The Wario franchise is an offshoot of the greater Mario franchise starring Wario, a shorter, fatter doppelganger of Mario with a ravenous appetite for money and treasure.
He first appeared in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins as the Big Bad of the game, where he stole Mario's castle (don't ask why Mario has a castle) and hid away the Six Golden Coins needed to reach him.
Wario eventually came into his own as the star of his own platformer series, Wario Land. While the first game played essentially like a Mario game with a few tweaks, the series eventually diverged into a Puzzle Platformer series with a heavy emphasis on exploration. Tying in with Wario's greed, a large focus of the games is getting a better ending by collecting as many coins as possible.
2003 saw the beginning of the other major branch of the franchise: the WarioWare series. In this series, Wario, still greedy as ever, decides to form his own video game company specializing in seconds-long minigames called "microgames." In addition to Wario, the series stars a wacky cast of characters who function as Wario's employees, such as disco dancer Jimmy T., Mad Scientist Dr. Crygor, and in-universe Nintendo enthusiast 9-Volt.
Oddly, in spite of its history, the Wario franchise has virtually no presence within the extended Mario universe unlike its sister franchises Yoshi's Island and Donkey Kong. Wario himself is a staple character of the spinoffs, but none of the characters from either Wario Land or WarioWare appear alongside him. In the spinoffs, Wario usually gets a vaguely related companion named Waluigi, a taller and leaner counterpart to Luigi, but even then, he doesn't appear within the core Wario series in any capacity.
Games in the series:
- Wario Land series
- Other Wario platformers
- WarioWare series
Tropes in the Wario franchise:
- Acrofatic: For a fat guy, Wario is quite good at running, jumping, and beating the crap out of things. It really peaks in Wario World, where he can pull off front flips and perform fancy wrestling moves on monsters much larger than he is.
- Denser and Wackier: As a whole, the Wario series is far wackier than the already surreal Mario series.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: Wario's signature move, where he charges shoulder-first to plow through enemies. It's so iconic that it has appeared in the otherwise unconnected platformers Wario World and Master of Disguise.
- Greed: Whether a badass treasure hunter or a lazy video game tycoon, nothing stops Wario on his quest to get filthy rich.
- Lucky Translation: Wario is a portmanteau of the Japanese word "warui," meaning bad, and "Mario." English speakers generally interpret it as vertically mirroring the M in "Mario," which helps establish Wario's Evil Twin nature.