Retro Review – Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (Game Boy)

*Warning: mild spoilers* Wario needs money. A lot of money. You need a lot of money when trying to buy your own castle. Luckily for Wario he has been given his very own video game to get all the money he can in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. After being defeated by Mario in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Wario travels to Kitchen Island to find money, treasure, to a steal back a golden statue of Princes Peach from the Brown Sugar Pirates, and to buy a new castle too.


This game looks great. The sprites are large and detailed. You can easily see all the different expressions on Wario’s face. The backgrounds, while still stylized, are rather minimal. This is nice as you can always tell where Wario or enemies are in the level.

Unlike Mario in the prior ‘Land’ games, Wario has his own set of controls and moves. Wario can either jump on or bump into enemies. When this is done the enemy is knocked back and becomes ‘dizzy.’ This allows Wario to be able to pick up the enemy and throw them. There are other abilities that Wario can preform too depending on the hat he is wearing (see below). The main attack for when Wario is ‘big’ is a shoulder charge. This allows Wario to hit the dizzy enemy and get a coin. Wario can also break certain blocks with shoulder charge too, among other things.


Wario wears a few different hats in Wario Land. Each hat grants Wario some different abilities within the game.

Wario Land - Safari Hat

Safari Hat

Safari Hat: This is the standard had within the game. It allows Wario to shoulder charge enemies, break blocks, as well as open up treasure chests.

Wario Land - Bull Hat

Bull Hat

Bull Hat: This is an upgraded version of the Safari Hat. In addition to the Safari Hat moves it also allows Wario to ‘butt stop’ enemies/breakable blocks, it increase the length of the shoulder charge, and allows Wario to stick to the ceiling too.

Wario Land - Jet Hat

Jet Hat

Jet Hat: The Jet Hat allows Wario to fly in a straight line for a longer time than the standard shoulder charge as well as allowing Wario to shoulder charge under water.

Wario Land - Dragon Hat

Dragon Hat

Dragon Hat: You are unable to shoulder charge with the Dragon Hat. Instead, the Dragon Hat shoots out a flame that instantly destroys enemies and breakable blocks. It can also shoot fire under water too.

Wario Land - Small Wario

Small Wario

Small Wario: If Wario takes any damage while wearing one of the hats he will become Small Wario. As Small Wario you are unable to shoulder charge but you can still jump on enemies to make them dizzy. If any additional damage is taken while playing as Small Wario you will lose 1 life and any coins found so far in the level.

Starman: The Mario staple Starman can be found to grant Wario temporary invincibility.

Extra Lives: You can earn extra lives by filling up your Heart Meter. This is done by killing enemies or by finding hidden hearts in a level. Enemies grants you +1 to your Heart Meter while hidden hearts add +10. Once your meter reaches 100 you earn a 1up.

Level design and exploration/secrets:

For being released on the original Game Boy, Wario Land is a pretty big portable game. There are 40 levels in all, with plenty of secrets to find throughout.

Level layouts are much closer to Super Mario Land 2 than Super Mario Land. Meaning that you can move both left and right within each level without being restricted to just moving just left. In some levels you can even get to the very end of a level and travel all the way back to the beginning if you wanted to. Wario Land even takes some level ideas a step further than its predecessor too by placing a door at the beginning of the level that Wario can exit out of.

Wario Land - Mid-level Save Point

Mid-level Save Point

There are mid-level saves points in each level but to activate the save point it will cost you 10 coins. To end a level it can also cost you 10 coins, but only if you die between the save point and the end of the level. If you do not die before you get to the end you are not charged an additional 10 coins. However in a game that the whole point is to have as much money as possible spending 10-20 coins per level can add up. Luckily you can replay any level once it has been beaten.

Wario Land - Hidden Exit

Hidden Exit

Some levels have secret endings that allow access to additional levels and/or Lands too. In a nice touch the levels with the secret endings are marked on the map with an extra circle (see above picture). To add some extra challenge some of the secret endings can only be found after completing subsequent levels that trigger a change to the overall map.

If secret level endings were not enough to search for, there are additional hidden treasures to find throughout the game too. 15 treasures in total. Unlike levels with secret endings, the levels with treasures in them are not clearly marked on the map. When you do find yourself in a level with a hidden treasure there are some steps that need to be completed to actually get to the treasure. Step 1: you must find the hidden key within the level. Step 2: you need to find the door to the treasure room. Luckily the door is pretty obvious when you see it (the giant skull with a key hole kinda gives it away). However finding the door is not always easy. Step 3: once you have the key and have unlocked the door you need to make sure that Wario is not small. One of the hats must be worn to open the treasure chest. Note: like some of the secret level endings, you can only find the key door triggering an even in subsequent levels.

Multiple Endings?

Once the final boss has been defeated it is time to determine Wario’s wealth. And that new wealth does impact what home/castle you receive. The more money/treasure you have, the better the home, or ending, you get. And if you are able to reach $99,999 limit, well, I am not going to ruin it for you.

Wario Land - All Treasure

All Hidden Treasure

Final Thoughts:

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 is an excellent game. The level design never gets old and there is a decent amount of challenge when trying to find all the treasure chests and to get the best ending. There are some excellent game play choices and abilities that have been introduced that have remained with the Wario Land series. If you are looking for an excellent portable platformer with Wario, you can’t go wrong with Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. Now if only Nintendo would give Waluigi a chance to star in his own game…

Released on: Nintendo Game Boy

Reviewed on: Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP

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Photos and words by: Matt Cudney

Matt is a gamer Dad who likes to write about video games and draw things from time to time. He can be found online here:

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