Wario Land 4 (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Adam Riley 24.01.2003

Review for Wario Land 4 on Game Boy Advance

Mario's counterpart Wario is brought to life on the GBA for the first time by Nintendo in this, his fourth dastardly adventure. Released on 16th November, 2001, relatively early on in the GBA's lifespan, this remains to this day as one of the strongest platformers available on the handheld wonder. Unfortunately, in the wake of the Mario remakes that have been flooding onto the GBA, poor Wario has been sorely overlooked.

Wario, obviously the master of philanthropy, hears about a special Pyramid of Gold that contains a wealth of treasure ripe for the picking. On entering though, he discovers that things may not be as simple as he first imagined. Wario must be guided through twenty different themed levels, partake in various mini-games, and overcome some decidedly difficult temple guardians in order to reach his goal. And so the adventure begins...

Despite being released at such an early stage in the GBA’s existence, you wouldn’t guess that this was a first generation game. Anyone who has played Yoshi’s Island on either the SNES (or now the GBA) will appreciate just how gorgeous the graphics are in this game as they are in the same mould as said title. ‘Deceptively childish’ is probably the best way to describe them - bright and colourful characters and backgrounds, playful and humorous animations, yet all the while totally absorbing. Compare this with some of the first third-party GBA offerings and you will understand why I say they should hang their heads in shame – even now there aren’t many games around to match the graphical quality you find here. My advice to other developers? Look and learn…

Screenshot for Wario Land 4 on Game Boy Advance

Again, as with the graphics, the work done here is outstanding. Nothing run-of-the-mill here, we’re talking about Grade A work. The sound effects have the same level of detail found in Shigeru Miyamoto games – from the obligatory *blings* of gem collecting and *bumps* when hitting the ground, to the small touches of birds and crickets in the background and the *splash* as Wario lands in some water. Music-wise this is one game where you will definitely want to take advantage of the Stereo sound – so bung in those headphones or hook your speaker system up to your GBA and prepare for a treat of the aural variety. Pleasant acoustic guitars and bongos are examples of some of the instruments featured in the various levels…AND there are even two tunes that have vocals! Yes, you did read that right. Not only singing, but authentic Japanese singing. Surely the developers are trying to spoil us? If this is the standard that can be achieved in Wario’s first offering, I’m literally salivating at the thought of what they will produce in his future games.

”But it looks just like a Mario game!” I hear you holler. That, my friend, is where I tell you that you are wrong and start laughing maniacally…*Mwah-hahahah!!* Okay, I’ve been playing this game far too much! Admittedly yes, maybe it does seem like a Mario title. You start the game in what is basically a very intuitive training level – as you wander through the level you notice faded notices on the wall in the background that encourage you to try out Wario’s repertoire of moves: Dash, Roll, Pick-up and Throw Items, and the ever-popular ‘butt-stomp’ are some highlights. After a while you reach a frog-shaped switch (why it’s frog-shaped only the developers know) that you would assume is the end of the level. You jump on it, and this is where one of the twists materialises: a timer appears at the top of the screen, and you have to make your way to the swirling vortex, the one that brought you into the level, before the time runs out. If you don’t make it in time, don’t worry though – you still have a chance to make it, but you will lose some of the money you’ve collected throughout the stage.

Screenshot for Wario Land 4 on Game Boy Advance

Once through the first level you reach the main pyramid area, where you can access four different corridors, each with four levels and a guardian. As the game progresses, money and items will become harder to find, and the route back to the vortex will become increasingly more taxing (coupled with less time on the clock, this can cause much cursing and possible damage to your GBA!). Also you will discover certain enemies that change your status. But you will also eventually notice that they don’t reduce your health and are actually a staple of the gameplay, sometimes being crucial to the progression through levels. For example being hit by a hammer will cause Wario to become a spring, able to bounce up and break through block until he reaches the ceiling; being engulfed by snow and touching a slope will turn him into a huge snowball that can roll through levels breking through special blocks; and being stung by a bee will transform our ‘hero’ into a balloon, able to float to hidden sections.

Innovation is the key word throughout the game and it shows that despite what some people would say, Miyamoto-san is not the only talented person to be found at Nintendo.

Screenshot for Wario Land 4 on Game Boy Advance

How long is it?
Twenty tasking levels, numerous mini-games, difficult bosses and hidden secrets all culminate to make this a package one that will keep you going for a fair old while. Not the longest game you'll ever come across, but hey, that didn't stop Metroid Fusion from being many people's game of 2002 now, did it?

Advantages
Lush graphics, considering it’s a First Generation title; So much fun to be had, even with just the mini-games; Wondrous music and vocals!

Disadvantages
The game doesn’t last quite as long as hoped; Typically average storyline.

Even though the actual character animation may mirror Wario Land 3 on the GBC, the overall quality is sheer class.

Proper music and Japanese vocals propel this game up there with the best of them.

A walk-through level at the start preps you perfectly for the on-coming adventure. Plus the lack of 'leaps of faith' that result in untimely deaths is very pleasing!

Once you've completed the game, which admittedly won't take too long, the thorough player will want to go back and beat their Gem Scores.

Screenshot for Wario Land 4 on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

A definite break from the Mario remakes, and a game that has come on leaps and bounds since Wario's first appearance in Super Mario Land 3 on the GB. So, what are you waiting for? Go and snap this 'gem' up while you still can! You certainly won't regret it...and it will give you something to do whilst you await Wario's next title 'Wario Ware, Inc: Mega Microgame$'.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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