Wario (franchise)

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Cropped Wario logo from Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.
First installment Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (1994)
Latest installment WarioWare: Get It Together! (2021)
Number of installments 24
Sub-series Wario Land

The Wario (ワリオ) franchise is a spin-off of the Mario franchise that features Wario as the main character. It is the first franchise created by Nintendo to feature a villain/antihero as the main protagonist. The franchise was created by game designers Hiroji Kiyotake and Takehiko Hosokawa for Nintendo R&D 1, which primarily handled its games and later turned these duties over to its successor, Nintendo SPD Group No. 1. Some Wario games have been developed by other companies, including Suzak, Good-Feel, and Intelligent Systems.

The Wario franchise branches into two main series, the Wario Land series and the WarioWare series. Wario Land games are platform games that involve the greedy and selfish protagonist looking for treasure and other ways of accumulating wealth. Its first game, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, was the first game to feature Wario as a playable character. The WarioWare games are compilations of short minigames (called microgames) which are made by Wario and his friends, motivated by his wish of making money; they work in the fictional WarioWare, Inc., a video game producing company. These microgames often make use of the new technologies of the system they are released for. Beyond these two main series, Wario has various installments in other genres.

Main character overview

Wario, the main character, was the first villain/antihero to be a playable protagonist in a Nintendo video game.
Main article: Wario

The titular Wario was created as an archrival for Nintendo's mascot Mario. He first appeared in the 1992 Game Boy title Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, where he was the main antagonist and final boss. His name is a portmanteau of Mario's name and the Japanese word warui (悪い), meaning "bad." He was designed by Hiroji Kiyotake, who also created Samus Aran for the Metroid series. Since 1997, the character has been voiced by Charles Martinet, who is also the voice actor for Mario.

Wario is portrayed as a corrupt, hot-tempered, and exaggerated version of Mario, inverse to him in both appearance and personality. Whereas Mario is selfless in his acts and always adventures for the good of others, this is not the case with Wario. His primary trait is his greed, and he always adventures for personal, material gain; even when he does acts that would be considered "heroic," he only does them with the promise of treasure. Though he does have some of Mario's moves, such as defeating certain enemies with a single jump, Wario more often defeats enemies with his superhuman strength: barging them out of the way with his trademark body slam, stunning them with powerful ground-shaking butt stomps, and in one of his games, attacking with wrestling moves. Other powers of his include making use of various transformations to navigate certain obstacles, and his proficiency with bombs.

Creation and development

Wario was created as part of a decision to introduce a new character as the main villain of Super Mario Land 2 to meet a vision from the staff where the game was to divert from the conventional objectives of the Super Mario series; Mario in that game was to fight to win back something of his own, instead of fighting for the benefit of others, such as Princess Peach and the citizens of her Mushroom Kingdom. He was not the first character the staff came up with, however; several other characters had earlier been created and rejected. Kiyotake based Wario's relationship with Mario on the American comic strip and cartoon character Bluto, archnemesis of Popeye the Sailor, who compared to him is physically larger, more cunning, and motivated by self-interests.[1] The finalized version of Wario's design was drawn by the Mario franchise's foremost hand-drawn artist, Yoichi Kotabe, taking inspiration from not only Bluto but also another villain character, the circus owner Stromboli from Walt Disney's Pinocchio.[2]

Main series

Artwork Summary List of Games
Wario Land
WarioLandLogo 3.png The Wario Land series of platformers started with the 1993 Game Boy game Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. That title was developed in response to the mass popularity gained by Wario in his debut game, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. A direct spin-off of the Super Mario Land titles, Wario Land has its main character grubbing for money and hunting for treasure in attempts to increase his wealth; in the process, he confronts various antagonists, including the pirate Captain Syrup and her Black Sugar Gang, a gruesome creature called Demon Head, a clown-type character named Rudy, the Golden Diva, and the Shake King. The series features drastic changes from the Super Mario Land games, both stylistically and story-wise; for example, the latest game, Shake It!, incorporates anime-style intro and ending cutscenes.

Most recent design of the WarioWare series logo WarioWare, named Made in Wario in Japan, was established in 2003 with Mega Microgame$! for Game Boy Advance. It was initially developed by Nintendo R&D1; in all later generations, the series was co-developed by Intelligent Systems. This series' hallmark is its microgames, which are short, simple games (three to five seconds in length) presented in quick succession. The idea for the series came from Mario Artist: Polygon Studio for the Nintendo 64DD and its "Sound Bomber" mode.

