Wario Land 4 (GBA via Wii U Virtual Console)

Yes, this is pretty much the Year of Wario for me and believe it or not, this isn't the last of it. And fun little story, when I first played Wario Ware on my physical GBA, I was left with that unsatisfied feeling I mentioned in that game's quickie. What was the metaphorical chicken I went back to the store for? Wario Land 4. And once again, I'm following up Wario Ware with Wario Land 4.

Wario Land 4 is a perfectly solid platformer, with no control gimmicks to gum everything up like in Master of Disguise, but something about it doesn't set my pants on fire. The levels are mechanically and thematically varied enough to keep things interesting, even if you have some total duds like the pinball level. But even the decently crafted levels are brought down by superfluous fluff. In each level you have to find a little key creature to open up the next level and four gem fragments to unlock the boss door at the end of zone, but you almost always pick these up without really trying so what's the point? And if you do miss something, you have to go back through the level that you might have enjoyed once but may not feel like trudging through again - or worse, disliked and really don't want to visit again - especially if it's the key you missed and you just want to move on to the next stage. If it's to make us explore the levels more thoroughly, why not scrap all that and streamline the nooks and crannies into the main level design? And while you're at it, take out the timer on the boss battles. I can deal with it in the levels as you're racing back to the start, but it's just annoying in the bosses, especially with how fiddly their hit boxes can be.