Wario Land II
Next time you think you’re having a bad day, spare a thought for Wario’s rude awakening in Wario Land II. While napping peacefully, Wario’s home is invaded by the Black Sugar Gang. Upset over their defeat in the original Wario Land, the Pirates plunder Wario’s storehouses of gold and pull a Wet Bandit by flooding his castle before taking off.
Wario wakes up and begins the long chase for his treasure by turning off his alarm clock. This is a little more complex than simply throwing it across the room, as he has to navigate several hazards to locate it first. Thus the premise for the game is put forward: Though Wario Land II is a 2D platformer, its task-based levels and branching paths set it apart from typical Mario fare.
It’s strange to describe Mario as “nimble,” but that’s the best word for him when he’s held up against Wario. Mario games are about reflexes and dodging hazards. Wario, however, is built like a coin-activated outhouse, unfazed by foes. That doesn’t mean he gets a free ride through the game, though. Wario Land II employs status changes that can help Wario’s progress just as easily as they can hinder it. Need to squeeze under a tiny crevice? Maybe a bat carrying a two-ton weight can help.
The game’s puzzle-solving mixes with its platforming elements make it slower than Mario, but also a little more complete. And it’s not as if the game’s lack of lives and energy means it’s less intense. Wario can’t lose health, but if he takes a hit from an enemy, he loses money—a fate worse than death.