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Virtual Boy Wario Land for the Virtual Boy is very similar to Wario's other platforming roles. As in the original Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Wario can collect different hats to give himself new abilities. The Dragon Hat allows Wario to use a flamethrower against his enemies, but must recharge (he also cannot barge). The Bull Helmet makes his barge attack faster and a lot more powerful along with the ability to do a ground pound, which can be used to crush his enemies and break blocks below. The Eagle Hat allows Wario to fly as well as barge while in mid-air. By combining the Eagle Hat with the Dragon Hat, Wario earns the King Dragon Hat with the powers of all three caps (except barging). In each stage, Wario must collect treasure and find a key to unlock the elevator to the next stage. Also, as in other Wario games, the player has an opportunity to find different treasures hidden around the stages to increase his or her overall score. There are also a few mini-games located between stages, in which Wario can gamble with the loot he has collected so far.

The game tried to incorporate the technology of the Virtual Boy. For example, many stages actually have more areas located in their backgrounds. With the help of special blocks located in certain places, players can actually send Wario to these places, which looks unusual given the Virtual Boy's ability to display objects and areas in three dimensions. These visual tricks lend great depth and detail to the game and are repeated more than a few times in situations such as boss fights, where an attack may reach towards the front of the screen, appearing to stop just inches before the player's eyes. The 19-note Kazumi Totaka song is also hidden at the very end of the game.