Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 has been one of my favourite games since it was first released. I won't bore you with my personal history but naturally that spun into an appreciation for the greater Wario land series, though the original is still the one that means the most to me.
Most specifically, I became a big fan of the game's villain - Captain Syrup.
Now, if you proclaim to the internet that you have an invested interest in a fictional lady, you're going to be accused of being sexually attracted to her but you might be surprised that this is not the case for me!
I think there are a collection of reasons, but they probably include the fact that she is less sterotypical than your average pirate and was implied to be male right up until you meet her in the final battle - A concept she shares with Metroid hero Samus Aran, and no doubt that surprise endeared her to a lot of players too.
Over the years this appreciation manifested as me drawing a lot of art of Captin Syrup and her Sugar Pirate crew, so here is a comprehensive collection.
Here are most of the miscellaneous pictures I've done.
You can see the first (unpublished) picture which was done before I found official art of the character, and the uncoloured one was my own attempt to update her design which was never finished because I drew it right before Syrup was revealed to return in Wario Land: The Shake Dimension with a new design!
Throughout the first two Wario Land games Captain Syrup is accompanied by her gang of pirates, sometimes called the "Brown Sugar Pirates" sometimes the "Black Sugar Gang" and once the "Kitchen Tool Pirates." I tend to just refer to them as the Sugar Pirates because it's a neutral compromise and I dread to think what black sugar actually is...
Wario Land was a game with very strong theming and the pirates worked well because they were clearly defined as part of the same group. It's tough to tell what Mario monsters are specifically affiliated with Bowser, but all of the pirates either wear a bandana or display the skull symbol somewhere.
In Wario Land: The Shake Dimension Captain Syrup's new design gives her an emblem that is a lot more stylised than the classic skull. I think it's still supposed to be skull-like, but also looks a bit like an octopus. Whatever it is, it's more unique than a basic skull so I now use that when I'm drawing pirates.
And here they are! I think I have every clearly defined pirate from the first two Wario Lands here. I draw them because they will probably never return, so these characters can now only live on vicariously through fan artists such as myself.
You might have noticed some unfamiliar names here.
The sad truth is that most of these characters never got official English names and mixing Japanese and translated names rubs me the wrong way a little bit so I came up with my own proposed names for some of the cast.
In the highly unlikely event they do get official names I'll be happy to change them, but this is just frivolous fan art, no harm in making up some stuff of my own, eh?
In an effort to strengthen Captain Syrup's theming (something I consider extremely important in building memorable fictional characters) and also make her more relevant, I've investigated some Wario Land elements in my own way.
This selection was formatted this way so it could be best displayed on Twitter, and is a reimagining of the final boss fights in Wario Land II.
Everybody knows that you can't call yourself an aficionado of a particular Nintendo character without making a speculative Smash Bros moveset for them (unless they're already in the game (but even then, some people like to reimagine them!))
My general opinion is that making fan movesets is a fruitless endeavour. The game designers aren't going to see your work and even if they do, they certainly aren't going to use your unsolicited ideas. Plus, if you come up with the perfect moveset that you're really attached to and the character finally does earn a spot as a playable fighter, they probably won't live up to your superior idea and you run the risk of being disappointed by your favourite character!
Lucky for me, Captain Syrup has such a vanishingly small chance of ever appearing in another game ever again, over the years I was able to safely go ahead and put together not one, not two, not even three but now four different moveset concepts!
The first big Smash project I did was Super Smash Bros Chaos, a not-very-well-named roster made up of all the characters I wanted to see playable after the release of Super Smash Bros Brawl.
This included a large number of existing fighters but also a wide variety of newcomers, all of whom I presented with a possible moveset.
Naturally, Captain Syrup was high on the list and here is that entry presented with its original description.
My second set of newcomer considerations was for the "Smash Ballot" project, to coincide with the public ballot that fans could vote in to determine the final DLC character in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U.
After finishing the set, I once again went back to Captain Syrup with a few more ideas I think would work for her, still trying to make each special move a direct reference to something from the Wario Land series.
Here it is with my original notes.
Unlike the previous entires, this new concept was not planned ahead of time.
It was only after I had completed the SMASH 150 that I realised I hadn't engaged in what had now become tradition: The Captain Syrup moveset.
I went all out with this one, using fully coloured images all the way through and even offering several alternatives just to show what kind of possibilities there were!
The result was quite a lengthy explanation which I have recreated here.
The name of a game is a tiny little detail that has no bearing on that games quality...but I really don't like the name Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
It is appropriate (for now) but any of those supreme, final words like Ultimate, Universe, Infinite, Forever etc. sound more like a 2005 Flash fan game (and there's probably a good chance there was precisely such a game called Ultimate.)
