Wario Land 3 is the sequel to Wario Land II and was developed and published for the Game Boy Color by Nintendo in 2000. It once again features Mario‘s rival, Wario, doing what he does best: shoulder-barging things and cheekily going about his destructive platform business.
In Wario Land 3 Wario must free a mysterious figure who is trapped inside a music box that is split into four different areas (north, south, east and west). Each area contains a number of different stages and inside each stage are hidden four different coloured treasure chests (grey, red, green, and blue) which must be opened with the corresponding coloured keys. Although the order in which the chests must be opened is not fixed, some are not accessible until Wario obtains a certain ability, so quite a bit of back-tracking is required to unlock them all.
Each time Wario opens a treasure chest he is transported back to the overworld map and time will pass in alternate day and night cycles. This becomes important because, in certain levels, some doors only open during the day, and some only open at night. Also: some enemies are asleep during the night and only walk around during the day.
Wario has new moves, like sliding down hills (after which he will roll and can smash through enemies and blocks, which does sometimes lead to secret areas). He will also take on new forms depending on how he is attacked by certain enemies. For example: eating a donut, when it’s thrown at Wario by an enemy with a fork, will inflate him in size (ie. make him fat) and cause him fall through some floors. It also affords him extra protection, but he also cannot jump very high, so it’s a double-edged sword. Some robots will turn him into a jumping jack, which make him jump (almost uncontrollably) higher; zombies will turn him into a slime monster, allowing him to dissolve and fall to lower platforms; caterpillars will shoot silk at him and turn him into a silk ball that rolls around, knocking out enemies in his path; flying creatures stab him with their proboscis, inflating him so that he floats upwards (until he hits the ceiling); and also fire robots set his pants on fire, which makes him run around until he eventually turns into a flame creature (which also happened in the previous game). This mechanic – where enemies affect Wario‘s behaviour – is much expanded in this game and results in hugely fun gameplay situations.
There are also invisibility potions; annoying ghosts that block Wario‘s view (by making the screen turn black, but the game continues on); zipline rides; and lots of other interesting features that enrich the gameplay at almost every step.
The weird thing is: Wario Land 3 is actually a little frustrating to play to begin with because the first five or six levels have hardly any coins to collect and there are lots of areas that you can’t get to, so it feels like you’re missing a lot. It isn’t until later, when you return to those earlier levels with new abilities, that you actually get to fully explore them. When Wario gets his second ability (that allows him to stomp enemies and break blocks underneath himself), you finally get to experience the game as it’s meant to be played; which is: full of hidden goodies and funny moments. There’s a hidden golf game in the very first level that is only accessible after this point in the game. Wario shoulder-barges an enemy down the golf course and into the hole, which is genuinely funny. Complete these golfing minigames and more hidden levels are revealed.
As is always the case with Nintendo platform games, Wario Land 3 really begins to open up the more you play it, as the sheer variety of the game starts to show itself.
Although it does take a little while to get going I think that Wario Land 3 is a big improvement over the previous game in the series, with more variety, better graphics, and more interesting gameplay. In fact: Wario Land 3 really is a wonderful game and is well worth playing today – over twenty years after its initial release.