The Top 8 Wario Games

What the hell is wrong with Wario?
For that matter, what the hell is wrong with the person that made him?
Nowhere else in the industry will you find a more greasy hide of scum and villainy.
Need I remind you that this is the guy who, after risking life and limb on some crazy adventure
(not to mention mudering hundreds, if not thousands of minions along the way)
pushed aside the princess he just rescued so he could get his hands on her magic bag of infinite treasure.
He’s just that kind of douchebag.
And we love him for it.
Wario may be a grossly obese money-grubbing jerk, but he’s an awesome one.
Look at how he can strong-arm a hardened pirate into the atmosphere.
Look at how this guy can be set on fire and walk it off like nothing happened.
Look at that smile. That is the biggest s**t-eating grin ever put to pixels.
Wario is my favorite Nintendo character because I find him positively over-the-top.
His games are ones where you’re not only offered the possibility to,
but in 99% of situations, are flat-out encouraged to throw yourself into danger for petty gain.
These are games where you turn into a zombie, punch a clown in the face, and straight up shake the earth with your weight
(not necessarily in that order).
These are games that know exactly what they want to be, and are completely unapologetic for that fact.
And yet somehow, Wario games always have this…strange mysticality to them.
This sense of adventure and mystery that makes you want to see what’s coming next.
Because no matter if he’s raiding tombs or beating down pirates,
Wario (at his core) is a treasure hunter,
and all of his Indiana Jones-like adventures reflect that.
Or maybe I just relate to him because of his lack of friends and unhealthy obsession with garlic.
Either way, I’m Whatthefnu, and this is Team Pizza’s Top 8 Wario Games!
You gotta pay respects to the one that started it all, especially when it set a standard that to this day has yet to be challenged.
I’ve been saying for a while that mechanics are just as powerful a storytelling tool as any dialogue box or curscene,
and if there’s anything Wario Land’s gameplay instills in you as a player, it’s Wario’s intense lust for cash.
Money is everything in this game.
You can’t even open the exit and complete the stage without ponying up some dough.
Activating a checkpoint will also set back your bank account, which puts you in an interesting mental position as a player.
You need all the cash you can get to unlock the best ending,
but if you ever die, you lose all of the coins you had collected in that stage so far.
So, do you trudge on forward without the checkpoint, or do you think of it as an investment?
Either way, you might want to avoid dying too much,
because the only way to get more lives is the end-of-level bonus games.
And guess what those will cost you to play?
More money.
I love the pressure this game puts on you,
because when you’re struggling in Wario Land, half the time it’s because you’re doing it to yourself.
Gee, that sounds like it fits Wario to a tee, doesn’t it?
Make no bones about it, though: this little adventure in avarice is anything but easy.
Losing your powerup is even more detrimental to Wario than it is to his slightly skinnier counterpart,
because even when he’s small, at least Mario still has the majority of his moves.
But without garlic in his belly, Wario can’t charge, or even lift his larger adversaries.
If you’re good enough to not get hit, however,
you’ll get added powers like a butt stomp, fire breath, and the ability to charge in the air.
But you’ll always be just one hit away from going back to square one, so do try to look before you leap.
It’s even got some solid length for a game boy game.
There are entire worlds you’ll never see if you don’t go hunting for secret exits,
and if you’re scouring every nook and cranny for treasure anyway, you might stumble one by total accident.
Nobody stands between Wario and his wealth, and this was just stop 1 in a long, pirate-bashing career.
Wario Land 3 is kind of an odd duck.
I mean, it’s still good,
but if you played the other gameboy Warios (especially number 2),
you’re gonna have to do a lot of jumping over mental hurdles to appreciate it.
First off, most of Wario’s abilities that you’ve probably grown used to by now are locked away at the beginning,
and unlike before, you won’t be getting them back any time soon through powerups.
Instead, you have to play for at least an hour to even get your hands on the ground pound.
Strange, considering the game directly before this one gave you access to it all the time.
Second, because of this upgrade system, you can bet there are plenty of secrets in each stage you simply won’t be able to access your first time through.
This means there’s a lot of re-treading old ground in Wario Land 3,
and if you know me, you know that there are very few things I dislike more in a game than repetition.
The third major machanical change is that this time around, Wario is 100% invincible.
You can light him on fire, infect him with a zombie virus, stab him, stomp him; he does not care.
