I'm pretty sure a lot of Nintendo fans were surprised when Shigeru Miyamoto introduced the world to Wario many years ago. I happened to like the character, and after having bought whatever had a picture of Mario's somewhat chubby face on the cover, the time came to try something new. What's funny is how according to the old Nintendo comics Mario actually used to bully Wario, who was kind of a shy person, and not the evil villain type you might've initially thought. The original Wario Land 1 on the Gameboy was fun in many ways, mainly because he was different from Mario and Luigi, but still managed to have enough Nintendo magic to make him an enjoyable character.
To be perfectly honest I haven't played a game that has involved Wario for quite a few years, so I was excited to see how much Wario had evolved over the years.
This time around Wario, and his greed is headed deep into a jungle, where a golden treasure is supposed to be in a pyramid. However, things turn out to be harder than poor Wario expected. The pyramid is split into several colored sections, which all contain a set of levels. Your task is to enter a portal in each level-room, run around bashing villains for a while, grabbing an artifact which when combined with the ones from, say the blue levels, will unlock the boss room. You also need to grab a key, which unlocks the next level. When starting the game you play through a well-made tutorial where it is illustrated in the background what buttons you need to press in order to pull off more or less useful tricks, like rolling down a hill, or stomping on the enemy.
The biggest difference between the original Wario Land 1 and the fourth installment, disregarding color, is that our pal Wario has grown considerably. He moved very nicely, and has some new tricks up his sleeve that definitely comes in handy in several situations. Besides moving around and jumping like your average platform hero, Wario can do bash attacks; a normal one, and one where he needs to do some running first. The difference is the "bashing power", but both come in handy both to crush enemies and rocks alike. Secondly, when Wario is standing on a hill he can roll downwards at a great speed, crushing anything that doesn't have a spear or a spike pointed towards him. Also, Wario can do a kind of "power-jump" which does essentially the same as the bash-attacks, only downwards. And finally, like in many other platform games; Wario can pick up enemies and throw them around as he pleases. This is especially useful against enemies who are covered with spikes, where you otherwise would have to be careful.
The levels are colorful and pretty, and their good graphical diversity makes them quite enjoyable. There's not a great deal of background animations, but it works well with the design of the levels, so getting from the start to the end of a level is rarely too puzzling. Wario also sounds nice, even though he deserves a more masculine voice. Luckily, the composers at Nintendo did a really nice job making the soundtrack for Wario Land 4, by including a friendly and slightly childish music score.
Fans of Wario, or the Nintendo universe in general should get some fun hours of gaming with this title, even though it's not exactly filled to the brim with innovations.