17. Course No. 33

The better course no. 35. Being an autoscroller, this level is still slow & boring, & this level still has plenty o’ banal rooms with Pirate Gooms — tho in this level they a’least put the Pirate Gooms up on higher, smaller platforms that leave li’l time to sneak up on them from behind, so they actually pose some semblance o’ danger here.

Still, this level does pull off some clever tricks. For instance, this level has an actually subtly dangerous D. D. whose long delay to throw their boomerang can actually hinder you, as if you wait too long till after they finish attacking, you’ll get crushed by the moving screen.

They laid out the section with the birds in a way where you can just stay @ the bottom, duck, & ignore the birds if you don’t care ’bout getting all the coins — & since they’re few coins, you shouldn’t. You could say this setpiece rewards clever players, which is better than challenging the player to realize they can just jump o’er the Pirate Gooms down below them or not break pointless blocks, as in course no. 35.

16. Course No. 34

The 1st room is the cleverest use o’ the lightning clouds in this game, swarming ladders as you climb up, making it harder to just race ahead o’ their lightning.

Unfortunately, the rest o’ this level doesn’t have much interesting: the next room has a bunch o’ Pinwheels & mines players will have encountered many times before, tho I s’pose it’s a slightly tighter squeeze here than earlier levels. Then ’gain, if you have the dragon powerup, you can just torch thru the Pinwheels & rush past the mines. After that you have a filler room where you can grind money by throwing Pirate Gooms into Chicken Ducks, & then you get mo’ Pinwheels & mines.

The treasure “puzzle” is lame, too: the key & chest are just on opposite sides o’ a big room; & it’s likely you take the chest path 1st, since it’s closer, in which case you waste your time going all the way up there, going back down, going all the way up to the key, & then going all the way back down & all the way up to the chest ’gain. & since the level exit is right next to the key, after you get the chest, you need to go all the way back down & all the way back up to the key ’gain — e’en if you went the right way initially, you have to retrace your steps.

O well: a’least this level has a unique treasure room with clouds looming o’er a canopy o’ leaves.

15. Course No. 39

It’s funny that e’en the penultimate level in this game starts with a room where you’re mostly dodging divebombing birds. & their positions don’t make them hard to dodge. In fact, some are so low down I think you’d have to try to let them hit you. Similarly, we have a straight line o’ just 4 D. D.s right after the other & yet ’nother empty room with a single Penkoon, ’cause that is logical level design in the bizarre minds o’ the developers o’ Wario Land.

The room that stands out the most in this level is the room with the moving skull platforms, unique to this level. Granted, they’re not interesting unique mechanics, moving platforms being the most basic mechanic in a platformer, going all the way back a’least to the 1st Super Mario Bros. — which is, ’gain, disappointing for a game that’s s’posed to be a twist on the classic Mario formula. Granted, they do add 1 twist: if you stay on a platform moving upward & touch the top o’ the screen, rather than, say, make the platform disappear & make you fall down like the original Super Mario Bros., the game instakills you, as apparently you get crushed by the screen. It’s not a good twist, ’course: given the strong norm that Super Mario Bros. set, this feels jarring: it either feel like a sloppy accident a bootleg that didn’t quite get all the details right would make or, if intentional as a “subversion”, feels like a dirty rom hack trick rather than a true clever subversion. The final jump’s tight squeeze is a better form o’ difficulty fitting for the penultimate level o’ the game, challenging without being unfair or unintuitive.

That being said, I will give some praise to how they implemented the treasure. While the weird bouncy smiley block under the breakable blocks isn’t the most brilliant secret, it is clever how they subtly hint @ the importance in being able to ground pound by placing plenty o’ rewards under breakable blocks in the 1st room. Also, while it has no gameplay importance, the X-shape o’ the treasure room is interesting — tho the need to break thru breakable blocks to get to the lock, requiring dropping the key, is just tedious.

Also, the windows with the billowing clouds & stars outside & the curtain-covered windows make this 1 o’ the most beautiful levels in the game.

14. Course No. 16

This level’s treasure has a solid if not mindbending challenge: the key is in an item block right @ the beginning & you have to bring it to the chest room later in the level. This isn’t as tedious or annoying as other levels that try to put breakable blocks in your way, as this level suffices with mo’ dynamic enemies, who are mo’ challenging, but you can jump on them or o’er them. If you’re going after money it’s a pain; but going after individual coins by charge attacking enemies twice is a pain already & I stopped bothering @ this point. 1 nitpick I do have, tho, is that if you revisit this level after getting the treasure, the item block has nothing, which is awkward & lame & makes me wonder why they couldn’t give you a heart.

