Of all of Nintendo's game franchises one series we never seem to see enough of has to be Wario Land. Appearing on Nintendo's various portable game systems, the five games of the Wario Land series are a masterstroke of platforming and puzzle solving with an emphasis on wacky humor and "thinking outside the box". Since these games were for portable systems, many gamers have not had the opportunity to enjoy them seeing as how they've never been re-released over the years. That's why I come to you today just weeks before the release of next installment in the series, Wario: Master of Disguise, to suggest a new compilation set. It's a mere pipe dream, but I'd love to see Nintendo repackage the classic series for the Nintendo DS.
The original Wario Land for the Game Boy broke free from the Super Mario Land series, giving what could have been a one-shot villain a unique identity and personality. With a lust for greed and fortune, Wario invaded the Brown Sugar Pirates' Kitchen Island in search of treasure and a stolen statue of Princess Toadstool. While the gameplay was rooted in the traditional Super Mario formula of jumping from platform to platform, additions such as the power dash maneuver added a new dimension to the gameplay, while Wario's various hat-based power-ups outfitted the anti-hero with new moves. Replaying completed levels was strongly encouraged, as some levels changed structure as certain goals were completed. The whole affair ended with Wario wishing for his dream home (and a brief cameo from Mario).
Wario Land 2 for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color followed up Wario's antics with a drastic change to the gameplay formula. In this edition of the series Wario cannot die. There was no life meter, nor were there extra lives. If Wario suffered damage he merely dropped some of his precious treasure. This change put the emphasis on solving the various platformer puzzles over simply reaching the goal with pockets packed with gold. This game was the one that first featured Wario's lauded transformation abilities, allowing him to become flat as a pancake or a living fireball. Wario Land 2 also featured branching paths in which the storyline (the return of Captain Syrup and her pirate gooms) changed depending on Wario's actions or inactions.
Strictly a Game Boy Color affair, Wario Land 3 kept much of the formula from its predecessor, but also added a Metroid-style exploration factor. Levels were no longer self-contained, as triggering a switch or button in one place opened up a new path in a different level. Day and night were also a factor when it comes to level structure, as some paths opened up exclusively by the light of day and vice-versa. Over time Wario gained new abilities that augmented his natural talents, and the various transformations are retained and expanded. Each level must be replayed several times in order to unlock every single mystery of the music box world in which Wario found himself trapped.
Most compilations would stop here, but if we're going to do this, we might as well do it right. Wario Land 4 was an early Game Boy Advance title and is quite difficult to come across these days in solid condition. Wario reacquired his life meter in this adventure, but the various puzzle challenges that have been the series staple up until now also returned. Trapped inside a pyramid, Wario must open all of the blocked paths while collecting all of the treasure he can carry. Levels were based around themes, such as action-based factory levels and puzzle-based levels based on board games. Although shorter in scope than Wario Land 3, this sequel is quite enjoyable and deserves some extra time in the sun.
As long as I'm wishing for all of these things I might as well put in a pitch for the inclusion of a revamped Virtual Boy Wario Land. Functioning as an almost direct sequel to the original Wario Land, this shining gem of the Virtual Boy library followed the formula of the original Game Boy game. While the 3D perspective gimmick featured in the game would need to be reworked to work in mere 2D, this is the one Wario Land game that few people have played compared to the other entries in the series. It must return one day so that Wario's fans can experience this strong platformer.
While a Wario Land collection is just a wish on my part, I'm mentioning the idea in the hopes of planting the idea in the heads of Nintendo's decision makers. The Wii's Virtual Console offers great potential for beloved console games to return to the forefront of gaming, but what of the best portable games Nintendo has offered over the years? Wario Land must not be forgotten.