Wario Land II (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) has the honor of being the last first party game released on Game Boy. Almost a year later, an enhanced port to the Game Boy Color was released in North America, and this is the version I played.
While this ended up being a series in its own right, Wario Land games are really a spin off of the Super Mario Land series – with Wario making his first appearance in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Despite the lineage, this is not your standard platformer. Wario is invincible – and because of this there are no lives. Being hit by enemies simply removes some of your coins or transforms Wario into something else but it’s never permanent. From what I played it was also very linear with one level leading directly into the next. According to Giant Bomb’s wiki, there are branching paths, but I didn’t run into any. As far as abilities are concerned, you can jump and do a dash attack that will break blocks and other destructible items, as well as kill enemies. If you jump on an enemy and knock him over you can then walk up to him and pick him up which allows you to throw him at other enemies. This took a bit of getting used to, but made sense given the lack of buttons on a Game Boy. Overall the platforming was pretty light, with more of a focus on puzzle solving and finding hidden rooms/items – a nice change of pace from your typical Mario game. One minor annoyance I found is that while the game auto saves on level completion, there is only one save slot – a real bummer. There are two mini games that I ran across – both reminded me of ‘memory’ and were fine. I probably could have gone without them, but they give you something to do with all the coins you’re collecting.
Visuals were good for the Game Boy Color with bright colors and well animated sprites. Because I played the GBC version, some of the backgrounds and sprites were a bit more detailed than in the original release, and it was definitely a good looking game.
Sound was excellent with sound effects that were perfect and an absolutely killer soundtrack. This is R&D1 and Kozue Ishikawa at their best.Just fantastic.
Verdict: Play again! This was oddly satisfying and I can see myself playing more.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb