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Wario Land II (Game Boy Color) artwork

Wario Land II (Game Boy Color) review

"''It's very well done, and nicely presented but it seems rushed to me, and it's not nearly as fun as it should be.'' "

What a brilliant game Warioland was, it was different to the GB mario games and far exceeded them in quality. So what of the sequel? Well for me, this was one of the most highly anticipated titles ever to arrive on a handheld. And what I've found is perfectly acceptable but wholly disappointing. Warioland 2 is a solid and enjoyable game with a clever design and some original ideas, but it's not what I wanted, and I couldn't care less if I'd never picked it up. It's very well done, and nicely presented but it seems rushed to me, and it's not nearly as fun as it should be.

The story is basically the same as the first but with some minor alterations here and there. Wario is STILL looking for lots of treasure except this time it's his own, it's been stolen. However the story only seems to have any significance in the opening animations, as in the last boss I come face to face with some giant robot who is controlled by someone I've never seen before. I wasn't even sure if it was the end of the game or not. I know this may sound a little ridiculous, but I was a little more involved in Wario's first quest, his plan to steal money and kidnap the princess from her origina kidnapper amused me, it struck a chord, it was different. But now that I've been presented with the same old 'protaganist on honest quest' schtick with absolutely no villain to identify (and no real end 'prize' if you get what I mean, you recover your stolen money on the route through, but for beating the final boss you get, well, the credits), I just don't care.

But although it's a source of disappointment, I can't just judge it by comparison with it's prequel, as Warioland 2 is, in many respects, a marvellous game. It seems a little more lifeless than before, there's not as much variety and the surroundings are all identical, but it's still quite good fun. The level design is very basic, but it's the puzzle elements that entertain. Levels ask you to experiment with throwing enemies around at the ceiling, barging into walls that look perfectly normal and to actually get hurt.

Because, like all platformers, it must have a gimmick to separate itself from the others. In this it is the mutation of it's main character upon injury. If one of the mole chefs throws a piece of cake in your mouth, you'll grow even fatter and waddle around for a limited amount of time, able to smash some parts of the floor simply by sitting on them. Get set on fire and you will run uncontrollable across the room, able only to jump. The upside to this is that you'll be able to break through the fire blocks. Get bitten by a bat and you'll transform into a zombie, able to fall through some sections of the floor.

In these moments your control, and time, is limited, so you'll have to persevere and practice to achieve your goals. There's many a section where a zooming rolled up ball Wario is required, and there's only one place where you can get into this form, the hills you can roll down. So as you are rolling your speed increases and your jumps must be well timed as if you hit ANYTHING you will turn back to normal. After that you have to try again, until you manage to skillfully avoid every obstacle and reach the block you were going for. It's moment like this where you feel rewarded for your hard effort.

And when it's put together with the transformations, there's quite a lot of variety in this game. Experimenting with Wario's different forms is great fun, and curious explorers who think 'Well what if I try this with this' will be handed secret tunnels, pieces of treasure and memory mini-games for their ambitious efforts.

And it's on that note where the game falls down a little. It's very ambitious with it's ideas, but it does succeed, the morphing Wario Sections are brilliant fun, the mini-games are compelling and the hidden corridors come in droves. But this all comes at the cost of a lot of general playability. It's good fun in places, and has well designed puzzles so as something new, it fits together perfectly. but as a platformer, Warioland 2 fails to meet requirements. If you look behind the novelties you'll see a fairly standard, if above average, side scrolling quest. The irritating platform jumps are there, the labyrinth levels, the things to collect, all the tired platform staples are here, and they're as tired as ever. It's lacking in the spirit and enthusiasm that it's predecessor had to spare and at times can be quite boring. There's a lot of fresh fun to be had, but it's hiding a platformer that you've seen before.

Graphically, Warioland 2 hardly matches up to the original, let alone beats it. There is no variety here, every level is set inside some plain building or other, until you feel you are playing the same level over and over again (Oddly enough, you sometimes are, but with a new feature such as flooded rooms). It's not ugly, and what's there is well handled and very sharp, but that's the point, there isn't much there in the first place. The only thing to have improved in this area is the character animation, Wario's facial expressions are hilarious and his enemies are animated with nearly as much character as he is.

The music in this installment is subtle and quite goofy, as in the first game. It doesn't often explode into outbursts of craziness as the music in the first game sometimes did, but it's a good mood setter. The sound effects are bold and pleasing to the ear, espeically the block smashing sound. Overall it is a little more controlled than the first one, but it's often catchy and sometimes eerie.

Will it last you a long time? Well the main game is very easy and not too long. You should be able to get through that in a maximu of three hours. But there are masses of secret routes to take through the game (At least four) and there is a secret treasure and picture piece hidden in each level (Watching the picture come together is quite satisfying, and you'll feel compelled to complete it). So if you stick with it, this game has a lot extra to offer and will last for quite a while.

Really Warioland 2 is not what I expected. It's completely different to the first game, and simply not as much fun. But that doesn't mean that it's not a cleverly structured, often exciting game that has a lot to offer, because it is. It's a cautious ride through a consistent list of highlights strung together by a thoroughly uninspired platformer. But if you're a platformer fan, it has a certain charm that will bring you satisfaction for quite a while.

We Wove Wou Wario
+ Some fantastic puzzles
+ Bursting with originality
+ The gimmick actually works well
+ Great fun in places
+ Excellent character animation
+ A long lasting challenge if you want to get everything
+ Lots of secrets and extras
+ Solid controls

This means War-io!
- Never as much fun as it should be
- Ropey platforming sections
- Gets repetitive
- Crap story and no characters apart from Wario
- All very restrained, it's fun but never exciting
- The levels look bare

If you like this....

Wario Land - Gameboy: Fantastic fun and a lot to find and do. My favourite GB platformer.
Wario Land 3 - Gameboy color:A little too complicated for it's own good, but intelligently designed and a lot of fun
Wario Land 4 - Gameboy Advance:the appeal of being mutated has started to wear off, but you can't help but enjoy such an expertly structured game.

maxh's avatar
Community review by maxh (Date unavailable)

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