Virtual Boy Wario Land (1995)

Back when the VIrtual Boy was released, I remember playing it at a Blockbuster one Friday night while my parents picked out the weekends VHS’s to rent. I was only 10 years old, but the 3D graphics blew my mind back then, even the monochromatic Red display wasn’t enough to make me think that the system wasn’t the newest amazing game console.

Sadly, the system never took off and has been the punching bag of Nintendo’s console ever since. The system since has been emulated perfectly, and even some modders have consolized the system to make it easier to play, and in different colors too. But the real draw is the 3D graphics that aren’t able to be fully realized or appreciated on a flat screen. With the Oculus Quest 2, a simple VR version of the Virtual Boy emulator can be downloaded and installed, and the game’s roms can be played with the original gimmick of the 3D gameplay fully intact.

Virtual Boy Wario Land, or VB Wario Land as it’s more commonly known as, is just a simple platformer, but utilizes the 3 dimensional gameplay landscape fairly well, with mechanics that are still seen to this day in modern games. Games like Donkey Kong comes to mind, as the Donkey Kong Returns and Tropical Freeze games showcase this feature quite a lot. With special catapults will propel Wario into the background and foreground and even many swinging spiked balls move in between the multiple layers of the levels.

Again, now-a-days this isn’t anything particularly special, but back when this first debuted it was something quite new and exciting. So being able to transport myself into a different mind set, and experience the game the way it was meant to be played (in a sense) was a joy.

The game itself follows Wario as his plane crash lands on an island and he has to get the parts back. The island has 14 levels with a few bosses littered throughout. They all have a mini-boss in front of them, blocking access, and it’s not very hard, but a welcome addition.

The power-ups Wario can grab are a Viking Helmet that gives him a rushing shoulder charge, a bird statue which grants the power to  fly a short distance, and a fire crystal that allows Wario to shoot fireballs from his hat. In combination with his normal jump attacks and ground pound, he can also pick enemies and items up to throw them too. A much more diverse set of attacks than Mario.

Wario Land isn’t anything special now, but back when it was released, even with it’s more claustrophobic level design, it’s a fun game to play. Leaving the levels scattered with hidden items, and also forcing the player to search for the key to exit the level gives them a much more open ended feel. A couple mini-games at the end of each level, also pad out the gameplay, but really aren’t that interesting.