Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Hate Everything Land 4

Last night I took part in a great feast called Baconalia, available at your local neighborhood Denny's. As much as I'd like to write about excessive amounts of bacon, I'm going to hold off on that for a little bit, mostly because I just wrote an article about combining peanut butter and tuna, and before that was a long list of reasons why I hate jelly beans. No, today, I'm going to talk about something important from my childhood I recently rediscovered through the Super Mario Wiki: Wario Land 4.

It's about Wario.

I can't remember how or why I came into possession of this game when I was in, oh, second grade or so (coincidentally, around the same time I ate a metric fuckton of grass flavored jelly beans and lost my hopes and dreams), but I remember playing it a lot. In fact, I played it until I loaned it to a friend under the condition he would give me an original Game Boy title simply called Yoshi! and we would return each others' games at a later date.
He promptly moved out of state.

So I don't have Wario Land 4 anymore, and I pretty much forgot about it until now, when I was idly browsing Super Mario Wiki. I thought it would be a good thing to write about, because there is plenty of material in Wario Land 4. You see, Wario Land 4 is completely fucked up.

The game starts fairly innocently enough: Wario is reading the newspaper and sees a gigantic jungle temple has been discovered. He jumps to the conclusion there is an amount of treasure in this temple that can only be described as 'a shitload', then hops in his car and drives off to find it, because everybody knows ancient jungle temples are always within comfortable driving distance. That fucker didn't even pack a suitcase.
The theme song now starts playing. As far as I could tell, the singer was mostly speaking gibberish, but to this day I distinctly remember one of the lines being 'pork shit.' Pork shit, indeed.

The game dumps you in the 'Entry Passage' to start things off. The Entry Passage is only composed of a level and a boss.
Like so.

The first white square (they were paintings...don't ask) transports you to the Hall of Hieroglyphics, which teaches you how to not suck at Wario Land 4. You get the gem (I think the gem above each painting was four separate parts you had to find) and you get to move on to the bonus level and the boss.
The bonus level (every passage will have one before the boss fight) introduces a new character: Creepy Background Figure. Creepy Background Figure doesn't have a name yet, but that's just what I call it. Creepy Background Figure looks like this:

At this point, you begin to wonder what this game is really getting into. Creepy Background Figure is unsettling, the Hall of Hieroglyphics' only enemy was a walking eggplant with a knife tied to its forehead, and the level select screen...the only phrase I can come up with is 'breeds apprehension,' because that is exactly what it did. Even to this day, I can't look at an image of a Wario Land 4 level select screen and not feel disconcerted. It's ingrained into my psyche, all the way back when it was still delicate and seven years old.

And then you reach the boss: Spoiled Rotten.
Get it? SPOILED ROTTEN? Hahahaha...

Spoiled Rotten can't hurt you. It just waddles back and forth as you ram into it with your meaty shoulder. That is, until you inflict enough damage and it turns into this:

I can probably trace most of my problems back to this. This one moment where an eggplant monster with a dopey smile and a Raggedy Ann doll became a sharp toothed monster out for blood.
The only difference between smiling Spoiled Rotten and hellspawn Spoiled Rotten is hellspawn Spoiled Rotten waddles a little faster and you can't ram into its mouth, so the rest of the fight continues very much like it has been, only you shoulder the eggplant in the ass exclusively.

You then wind up in the temple.
That little professor guy is a professor; he is unimportant.

The temple is divided into four more areas: the Emerald, Ruby, Topaz, and Sapphire Passages. Each one has a theme and its own specific brand of scary.

The Emerald Passage

The Emerald Passage is pretty much the least scary passage in the game. It is predominately nature themed, which, even though nature is pretty scary sometimes, they don't even bother in the Emerald Passage. With names like Palm Tree Paradise, they don't have a whole lot to live up to.
Maybe I'm being unfair. I remember Monsoon Jungle being somewhat scary because it's a fucking monsoon. Also, there are tribal guys with spears. My point is, the Emerald Passage could have more of a stealth horror thing going on? I don't know. The Emerald Passage was a fucking breeze.

A little scarier is the emerald boss, Cractus.
That guy is fucking trippin' balls, just look at him.

Cractus is pretty badass. He's got cacti for arms, a mouth that resembles a fanged vagina, and if you touch his drool, you briefly turn into a zombie. Also, his pot's got a fucking crown on it. You know this guy's the shit in the Emerald Passage. Ain't no way you'd go down there and know this guy's in charge. Cractus is the fucking boss, and he wants you to know it.
Unfortunately, Cractus is also a gigantic pushover.
The Emerald Passage is more like the For Pussies Passage. Let's move on.

The Ruby Passage

Here we go, the Ruby Passage. The Ruby Passage's theme is machines, which is at least 79% scarier than most of nature, so we're off to a good start.
The first level, The Curious Factory, is filled with things that can crush you, which is pretty metal. You can also be set on fire, which is hardcore. The second level is The Toxic Landfill, which is also really badass. The third level is 40 Below Fridge, which is cool (ba dum pshh). The fourth level is Pinball Zone, and it's pretty fucked up. But none of that is really quite scary, per se. Well, let's meet the local boss, Cuckoo Condor.
None of you were planning on sleeping tonight, right?