In fact, in some situations, he can use the alternate forms these attacks bestow him with to his advantage,
breaking previously insurmountable barriers, and annihilating any foe he touches.
But the thing is, the ratio of help to hindrance is very unbalanced.
More often than not, these transformations slow you down, throw you off course uncontrollably, and throw you back quite a ways in the stage.
And let me remind you that you can’t die or lose health,
so instead of the enemies hurting you, the punishment for not dealing with them properly is a massive wasting of your time.
You feel personally insulted when this happens, and truthfully, I’m not sure what would have been more frustrating:
this, or a traditional lives system like the first game.
Wario Land 3 has that genuine mystique to it.
It’s got the same kind of adventurous and slightly mystical appeal that makes this series so great.
The story is about how you crash land your plane in the middle of a forest, and discover an entire world inside a music box.
There, you meet an ancient being who claims to have been locked away by villains of the past,
and begs you to go on a quest to release him.
Huh. Sounds legit.
And so begins this journey not just to gain treasure, but also figure out just what’s going on with all this weirdness.
Yeah, all the gameplay points I mentioned did bug me,
but the unsolved mysteries in this place were always gnawing at the back of my brain,
compelling me to go just a bit further in hopes of an answer.
The act of discovery has always been a big part of Wario games due to the treasures, but it is the driving force in 3.
By the time you’re done with these stages, you are a master at them, which can be satisfying in its own right.
Besides: the puzzles in Wario Land 3 are a huge step up from the other games,
really testing your deductive reasoning ability.
It’s a world that opens up to you one jump at a time, and I wouldn’t have that any other way.
Well, maybe 6 other ways.
Okay, I’ve got a crazy design concept for you. Just…just hear me out on this one.
Imagine a Mario game where instead of finding the powerups, you just could use them at any time.
All their powers, all their extra function, all at your fingertips whenever you liked.
Now, naturally, the level design would have to compensate for this,
making it less of a fast-paced gauntlet and more of a methodical puzzle,
where you use these various extra powers to deduce the way forward instead of just fighting through it.
In fact, let’s not even make it a Mario game.
Because this kind of gameplay fits better for a character that was already known for approaching levels that way already.
Now, I didn’t come up with that idea. Nintendo did.
And they called it: Wario Master of Disguise.
I have to talk about this plot. It’s too good not to discuss.
Wario is watching TV one day, when he sees a show about a master thief,
and decides he could do a better job than this chump any day.
That’s harsh, dude.
I mean, he’s right, but still: that’s harsh!
So he comes up with a device that can beam him in to the fictional world of the show,
and allow him to take the thief’s powers.
And it’s with these powers that he becomes an alter ego rivaling even Wario Man in awesomeness.
He is the stench of defeat. The mustache of muscle.
He is to stealth what a shoulder tackle is to a pirate.
He is the terror that flatules in the night.
Silent but deadly, THE PURPLE WIND!
And the whole game, from the dialogue to the treasure descriptions is like that;
drenched in this winking, side-nudging hilarious self-awareness.
It’s Wario bein’ Wario, with enough abilities and alternate costumes to keep you interested for hours.
Though, something I noticed on this playthrough:
I can’t help but draw paralells between Master of Disguise and Super Princess Peach.
Both were on the DS, both used the touch screen to make the character use various powers,
both had a sentient, phallic object guiding you through your adventure,
and both had awesome soundtracks.
No, really: are you listening to Count Cannoli’s theme in the background? [Probably not, if you’re using captions.]
All the tracks are that good. And if there’s one thing Peach doesn’t have,
it’s a great rival character like Cannoli.
This guy is constantly hounding you, providing great boss fights and sinister traps.
You don’t even feel bad about beating him every time, because he was a thief to begin with.
Granted, Wario is no saint either,
but that just keeps you from feeling too bad when he gets sent down a trap door.
From clever gameplay and great powerups to all the charm and humor you can handle,
I can definitely reccommend Master of Disguise to anyone looking to grow their DS collection.
Smell it.
I am fascinated with the Virtual Boy.
Not the console itself, mind you, but the rather the history and story behind it.
I cannot count on two hands the number of things that went wrong with this system.
From misguided marketing to complaints of eye strain and headaches,
the list is like an Energizer Bunny; it just keeps going.
But one of the most commonly cited criticisms
is the lack of games that actually tried to provide you with a proper virtual reality experience.
