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Wario Land 2 review

The Game Boy Color platformer in which getting hurt isn't an option, no matter how hard you try

The best thing about Nintendo's Virtual Console service is that it enables classic games that have never been seen for years to finally get the spotlight again in front of a new generation of gamers. Wario Land 2 is a prime example of this.

Despite being a fantastic, genre-changing platformer and one of Nintendo's finest side-scrollers, it was last released more than 13 years ago and hasn't been available since. Now finally back for the first time in a well over a decade, we're delighted to see that Wario Land 2 is still every bit the entertaining, content-packed platformer it was in 1999.

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The game takes place shortly after the events of the first Wario Land, with the titular anti-hero sleeping in the castle he earned at the end of that game. As he catches some much-needed zeds, members of the nasty Black Sugar Gang break into the castle and start robbing his loot. To stop him giving chase, they then turn on a huge tap and flood the castle (much like the signature move of the Wet Bandits from Home Alone, '90s movie fans).

Wario Think You're Doing?

When he wakes up, Wario is, quite understandably, a bit miffed to find his treasure gone, his castle flooded, a big snake in his cellar and his pet chicken Hen scared off. It's up to the chunky greedmonger to restore everything to its rightful place, save Hen, recover all his possessions and dish out a hefty bum-boot to the Black Sugar Gang and its leader, Captain Syrup. Easy.

One thing that's clear when you start playing is that Wario is angry. This isn't your standard, Mario-type platformer where you have to use skill to avoid enemy attacks. It isn't even like Wario Land, in which Wario had a lot of power, but was still in danger of being attacked by enemies. No, Wario Land 2 has a unique selling point - it's a platform game in which the hero is completely and utterly invincible.

No matter what, it's impossible to kill Wario: enemy attacks simply knock him back and make him lose a few coins. It's a brave idea, one that's only been tried once or twice since - Kirby's Epic Yarn is a memorable example. You might think it'd make the game feel too easy, but it doesn't. It works, and it works brilliantly.

Don't get us wrong, it's great playing Mario games and trying to rescue Peach against what seem like overwhelming odds comprised of the very nastiest denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom, but sometimes it's fun to be the bad guy and Wario Land 2's invulnerability only adds to the sense that you're controlling a truly mean customer. Rather than playing as underdog Mario you feel like you're playing as an end-of-level boss.

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Yellow Fever

Not only are you invulnerable, you're also actively encouraged to subject yourself to enemy attacks at times. In a Kirby-like twist, Wario forgoes power-ups in favour of transformations. Not by absorbing powers, mind, but through his wounds.

Suffer a strike and Wario will turn into Hot Wario, running around with his backside ablaze until he turns into a huge fireball and can break certain types of block. Get crushed by a heavy stone (much like the Whomps in a Mario game) and he becomes Flat Wario, able to fit through small holes or glide through the air. Get stung by a bee and his face bloats up, enabling him to float up to reach higher, otherwise inaccessible locations.

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11 comments so far...
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  1. Dertdood Thursday 30th Aug 2012 at 17:30

    no percentage?

  2. boxdude10 Thursday 30th Aug 2012 at 22:06

    Wario land 3 was one of, if not THE first video game I ever played. I really enjoyed it's "invincible" puzzle element which I really missed in the 3DS Ambassador release of Wario land 4. If Wario land 2 isn't much different from 3 then I highly recommend this game. Hours of fun and some truly laugh out loud moments await those who try out all of Wario's strange and hilarious forms. I've never played this game but if it's anything like Wario land 3 then it's definitely worth the 90%

  3. toffeeman30 Friday 31st Aug 2012 at 06:07

    i have the original gb version. be nice to play it in colour though

  4. MartinIsAwesome Friday 31st Aug 2012 at 08:45

    The hours I put into this game when it originally came out. Everytime I think about it, the first thing I think about is the sheer amount of levels and treasures. The second thing I think of though - and the thing that lingers - is that Basketball Bunny Boss. I replayed that level over and over just because it was so much fun. This is certainly my favourite of the original Wario Land games - altoguh my favourite ultimately is Wario Land: The Shake Dimention.

  5. carnivine chaos Saturday 1st Sep 2012 at 16:34

    So glad this is on 3DS. I have Wario Lands 1 and 3 on my old GBC, but never had 2, so it's nice to finally get the chance to play it!

  6. Argenthor Sunday 2nd Sep 2012 at 16:39

    no percentage?

    Go onto the second page ;)

  7. Pyron12 Saturday 8th Sep 2012 at 08:58

    Considering that this 13 year old gbc game got the highest percentage in an AWFUL month is incredible.

  8. Dertdood Saturday 8th Sep 2012 at 12:01

    no percentage?

    Go onto the second page ;)

    its there now but when i posted the percentage bit was blank

  9. GreenhookGamer1 Monday 17th Sep 2012 at 19:12

    So gonna download it when I get Eshop money!

  10. Elwood212 Saturday 6th Oct 2012 at 17:55

    Looking forward to giving it a try :D I really like the idea of transforming when you get hurt. Awesome.

  11. SM3DL2 Thursday 8th Nov 2012 at 22:46

    The graphics are very good to today's standard, especially considering this was 1999.

    Now I understand why people say Nintendo is advanced in technology.

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