That oversized ill-tempered man of bizarre-o-ness, Wario, is invading the Wii console for a second time with Wario Land: Shake It! Shake It! is the name of the game, and that is precisely what you will be doing to your Wii-mote. Shake It! marks the return of the classic side-scroller with all the bad-mannered actions of Wario you can handle. So shake it up and enter the land of Wario.
Developer Feel Good must be feeling pretty good after landing their first exclusive Nintendo published title. This title is a Wario title called, Wario Land: Shake It! which marks Wario's sixth solo game to be released, a second for the Wii. As expected Wario brings a certain amount of bizarre charm into the mix that couldn’t be touched if Nintendo used his alter-ego Mario, or his brother. In short Shake It! is a cool quick platformer that delivers on all the right points. So let's see what Wario is up to in Fall of 08.
Shake It! opens up with an impressive animated short that gives you a run down of the storyline. The plot might seem a little crazy because of the characters that accompany it, but its really quite simple. In basics a evil king kidnaps a queen and Wario has to save her. Yes, the same "rescue the princess" plot that has been used Mario games a hundred times. The difference here is that the kidnapper is a Shake King and the princess is actually from another world called Yuretopia. How Wario gets involved in this mess is through a stolen present from a voluptuous pirate lady (Captain Maple Syrup) who promises to treasure if he returns the Queen to her people. This is a big hall, and as we know Wario doesn’t do anything for free, so the promise of a Bottomless Coin Sack reels in the greedy hearted big fellow.
The gameplay in Shake It! is broken down like other Mario titles with a number of levels with a number of stages in each section. In total there are five levels called continents and six stages in each continent, two are unlockables. At the end of each continent you’ll have to do battle with a boss that gives Wario the pieces he needs to locate the Shake King’s pirate ship and rescue the Queen. Another element that is thrown into the mix in each level is freeing a little person called a Merfles. When you grab free them from their oversized cage, a timer will start and Wario has to b-line it back to the beginning of the level. Returning to the beginning under pressure is one of the coolest features in Wario which helps set it apart from other side-scrolling platformers.
Controlling Wario Land: Shake It! is really easy and doesn’t require both Wii controllers. In Shake It! all you will need to do is hold the Wii-mote horizontally and detach the annoying hanging nunchuck. Running and jumping and most other controls are done with the 1 and 2 button on the Wii-mote, and for the motion controls you will be shaking the Wii-mote a lot, go figure with a name like Shake It! The shaking of the controller is used to perform jumps, or huge earthquake ground-punches, or simply to shake things quickly and fast. Shaking the controller is used quite a bit in Shake It! but it never feels too gimmicky and given the situation of the plot line, it kind of works.
The shake component is an innovative touch that surprisingly stays fresh and doesn’t become overly gimmicky. Wario can shake anything he can pick up which mainly consists of shaking coins out of items and objects out of enemies. When shaking a money bag you will see a splurging of coins being released from the bag that looks like coin vomit. The only real annoyance can come when you have to retry certain spots in the game which often come attached to controlling one Wario's unique vehicles. Who though up that unibucket anyways? Aside from a few moments of frustration Shake It! is a solid routine platforming experience with a few neat tricks added on.
In the Shake universe you can also visit Captain Syrup’s pirate ship to purchase character power-ups like extra life or new maps. Extras are also available like unlocking the opening movie for a hefty dose of credits. The replayablity is high in Wario Land because there are minor objectives in each world besides rescuing the Merfles and returning to the beginning. Rewards are given for finding hidden treasures, completing the level under a specific time, or accomplishing a goal like not being hit, or falling in the water. Each one of these challenges are in-fact challenging and only gives the player more experience and bucket load of coins to spend at Syrup’s store. The only trick here is deciding if you want to risk not getting back to the start once the timer hits, if there are some treasures that have become accessible.
All in all, Wario Land: Shake It! is a short experience that might throw gamers towards renting Wario instead of purchasing his solo adventure. This is only if you plan on running through the game. If you expect to hunt around and complete each levels multiple objectives then you can clearly tack on a good four or five extra hours. For extending your game length that is about it. Shake It! doesn’t support any type of multiplayer mode which is fine. I’d rather have no online mode then some cheese ball add-on mode just to have another bullet point. The only add-on that could have been really cool would be to have a few mini-games styled after Wario Ware: Smooth Moves.
Touching on the graphics and audio work in Shake It! is an absolute must. In a nice change of pace the developer has chosen to use a hand-drawn artistic look instead of polished 3D sprites. Using hand-drawn characters brings a whole new life to the project that wouldn't be possible otherwise. Shake It! is a work of art that is full of colour, interesting level design and creative animations. I suggest slowing down from your Wario frenzy just for a second taking a few moments to appreciate the look of Shake It!, gander at oversized Wario and the wonderfully painted background screens.
Kicking on the audio blasts a mixture of the good and bad. The background music can become a little tiresome when you hit that one bad song. At the opposite end of spectrum things, when the song is rocking Wario picks up and feels more fun to play. The sound loops seem rather short and can rock it up with some funky rock tracks, or bore you down with annoying elevator music. Like Wario himself, the music has an odd quality of disgust and love. In a sore spot, we still don’t have voice over work on another Nintendo title. I hate to sound like a broken record, but its 2008 people, let move Nintendo into the next wave of gaming, you know the wave that hit gaming two generations ago. Ah! void voice-over's aside, Shake It! is a visually stunning which makes up for the dysfunction in the audio.
To Shake It! or not to Shake It! that is the question, and the answer is yes. Wario Land: Shake It! isn’t the most revolutionary game on the Wii, but it is an enjoyable ride in a unibucket. Wario’s adventure into the shake dimension is an original take on a familiar tale with the king of bizarre himself. The only real downside to purchasing Shake It! is that is over fairly quickly. Depending on how fast you run through your games you might want to consider renting this one. Otherwise, pick up Wario in his second Wii title and Shake It! Shake It! Shake It!
Gameplay: 8, Graphics: 8.5, Sound: 7.5, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 8.5 Final: 8.1 / 10
Runner-Up: Best Platform Game 2008 / Runner-Up: Wii GOTY 2008
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 09.26.08
- Lots of reasons to replay each level
- Killer hand-drawn graphics
- Excellent level design
- Thin, but strangely fun storyline
- It's fun to shake it
- Story mode without replaying levels is too short
- No voice-overs, some songs are very weak
- Some parts in the game will test your patience
- Shake it mechanic is the only real innovation