That face. That leering face. I'm not entirely sure how many children had nightmares based on Cuckoo Condor's grinning, slit-pupil'd face, but it must have been many, because this is some fucked up shit right here. It's like they took the boss design from a psycho ward patient's sketchbook, because Cuckoo Condor can only be the result of some serious childhood trauma involving clocks and scavenging birds. We were lucky we just got Cuckoo Condor, we could have had a Batman villain on our hands.

The Topaz Passage

The predominant theme in the Topaz Passage is toys. This, of course, has the potential to the the least scary thing in the universe. And, well, you'd be right. But the Topaz Passage isn't trying to be scary. It's just fucked up.

There is one level in particular that shines like a crazy ass topaz among a bunch of perfectly sane rocks: Doodle Woods. Doodle Woods contains a creature called Hoggus.

Hoggus never actually attacks you. He just floats around in the background drawing pig-themed enemies to throw at you, and it's as annoying as fuck.
But Hoggus isn't really that hindering, he's just a pain. Well, until you activate the frog switch and have to run all the way back through the level within a certain time limit while he's still chucking pigs at you.
Wait, I never explained the gameplay, did I? Let's take a timeout and do that.
In every level, you aspire to reach the end and jump on top of a frog switch.
Seen here, being all smug and shit.

The frog switch activates a time bomb and a portal. You jump into the portal and have to escape the level within the time limit. Along the way you also have to deal with the stage literally falling apart and try to find a thing called a Keyzer, which looks like a asthmatic ghost with a key for a nose.
What a lazy asshole.

If you don't find the Keyzer, you can't get to the next stage and you pretty much just wasted your time being chased by a floating pig for nothing.
You also have to find four gem pieces, but you don't need all of them to go to the next level. You will need them to open the boss's door, though.

Speaking of bosses, let's meet Aerodent.
Oh ho! I see what they did there!

Aerodent is a mouse in a giant inflatable teddy bear. It drops tacks on you, which you have to chuck back at it. This game has never made sense and will continue to behave in such a fashion.
I wouldn't know how easy Aerodent is because I could never fucking beat Doodle Woods. Fuck Doodle Woods. FUCK IT HARD.

The Sapphire Passage

The Sapphire Passage is an asshole and wants you to know that, because right off the bat, we're treated with a level called Crescent Moon Village, which is filled with flying bone dragons and an enormous ghost pirate skull called Yūrei. And Crescent Moon Village is only the beginning.

The next level, Arabian Night, is filled with axe-wielding mummies. We then have Fiery Cavern, which is literally Hell. It is a giant cave filled with magma and squat creatures who throw lava at you. And then, when you hit the Frog Switch, Hell freezes over. The last level is Hotel Horror, and is filled with knife and axe waving ghosts. The level's theme music is called "Mr. Ether & Planaria," which would make a badass band name.
Oh, let's talk about the music screen.

In each level you can find a CD that contains the level's music, which you can listen to in the back of the temple at a big wall hosted by Creepy Background Figure. I wish I could find a picture of the sound test screen, because it is one of the most inexplicably unnerving things you could ever lay eyes on. It has a aura of unfathomable dread around it, and Creepy Background Figure's unrelenting gaze pierces your soul.
I didn't spend much time in the sound test screen.

Moving back on the original subject, we are going to talk about the boss of the Sapphire Passage. I am giving you a warning because the boss is fucking terrifying.
Are you ready? Pause here to catch your breath and gather your wits if you need to.
Okay, here goes.

Meet Catbat. Catbat would like to meet you, but Catbat is the embodiment of pure terror and thus cannot feel emotions. Catbat only knows "DESTROY REND KILL."
Take the time to watch this YouTube video detailing the fight against Catbat. It also gives you a great taste of the music. It's okay, I'll wait while you watch it and go get some new pants.

Back? Good. The video serves as a great way to get as far away from Catbat as humanly possible and move on to the final area, the...

The Golden Pyramid

The Golden Pyramid consists of the final boss, a charming and wonderful lady by the name of the Golden Diva.
Pleased to meet you, hope you catch my name.

I never actually got to the Golden Diva, but the Golden Diva is pretty much a crash course in Pants Shitting 101. Just watch another video. That's pretty much all I can say.

And then it reveals some actual plot! It turns out that the cat thing that was following you around (which was a form of Creepy Background Figure) was the original princess of the temple all along! She had been sealed in the temple by the Golden Diva or some shit, I don't know. I mostly just wanted everyone to know how scary this fucking game was.

And, well, that does it for Wario Land 4. Now go pirate a ROM or find it used at GameStop or something, because I know that's what I'm doing when I get the chance.


  1. Ugh I'm playing this game right now and it really sucks that stupid Fiery Cave level