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March 7, 2012 / jwaxo

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (Sherbet)

Wario. The ickiest protagonist Nintendo has ever developed.

Among the great games that our friends down the street lorded over us were more than a few classics: Kirby’s Dreamland, Metroid II, Link’s Awakening. One that I have failed to touch on at all, though, is truly a classic in terms of GameBoy games: Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. I haven’t touched on it because it is, at face value, a normal Mario game. There’s a world map, you progress through it to finally battle the main bad guy, eventually you fight him and win control of the land back. Pretty standard, even if it was massive, massive improvement over the game that preceded it, which was so hard and so unlike any other Mario game that I flat-out refused to play it after a few tries. Mario Land 2 was great, a game that I bought as soon as I had a GameBoy of my own and played over and over again, but no great lessons from it jump out to me.

The third game in the series, though, was something completely different from any other Mario game before it, mostly because it featuredMario Land 2’s villain as the hero.

Ugh. Wario. Where do I even start? He’s the exact opposite of Mario, from his flabby appearance to his pointed and spiky mustache to the fact that a W is an upside-down M. As little characterization that characters in Mario games get, his is probably the simplest: greedy jerk.

Let’s not even talk about his moveset in Smash Bros.

But there’s something endearing about the ugly guy. Somehow, despite the fact that he had maybe two scenes in Mario Land 2, he stole those scenes completely with his 8-bit overgrown manchild actions. And thus a game featuring just Wario was made.

With absolutely the silliest plot ever.

“Wario, upset at being upstaged by Mario yet again and having his castle taken away from him, sets out on a quest to steal all of the gold and treasures from the Kitchen Islands, in the hopes of buying a castle even bigger and grander than Mario’s.”

And that’s the quest. You travel across the food-themed Kitchen Islands, collecting coins and battling bosses, until finally reaching the end of the game. There is a boss battle, and, afterwards, all of the gold and treasures you’ve collected up to that point get turned in for an appropriately-sized home.

As an aside, what always confused me about that part was that the person who you pay for the house is actually a genie. Why are you paying a genie? Why does a genie need payment? What kind of a sick world does Wario live in that a genie doesn’t just give you what you wish for?

I'm never drawing fanart again, I swear.On second thought, I probably have “had a friend like you”.

The thing with having themed islands, though, is that all of them were based around what you’d find in a kitchen. Some were based on food, some on kitchen implements, what have you. The standard pun-fest abounded. The thing is, when you have something like that, you have to rely on all of your players being able to catch all of your references.

The one that stymied me, and I have no idea why, was on the frozen, icy island. Far in the northwest of the island chain was an entirely optional world that had a bunch of frozen, slippery levels. This area was cleverly named “Sherbet Land.”

Don’t ask me how. Don’t ask me why. But, for some reason, at the age of 8 I had never encountered sherbet before. Or, if I had, I had no idea what it was called. “Hard, sour ice cream”? “Stuff that is cold and not very tasty”? I don’t know what I called it. All I know is that, after such obviously-named locations like Rice Beach or Parsley Woods, Sherbet Land had me confused. I assumed that, since it was a bonus level, there was some kind of disconnect between the name and food or utensils.

Years later the truth came out, and, as usual, I was left with a red face. How was I supposed to know sherbet was an actual thing?

Bottom line: be careful with your punny names. They are not always appreciated.

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