Review: Wario Land II (Game Boy Color)

In this review, we hoard more coins in the Game Boy Color game Wario Land II. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1998. It is the sequel to Wario Land – Super Mario Land 3. That game got a very good score. So, we thought we’d give the sequel a try to see if it continues the fun.

The story follows the events of the prequel. Wario is enjoying life in his new castle. One day, the Syrup Princess sends some of her goons to go in and cause mayhem. The goons first loot the castle of the coins. Then, the goons pull a stunt the Wet Bandits would be proud of and flood the castle with water. Before they leave, they activate a giant alarm clock to wake up Wario. Wario eventually wakes up and discovers the mayhem that was caused. He then gives chase to the villains who did this.

The game follows along a fairly similar structure of play to its predecessor. You can body check enemies and ground pound them for coins. You can also body check breakable walls. Small coins are worth 1 coin while large coins are worth 10. This is where the game begins to depart from the previous game.

The first noticeable difference is the fact that you can’t actually die in this game. As a result, heart points have been removed as well as power-up hats. The question becomes, what happens when you get hit by enemies and bosses? Instead of taking any kind of damage, Wario will drop some of his coins. In addition to this, some hits will push Wario to a previous part of the level. This forces you to retrace your footsteps in small parts of the game. Hits by bosses will force Wario to re-trace more footsteps.

While there are no power-ups, there are ways Wario can obtain special abilities. Some enemies hit Wario in special ways. The bat with the weight, for instance, will flatten him. This allows him to flutter through the air, walk over otherwise impassable gaps in narrow passages, and make certain jumps.

The enemies that carry torches can light Wario on fire. After a while, he’ll be engulfed in flames. This allows him to break up fire blocks.

The bees with the arrows will inflate Wario’s head, turning him into a helium balloon. This permits him to float up to platforms with coins that would be otherwise unreachable.

There are other elements in the levels that you can use to your advantage. Bubbles will allow you to get past certain currents in the water. Owls can carry you across massive gaps in the level. Seagulls can be used as stepping stones. You can roll into a ball on slopes and crash through things. Regular enemies can be thrown into red blocks with the picture of an enemy on them. There are plenty of obstacles that require a certain degree of problem solving.

Part way through the level, there is a treasure room. Unlike the previous game, a key is not needed to get into these rooms. Also unlike the previous game, you need to play a mini-game to win the treasure piece. Also, there are treasures on every level. The objective of this mini-game is to match the enemy on the locked treasure chest with the enemy that is found on the eight tiles. The difficulty determines how long you have to look over the eight tiles. The easier the difficulty, the more money you have to spend. Get the answer right and you win the treasure.

At the end of every level, you’ll get a chance to play another mini-game. This time, you have a chance to win a tiny piece of a giant picture. Since there are apparently at least 50 levels in this game, there are 50 pieces you can win. The game you need to win is simple: match the number in the larger tile with the numbers 9-0 in the row below.

To play, you need to spend 50 coins for the first clue. In total, there are 9 tiles. You can select either draw or answer. Draw forces you to spend an additional 50 coins for a second clue. Answer means you want to give an answer to what you think is the number. The draws are random, so you can spend a mere 100 coins and get it right. Other times, you’ll need to spend far more because it could still be a couple of different numbers. Get the answer right and you win a piece of the picture.

This game apparently got extremely high reviews. As a result, I looked forward to playing this one. I was especially looking forward to playing this game because I actually liked the first game. I have to say, considering the number of features found in this game, this was a huge disappointment for me.

One of the reasons this game just didn’t do a lot for me is because the previous game contained an overworld. This allowed you to backtrack and play levels again. Another reason the previous game separated itself from the pack is the fact that you could alter whole levels. This game completely stripped these elements out, leaving just a linear progression throughout the game. This alone, for me, was a huge step back for this game.

Another reason this game didn’t really entertain me that much is the lack of risk found in this game. You can’t really die in this game. Instead, you can just get annoyed at the game. This helped sink the game Mario is Missing and it didn’t do this game any favors either. It makes the game more boring.

To make matters worse, a lot of this game simply involves running around and collecting the ocean of coins. Defeat enemies, get more coins. The coins will accumulate, but for what? I never found that out. The value of the coins just seemed to dissipate for me after a while. With the linear level progression, it didn’t become a matter of if I would get bored of this game, but when.

The only reason I continued as far as I did in the game is because the different puzzles kept things mildly interesting. The various ways Wario would transform himself to get through certain areas did keep things mildly interesting. The bosses fights were also somewhat entertaining. Unfortunately, I just stopped playing when I started World 4, level 4 just out of pure boredom.

As a result, I look at people who say this game is such an amazing game and I find myself asking, “did we play the same game?” The lack of risk dropped the excitement of the game. The repetitive nature only made the game an even more dull affair. While variety and boss fights did prolong my stay with this game, it was only a matter of time before I just switched the game off out of pure boredom.

The graphics are pretty good in this game. The different transformations of Wario really helped make the graphics shine here. The different enemies also worked pretty well. Probably the only drawback in the graphics is that the general scenery isn’t anything to get excited over. Still, it was a pretty solid job.

Audio ended up being a fairly weak part of the game. While there was some interesting tracks in the previous game, this game doesn’t feature anything memorable. Even the tracks that are carried over from the previous game are so dulled down, they are only remotely recognizable and become disappointing. The sound effects are pretty well done, however as they did add a little pop to the game. Still, the audio is nothing to get excited over.

Overall, if I could sum this game up in a single word, it would be “boring”. Despite the variety of obstacles, gameplay manages to get repetitive. The lack of risk wore down any excitement this game had. It was really only a matter of time before I found myself switching the game off after a while. I don’t know if I’m even playing the same game as other reviewers played, but I don’t see what’s so great about this one. the graphics are pretty good with the nicely done animations of Wario and the variety in enemies. The backgrounds weren’t the greatest, however. The music is quite forgettable, but the sound effects do add some pop to the gameplay. Not the best game I have ever played, that’s for sure.

Furthest point in game: Stopped playing at World 4, Level 4 out of boredom.

General gameplay: 12/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 54%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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