The Wario Land Series and Progression Models

January 1st, 2014

[The following is a scrapped bit of content from my book Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4. I don’t know why I didn’t just add this to the Loose Ends article. In any case…]

Each Wario Land game has its own take on freer linear progression. Wario Land‘s world map plots a straightforward course through each world, but is punctuated by a substantial number of optional routes. These paths can be accessed through secret exits. Wario Land 2‘s branching routes connect back to the main route or lead to their own endings. After completing the game, the levels are presented in a tree, so it’s easier for the player to retrace their steps and seek out the secret exits they missed. Wario Land 3 employs a multi-screen world map with a day/night system where treasures found open up access to new levels or parts of levels. Wario Land 4 presents four passages which the player can tackle in any order they please. The unique progression systems help give each game their own distinct identity.

  • Kyle

    That was always one of my favorite features that was in Wario games, optional roughts really helped give the game more depth as the player that simply went straight for the easiest rought missed around 30-50% of the game.

  • And then Wario Land Shake It arguably took a step backwards, making each world accessed in a linear order and only opening levels after you beat the previous one (with the exception of the ten or so secret stages).

  • Sure. You could say that. Personally, I’ve always appreciated the game-unique progression models. It’s one of the design tenets of the series.

  • Yeah, it is an interesting and unique thing about the franchise.

    I do have to wonder one thing though, namely whether its also why the
    series never developed more of a fanbase. People tend to like sequels to
    be ‘more of what they liked the first time around’, and tend to see
    them as a ‘stable’ thing (similar characters, some music similarities,
    similar gameplay/game design structure…). Wario Land changing this so
    often may have thrown off the audience interested in the actual world
    and characters as well as the gameplay, since everyone they might have
    become invested in vanished without a trace between installments and the
    familiar gameplay style went with it.

    But that’s not strictly a game design issue. Just a sales/popularity/fan culture one.

    P.S. This is a reply to Daniel Primed, the bottom of the page was cut off and didn’t let me reply to anyone’s actual comments.

  • I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s probably has more to do with the marketing and release conditions of each game. As for the comments, yeah, I’ve come across this problem before, you can just scroll around to fix it, I think.