Wario Land II (Game Boy Color) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 30.07.2012 3

Review for Wario Land II on Game Boy Color

The initial release of Wario Land II was of particular note because it was the last black and white Game Boy title Nintendo developed and self-published for the original handheld. With the long awaited arrival of colour on Nintendo portable systems in the form of the Game Boy Color, several old titles were given the graphical upgrade that colour allows, most of them under the "DX" or "Deluxe" moniker, such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. Though it didn't sport the aforementioned label, Wario Land II was quickly ported over to the Game Boy Color with little minor graphical tweaks other than the addition of colour, and released a mere year after its original monochrome-only version (screwing early adopters in the process but that's an entirely different story). Although there have been Game Boy releases on the Virtual Console so far not benefiting of their best version and/or enhancements on the service, namely Donkey Kong not being rendered in its Super Game Boy aspect, Nintendo would have been foolish not to give us the coloured version of the platform at hand here. Keep reading to find out how it shapes up nowadays.

Wario wakes up one morning to the deafening sound of a weird alarm clock mysteriously placed at the other end of his castle only to find it mostly flooded with water and his treasures missing. Further investigation reveals that it was stolen by Captain Syrup's Spearmen of the Black Sugar Gang, Wario's nemesis from the first game. To be fair, Wario stole them from her after all, but no matter, greedy Wario sets out to retrieve them... and collect heaps of gold coins and new treasures along the way if he can; so much for a great hero!

His journey takes him through a lot of locations in a side-scrolling platform adventure. It's split into chapters, each with a certain theme, divided into stages that further derive from that theme, bringing a lot of variations along the way. The presentation may be classic for a game in that genre, since players will spend most of their time hopping on platforms, collecting coins and aiming for the goal of each level.

Screenshot for Wario Land II on Game Boy Color

The coins collected may be spent on mini games. Each stage holds a treasure to find, much like the hidden treasures of the previous Game Boy outing, which adds to the exploration factor, considering how these treasure rooms are sometimes well hidden. However, gaining the treasure can only be done by playing a mini-game that costs coins. The same goes at the end of every level where a mini-game can yield a piece of a large treasure map (the amount of pieces indicating that the game holds 50 stages). To ensure that you get them all, collecting as many coins as possible is then a priority while exploring.

The basic gameplay of the first episode is back as well. Wario is still unable to kill enemies by simply stomping them like Mario can. Here they are knocked them over, allowing him to grab them and throw them at other enemies. He can also ram into them from the side or crush them under is weight by holding down on the D-pad while dropping on them from above.

Screenshot for Wario Land II on Game Boy Color

However, that latter action no longer requires the use of any kind of helmet. That system, used in the game and the Virtual Boy version of Wario Land, is completely gone now. His throwing ability is also improved in that he can charge up his strength before sending the enemies flying much faster and crushing them against any obstacle. Wario no longer takes any kind of damage this time, though. Instead he is pushed back when hit by an enemy or environmental hazards, losing some precious coins in the process.

The meat of this new system lies in the various transformations that Wario can undergo. Indeed, some specific enemies can turn Wario into all sorts of things when they touch him, giving him new abilities that wear off after a few seconds. Zombie Wario can pass through thin floors when he drops on them, Tiny Wario can fit through tight spaces while retaining all of the speed and jumping capacity that he would otherwise lose while crouching, Wario-on-Fire will catch fire and run all over the place before turning into a human torch, allowing to burn away certain blocks that can't be destroyed otherwise, and so on... And there are many more to discover. Clearly the gameplay is exceptionally original and varied and everything controls great.

The stages can also involve quite a bit of basic puzzle solving, involving making use of the different abilities and carrying enemies around to be able to break open the way to the exit of the stage flipping switches to lower and rise water levels, inverting the direction of conveyor belts, and so on. Variety is certainly not an issue here!

Screenshot for Wario Land II on Game Boy Color

The whole game may appear pretty linear at first, but as the gamer will find out eventually, some stages have a hidden exit that can be found, and the game might not be completely over when expected. The challenge isn't exactly very high and any player with decent skills shouldn't meet any major opposition during the adventure. That being said it should last a decent amount of time for the price it sells for on the 3DS Virtual Console service, especially if this is the first time playing it.

Speaking of which, this Virtual Console re-release doesn't bring any major enhancements, considering the original already allowed for progress to be saved at any moment or place, except during mini-games and boss fights. The save state functionality is simply faster to permanently save progress at any moment and reload. It helps with cheating during mini-games and boss fights too, though, alleviating some of the little challenge that was to be found. Finally, given how the backlight on the 3DS is much better than it was on the Game Boy Color-compatible Game Boy Advance SP, the game looks better than ever and the colours look much more vibrant this time around, which is a nice treat.

Screenshot for Wario Land II on Game Boy Color

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Wario Land II has quite a few good things going for it. Its excellent gameplay, varied environments, good graphics and sound (for the time), and its impressive selection of transformations and puzzle elements make it easily one of the best Game Boy games ever conceived. Admittedly it doesn't hold a candle to the inventiveness of its successor and the excellent gameplay, graphics and sound of the Game Boy Advance episode. With that being said, it's still a must-have classic for any Nintendo fan. The drastic change in gameplay, taking the franchise farther away from its Mario roots might not be to everyone's taste, but ultimately turns out an excellent choice that gave the series nowadays most of its unique personality, even though we quite loved the gameplay with the different hats.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

CrimsonKong (guest) 01.08.2012#1

Wario Land 3 has to be next for the eShop...then maybe Donkey Kong Country 1-3 o.O

I really hope there is a proper Wario Land sequel for 3DS at some point!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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The stats in my system tell me it took me 8 hours and 30 minutes to complete it entirely, but I had played it before so I remembered quite a lot of it (even if the last time must be like a decade ago). Should last longer than that for newcomers.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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