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Written by: Joseph Yaden
Commenting on rumors can be problematic, but this one seems likely and hits close to home, so sometimes exceptions can be made. Nintendo recently filed a slew of trademarks, one of which was for Wario Land. With the recent announcement of the new Warioware game on 3DS, Nintendo may be testing the waters to see if the Wario name is still popular enough to warrant a new proper platformer. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this, so any indication towards a new Wario Land game is fine by me.
The last entry, Wario Land Shake It! Was released in 2008 (wow, I feel old) for the Wii. Seeing as how that was a generation and 10 years ago, now seems like a suitable time for a new game in the series. As someone who isn’t wild about platformers (partly because there are so dang many of them), it says a lot that Wario Land is one of my favorite games of all time, specifically the 4th installment. Wario Land 4 is a bizarre, colorful game that I try to go back to every year. Released in 2001 for the GBA, this is a title that has gotten significantly harder to play. After trading in my GBA games way back in the day, my only way of playing this is on Virtual Console or an emulator. However, I recently stumbled upon a copy of it on GBA, prompting me to delve into why it’s special. It seems like the universe is rooting for a new installment, as well, given the timing of the trademark filing and my unexpected rediscovery of a physical cartridge.
Wario Land 4 is special, mostly because it takes the traditional platforming idea and turns it on its head. Wario is fat and heavy and, unlike Mario, isn’t agile. That seems like it wouldn’t be as fun but this gives the game a twist. Most platformers feel similar to one another but it’s when there’s a unique spin on the mechanics that entries in the genre tend to stand out. Take something like Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, for example; a beloved game, technically classified as a platformer, but with a twist, as Captain Toad cannot jump. Wario Land is similar, where the character’s limitations create new mechanics. Wario, instead, is encouraged to get hit by enemies that will cause him to morph into different forms. Some include being flattened like a piece of paper in order to get through small spaces or being stung by a bee to blow up like a balloon. There are tons of interactions like this in the Wario Land series.
Most importantly, Wario Land 4 includes an interesting mechanic at the end of each level. In a traditional platformer, when the player reaches the end of the level, it's over and you move on. However, in Wario Land 4, you must hit a button that initiates a timer, and the entire level must be backtracked to get back to the beginning. What makes this so brilliant is that there are certain sections that can only be accessed when going back to the beginning. While playing the levels, you can see areas that don’t look accessible when going through normally, but CAN be accessed on the way back. Since it’s timed, players must choose paths carefully, or get really good at the game to get all of the treasures.
Above all else, Wario Land is freaking bizarre, but in a funny way. The bosses are borderline terrifying, especially when they are near defeat. Some of them get bug-eyed and cartoonishly expressive, even for a Nintendo game. Wario makes weird faces as well, but the bosses steal the show, teetering between comedy and nightmares. Maybe Nintendo likes to play it safe with many of their releases, but for some reason Wario Land has always stood out as one of the most funny and weird series Nintendo has to offer.
Wario Land is, like many franchises, one that Nintendo seems to have forgotten. Maybe these games don’t sell well. I’m not a businessman, but I’m sure there are reasons for the lack of Wario Land games. We’re getting a new Warioware game this year, so surely that means something! If this trademark means anything, hopefully we will see one soon (E3?) It’s true that companies file trademarks with no intention of doing anything with them, but if that’s the case with this, it would make a lot of people sad. Given the current state of things, Nintendo could release a Hannah Montana game on the Switch and it would sell a million units, so there HAS to be room for Wario.
What do you think the chances are of a return to Wario Land? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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