Available on: GB / GBC
I went into the original Wario Land II pumped up by Super Mario Land 3 and all the great reviews I read about this sequel, which is a combination of a traditional platform game, puzzle-solving and adventuring. I must say that I'm immensely disappointed, but at the same time I'm kind of excited of the fact that I can finally be a total contrarian to all those critics who think Wario Land II is one of the most essential Game Boy games of all time. I don't like it, plain and simple.
Trial and error... error... error...
One ordinary morning, Captain Syrup and his gang get back at Wario by robbing him and trashing his castle. After Wario wakes up and realizes his precious treasure is gone, he gives chase to the pirates all across the surrounding lands.
Mostly - counting out boss fights and some quite impressive sequences - the game looks plain, very plain. It's a quite big game as expected, so it's practically no wonder, but I sincerely have to doubt that Nintendo couldn't do better than something this stiff and dull in 1998. The music, this time composed by Wario Land's Ishikawa Kozue all by himself, is quite horrid. There's maybe one good tune, the rest of it's there to drive anyone out of mind. The sound effects... well... farting at low frequency comes to mind. Believe me, this isn't just because I don't like the game, this really is my honest opinion of the game's audiovisuals. The Color version at least looks decent, but this is the original we're talking about here.
|A boss fight, against a giant|
bee. What was his name
again? Oh, "Giant Bee".
Let's take it from the start. Wario Land II is a very, very different platformer. First and foremost, Wario can't die. There are no pits, no chasms, and if you hit an enemy from the wrong side, you will merely lose coins - like Sonic the Hedgehog loses rings, however the coins are not there for health, they are just there for valuable treasure and currency for minigames, which are once again important to determining the ending of the game. There's also a lot of puzzle solving related to the environment and how to get into certain places with Wario's lacking physique. You will need to take advantage of certain enemies and the handicaps which some enemies inflict on you - more about these handicaps later on. The fact that Wario is practically invincible doesn't make the game one step easier - or harder, at that. It's just DAMN frustrating. I don't know about everyone else, but to me, challenge doesn't stand for doing lengthy sequences over and over and over again just because you jumbled something up in the end of it - like magically hit an enemy from the wrong side even though it didn't seem that way, or went crashing into an invisible wall while attempting to make a long jump which you knew you COULD make - and will make, the next time. Or the next. Or the next. These things happen, for real. Like I said, this doesn't make the game any more difficult than it is. It just rips and tears on nerves, nothing else. Halfway through the game, I wished it would all be over.
|My frustration, on a scale of|
1-10? I'd say 15.
Since Wario can't actually take damage, you can rest assured that Nintendo came up with a few nuisances to cover that loss. Like I said, Wario loses coins upon touching an enemy the wrong way - that sounded kinky - but he also takes a ridiculous fall backwards, which seems to vary according to the location and height you're in. Let's say that you're climbing a high, vertical tower. You get to the highest floor, and an enemy catches you right in the kisser. You're most likely to fall straight to the first floor. If you get hit again on the first floor, it might be Wario doesn't move at all. It's ridiculous! Once again, this kind of bullshit is challenge? Where was I when they figured something like this out? Well, then there are the bosses... let me tone down the fury first. OK... so, the coins are safe once you reach a boss, but taking one good hit from a boss results in you getting thrown off the field, having to backtrack from some other location back to the boss, and start the whole fight all over again. I almost gave up in the last boss of the main game. My nerves just couldn't bear the randomness. If this was any other game, I would've kindly asked for at least a traditional health bar. However, if there was some kind of health bar in this particular game, it would spell "NEVER".
|Suddenly zombified. Call|
So... finally, the handicaps. Usually, when you're introduced to a new handicap, it will be to your advantage in solving a progress-based puzzle, however later, maybe even in that very same spot after you've done all you need to do, they will be there just to slow you down and annoy the hell out of you. Enemies respawn like crazy no matter how many times you take them out, so usually that won't help either - however, the respawning's seemingly just as random as everything else in the game. The handicaps include getting shrunk, flattened, inflated by a bee sting, zombified, "crazy" ("drunken" in the Japanese version - and that's closer to the truth) and fat, among others. Some of these don't have any use; the "crazy" handicap is funny at first, but not at a point in which it's inflicted high up in the air while you're trying to jump across narrow platforms to get to the other high side of a room, since you can't jump while under the influence, and the only way to shrug it off is to fall back to the bottom and take a dip into water.
|Oh, now they gave Donkey|
Kong the hammer.
The first couple of stages made me believe I'll like the game. Sure, the sound of the alarm clock was infernal torment, the rest of the sound effects sucked and the music was the worst, but the game still had some potential, I really enjoyed the gameplay for an extended while before falling hard like Fatman. I really wanted to enjoy the game. I really wanted to see what makes the game, and I quote, a "9.0" at IGN (extremely replayable, huh?) or "A unique and addictive platformer that no gamer should be without" and similarly rated at Nintendojo. Like I said in the prologue, on the other hand I enjoy being a total contrarian once in a while. I simply can't see the game's greatness. It's memorable, semi-fun and different, that's true, but it is no masterpiece and far from essential in my view.
Graphics : 7.0
Sound : 5.4
Playability : 6.1
Challenge : 8.0
Overall : 6.3
The game is actually the third Wario title. Virtual Boy Wario Land, released in 1995, was the second, but it was ignored in the numerical order probably due to the Virtual Boy's poor success. However, the game itself has been hailed by many critics as the best Virtual Boy game by a long shot.
The game was released on March 2nd, 1998. An enhanced and better known version of the game was released on the Game Boy Color on October 21st. Even though Wario Land II is a Japanese game, the original Game Boy version was never released in Japan.