Virtual Boy Wario Land was the Virtual Boy‘s best game (apparently). Yet barely anyone has played it. That’s a shame, so we’re here to honour it.
The History of Virtual Boy Wario Land
The game plays out in similar fashion to Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (1994) on the Game Boy classic.
The difference here is it was on the Virtual Boy, Nintendo’s pretty disastrous virtual reality 32-bit tabletop headset thing.
The console didn’t even sell 800,000 units, which makes everything related to it a rare find even for retro gaming collectors.
Hirofumi Matsuoka and Hiroji Kiyotake directed the project, with an unusually large amount of Nintendo’s R&D1 staff set to work on the project.
Virtual Boy Wario Land sees you control Wario (obviously) as you go on a quest to find treasure in the Awazon (that’s not a typo).
As you go along you can run, shoulder charge, and use special hat powerups to breathe fire and other such stuff. Behold!
There are a fair few interesting innovations here. Wario can jump back and forth between backgrounds in a kind of isometric effect.
The Virtual Boy presentation has a crisp clear quality to it we like, although (as with the Game Boy) there were only two colours to pick from.
You may find the focus on red and black a bit weird. And, yes, using the device many gamers reported getting headaches after extended play.
Also, by all accounts it was just bloody difficult using the thing. You couldn’t comfortably sit and play it as you had to jam your eyes into the Virtual Boy’s sockets.
Fair play on the attempt at innovation we guess. But this did all doom what’s supposed to be a good platformer to obscurity.
Since its release in 1995, with many wanting to see the game ported over to new consoles. That’s not happened and there’s no sign of it happening.
Given the amount of time and money spent on the project, and a heavy amount of marketing as the Virtual Boy’s killer game, it’s a bit strange it’s left to obscurity.
Many people hail it as the best Virtual Boy game, but back in 1995/1996 some critics weren’t exactly bowled over.
Japan’s legendary Famitsu magazine handed over 27/40. Next Generation magazine 2/5 in a 1996 review.
Our beloved N64 Magazine in the UK handed over 93% in 1997, so we’re looking at some mixed reviews here.
On retrospective, it seems gamers and journalists are recognising the hidden qualities of the Virtual Boy Wario Land. Destructoid and IGN have wished for a modern re-release, for example.
Nintendo has never expressed any kind of interest in doing this. And that’s a bummer.
Virtual Boy Wario Land’s Soundtrack
On a final note, the title boasts quite a nifty little soundtrack. This was composed by Kazumi Totaka.
It features the familiar bleeps and bloops similar to the Game Boy’s musical capabilities.
One of the things about gaming in this era involved industry professionals having to extract the most out of technological limitations.
So you can look at this game and anything from the NES or Game Boy and wonder at the impressive creative feats. Staff working to get everything out of a system using their artistic sensibilities.
Nintendo did just that with Virtual Boy Wario Land, with the staff no doubt already aware the VR console was doomed to failure. Totaka did his bit, too.
All we can conclude with here is we’d genuinely love to see this largely forgotten title get a new lease of life on the Nintendo Switch.
Will it happen? Probably not. For fans of retro gaming, we’ll just have to watch one of the full playthroughs on YouTube.
“I’m a Wario. I’m a gonna win!” Not on this occasion, you red-nosed git.