Wario Land II

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Suits
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Wario Land II

Post by Suits » November 20th, 2018, 7:30 pm

Having recently played through the original Super Mario Land, Super Mario Land 2 and Warioland: Super Mario Land 3, I turned my attention to the next game in the series which is Wario Land 2.

From the very title it hints at a different experience, dropping the Super Mario Land moniker that it had carried prior. That was the first clue that things had taken a change of direction from the previous games.

My cartridge for this was the original GameBoy cartridge, this entry had the blessing of having feet in either camp, a piece of software that could be played on two generations of hardware.

Two versions of this game were officially produced, one boxed and marked up as an original GameBoy game, with a Super game Boy pack enabled palette swap and a year later a GameBoy Color (Colour) variant that carried more colours for the applicable enabled hardware.

I have the original GameBoy version in cartridge form.


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The manual in this is glorious, great drawings, cool little bits of lore and is written in the third person by Wario himself.

Originally, I had started playing on this cartridge via the GameBoy player on my GameCube on a PVM. However, as with old cartridge battery back up games, I was never completely confidant on the health of the battery in that cart, being 20 years old and not that I’ve ever been a victim of a dying battery yet, it would certainly suck if I lost all progress on any game.

I have to admit that I was also very much teased by seeing this game in it’s Color form and without too much deliberation I also picked it up on the eShop on my 3DS and eventually played through it on that delightful piece of hardware.

There’re some fundamental differences between this and the last game in the series. Firstly, there’s no lives, in fact, there’s no damage as such either, you simply can’t die. In place of health or damage each time you get struck by a nasty – you loose coins that you have collected along the way. Wario’s treasure that he’s collecting after its theft.

The coins that you collect or retrieve on your adventures are used in a number of mini games that are placed throughout the game that if successful, befit their own rewards.

The mini games in this entry are better than the last game and are perhaps slight hints to the early beginnings of Wario Ware.

The level structure is also different from the run to the right platformer norm and is built up via a number of areas linked by doors. The doors often take you back, up, down and even back around in loops, dead-ends or secrets.

There is also the very odd exclusion of a world map, or so it seems initially. You very simply progress from level to level, in a very traditional 4 stage then boss fight pattern. This feels very out of place when you compare it to the previous game and even the game before that (Six Golden Coins) where you could re-play levels, explore further and sniff out secrets or items you have missed.

Each level has a unique secret treasure hidden within it. These are often gained by finding more hidden doors that lead to mini games, that if successful reward you with a piece of treasure. Then, at the end of each level there is a mini game that if successful rewards you with a tile piece. This then falls into what is in effect a puzzle board that paints a picture as you collect the tiles - **On a side note, this is where I had my suspicions that something grander was afoot, as the puzzle board has 50 pieces.

This is where the games currency comes into play. The coins that you collect as you play through the game collate and allow you to pay to make changes to the games you play in order to make them easier.
This I found was paced perfectly and even as I was at the end of the game the mini games took just as much attention and concentration as they did the first time around – as well as each precious coin still being an asset in terms of achieving success.

Another difference in this entry to the series are the power-ups, which are effectively removed in the traditional sense. Due to the there being no damage, you also don’t have the opportunity to power up. To get around this mechanic certain enemies will change your form temporarily, either until a timeout or if you interact with something in the environment. For instance, certain enemies will turn you into a zombie, which renders the ability to jump but allows you to fall through certain floors, then to return to normal again you must walk into sunlight.

It’s very clever and offers up some great little puzzle moments and clever design.

The sound is pretty unremarkable really and offers nothing in terms of atmosphere other than a few mildly themed tunes to match certain environments bit of a missed opportunity I feel considering the level of attention that went into the rest of the game.

The bosses are clever and nicely designed to bring a new variety each time you encounter a new one. The city/town boss is a back street game of basketball !! There’re also a few alterations of the traditional final boss routine, there’s a few scenarios that involve hunting down several beefed-up regular baddies that are hidden around the stage. It’s good, and feels slightly advanced for a Gameboy cartridge.

The challenge, which is what I suppose you can best use to describe this game, isn’t from the combat or platforming, it’s the mild maze-like levels and the discovery of the games hidden treasures.

Final percentages/scores after first beating the game.


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Then, once you beat the game, it starts over but this time shows you your journey through the game and the paths you took – which also shows you the paths you missed !

It was such an eye opener in terms of what the game actually had to offer.

Having the patience and the desire to go back through and find everything is understandably a personal thing.
It’s awkward as the phrase that springs to mind is ‘The game only starts once you’ve beaten it’.

