Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 was a 1994 platformer game for the Game Boy by Nintendo. One of the most popular games on the Game Boy was Super Mario Land, but I never liked it. I got to play it a few minutes here and there on friends’ Game Boys, but it just seemed inferior to the Mario games I had played on the regular Nintendo like Super Mario Bros. 3. I did enjoy Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, but it wasn’t until Wario Land that a truly unique platformer arrived on the handheld system.
Even though it was called Super Mario Land 3, Wario Land was a totally new game. It wasn’t really a sequel at all. Some people may have been disappointed not being able to play as Mario, but I loved it. This was a unique experience, definitely new compared to the other Mario games I had played. This game featured a new player character, Wario. He was actually the evil version of Mario. He wasn’t really a hero. He was greedy, selfish, and crude. I didn’t really know that before buying the game. All I cared about was that it was something different from the same old formula.
Wario was much bigger than Mario, so he was a lot stronger. He could jump on enemies like Mario but also do a bull rush to defeat them. Some enemies could be stunned with the bull rush, then picked up and thrown at other enemies. Wario’s abilities were complemented by three special helmets that functioned like the power-ups in Mario games.
While there were bosses in the game, the real goal was collecting treasure. Most levels had secret keys that would open treasure rooms. After beating the game, there were a few different endings depending on how much treasure the player had collected. I thought this was really cool. It gave me a reason to keep playing after beating the game. I could go back to earlier levels to find the treasure rooms and collect more coins to get a better ending. It took a long time to max out my treasure, but I was really happy to see the complete ending.
Wario Land had the perfect combination of short-term (defeat the next enemy), mid-term (clear the current level), and long-term goals (collect all the treasure). It kept me occupied for hours. Even after beating it, I loved it so much, I would regularly start a new game. I probably beat the game completely five times. By the end of it, I had memorized where most of the secrets were. One of the signs of a good game is when I am willing to see the same content in the game over and over with nothing new and still have fun. Very few games can achieve this. Out of all my Game Boy games, I consider Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 to be my favorite.