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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 platforming 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
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.
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, 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.
The WarioWare series has also been referenced in the Rhythm Heaven series (developed by the same team), such as featuring the space hares from Orbulon's stage, and remixing several minigames to feature characters from the WarioWare series.