In Japan it's known as Super Smash Bros Special and I much prefer that. There are lots of other games that use the Ultimate suffix, but Special is much more unique and, wait for it....Special.
Anyway let's get back to business. With the most recent entry in Smash Bros now finally, finally over, it's time to revisit Captain Syrup once again with what I think is my greatest (and probably final or...dare I say...Ultimate) moveset to date!
By coincidence it is mostly themed around the original Wario Land, but I never had to scrape for ideas or references, it seemed to come together quite naturally.
By now you've seen me say "cannons and cutlasses" quite a few times, suffice to say that this time around I want to maintain the idea of Syrup carrying the magic lamp as her primary weapon. Not for every single attack (I don't think bludgeoning people with it is very appropriate) but shown as an integral part of her moveset.
Remember how in classic Kirby games King Dedede would only brandish his mallet for a single attack, but it's always in his hand in Smash? That kind of thing.
In the previous set I had it strapped to her side with a sash. That could still be the case here, though it could also stay hidden unless specifically in use, there just happens to be a lot more moves that use it this time around.
One thing I never previously did with my movesets was offer colour variants. I never saw the point since the functionality was the important thing and I don't mind what alternate schemes are available. That said, I tend to stick to the default colours anyway when I'm playing so it rarely crosses my mind.
This time however I thought it would better complete the set to add some outfit references and cater to those that like them!
1 - Captain Syrup's most modern look comes from Wario Land: The Shake Dimension. Purple is often used for thief/trickster characters, isn't it?
2 - Her "original" colour scheme that never appeared in the monochrome Game Boy games but showed up in rare official art from the era.
3 - Based on her in-game sprite from the Game Boy Colour version of Wario Land II. A swarthier skin tone for a well-travelled pirate!
4 - Based on Queen Merelda from Shake Dimension. It's always worth making sure you have some basic red/blue/green schemes.
5 - Based on Princess Shokora from Wario Land 4. Referencing other notable ladies of the Wario Land games is a good way to acknowledge the series as a whole.
6 - Virtual Boy. Captain Syrup did not appear in Virtual Boy Wario Land but it's an oft neglected entry in the series and I wanted to pay tribute to all of them.
7 - Rudy the Clown from Wario Land 3. This entire design is lifted from Gamtos the Great. I thought it was fantastic and hopefully he doesn't mind!
8 - Gold! Princess Peach and Captain Falcon set a precedent for gold colour schemes in Smash, and it's more than appropriate for the cash collecting captain!
In my previous concept I included magically generated genie fists as a possible type of smash attack, though admitted it was comparable to Bayonetta's smashes.
But there's plenty of overlap in attack types throughout Smash Bros and I think Bayonetta is defined by more than her giant limb conjuring (and who knows how long they can keep securing her rights?) so I think this is fine, and really gets across Syrup's tactics of calling in support when an encounter escalates.
I decided to stick to hands exclusively, I'm not sure the genie's stubby little legs would look as powerful emerging from the ether on their own.
I said I have never duplicated moves across concepts but that is of course completely untrue, isn't it?
Every single moveset I've come up with ends the same way!
Summoning the full genie to lay waste to the entire stage is a pretty obvious conclusion, and most other people use the same idea in their concept movesets.
The exact function isn't really that important. With Final Smashes being a rare occurence (and many of them being cinematic at this point) there's almost no tactical element to their use, so as long as the imagery is right it doesn't matter too much if it's a short cutscene of the genie zapping a collection of opponents or if he physically rains lightning down on the stage.
This also marks the first time I finally drew the full attack, and the full genie design! I always found the design a little bland, but then I suppose it is best that he doesn't overshadow Captain Syrup.
However, that shouldn't stop the game designers from adding their own little flair, should it?
That's why I prefer to see older, more obscure characters in Smash because it allows us to see them in a new light! Captain Syrup has never even had a 3D model and when you think of the detail they added to Peach's simple design, there are a lot of things they could do here!
Unfortunately it's less impressive when modern characters become playable because they just look exactly the same as they always have, with no real room for interpretation.
And that about wraps it up for this page!
It's reasonable to think I'll return to these characters again in the future, but in what capacity I can't say.
I doubt I'll do another Smash Bros moveset since this one turned out (as far as I'm concerned) so well, but that could all change if Captain Syrup ever shows up in a new game. Some would say a new Wario Land game is already long overdue, and while Syrup has not appeared in every game in the series, I hope she gets taken on as a regular cast member (and hopefully remains a villain, none of this pseudo-ally for me, thank you very much.)
Maybe she could even pop up in a Mario spin-off as part of the extended universe? Unlikely but possible.
Either way a new appearance with some new skills would be just the thing to renew interest in the character and give me more ideas to draw!