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»Wario Land II
  "Say it with me...greed is good!"

Graphics: 7

Gameplay: 10

Sound: 7

Value: 9
One thing I’ve got to say about this game: its title fits. I mean, it is the sequel to the original Wario Land. What I’m talking about would be the game’s subtitle...or rather, its lack thereof. While its predecessor bore the subtitle “Super Mario Land 3”, this game was simply Wario Land II. The original was simply a slightly modified spin-off of the Super Mario Land games for the original Game Boy. For this game they decided to make it into a separate series, severing a few of the connections from its origin series and setting the tone for the next two games in the Wario Land series and their own spinoff: Wario: Master of Disguise.

After the events of the first Wario Land, Wario has retired to his castle with the numerous treasures he collected during his quest to retrieve a statue of Princess Peach. One morning while Wario sleeps, Captain Syrup and her crew (recently dubbed The Black Sugar Gang) invade his castle; steal his treasures, set off a giant alarm clock and turn on a giant faucet that floods the castle. This in turn, leaves the place in complete disarray. When he finally awakens, Wario is enraged and out for revenge, so he chases them out of his castle and through various areas, such as Captain Syrup’s own ship and a city.

While the original Wario Land was a neat little take on the typical Super Mario Bros. engine (specifically, the one from 6 Golden Coins), it lacked real distinction from the Mario series. I mean, sure, you had to tackle enemies as opposed to jumping on them, but everything else was pretty much lifted from SML2. The linear levels and the various forms of Wario (I mean, come on, regular Wario, Dragon Wario, Jet Wario, ...small Wario?) were the chief offenders. Wario Land II, on the other hand, takes those few differences, expands on them and puts them in a whole new setting. No longer are levels simply linear, instead they are goal-oriented. Granted, most of the goals simply involve making it to the end of the stage, but the journey to the stage’s end is a little more complex than the standard “dash-to-the-end-of-the-stage” fare, the norm for portable platformers of this era.

Instead, Wario has to navigate through various stages: bashing through weak walls, entering various rooms, collecting coins and other treasures and, of course, bashing his enemies into next week, either with the standard tackle or by throwing them at something else. Of course, there are puzzle-like elements in the game, like blocks that can only be destroyed by chucking an enemy at them. Another far more complex system would be Wario’s power-ups/transformations. See, in WLII, Wario is pretty much indestructible. Neither enemies nor bosses nor spiked pits can kill him; all they do to our portly protagonist is knock a few coins out of him. On the other hand, there are also no standard power-ups; no mushrooms, no caps, no anything. Instead, Wario must be attacked in certain ways to gain new abilities. For example, if Wario gets set on fire, he becomes Fire Wario, who runs around aimlessly and is endowed with the ability to break through certain blocks (marked with a symbol resembling a flame). Likewise, if Wario gets crushed, he becomes Flat Wario, who can fit through narrow passageways and float through the air like a piece of paper caught in a breeze after jumping. These abilities have both their advantages and disadvantages (Fire Wario can’t stay still, Flat Wario can’t jump very high and walks slowly), which brings more of a puzzling element into play.

In the end, I’d have to say that this is probably one of the most enjoyable platformers released on the GBC...and on the original Game Boy for that matter. Sure, while Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 provided a firm structure; its fatal flaw was its cling to the familiar aspects from the Mario series. On the other hand, WLII chose to blaze its own trail, creating a game that shares similarities only to the game’s prequel and not the series it spun off from.

Graphics aren’t exactly impressive, but I guess that’s to be expected. I mean, this game was originally a late release on the Game Boy, before being revamped for the GBC. I guess the weakest part of it would have to be the re-coloring: for the most part it looks sloppy, kind of like what you’d expect from a fighting game on the Neo Geo Pocket Color in its early days. Of course, this is likely due to the color restraints imposed by the original GB. Otherwise, the game looks okay, especially the revamped introduction sequence, which actually benefits from the game’s coloration, turning what was once a bland grey-scale cut-scene into a vibrant one that showcased the GBC’s potential.

The sound’s actually not too different from that of the prequel. This goes double for the soundtrack, which centers on the same melody as its predecessor. Most of the music runs together, with very little of it standing out on its own, with the delightful exception of the bonus stage tune, which takes the otherwise dull melody and makes it into something lively. Likewise, the sound effects are average, with nothing that really stands out.

Replay is probably the game’s high point. I mean, sure the game itself is fun, but considering the fact that there are six secret chapters, making a grand total of 11 chapters (that’s 55 stages in all), it’s also got quite a bit of staying power, especially since it takes ingenuity to find the secret routes. There’s also the collection system, which involves the treasures hidden in each level and the 50 map pieces. All-in-all, this game is one of the Game Boy Color’s finest.

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Posted on: Aug. 30th, 2007

     Review Recap
An awesome mesh of the platform and puzzle genres.

Game Boy graphics revamped with a mild palette. Eh, I’ve seen worse...and better.

Another good soundtrack based around the Wario theme. Sound effects are the norm.

 Replay Value
Considering the fact that the secret stages outnumber the game’s standard length, it’s got quite a bit of staying power.


Platform: Game Boy Color
Genre: Platform
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Out Now
Save Type: 1 Slot