Before we get to Wario Land 2, let's remember the end of Wario Land (or Mario Land 3) on the Game Boy from 1994. Wario has succeeded in stealing the golden Peach statue and a lot of riches from Captain Syrup (in German the lady is called Captain Kandis) and her gang of pirates. From the accumulated gold, the stocky hero finally fulfills the long-cherished dream of his own castle!
There he snores happy and satisfied at the beginning of Wario Land 2 – but the pirates seek revenge, secretly get into the castle, steal Wario's treasures, turn on the main faucet to put the building under water and leave the building as a thank you a diabolical alarm clock back that soon rudely pulls Wario out of his dreams.
First, Mario's brother has to turn off the alarm clock and turn off the water in order to finally regain his riches and take revenge on the gang of thieves. So there is a lot to do in Wario Land 2!
Two consoles, two games
Source: PC Games
Wario's second adventure came out in March 1998 just before the Game Boy Color was released. In fact, there are two versions of the game internationally: one for the Game Boy in monochrome colors and a colored version for the GBC, which was released about a year later. Both editions work on both handhelds – the splendor of color of the color version is of course lost on the older hardware. A lot has changed in terms of play compared to its predecessor. One of the most important points: Wario is invincible! Instead of life, the likeable antihero loses what he likes best when he comes into contact with opponents: coins! Piling up coal and treasure is what drives Wario, and since the levels are crammed with the glitter, he has a lot to do in that regard. However, you won't find most of the money at first glance, Wario Land 2 is full of secret passages and optional areas that inattentive players completely miss.
Source: PC Games
When opening secret paths, two attacks by the hero quickly turn out to be particularly useful: the ramming attack and the pounding attack. Thanks to his considerable body mass, Wario destroys obstacles and crumbling walls and floors in no time, and he can also reach more distant areas with swing. Different from Mario Wario can pick up helpless opponents and use them as projectiles. In general, the tone of the game (as with the predecessor) is very different from the adventures of the much more famous Mario: Wario grins nastily while he rams opponents away, he greedily rubs his hands when the coins are counted at the end of a level and his Motivation is primarily self-interest. This is not the only reason why the stocky protagonist has won many fans since his first game of his own: He seems more human than the perfect hero Mario, and the Wario games are much more humorous than the sibling series. Wario was already able to transform himself in Wario Land, in Wario Land 2 many new disguises are added – most of them implemented in an amusing way. For example, Wario becomes fat when certain opponents throw pieces of cake into his mouth, or his head swells when an insect stings him. If a zombie bites him, he too becomes undead and shuffles through the area with his arms raised – at least until a beam of light hits him.
A wario just in case
Source: PC Games
The transformations are the linchpin of the game. Instead of getting the power-ups out of blocks as in the first part, similar to the Mario series, in Wario Land 2 it's the enemies who transform Wario into a new form! In addition, all ten Wario versions have certain properties, but sometimes it is better to stay with the "normal" Wario. Need an example? If Wario is crushed by a weight, he will crawl around as a flounder wario. Although he now fits through particularly narrow corridors, he can hardly jump. So if you want to collect coins at high altitude, you have to transform yourself back first. With the flounder shape, this happens either through water dripping from the ceiling or bats that grab Wario from above and pull it out again. Since the levels in Wario Land 2 are interspersed with secret areas and hidden treasures, it is important to use the transformations available in the area and their special properties sensibly – or to avoid them.
Source: PC Games
Incidentally, the hidden areas are not limited to gold chambers, Wario can enter new areas through secret passages, the discovery and mastering of which in turn affect the end of the adventure. You read that right – Wario Land 2 has six different endings! On the one hand, this ensures replayability and, on the other hand, encourages you to look around the levels. The fact that after playing through the game an overview map is available that shows the levels in which treasures are still missing and through which you can visit selected areas again. Admittedly, there were already different endings in Wario Land, so the fact is not that new for the series: The appearance of his new castle at the end of the adventure depends on the amount of treasures collected along the way. If there were only a few, then it was just enough for a bird house as a new domicile.