The series revolves around the fictional company WarioWare, Inc., whose developers are touted as the makers of the microgames. Wario, motivated by his wish of making money, founds this company and hires workers from among his various friends: disco dancer Jimmy T, part-time-working high school student Mona, a young Nintendo fanatic named 9-Volt, taxi cabbies Dribble & Spitz, kindergarten-age ninja twins Kat & Ana, mad scientist Dr. Crygor, and the intelligent alien Orbulon. In later installments, more developers are added, including the emotionless young witch Ashley, a karaoke robot named Mike, and martial artist Young Cricket.

Every Nintendo system from the sixth generation onwards has contributed an entry of its own to that series, with each new installment exploiting the unique technological capabilities of the console or handheld for which the game is released. For example, Touched! features microgames that make use of the Nintendo DS's touchscreen.

Other games

Cover, original release and system Synopsis
Mario & Wario
The front cover of Mario & Wario
Japan August 27, 1993
Super Famicom
Mario & Wario is a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer game designed by Satoshi Tajiri and developed by Game Freak for the Super Famicom console. Released in August 1993, it is one of the few Mario games to utilize the Super Famicom Mouse accessory. The gameplay focuses on guiding Mario, who has various objects on his head placed by Wario, through a series of levels consisting of various obstacles and traps. Because Mario has been rendered sightless and is constantly in danger of walking into hazards, the player controls the fairy Wanda, who can protect Mario by changing the environment around him as he moves towards the levels' end.

The game was initially planned to be localized for the North American market (as shown by it being previewed in the September 1993 issue of Nintendo Power and a Canadian ad for a Kellogg's contest,[3] which featured a tentative box art), but this localization ended up being canceled.

Wario's Woods
Japan February 19, 1994
USA December 10, 1994
Europe 1995
Wario's Woods is a puzzle game released for both the NES and SNES in 1994. The NES version was the last officially licensed game released for its console in North America and was the only game in its library to have an official rating by the ESRB. Wario's Woods is a falling block game where the objective is to clear the playing field of monsters by using bombs, arranging them into rows of matching colors. Unlike other puzzle games such as Tetris, where the player directly manipulates the game pieces, the player controls Toad, who moves around the playing field and arranges them after they have fallen.
Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman!
The game cover of Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman!
Japan 1994
Game Boy
Hudson Soft created the crossover game, Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman! which was a crossover between Wario's franchise and that of Hudson's signature character Bomberman. The original release for the game was Bomberman GB, but for the Western release, Wario was added to the game. Wario has decided to loot Bomberman's world for his gain, and Bomberman must confront Wario in various battles to save his world from complete decimation. The player can play as either character; however, this does not significantly change the gameplay by any means.
Wario World
The boxart for Wario World.
Europe 2003
Nintendo GameCube
Wario's first 3D adventure is Wario World, developed by Treasure for the Nintendo GameCube. Wario is having a relaxing time at his castle, when an evil gem, called the "Black Jewel," suddenly awakens, destroys his castle, and turns all of his treasures into monsters. Wario travels through four strange worlds to defeat all of the enemies, claim back his treasures, and destroy the Black Jewel to regain control of his castle. In the process, he must also rescue the Spritelings, the creatures that had sealed the Black Jewel away in the past; during the ending, they rebuild the castle, with the quality thereof depending on how many Wario rescued during his adventure.
Wario: Master of Disguise
North American box art for Wario: Master of Disguise
Japan 2007
Nintendo DS
The Wario adventures returned with Wario: Master of Disguise, developed by Suzak for the Nintendo DS, has Wario advance through levels by taking advantage of seven alternate "forms" (other than his normal "Thief" form). One day, while switching through television channels, Wario's attention is caught by The Silver Zephyr, a show about a thief who can wield various disguises. He quickly creates a helmet that teleports him into the show's world, and steals Goodstyle, the disguise-changing wand of its star, who is really the powerless Count Cannoli. Wario also tracks down an ancient tablet called the Wishstone, confronts another thief called Carpaccio, and in the end, encounters and destroys the demon Terrormisu, who is sealed inside the Wishstone. After his final victory, Wario wishes for all of Count Cannoli's money and treasures; though this request is granted, the money is not teleported out of the TV world, infuriating Wario.