To put this in a more modern perspective, imagine playing Bayonetta with the Occulus Rift.
Doesn’t quite gel, does it?
But that doesn’t mean Bayonetta is a bad game by itself,
and neither is what most people call the best title you can buy for the Virtual Boy: Wario Land.
Wario Land for the Virtual Boy pretty much took
everything from Wario Land for the Game Boy and made it so much better.
And by “made it better”, I mainly mean it took
measures to further separate itself from typical Mario games.
For one, you could do something no other game in either series has ever tried to replicate since:
powerup fusion.
The easgle and dragon helmets have returned, allowing you to fly and breathe fire respectively,
but by collecting one of these powerups while already possessing the other will grant you the King Dragon Helmet,
which upgrades your fire breath to an unstoppable blast, and also allows you to fly.
You’re still only one hit from having to start all over again, though, and trust me:
it really hurts to lose something that takes so much work to get in the first place.
You know what else hurts? My temples,
because I’ve got a migraine from trying to find some of these treasures without a walkthrough.
I like to think of myself as pretty thorough, too.
You’re talking to someone who 100-percented Arkham Asylum on his first playthrough by himself.
Some of these secrets are hidden incredibly well, so yeah…
approach with care, ye of obsessive compulsion.
Bonus points must be awarded for having not one, but two Wario staples:
garlic, and coins EVERYWHERE.
In fact, if you don’t count Shake It, this game has the most currency per stage in the entire series.
You might also notice from the map that this romp is rather short.
Honestly, though, I kinda like that. Sometimes you just need a game you can knock out in 2 hours.
And because every minute is a worthwhile experience, I don’t regret a moment of it.
So if you’ve got a free afternoon and a couple Advil handy,
show this red and black treasure pack some love.
God, nostalgia sucks when you’re trying to be objective.
When Wario Land 2 entered my Game Boy as a child, it did not leave for days. Weeks, even.
Why? Take all the criticisms I just gave Wario Land 3,
hold down the B button, and toss them out the window.
Your entire moveset is there right from the start,
meaning every stage is about mastering how to use it in a new and interesting way.
They are constantly challenging you with different enemies, mechanics,
and hazards, so you will always be kept on your toes.
And you are still invincible, but the level design accomodates it so much better.
When you get a transformation, it actually feels useful because it’s always provided in an appropriate place,
and clever use of it will always lead you to a hidden cache of coins.
And you’re going to want to find these, because again,
I want to talk about how a good set of mechanics can put you right in the mind of the character.
See, finding the room with the treasure isn’t enough.
You have to play a panel-matching game to open the chest, and choosing to play costs you coins.
You can choose to spend fewer coins, but the game will be a lot more difficult.
Borderline impossible, if you play on hard.
And the minigame you play at the end of each stage only exasperates the situation.
Panels on this grid will flip over randomly, costing 50 coins per tile.
You can stop at any time and guess, but if you guess wrong, you get nothing,
with no second chance to fall back on.
You want another go at that game’s reward? You gotta start a whole ‘nother playthrough, so choose wisely.
It’s the combination of the constant desire for treasure and
the need to figure out what this map is actually showing a picture of that makes every coin precious.
You will go out of your way to pick up two or three stragglers in an awkward position,
because deep down, you know it all adds up.
This is the game that taught me to check every single wall for secrets.
Going back to Arkham again,
if you had told me there was a secret room, I probably would have been the first one to find it.
That’s how powerfully this game conditions you.
But again, it makes perfect sense for Wario to go about his business like this.
Throwing in stages like a giant faucet,
and a boss that’s based around using your opponent as a basketball is just icing on the cake.
And did you know:
according to this game, there is one thing in this universe that Wario likes more than money?
*record scratch*
That’s right! A record scratch.
When you’re chasing these pirates through the forest, they accidentally scare Wario’s pet chicken.
And when he sees that she’s flown the coop,
he completely drops pursuit of his stolen booty to get her back to safety.
Much to the chagrin of the roosters in the area.
I don’t what else to say, really. It’s one of my favorite titles for the original Gameboy.
I can still pop this thing in today and have just as much fun as I did years ago,
if not more now that I can appreciate how professionally crafted it was.
It’s the game that made me love Wario, so if I didn’t share that love with all of you,
it just wouldn’t feel right.
But believe it or not, this is not my favorite Wario platformer.
Have you ever had an epiphany?
