Would You Like An In-Depth Look At The Design Of Wario Land 4?

By Eugene . December 21, 2013 . 3:30pm

Game design is a serious business. Behind the amazing fun and fluidity of your favorite video game belies a lot of thought and due process: Where do we place this platform for a player to jump on, and why? What sort of music should we use? How do the characters look, and even how far can they reach with bounding boxes?


Ask fighting game enthusiasts and they’ll tell you those bounding boxes matter. Even in something like the 2001 Game Boy Advance title Wario Land 4.


The latest book to join the quiet but growing discourse on video game designs and impacts is Daniel Johnson’s Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4. Johnson is an ex-writer for sadly defunct (or perma-hiatus) GameSetWatch, which was an amazing site to dig through in its heyday. He’s also a game design analyst.


The game of choice is pretty interesting too, examining in depth the video game Wario Land 4. While not the first game people think of when they think of great game design, Johnson’s book purports to go in-depth into the game via evidence-based analysis rather than socio-cultural critique that will dissect the various parts that make up the whole, such as mechanics, psychology, education, level design and game feel.


Johnson said he hopes the 600-page behemoth “will push against the accepted norms of ‘games criticism’ and open up new avenues for analytical discussion.”


The book is available from Stolen Projects starting Wednesday 18th December at $7.99, with a special introductory price of $4.99 till the end of January. The e-book comes in both .pdf and .epub formats, with a Kindle version planned for future release.

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  • fool

    I beat this game on super hard, hit the gold crown score on each stage, and got all the treasures without boss items back in the day. This and the GBA Metroids are some of my favourite games.

    So hey, 600 pages? Why not…

  • drproton

    I liked Wario Land 3 more. But 4 was still great.

    • Tiduas

      This. Wario Land 4 was not a bad game at all but I just missed that adventure feeling that Wario Land 3 brought to us, thus I also rank WL3 over WL4. 600 pages on the game’s design is a cool thing though..

      • drproton

        Yep, even a game that no one likes would be just as interesting a subject for a design analysis. I hope the author is right and more academics choose to study games in this manner so we can get away from reviewer culture and metacritic having a stranglehold on the industry.

  • ChiffonCake

    Oh, that sounds like a great book to have! I loved Wario Land 4 back in the day, so a scientific analysis of its design would be something I’d love to read.

  • Barrylocke89

    I saw this on neogaf earlier today. Pretty amazing that Wario Land 4 of all games can get an indepth analysis. I wonder what else we can discover and learn from other games in a similar format.

    • I like how people say ‘of all games’ when it’s actually a very large game if you think about it…say in comparison to Pac-Man.

      And there are such in-depth books on Pac-Man. Look up Mastering Pac-Man at some point. You’ll be surprised that someone’s written over 120 pages on it.

      • Barrylocke89

        I’ll admit that the only Wario Land game I’ve played is the original one (and a small amount of WL2). I was mainly saying “of all games” because it’s not the first game that comes to mind to be analyzed in such depth. I’m certainly not caught up on the books that analyze gameplay and design, but I would have been less surprised if a more conventionally enjoyed game was chosen.

        Of course, the fact that the game was something a little unexpected does imply that a good amount of thought went into this book. The author Danial Johnson certainly seemed pretty passionate about it in the thread. So I could see myself playing through the game and giving the book a look sometime.

  • Earthjolly

    Wario Land 3 > Wario Land 4 to me. It just had a more magical feeling to it. Wario Land 4 felt more like indiana jones styled game. Plus Wario land 3 had the beautiful music box theme.


    • Armane

      I really didn’t like Wario Land 3 much compared to 2. But this reminds me I need to get on and finish Wario Land 4.

  • Göran Isacson

    Huh. This actually looks pretty interesting: I’m always up for design-books on game design, especially on platformer games. It’s kind of amazing how much you can read into those nifty little nuggets of wisdom.

  • LittleMofreaky

    I would pay $100 for a physical version of this.

  • For a second I thought this article was announcing Wario Land 5. I’m disappointed, but i guess this is neat in its own way.

    Not sure if I could ever commit to reading 600 pages on Wario Land 4, though. Especially not when I could probably play the game several times over in the time it would take me to read about it.

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