtual Boy. I’m probably never going to seek out and purchase one, so I used that as an excuse to play this obscure entry in the Wario Land series. To my surprise, this game delivered in ways I never expected. I won’t be able to give my thoughts on the actual console itself, however, I feel I have enough information to deliver a review on the game. With that being said, let’s take a look at Virtual Boy Wario Land.

Wario Land Gameplay You Know and Love

If you’re familiar with the Wario Land series, then you’ll know that the gameplay is pretty strong. You’ll find traditional Wario Land gameplay here which includes collecting coins, overcoming enemies, and seeking out hidden treasures. Your main objective is to find the level’s key and use it to unlock the exit to progress forward. You’ll accomplish all of this using Wario’s trademark shoulder tackle, as well as the ability to pick up and toss your enemies. Wario also has other abilities thanks to the use of power-ups in the form of hats. Bull Wario comes with a stronger tackle and the ability to butt stomp. Sea Dragon Wario can breathe fire, which is useful for taking out enemies and blocks that can only be destroyed with fire. Eagle Wario lets you take flight and is a lot of fun to use. If you pick up an Eagle Wario hat or Sea Dragon Wario hat while wearing the other, you’ll combine abilities and become an unstoppable fire breathing, flying Wario.

Interesting Level Design

The level design found in this game surprised me the most. You can expect to find ten traditional levels and four boss fights. The traditional levels are somewhat linear, although there are plenty of hidden areas to be found. You’ll find these hidden areas by charging through walls, or using one of the aforementioned power-ups. You will sometimes have to go off the beaten path to find a key, although that key is really never too hard to find. Hidden treasures are definitely more well hidden though and will require straying from the path; sometimes there are puzzle elements that must be solved to access these areas. While most of the levels take place on ground, there are a few water levels sprinkled in for good measure.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the level design in the game is tied to the Virtual Boy’s stereoscopic 3D feature. At certain points, you’ll find pads that can launch you into the background. This is a mechanic that I’ve experienced and enjoyed in 3DS games. I can’t speak to how it looks on an actual Virtual Boy, however, the way it is incorporated into the game works quite well. The 3D effect actually plays a big role in all of the game’s boss fights. While the fights aren’t exactly challenging, attacks will come from the background (or foreground) giving the fights a bit of life. One of the stranger elements that I enjoyed actually occurs before each boss fight. This is in the form of a mini battle with a small enemy that guards each boss room. It completely caught me off guard. Each mini battle does change it up a little bit, so it was interesting to see how this was accomplished.

A Surprising Amount of Replay Value

The game continued to surprise me as I kept playing, which includes discovering its replay value. On each of the ten traditional levels, there is a hidden treasure to be found. I briefly mentioned this above, but the reason you should seek out these treasures is to get the game’s best ending. Yes, there are multiple endings to the game, which is actually a bit of a Wario Land staple, I just didn’t expect to come across that here. Not only will you have to find each treasure, but you’ll also need to complete it in under two hours. Completing, or not completing these tasks is the key to unlocking each ending.

Speaking of unlocking things, you’ll find a surprise should you open your save file after completing the game. Doing so will greet you with a harder version of the game, which includes adding new elements to levels to make them tougher. There is also a new set of treasure to find, however, they do seem to be hidden in the same places. The game itself is actually quite easy, so this hard mode is a welcomed surprise.

Mixed Opinion on Visuals and Audio

This section of the game is hard to review without having played the game on actual Virtual Boy hardware. The actual art and soundtrack are quite good and in certainly line with what I’ve come to expect from the series. I wish I could give the game a plus here, however, I feel like that wouldn’t be accurate given all the horror stories of actually using a Virtual Boy. I personally didn't hate the red and black, but again, not seeing its headache inducing effects might slant my opinion. However, I can tell that the development team put in effort here, so I won't be taking away any points.

Conclusion

I am still a little blown away after playing this game. If there was a reason to own a Virtual Boy in the 90s, then Virtual Boy Wario Land was it. I haven’t played any other games on the console, however, I feel confident in saying that this is an upper tier Virtual Boy game. If you are collecting Virtual Boy stuff then this game is a must own. I’m hoping that one day Nintendo decides to re-release this game so that others can easily enjoy without the headache.

Final Score: +3

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