Nintendo’s bad boy Wario returns in his fourth adventure on one of Nintendo’s handhelds
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From this introductory level, the pyramid opens up into a kind of lobby that is divided into 4 halls of themed levels. The player can do these halls in any order, or all at once. Also, Wario may enter an additional hallway of mini-games and items to buy. There is even a sound room, where the player can play CDs collected in each level. However, since the over world is inside a pyramid, Nintendo removed the day/night feature present in Wario Land 3. This loss thankfully does not hurt the game too much, as Nintendo added plenty of other things to complicate each level.
Upon entering a level, one will notice a significant addition to the series: a life meter. Yes, unlike the last two games, Wario can die. Well, not exactly. He doesn’t have lives, so he just gets kicked out of the level and loses everything he had collected from it. This new twist is either very intriguing or very frustrating, depending on how you look at it.
In each level, Wario will need to find four pieces of a treasure (placed in big treasure boxes hidden throughout the level), a key (which is strangely alive and follows Wario around), and a CD. Technically, to get to the next level all you really need to find is the key, but it is in one’s best interest to find the other items as well. This emphasis on collection makes the game much less linear than a traditional platformer. Exiting a level is not as simple as the usual game either. You must jump upon a statue, which then sets a bomb to go off in a specific time. Wario will have to race back to the beginning of the level and jump into a portal before the time is up. Although there are many complex puzzles placed throughout the game, the game feels very action-oriented thanks to features like the latter frantic race combined with the hordes of bad guys. In fact, I would venture to say that Wario Land 4 is much more fast-paced than its predecessors. Reinforcing this gameplay is some great level design which tends to contain a lot of secrets that the average gamer will not find on his or her first time through.
Swimming is also a big part of some levels, and Nintendo seamlessly combines water in many levels for a very nice effect. Underwater, Nintendo is able to create different kinds of puzzle, and this helps the game remain fresh.
One of the most interesting parts of the Wario franchise is the effect certain enemies attacks will have on Wario. For example there is a monkey who throws apples at Wario. Wario will eat the apple thrown at him and become extremely overweight. Although this makes him slow, the extra weight lets him break through objects he couldn’t have broken through before. There are several other interesting transformations besides this.
AI of enemies is great for a platform game. The baddies won’t usually actively hunt you down, but if you come near them, they will attempt to attack you. In the end, the game feels very polished and well-programmed.