Like you reached into your brain and unexpectedly found something you didn’t know was there?
Some ancient secret; some primeval hint long forgotten, and only just now remembered?
I bring this up because an entire team reaching this state collectively for over two years
is the only way I can imagine this game came into existence.
It is no accident they were all at Nintendo when this project began;
they were simply put on this earth to make Wario Land 4.
Video games have been a part of my life for almost two decades now,
and in that time, I have played some fantastic platformers.
Shovel Knight, Meat Boy, Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong County,
but holy crap. This?
This is up there. Top 8, easily.
But to properly explain why this game is so good,
I have to also explain why this game is so bad.
It’s clear from the style to the mechanics that Shake It is desperately trying to be Wario Land 4,
but it lacks so many of the key elements that made the game work.
Shake It is an incredibly punishing game for no good reason.
It added all these extra missions in every stage,
some of which you can’t even complete together in the same run,
forcing you to re-tread the exact same areas over and over for reasons beyond your control.
It has the same Hurry Up mechanic that Wario Land 4 does when you reach the end of a stage,
but with all this added pressure to make sure you do every little thing correctly on the way out,
you’ll be using the reset far more than you ever should in a game like this.
Wario Land 4 certainly has extras you can find off to the side during these sections,
but they’re mostly optional.
It’s nice if you can get them, sure, but it’s always something like more gems or health,
and even when it’s something required for progression like a gem piece,
the placement of it is always easier to access than most other secrets anyway,
and you always have another chance to get it if you screw up the first time.
It doesn’t punish you for lacking psychic abilities like Shake It often does,
because the team behind Wario Land 4 understood that it’s about skill of execution rather than sheer memorization.
Gone is that sense of wonder and discovery;
that thrill of jumping headfirst into old, abandoned ruins to look for long-forgotten treasures.
Gone are the hidden rooms that contrasted so wildly to the rest of the stage, consistent only to each-other,
and always featured this strange little man who you could also see on the main map.
Who is this guy? What’s his story? Why is he here?
Come to think of it, where’s that cat you saw at the beginning of the game,
and why was it just hanging out in an ancient pyramid, never mind appearing to lead you deeper in?
It sounds so minor, but environmental storytelling like this is what makes this world so fascinating.
Something happened in this pyramid that we’re just not seeing, and how do you find out what it is?
By playing the game.
But its greatest achievement by far is fusing all of the best mechanics
from all of the previous games into one package.
It has the risk factor of a health bar always lingering over you,
but some enemies still transform you into an alternate state without dealing damage.
It has the charging, the stomping, the rolling,
and even a brand new and insanely useful dash move that are all unlocked from the beginning.
It has stages with unique mechanics so deep,
you might not even fully understand them until your run back through,
keeping even the return trip just as interesting as the initial entry.
And all without ever feeling cheap, gimmicky, or unfair in any way.
Wario Land 4 is a master work in 2D platformer design,
and one of the many, many reasons the Game Boy Advance is one of my favorite consoles ever.
Out of all the accomplishments Nintendo has made over the years,
it’s the Wii that made me realize how good they really are at making video games.
This was a console of character, and what I mean by that is,
the company behind it had finally reached a technical threshold
that allowed them to realize any idea they wanted.
During that generation, we saw a new iteration of Punch Out, the darkest Zelda yet,
two legendary 3D platformers, and what do they all have in common?
Their worlds and the personalities within them
are realized to a level that to this day rivals anything produced by the rest of this industry.
They have so much heart, care, and attention behind them
that every time you pick up these games again, you notice something new,
and you gain a deeper appreciation for just how much work went into what you’re experiencing right now.
And what got me thinking about this was the fact that the first time I noticed it was in a minigame collection.
I’m convinced the only reason Warioware Smooth Moves wasn’t a launch title for the Wii
is because it took longer than Nintendo anticipated to make a CD out of crack cocaine.
What a fascinating formula, and a brilliant way to get people used to the idea of the Wii Remote:
tie the ways you can use it to real-world activities and objects,
and then use them in fun, rapid-fire minigames.
But of course, because this is the Wii, it doesn’t stop there.
The whole of Diamond City, from its landmarks and activities
to the lives of those within it are shown in intricate detail.
These people have friends, relationships, and associations,
and the interactions between these people feel totally natural!
Well, uh…as natural as a cartoon can get, anyway.
And the amazing part? Most people won’t even notice these things, which is totally fine.
