Wario Land II

released on Mar 09, 1998

What kind of no-good ruffians would break into my castle and steal my treasures?! It's that rotten Captain Syrup and that Black Sugar Gang! I'm looking out for bad guys and scavenging for coins as I track down my treasures. If I don't get them all the first time, that's OK. I can go back again and again until I find them all. Captain Syrup doesn't stand a chance against me!

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A fun alternative platformer that's more about puzzle solving with the goofy status ailments than about executing tough jumps. Would recommend

this game actually has quite a lot of charm and character, it's pretty unique and at times fun

Many moons ago I was on a field trip to the zoo, it was a long bus ride so me and my buddy brought along our Game Boy Colors. He owned Wario Land II, I owned Wario Land 3. We ended up swapping games for a while out of curiosity, and he wanted to do a trade. I was unwilling to depart with Wario Land 3 however, since I was very much attached to it despite beating it at that point. I did however trade him something for Wario Land II, I unfortunately cannot remember what it was that I traded, it's probably actually a good thing I can't remember, since I probably wasn't attached to whatever the game was. Which means I probably pulled one over on that kid. What a sucker.
Wario has been hitting the gym and eating his Wheaties in this game, not only is he a bunch faster than he was in the last game, but he is now completely invincible and cannot be killed whatsoever. I remember an AVGN episode where I recall the Nerd saying something like "how can you call it a game if you can't even die?", I remember that line annoying me a bit since... well this game exists and it kinda rules. It's like a puzzle-platformer-coin grabbing simulator, I feel like this has the most satisfying coin grabbing sounds out there. Which is good, because you're Wario and you want to be a greedy shithead. Having a good coin sound is like having good hit sound effects in a beat'em up, you gotta keep that satisfaction high for something you're going to be doing a lot of.
The content for a Game Boy game here is pretty astonishing, there's a ton of stages and alternate paths/endings to find. You'd totally be playing this game for a long time, I mean I sure did back in the day, and even now I played this for about two weeks I wanna say. I think my favorite alternate path was the Atlantis one, though both it and the Haunted House one can be pretty creative in their stage design. My personal headcanon is that all of these paths and endings are canon and represent multiple times Captain Syrup stole treasure from Wario. She would be that persistant.
As far as comparing it to Wario Land 3, I don't think II's structure is quite as sound, but one thing for sure it does have over 3 is the enemy roster. It helps when it's an actual faction of enemies rather than just random critters that happened to be hanging out in the areas you visit. Dangerous Duck is still a top tier enemy, but I absolutely adore this little football helmet wearing guy who punches in the air). Special shoutout to the Penguin who throws a bowling ball at you that puts you into a dizzy spell, I found out later though that he throws a mug of beer at you in the Japanese version, lol. The Basketball Rabbit is also a better boss fight than the Soccer Rabbit in WL3.
I vividly remember a Billy and Mandy episode aping music and sound effects off this game for when Billy was playing some kind of Not-Game Boy console, couldn't tell you what episode it was since I haven't watched that show in years, but I remember it being there! Honest!
Adore this game, love that the game description here is talking in Wario's character. Please keep it that way.

Technically, it's all very competent. But it's just so damn boring and not fun to play. The levels just feel like a slog, and so many sections are just a chore. Not being able to die sounds like a might be an interesting idea on paper, but all it leads to is retreading a 30 second loop any time you get hit a single time on a boss, leading to a lot of tedium.

Fun platformer with lots of personality and content. More puzzle focused with no health bar which can sometimes be detrimental to actual enjoyment of the game as you might get knocked around a lot.

Amazingly ambitious little game. Very solid mechanics that are definitely ahead of their time. It's largely fun, but can be a bit long in the tooth and sometimes wastes your time a bit too much. If there weren't enough bits that were generally hard to figure out due to inconsistent telegraphing, I'd say it's a perfect car trip game. Still, it's hard to believe this came out on the Game Boy, especially with its absolutely wild structure.