June 25th, 2011
[The article below is a draft piece from my book, Rethinking Games Criticism: An Analysis of Wario Land 4. I strongly urge you read the book instead of this article. What you see below was edited and re-written several times for the final copy, so the analysis in the book is much deeper and the writing flows a bit more. Thank you.]
Crescent Moon Village #1
This puzzle room uses Skeleton Birds to extend the game idea of Zombie Wario and Skeleton Birds as aids and hinderances ideas found in the level itself. When the player enters the room, all of the pieces of the puzzle are onscreen: the diamond, the lock (row of blocks) and the key (glass ball). The problem is that the key is locked beneath a through platform. The Skeleton Birds are needed first off to help the player get through the platform concealing the green bird spawning the glass balls. After the player nabs a glass ball though, the Skeleton Birds become hazards as they can transform Wario into Zombie Wario which will make Wario drop the glass ball.
Notice how the Skeleton Birds are located where they can aid the player with the first step (being accessible from the upper area), while still being in prime position to later obstruct the player from charge throwing the glass ball? The ball is glass, so as to increase the failure of dropping the projectile. If the ball were just a rock, the player could pick it up from the same spot after transforming, or it could even fall into the water and be require the player leave and reenter to hard reset the puzzle.
After the player breaks the line of blocks they need to crouch jump their way to the diamond.
Crescent Moon Village #2
Similar to the secret room in Mystic Lake. The player needs to throw the prof above the wall so that he lands on the block and breaks it. While the player may not be aware that simply throwing an enemy onto a block can break it, in this arrangement it’s the only way that the player can create an interaction between all pieces. So even if the player doesn’t know what to do, a brute force approach can lead to the solution. From here the player can stand at the end of the platform and lure the Totsumen into the water. This last part draws attention to the counterpoint between the platform, Totsumen and the player, ie the charge attack and how it sends them off platforms and can be used to lure them into certain areas.
Arabian Night #1
Another puzzles based on deactivating platforms suspending enemies above water. The interesting thing about this room is how the player needs to wade through the enemies first.
Arabian Night #2
Like the room before it, this one is relatively simple. The prof is the key separated from the lock by a large wall. The player needs to throw the prof on top of the wall and smash attack the ground so that the prof bounces over to the other side. The blue platforms on either side of the raised area suggest that something could move across here. It’s a clue designed to persuade the player to move the prof by throwing him into the upper area. This layout brings out the technique of using a quake to displace enemies and projectiles.
Fiery Cavern #1
This puzzle makes use of height, Hammermen and the Bouncy Wario transformation. The purple switch is the lock and the Hammermen helps turn Wario into the key. The layout has the pipe and diamond on either side of a vertical chamber where the action takes place. Entering this chamber from a unit high entrance way the player can only begin the puzzle by flicking the green switch and falling down to the bottom of the chamber. The switch not only drops the floor it activates the floor at the bottom of the chamber and lets the Menhammer at the bottom come out from it’s cage. As Wario hits the bottom, the Menhammer will be primed to attack Wario and transform him. The player can then spring up to a secret switch at the top of the chamber. If the player hits the green block then the puzzle resets and if they choose to take the stairs after the transformation ends they return to the middle area with nothing to do. The player is locked into discovering the purple switch or otherwise they can’t progress, exploration is required to advance. This aspect of the puzzle gets the player to consider what the camera doesn’t show them as opposed to assuming nothing or a ceiling present where they can’t see. With the purple block cleared the player can reset the puzzle by slamming into the green block and nab the diamond. If the player misses the purple switch they’ll fly back up under the floor and then fall all the way back down landing on the other side.
Fiery Cavern #2
This puzzle consists of a series of small steps using the prof, each area you charge throw the prof into, you subsequently visit yourself. In this regard the player always knows where to go and thus the puzzle flows quite nicely. In the outer edge the player needs to clear a row of blocks, move through and then use the prof to activate a switch which will open up a bridge. In the inner area, you can throw the prof back out to a switch in the outer area and open the gate holding the diamond. The second switch has a line of blocks in front of it because if it didn’t the player could just crouch jump in and collect the diamond. Also, the second blue platform just under the pipe is one unit off from lining up with the initial switch, another safeguard. The bursts of lava play into the level’s game idea.
Hotel Horror #1
This room introduces new special pads which warp the player back to the centre of the room. In this room there are 2 diamonds, one above and one below the centre area. To the left and right of the centre area are platforms leading to either a Menhammer or a Ringosuki. Both the left and right sides are surrounded by these transporting pads. To solve the puzzle all the player needs to do is transform, step in a pad and then use their special transformation ability to reach the upper or lower diamond. The pads are only used in this room and the puzzle itself doesn’t use them to great effect. It’s a bit like the Hotel Horror level in general, a bit of a throwaway.
Hotel Horror #2
In this room the player needs to use the Yukiotoko’s breath to slide into the Harimenzetto. The player can do this by standing next to the Yukiotoko, jumping to catch it’s breath or transporting it to the area down below. The player could even use the height of the area with the Yukiotoko to do a heightened smash attack and then run over to the left hand side to individually take them all out. The green through platforms are located so as to facilitate a timing element. The player needs to wait until the Yukiotoko is to their right before they can jump up and be transformed, otherwise they’ll slide off to the left.