Sunday, 30 August 2009

Warioland II

Warioland II features Wario on a quest for recover all the gold that was stolen from his castle. Initially released in 1998 a colour gameboy edition soon followed a couple of months after. Unlike other games like Mario where death always seems just round the corner, Wario is practically indestructible. Often, getting injured (such as being squashed) will result in a transformation that will allow you to access different areas. In order to create a challenge in the game, Wario must collect coins instead and spend coins to unlock treasures and map panels. Getting hit will cause you to lose coins and be paralysed. Wario also has a charging attack and a butt slam attack as well as the abilities to pick up enemies and certain objects. Unlike Mario, whenever you bump into enemies, it's more likely the enemies will get paralysed instead of you.

Because of Wario's abilities as a player you don't have to be particularly great. You'll still be able to finish the levels. But if you're wanting to complete the game and get the treasures you'll have to practice. You're only setback a little. Never blatantly punished.

So what else is great about the game?
1) Small bite sized levels - Perfect for portable gaming. Most level are completable within five minutes. The small size also encourages exploration as you know the secrets can't be too far away.
2) Mostly Self contained rooms - Everything you need to do to get to the exit in a room is in there. There are only a few locations where this rule is broken in the case of switches that need to be flicked to activate something else in a different room.
3) Tight gameplay and controls - Controlling Wario is very easy and he is extremely responsive.
4) Multiple story lines - Great for extending gameplay.

So what does it do wrong? Despite being such an awesome game, there are some issues:
1) Alternative story lines conditions can be hard to figure at times - Some of these conditions seem to assume you're a mind reader or something.
2) Some secret areas a bit hard to find
3) Lack of content in the colour version - Aside from the colour, the gameboy colour edition featured no real extras.

Despite it's small flaws, I can only say that Warioland II is a masterpiece and I believe that it deserves a place in the halls of greatness. It is a pinnacle of 2D gaming in the same way Lode Runner: The Legend Returns is. Hundreds of years from now, Warioland II will still be an awesome. It should be a game that every aspiring platform game designer should play. This is the closest one can get to perfection in the action genre.

If you haven't played it yet you can't call yourself a real gamer.

About the really final secret chapter
By the way, the last secret level you unlock when you collect everything is probably the toughest brutal and most insane level I've ever played and proof that even with a great concept like Warioland II, level design is paramount. It's easy to see how things could have gone seriously wrong if levels like that were the mainstay of the game. Fortunately it's confined as a secret.

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