Going back and seeing where you’ve missed puzzles pieces or treasure does tug at the internal gamer heart strings and you soon start filling in the gaps.

Hidden levels which offer branching paths in the progression are fun – however a large frustration with them is that they hide some of the best areas in the game.

There’s a whole sunken city ruin area, which you get to by sinking the SS Teacup that you are travelling on and a whole area based in. The mechanics in the secret area revolve around water and moving it about. Something that would very well be missed by a casual player or by someone not bothering to finish the game or sniff out the secrets.

Secret areas are based upon the same basic structure, 4 levels and a boss level.

In my whole-time playing through it, not once did I find an alternate, or hidden exit, let alone be aware that it was even a thing.

The requirement to unlock these areas are often different to a traditional secret exit and will involve some sort of other environmental task to show the way.

Each branching path then offers its own unique ending and cut scene – all very cool.

The game presents itself originally as a linear platformer, without too much of a hint of what the game has to offer in terms of fuller experience, its such a shame that it’s locked away and even kept secret until 10+ hours into the game.


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Once you’ve found all of Wario’s treasure you unlock a final mini game, which is a sort of memory rhythm game with a giant duck, its funny and silly, again you can see the foundations of Wario Ware here and is a pleasant surprise. To play it, you must use the Treasury that you have collected throughout your whole game and it all links together very well and gives off a good sense of package.

It also did the old-fashioned thing of introducing new sprites and different art work, which after over 25 hours with this was interesting and fun. It took me back to the old days of completing games just to see the sprite work design for the ending. The Feels.


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Once you collect the all of the puzzle pieces it unlocks a treasure map, that reviles a final secret stage that is a proper pest. It’s a rather challenging platformer stage, that is timed. It took me just a snip over 20 minutes. I don’t feel that the controls are solid enough for such a task and I have to admit, for this level, I did use the save state feature of the 3DS – the only time I did throughout the entire game.

I’d have never beaten this level on an original GameBoy cartridge as I would have smashed it to pieces.


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Overall, I very much enjoyed this game, even after my initial disappointment upon the realisation that it was a very different game to Warioland.

I think it certainly stands up on its own, as its own game, not just another entry as part of a series.
It’s good at what it does, is robust and offers its own challenges and satisfaction. It was also a brave move to make the change, I think.

Being honest, I think I prefer the more traditional platforming of Warioland although I do feel encouraged by what I played and am very much happy with my time invested in it.

I’ve put many games down half way, or even right at the very end. This did have a rocky start and was put on hiatus for a few months but once I understood it better – never once did I feel that I wouldn’t see it out to the very end.

Not great but very interesting and pulled off on a console I don’t think could achieve it as well as it did.


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Alex79uk
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Re: Wario Land 2

Post by Alex79uk » November 20th, 2018, 8:35 pm

What a brilliant post! It's testament to your writing that I have absolutely no interest in playing this game whatsoever, but read the whole thing!

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Wario Land 2

Post by KSubzero1000 » November 20th, 2018, 9:01 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
November 20th, 2018, 8:35 pm
What a brilliant post! It's testament to your writing that I have absolutely no interest in playing this game whatsoever, but read the whole thing!
Mate, tell me about it. It's ridiculous.

I don't even know what to say at this point, I just sit back and let the NickProse™ wash all over me whenever he pulls another one out, interspersed by his goofy low-lit pseudo screenshots of course. :P

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ratsoalbion
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Re: Wario Land 2

Post by ratsoalbion » November 20th, 2018, 9:23 pm

If we ever pick up with the Mario Land/Wario series on the podcast, I know who we can call upon anyway!

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Michiel K
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Re: Wario Land II

Post by Michiel K » November 20th, 2018, 9:50 pm

Fantastic write-up, never suspected this game had so much to offer.

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Simonsloth
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Re: Wario Land 2

Post by Simonsloth » November 20th, 2018, 10:13 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
November 20th, 2018, 9:01 pm

I don't even know what to say at this point, I just sit back and let the NickProse™ wash all over me whenever he pulls another one out, interspersed by his goofy low-lit pseudo screenshots of course. :P
Nickprose! Haha.

Great post. Ludicrously detailed and exactly why I love this forum.

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Suits
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Re: Wario Land II

Post by Suits » November 20th, 2018, 10:30 pm

Cheers everyone, thats cool to hear.

Leon - I'd be honoured mate.

I hope people take a look at this if they ever get the chance, I rather enjoyed it. I wonder if anyone else on the forum has played it ??

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