Wario Land 3

released on Mar 21, 2000

Trapped inside a magical music box, the invincible Wario is on a dangerous quest to help a mysterious figure recover its lost powers! Smash, bash and crash your way through more than two dozen gigantic levels in search of hidden keys, valuable treasures and mystical music boxes. Test your wits on puzzle after intricate puzzle and flex your muscles in action-packed boss fights! Be wary of Wanderin' Gooms, Hammer-bots, Mad Scienstein and more as you plunge into one of the largest, most dazzling adventures ever to hit Game Boy Color!

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To be honest, I think I enjoyed WL2 more, as although this game tries to expand on what its predecessor has to offer it ultimately loses its grip on that core. Perhaps the game even suffers from being too large.
There are 25 levels, each of which you would have to revisit a minimum of four times to collect all of the treasure within it (five if going for 100%). Having to revisit each level multiple interstitial times after different upgrades are obtained (metroidvania style) often feels like a chore. You can argue that I'm pea-brained, but I don't have the capacity to remember where every specific obstacle in the game is when they're scattered throughout specific screens across several levels I last visited hours ago, which the game almost actively disincentivizes me from remembering through its design. Even if I do know where I should generally be heading, it still often devolves into aimless backtracking.
That's another thing: enemy and hazard placement within levels is almost always designed to waste your time as much as possible. While WL2 shares in this design philosophy to an extent, here it is much more aggressive. I enjoyed the puzzle aspect to finding treasures in these games where enemies/hazards are sparsely placed so you have a contained space to experiment with using or overcoming them. The same experimentative spirit arguably still exists here, but now most levels are designed to have you waste as much time as possible in the process of solving its puzzles. It turns the backtracking from a singular chore into a microcosm of chores.
I don't know why I'm this fucking incensed about a Game Boy game. In short: I didn't like it that much, unfortunately.

A good game but I personally do not like the game design. Small levels that need to be repeated many times is not my forte. Also a lot of enemies purely exist to waste your time and do nothing besdies make you wait 15-20 seconds. Very disapointed with this one.

That was a pretty fun puzzle platformer!
It was kinda getting repetitive by the end, but I still had a good time with it!