Appearances in other series

Wario is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, his default outfit being his motorcyclist attire from the WarioWare series; after obtaining a Smash Ball, he can also transform into Wario-Man, his superhero alter-ego seen in a few of that series' entries. His motorbike is used by him in one of his special attacks. A stage named WarioWare, Inc., based on the "Variety Tower" location in Mega Microgame$!, has several different microgames running in the background, which set tasks that upon their completion award the player with invincibility, growth, and other power-ups. Wario returns in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where he is now an unlockable character, instead of one playable from the start. The later Super Smash Bros. games have also featured WarioWare characters as helpers, trophies, and stickers.

Wario makes a guest appearance in the eighth level of Densetsu no Starfy 3, where Starfy must induce his various transformations from Wario Land 4 to progress throughout the stage.

The WarioWare series has strong ties to the Rhythm Heaven series (developed by the same team). Initially limited to quick references such as featuring the Alien Bunnies cameo in a few stages, the series 3DS installment Rhythm Heaven Megamix features two unlockable challenge sets starring the cast of the WarioWare series. In turn, Game & Wario and WarioWare Gold feature multiple cameos by Rhythm Heaven characters, with the latter game also including an extra calling back to the events of Rhythm Heaven Megamix.

The WarioWare series has also occasionally crossed over with the Daigasso! Band Brothers series: all three installments feature Ashley's Theme either built-in or as an official downloadable track and Nintendo would publish a short strip on its Japanese kids' website, dealing with Barbara's attempt to profit from Ashley's singing talents. In October and November 2018, the company ran a cross-promotional contest between WarioWare Gold and Band Brothers P asking contestants to rearrange a selection of songs from the WarioWare series in Band Brothers P's music editor, with the winning entries being judged by the WarioWare team and made officially downloadable in Band Brothers P.[4]

Other media


A highly obscure 1995 educational VHS release, the Mario Kirby Meisaku Video (meisaku meaning masterpiece), featured a story loosely based on Mario vs. Wario (with the second half of the tape starring fellow Nintendo icon Kirby) told via still imagery and narration accompanied by text that was intended to teach Japanese children kanji, Chinese characters which are commonly used in Japanese writing.


Mario, Wario, and Captain Syrup as featured on the back cover of Vol. 26 of KC Mario

Wario has been featured in several Mario-related mangas with Kodansha's Super Mario manga and Super Mario-Kun featuring loose adaptations of the first Wario Land and Wario's Woods. In addition, Super Mario-Kun's author would write a short-lived spin-off titled Ore Dayo! Wario Dayo!!, whose four issues successively adapted the plot of Wario World, Wario: Master of Disguise and Wario Land: Shake It!.

Nintendo Power published a ten-page story based on Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins titled Mario vs. Wario (unrelated to the game of the same name), which was featured in the January 1993 issue. The story was later reprinted as bonus content for the graphic novel format release of Super Mario Adventures. Mario vs. Wario: The Birthday Bash, a second Mario vs. Wario comic, was published a year later, in the January 1994 issue.

A choose-your-own-adventure book based on Wario Land 4 was released by Scholastic in 2002 as the last installment of its short-lived Game Boy Advance series.

Several Wario mangas have been published as part of various Japanese video game magazines; the longest-running of these, GO! Ketsu Wario, was published in Dengeki Nintendo DS from 2007 to 2011 and was a gag strip initially featuring the cast of Wario: Master of Disguise before being retooled to focus on Wario Land: Shake It!. A one-off manga based on WarioWare: Touched! simply titled Made in Wario was published as an extra in the March 2005 issue of Comic Bom Bom. Another short gag-striped based on Touched!, Waiwai! Wario, was published in the February 2006 issue of Famitsu DS+Wii and dealt with Mona's attempt to get Wario to keep his promise to take her to her concert. Wario also guest stars in Wario to Saikyou Tag da Fii!, a chapter of the manga adaptation of The Legendary Starfy based on his appearance in Densetsu no Starfy 3.


  1. ^ Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins official Shogakukan game guide, staff interview on pages 106-111 (translation provided by "Shmuplations", accessed September 10, 2016)
  2. ^ William Andureau (December 06, 2018). "Les confidences du dessinateur historique des personnages Nintendo". Le Monde. Retrieved December 14, 2018 (English translation available here)
  3. ^ SNES Central: Mario & Wario
  4. ^ https://topics.nintendo.co.jp/c/article/5f38d8ff-d269-11e8-8bfe-0a6d14145cb1.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=20181031&utm_campaign=topics