Source: PC Games
Wario Land 2 is based on the second-best ending of the predecessor, where Wario finally moves into his long-awaited castle (at the best ending, which is triggered when you have found all the treasures, Wario's face is immortalized as a picture on the moon). There are also treasures to discover in Wario Land 2. A kind of memory mini-game awaits Wario behind doors that are difficult to reach. To open the chest, you have to reveal the desired picture from eight upside down cards. Against the use of coins, the images are briefly turned over – the longer you want to look at them, the more expensive it is. The mini-game works similarly at the end of each level, in which you reveal cards – also against the use of coins. A number from zero to nine is hidden under these. If you think you know what number that is based on the parts revealed, you can solve. If you are successful, you will be credited with a fragment of a 50-piece puzzle.
Thanks to the map after reaching one of the ends of the game, you can repeat wasted attempts by completing the level again. Should you have uncovered 100 percent of the secrets, another mini-game is waiting for you, as a replacement for the two games just mentioned, which are no longer available after the treasures and parts of the picture have been bagged. With this variant, too, you have to memorize cards that are face up. Another side effect, if you really have revealed all the secrets: You can play the eleventh chapter and thus reach the optional sixth ending!
Mario meets Kirby meets Samus
Source: PC Games
Even without this additional level, Wario Land 2 is extensive and varied, not least because of the large number of secret paths throughout the game. A simple round, in which one does not attach importance to uncovering the secrets, takes about six hours. If you want to find and do everything, it takes on average more than twice as long. Not bad for a Game Boy game or a platformer! It should be noted that Wario Land 2 is a jumping game on paper, but through the Wario metamorphoses and secret paths, metroidvania and puzzle elements also make up part of the experience. Accordingly, it is less about speed and precision than in other genre representatives. There is not even a clock running while Wario explores the levels, so the fat antihero is not only immortal, but (with one exception) also freed from any time limit – both were different in the predecessor. Overall, Wario Land 2 remembers with the ability to transform with the help of the opponents, more like Kirby games because of Mario games!
The series continues the path taken in Wario Land 2 for two more games, up to Wario Land 4. After that, Wario became the patron of his microgame series Warioware, only to return later on the Wii with The Shake Dimension in the old platformer form. However, comparatively unsuccessful, which is probably one of the reasons why Nintendo has not given the fat boy a "real" adventure for quite a while. Keyword success: Wario Land 2 cannot keep up King Tetris keep up in terms of sales figures – "only" about 1.5 million cartridges of the title were sold for the Game Boy, on the Game Boy Color it was even less. Both the predecessor Wario Land (around 5 million) and the successor Wario Land 3 (around 2 million) were more successful than Wario Land 2.
Wario Land 2 is the better game than Wario Land: There is more to do, it is more extensive, it has more finesse and the transformation mechanics are humorous and entertaining at the same time.
If you want to convince yourself of this today, you cannot avoid owning a piece of decommissioned hardware. Either the 3DS, because then you have access to Wario Land 2 as a download via the Virtual Console for around 5 euros. Or you can dig out your old Game Boy or Game Boy Color and buy a used cartridge version. Sometimes you can get bargains on online auction platforms, but for goods with instructions or even in new form, you can get rid of at least 20 euros for the retro fun. Tip: If the cartridge shown is black, it is definitely the colored version for the Game Boy Color, the module of the Game Boy version is classic gray. What do you think, wouldn't it be time again for Wario to start a full-fledged platformer adventure on the Switch to keep collecting money and treasures? Or is what you experience with his fit brother Mario enough for you?
Wario Land 2 was one of my favorite Game Boy games back then!
However, I unsuccessfully puzzled myself over the question of whether I owned the game on the Game Boy or the colored version for the Game Boy Color? I can remember the transformations, the bosses and some levels, but I don't know if I saw the game in color! Very interesting (or questionable?), But in any case I still know for sure that as a child I had a lot of fun in Wario's adventures, but I didn't find all of the secrets. That's why it was especially nice to go on a treasure hunt now, after all these years. I wanted to finally uncover all the details of the game, and it's not that easy! It's a shame that Vampire Wario only appears in Wario Land 3, that was one of my favorite metamorphoses – but it doesn't matter, I already have a topic when I want to use the retro pen again!
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