Smooth Moves is the kind of game you can truly play however you like,
whether you bust it out at parties just to see your friends look like idiots,
or play it again and again, peeling back a layer of its intricacies every time.
You could never see the aesthetic variations some games employ occasionally,
or how the different difficulty levels drastically change the way you play them,
and you’d still have just as much fun.
You might never find out that replaying cleared stages gives you access to even more minigames,
and how playing them all unlocks one big bonus game, and you’d still walk away feeling satisfied.
Because through it all, this is a game designed to be fun.
It’s a game wrapped in humor and self-awareness.
Like, did you ever notice how all the minigames on Wario’s stages feature him in some way?
Did you ever notice the cat that shows up under Jimmy T’s afro if you idle on his stage?
Did you ever notice how the guy in charge of the video game shop is listed in the credits as “Store Manager Iwata”?
Smooth Moves departs from every game trait that supposedly makes our beloved trasure-hunter appealing in the first place,
and yet, somehow, it manages to be the most Wario ANYTHING in the history of the universe.
Well, almost…
How!? How is a third-party company better at handling Wario than the company that spawned him!?
You want a Wario game? You want something that flawlessly sums up this character?
You want a game that may as well be called “Wario: The Experience”?
Of course you do.
Even if you think you don’t, you do. You just don’t know it yet.
As a critic, you are very careful never to call something “perfect”,
but on a sheer personal level, I’d say Wario World and Tetris are the two closest games to that mark.
This is everything that makes the character great amped up to infinity,
and before Wario World, I had no idea how deep this man’s avarice actually went.
The negative greed energy swirling around his castle was enough to resurrect an ancient evil spirit.
The extent of his life force is directly tied to how many golden statues of himself he has littered about the courtyard.
This is a man who, should he ever perish,
has consumed his treasure into himself so that he may patch his wounds by expending it.
You won’t hear me say this often, but yeah:
the commercials summed up this game perfectly.
MUFFLED VOICE: “Greed is good.”
MAN: “Greed is good.”
MUFFLED VOICE: “Greed makes you do great things.”
MAN: “Greed makes you do great things.”
WARIO: “It’ll get you everything.”
MAN: “It’ll get you everything.”
WARIO: “Even if you have to piledrive your enemies to do so.”
MAN: “Even if you have to piledrive your enemies to do so!”
Wario handles incredibly well in World.
His controls are so tight, the developers can throw levels like this at you and still get away with it.
His attacks are incredibly meaty, making every punch feel like a truck ramming in to your enemies.
Which in turn makes the moment you discover the room-clearing swing throw absolutely orgasmic.
“Spin-to-win”, indeed.
And these skills will be put to the test in the frequent and amazing boss battles.
These guys are the right kind of ultimate challenge in every stage.
They’re unique, they’re intimidating, many of them are grotesque and malformed,
they have some of the best music in the game, and they’re…just plain weird.
Look at this thing. That is a fiery bodybuilder bison in a thong.
What planet do you have to hail from to gave you the removal from our frame of reality necessary to come up with that?
And of course, every corner of these maps are packed with treasure.
From the afforementioned statue pieces to the red jewels needed to progress,
and even chests loaded with loot that lets you play even more games from the equally as fun Warioware.
And this taught me that the most powerful motivator you can have
for people to collect random crap in your platformer is to promise them even more game for their efforts.
But none of that matters.
Those are a pittance compared to the #1 reason anybody should play this game.
Know why?
Because in Wario World, you can piledrive a dinosaur.
*mic drop*
Honestly, I’m not even sure what to say past this point that isn’t just me devolving into full fanboy mode.
For crying out loud, this is a Wario game that was developed by a company called “Treasure”.
It was destined from the beginning for greatness.
It’s like a fun-house carnival ride, or Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin from Disneyland.
It’s insane, it’s strange, it’s somehow colorful, dark, and abstract all at the same time,
it’s hectic, it’s funny, it is seven kinds of ridiculous,
and it is rewarding every single second that you’re a part of it.
And when you step off that ride and return to the world of the living,
all you are physically capable of saying to the nearest human being is,
“That was f***ing awesome!”
And THAT is why we love Wario.
Another weekend, another countdown. And yes, if you couldn’t tell, that does mean I make these every single weekend.
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Thank you all so very much for watching, and as always, I’m Whatthefnu. Later, everybody!

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