Format reviewed: Virtual Boy
Submitted by: Craig Hawkins
Good old Virtual Boy. A console that Wario himself could have designed. If you found a way to make playing the thing comfortable (nobody ever did), then after ten minutes of play you most likely started feeling nauseous. And when you paused to go and vomit, you discovered you'd impaired your vision and tripped over something on your way to the bathroom and puked all over yourself.
After you cleaned yourself up, you went back for another stage of Virtual Boy Wario Land. Yes, Wario Land is the type of game worth putting your health at risk for. It's worth noting that it came out in 1995, a year after Super Mario Land 3 and before Wario's series took shape on Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance.
It plays just as well if not better than its more famous siblings. Likewise, the graphics better those of Wario Lands 2 and 3. Oh, except they're all in black and red. Does that matter? No, I think Virtual Boy graphics have genuine retro appeal. Unless you hate the colours black and red.
Gameplay will be familiar to fans of the series. Wario controls like Mario but slightly fatter and meaner. He dons various hats that give him special abilities such as flight, ground pounding and dragon breath. The central idea of this adventure is to locate hidden treasure in the levels, find the key and exit.
It's classic Nintendo and could hold its own on any other Ninty console, stripped of its gimmicky visuals. But the 3D really does add another dimension to the game. Obstacles and enemies scale in and out of the screen, the action is on two planes as you hop on ramps to jump from foreground to background and back again. Bosses in particular take great advantage of the extra dimension.
The game only contains fourteen stages, which might seem miserly, but Virtual Boy titles were generally made short in order to avoid players going blind or dying. Consequently, Nintendo made sure these fourteen stages were perfect. If only the same could be said of the host hardware…