This review contains spoilers

So, Wario Land 3. I went into this one expecting just more of the same, like a Wario Land 2 deluxe of sorts, but ended up being quite surprised. This does build off the same sort of base as its predecessor, but it manages to stand out in some pretty cool ways. This one only took me about as much time as the other Wario Land games did, so nearly 21 hours, but hey that's nothing to scoff at for a Game Boy platformer. As per usual for my reviews, small disclaimer: I played this game on the Nintendo Switch Online service and I did use some of its emulation features like rewinding and save states. I did my best to clear everything legitimately, but this game was particularly frustrating and tempting to use the rewinding/save states on considering that Wario's immortality makes it to where the only way the game can really punish you is through annoying you. For instance, the status effects that Wario has when touching certain enemies or certain projectiles - like when the bear enemies shoot snowflakes that freeze you or when you touch a torch - will often make him nearly uncontrollably run around until the duration ends; as you can imagine, this gets real annoying real fast. These tend to make the game quite tedious so I did just rewind to correct mistakes so I don't get hit by them sometimes. It also helps out a lot with boss fights since, like in Wario Land 2, they blow you away whenever you get hit and you have to backtrack back to the boss door again to rematch (in the case of the final boss you have to watch his cutscene again if you get hit by him and yea I wasn't about to do that every time). Nonetheless I still beat almost every boss without using the save states or rewinds to cheat, I merely used them to avoid having to walk all the way back to the boss.
The gameplay of Wario Land 3 is pretty cool. It feels like a slightly more refined Wario Land 2 as far as controls go. Wario has all the same moves, but the kicker is that you don't start off with them. This game's pretty much a Metroidvania, so Wario has to gradually unlock his abilities with the treasure chests he finds. Each level has five chests - a grey, red, green, and blue chest - that you have to find the matching color key for. Of course, the chests have treasures, some of which are powerups and others unlock other levels or entire sections of levels you've already been in to allow you to open more chests. Other treasures seem to just be pointless vanity stuff, same with those music coins since I couldn't figure out what they're used for. Usually you're only able to get the grey chest your first time on a level, but, as you get your powers and grab those treasures that essentially "fill in" new parts of levels, soon enough you'll be able to get any treasure in any level. I thought this was pretty neat overall; the level design works well with this style and I thought it was cool seeing more and more of an old level open up the more I progressed through the game. It helps that the levels are very short and hard to get lost in. I could definitely see it get tiring to some people, since you will need to revisit levels a few times for progression, but I didn't think this was a bad thing and I liked seeing whatever was new with a level whenever the game notified me what the treasure I found has unlocked. I will say that the boss fights are pretty lame, though. I might just be dumb but I swear I've had to look up how you're supposed to damage the bosses more than a few times. Also, there's a day-night cycle gimmick that I swear barely gets any use and any time it did get used was irritating. All you have to do to progress day to night is to go to a level and quit, so its not a hassle, but its so underutilized and nothing really indicates when a level needs to be night or day to get certain treasures so I tended to feel like I was wasting my time even looking there. While I'm busy complaining, might as well mention one more small nitpick: the golf minigame is lame. Granted, there's only a few times you need to play it to progress and its also literally the only thing you can spend coins on, but I have never understood golf and the way this game handles what I'm just going to call a power gauge was a bit odd. I couldn't really tell where exactly I needed to land on the gauge to punt the ball the farthest I could. I will say its not nearly as annoying as the Wario Land 2 minigames, but I was still not a fan of this one. Overall, though, Wario Land 3 was pretty fun. I appreciate what it was going for with the Metroidvania style approach, it felt surprisingly ambitious to me even though it probably shouldn't.
Just like the other games in this series, there basically is no story to speak of. One day, Wario was flying his plane. Then, the plane gets shot down. Wario stumbles upon a small cave with a music box he tries to take as treasure. He gets trapped inside the music box and makes a deal with a mysterious figure claiming to be the fallen god of this world. Specifically, the deal is that Wario must find five music boxes and he will be transported back to his home land. So, off Wario goes on his adventure. By the end, turns out the mysterious figure is actually a huge clown and he immediately turns on Wario after being brought the music boxes. The character is never named in the game, but his canon name is Rudy the Clown. Wario eventually beats Rudy, saving the enemies since apparently Rudy cursed them into that form before his powers got sealed away. Wario gets to keep his treasures and leaves safely, the end. So, yea, very basic with a somewhat obvious twist villain, but I know better than to expect some grand sweeping narrative in a 2D platformer, especially of the retro Nintendo variety (and that's not a jab because I'm far from a story snob).
Overall, Wario Land 3 was a good time with some surprising strengths. My nitpicks do hold it back quite a bit in my opinion, especially since a few of these are also criticisms of Wario Land 2 which I feel should've been fixed in this one. Nonetheless I did enjoy this one, and, now that I've played all three Game Boy Wario Land games, I can see why people like this series so much. Here's hoping Wario Land 4 is something I can call a truly great game, I do have some expectations considering how everyone parades that one around as an amazing game and the best Wario Land. Going to be dusting off the old Wii U for that one.

This review contains spoilers

This was the one Wario Land game I loved as a kid, and playing it again more than two decades later, my child self's tastes were underdeveloped, to say the least. Wario Land 3 is a game with a lot of ideas, some good like its non-linear structure, other undercooked like the entire day/night system, and others not well executed at all, like the golf minigame and that one boss fight with the rabbit. Also there is some really nasty precision platforming and I really feel Wario Land is not the place for these kind of things.
However, I'll agree with my two decades younger self (and he'll agree with me) on one point: Wario Land 3 has a pretty damn fine final boss. Because, in a stunning display of art, the Nintendo devs decided this boss would have the only move in the entire game that can outright kill Wario, complete with a game over screen you can't get anywhere else. To reiterate, this is not a negative, this is a genuinely cool moment, and it made it so even if I didn't like Wario Land 3 as much as I did before, I could never get mad at it. It has justified its own existence.
Otherwise the game was okay, I guess.