Wario's back for more...and more...and MORE! Hey! You! Yeah, you! Listen up when Wario's talking to you! I just read about this legendary Pyramid of Gold, and you're gonna help me go explore it. There's lots of treasure in there for the taking, and I want it all. I'm sure there are gonna be all kinds of weird enemies and big, bad bosses in there, so if you don't think you can hack it, put the game down now. I don't want any losers making me jump into bottomless pits, you hear me? -Wario invades the Game Boy Advance! See Wario in all his greedy glory as he explores vivid worlds made possible by the power of the GBA! -Flex your muscles! Wario is no longer immortal, so you'll have your work cut out as you roll, punch and jump your way to tougher and tougher challenges. Wario will get stung by bees, zombified, bitten by bats, set on fire, and much more - what a way to make a living! -Over twenty enormous stages await! Hunt down CDs for your listening pleasure, or collect treasure to spend on all-new items that you can use against the most bizarre bosses ever!
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The first thing I noticed upon entering the first level was the lack of Wario's immortality, a trait he possessed since the 2nd game, and one I really loved. Instead, Wario starts with 5 hearts, which maximises at 10, and loses 1 when hit by an enemy as expected. What made the enemies so interesting in previous titles was that, rather than damaging Wario, they gave him a power-up which had both pros and cons to it. However, this often became overbearing when every single enemy gave you a power-up that you might not even need. This title strikes a balance between power-up enemies and damage enemies. The power-up enemies are placed only where they're necessary and can be used to Wario's advantage, which can often be used as hints for how to progress the level if you're stuck. This change grew on me quickly and, while I missed the immortality gimmick, it made the level design feel 10x better and way less frustrating than it was in Wario Land 3.
There are 4 main worlds (passages) in this game with each their own identity. The creative minds behind this game went crazy with this one because so many of the levels stood out to me as they were so fun and imaginative. My favourite passage was the Topaz Passage which consists of levels that make you feel like you're in a massive toy box. The Sapphire Passage contained some really cool gimmicks on each level too, a highlight being the Fiery Cavern level.
The objective of each level is to reach the switch at the end before racing against the clock back to the start of the level before jumping back into the vortex you entered through. I loved this concept because it allowed you to take your time and explore each level, learning whatever gimmicks it threw at you, without worrying about a time limit which a lot of Nintendo platformers tend to do, then speedrunning back through the course at the end. The switch often opens up new areas, keeping the level feeling fresh and providing new areas to explore in the limited time you have to return to the vortex.
To unlock the boss room at the end of a passage, you must find all 4 jewel pieces on each level to open the final door. This does make sense in concept because the 4 jewel pieces assemble to create a jewel, and the door to the boss room requires them as a sort of key. Still, sometimes after spending 10+ minutes on a level to realise I missed a single jewel piece, it was a bit annoying having to do the entire thing again. Some of them are hard to find as well and aren't available until after you press the switch and you're running back through the level to beat the clock making them pretty easy to miss.
Overall, Wario Land 4 is a must-play platformer with amazing level design and super creative gimmicks and concepts. Each level has something new and fun to provide and there isn't a dull moment.