I also respect the attempt to hide the treasure: it’s ’hind cracked blocks, which would be obvious; but it’s ’hind a 2nd set o’ cracked blocks, the 1st hiding nothing. I could see an impatient player after breaking past the 1st cracked blocks & finding nothing prematurely judging that they’re all empty; & it’s not too unfair a trick, as the player’s going to eventually try those cracked blocks when they don’t find the door anywhere else.

Less clever is this level’s secret exit: there’s a single suspicious coin in the top right o’ the next room that any player who isn’t trying to avoid money is going to take a second to grab, only to get blocked by a hidden block. Only a player terminally devoid o’ curiosity is going to not check up there & try jumping round, after which they will inevitably find the way onto the ceiling in to a secret room. This puzzle is both obvious & arbitrary: not a good combination.

There’s also a weird long empty hall after this secret room that finally leads to a single D. D. & the exit door. ¿Why is this hall here? ¿Did they forget to fill it with anything?

The main path ends with a repetition o’ course 15’s goal o’ making you go thru a room with the goal in sight but unreachable, hitting the switch @ the end, & then going back a new path accessible thanks to the switch the reach the previously unreachable goal. Here it’s e’en mo’ basic, as it’s just a flat path with D. D.’s. I’m not sure why they constructed it this way, with spikes that you’ll ne’er be in danger o’ hitting. They didn’t e’en position the switch blocks correctly, as the breakable blocks are ’bove them, while when you hit the switch, the switch blocks appear not above where they were where the breakable blocks are, but ’tween the breakable blocks, up & to the side o’ where they were. ¿Why not trade the breakable blocks & where the switch blocks go when you hit the switch so the switch blocks stay in the same horizontal position & make it seem that they moved up & not up & to the right? Obviously not a major problem, but it is sloppy, specially for a repeated setpiece.

13. Course No. 14

This is ’nother level full o’ jumping o’er birds & Pirate Gooms, but has a bit mo’ challenge & complexity with the short falling bridges & is shorter & faster-paced, so succeeds much better as a romp than levels like course no. 28. Still, adding a bit o’ enemy variety would’ve helped. In contrast to courses 11 & 17, where the moving platform Floater is used mostly for bonus coins & doesn’t fit in @ all, a short Floater section that break up this level would’ve kept to this level’s general sky theme o’ precarious platforms o’er the abyss while adding variety @ the same time.

& anyway, they do break the pattern in a striking way in the very final room, which introduces the icy theme that will dominate the rest o’ this level’s world with slippery snowy & icy ground & the sharp-snowflake-spitting Bucket Head, as well as a clever use o’ the former by placing the end door right on the edge next to spikes, which one can easily run into if one isn’t careful while walking ’cross the icy floor.

& the aesthetics propel this level, with its dreamy clouds, stars, & the soothing music.

12. Course No. 08

The way this level builds on mechanics from the previous level feels stronger than most levels. The 1st room blends the diving birds & timer bombs with currents, creating puzzles where you have to go round to enter passageways from the other side or use the jet powerup to speed thru the currents.

The 2nd room returns to the mechanic that started this world, bombs that start ticking to explosion when you pick them up, now all littered thru a thin climb upward, which just multiplies the joke like Sideshow Bob stepping on that rake multiple times.

& then we have a 3rd current room, which builds on the water current theme, but mo’ dangerous as you can’t avoid them & they’re littered with bombs & Helmuts.

While these screens would be ’nough for a solid level, unfortunately they added some weak rooms. The 3rd room is just a regular underwater section with Helmuts; a new enemy, pelicans, who spits mines & do nothing else useful; & a lot o’ blocks to break for no reason. You can stay near the surface o’ the water & ignore most e’erything.

Then in the final room you have a bunch o’ irrelevant Penkoons & the dumbest secret exit e’er: it’s clearly shown by an up arrow & just requires you to have the jet powerup so you can hover to the wall right below the platform & bump up to the platform. ’Course this secret exit is right @ the end so you effectively have to beat this level twice — classic bad Super Mario World rom hack secret exit ( which, to be fair, the real Super Mario World did, too… ).