Wario Land: Shake It

Nintendo's been in the habit lately of dragging up old franchises.
Matt Triponey - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Nintendo Wii
Produced by: Nintendo
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: All Ages
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Reviewed By: Matt Triponey (aka Red Five)
STAFF REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Genre: Platform
Christian Rating: 4 of 5 (good)
Gameplay: 4 of 5 (good)
Violence: 4 of 5 (barely present)
Adult Content: 5 of 5 (none)

 

Wario Land: Shake It. Illustration copyrighted.


Nintendo’s been in the habit lately of dragging up old franchises.
Many of you have no doubt heard of the much-anticipated Wii installments of Punch-Out and Sin and Punishment.
Well, preceding these was a game that managed to fly under the radar- Wario Land: Shake It.
It is the fifth installment of the Wario Land series, and it is the first game we’ve gotten in a few years now.
But how does it hold up in 2008’s gaming market? After all, the first impression of the game is that it’s been dumbed down for kids- the name alone feels childish, so much so that when I purchased this, I actually pretended I was a clueless older sibling Christmas-shopping. Seriously.
But in spite of that, long-time fans and first-timers like me will find a lot to love about Wario Land: Shake It.


PLOT
Wario’s about as big on plot as Mario. The game begins with a pirate who calls himself the Shake King capturing the Merfles and their queen. He also steals a bottomless sack of coins, which, when you shake it, releases an infinite amount of money.
One of the Merfles, however, escapes and inevitably finds our lovable antihero, Wario. Wario has recently received as a gift from his rival Captain Syrup (indeed- THAT Captain Syrup) a large globe that doubles as a teleportation device. Wario, of course, could care less about the captured queen, but when the Merfle tells him of the treasure….he’s in. Thus begins the adventure.

Wario Land: Shake It

GAMEPLAY
Gameplay doesn’t get much simpler than this. The control pad moves Wario. The 1 button causes Wario to use his dash attack, and it is also used for tasks such as firing Wario from a cannon or throwing a stunned enemy or object. The 2 button makes him jump. Pressing down on the control stick while in the air initiates a Ground Pound. And…that’s as simple as it gets.
But a game called Shake It clearly has motion controls. And believe me- the title is most appropriate. You’ll shake the Wii-mote to do an Earthquake Punch. You’ll shake it to get the money out of sacks of coins. You’ll use it to shake garlic (Wario’s health item of choice) out of enemies. You’ll use it to escape from giant, man-eating plants. In fact, if there’s one major complaint about this game, it’s the incessant shaking. Once you get to the harder levels, your arms will hurt. There’s no way around this.

Fortunately, the game takes a break to use the motion sensitivity in less physical ways. Tilting the Wii-mote will aim Wario’s throws, which is sometimes used in puzzles when there’s a switch you cannot reach. There are also a handful of levels where you pilot a submarine, which makes heavy use of the motion sensitivity. One level even has a rocket you can fly, which you steer with the Wii-mote. This is actually a lot more entertaining than the game’s namesake.

Wario Land: Shake It

The levels, while not anything you haven’t seen before, are all well-designed. Occasionally, there will be a puzzle you’ll be pleased with, though you’ll never spend longer than five minutes trying to figure out where to go. Overall, the level design is quite good, though it didn’t exactly blow me away.
There are a handful of flaws, however. The first is that the game is disappointingly short. It took me six to eight hours or so, and I stopped to collect a few of the treasures and secret maps. I am told that if you play the game without tackling the side challenges, it can be beaten in five hours. There are music CDs and other such goodies to unlock by collecting coins (which you spend in Captain Syrup’s Pirate Shop…catchy, huh?), and that can take a good amount of time.

The other flaw is that the main portion of the game isn’t particularly difficult. You learn every single skill there is to learn in the prologue- there’s little depth, in other words. Fortunately, the game will force you to apply those skills in creative ways (at least, it will if you’re collecting the treasures). Still, the first two worlds are disappointingly easy, and none of the levels are physically challenging. The enemies are sadly easy- it only takes one motion to knock out all enemies on the screen, and they stay knocked out plenty long enough for you to take them all out. The puzzles are challenging sometimes, but never overly so. The main game is really only challenging if you try to grab all the treasures, coins, and secret maps. But while it is easy, it’s also fun, and that’s what’s really important, right? The difficulty level is almost rectified by the bosses, however. This game has some of the most challenging bosses I’ve ever faced. The boss of World 4 and The Shake King both come to mind. Even after you figure out the strategies (and, since they change at regular intervals, that can take a while), beating them still requires very quick reflexes and solid timing. They are very fun to fight and rewarding to beat.

Wario Land: Shake It

PRESENTATION
If this is your first time hearing about this game, and you’re like me, you’re probably looking at the screenshots and wondering how lazy Nintendo can get with their graphics. I’m going to recommend that you see this game in motion before passing judgment. Screenshots do not do this game justice.
The animation is very fluid, and it almost seems three-dimensional at times. It is also very nice and colorful, and it resembles some of the better-animated cartoons on TV right now…only you get to play this one. The backgrounds are hand-painted, and they’re almost entirely unique- you won’t be hopping back and forth between a couple of basic environments here, even if none of the levels are all that innovative in design.
Seriously, just go see this game in motion. You won’t be disappointed.

The game also has a pretty impressive soundtrack. It’s no Mario Galaxy or Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but some of the tunes are pretty catchy. There’s also a music database that you can fill up over time, which is a nice touch. As a music fanatics, I wish more games would include features like that.

CONTENT
One of the things I love most about this game is that it’s classic Wario. The gas-passing, nose-picking, back hair-shaving Wario of the WarioWare games is (mostly) gone. We’re back to classic, greedy, comical Wario. That said, the crude humor is still here. We’ll never be rid if it completely. Fortunately, it’s limited to little things like, as said, him picking his nose or scratching his, um, derriere. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is Wario. He’s no Mario. Wario is one of Nintendo’s few antiheroes- whatever the ends, whatever the means, he’s in it for himself. In this game, he’s after treasure, and if he saves the queen while he’s at it, whatever. Since you are accomplishing good, it’s hard to feel guilty. It’s just worth keeping in mind that Wario’s motives are a bit askew.

Concerns beyond that are minor. Captain Syrup is a bit well-endowed and shows some cleavage, but it’s not explicit. The violence is cartoony- enemies must first be stunned, which causes them to sit still with their eyes spinning, looking dizzy. You can then defeat them by dashing into them or throwing them into something. In either scenario, they simply disappear in a cloud of smoke.

Wario Land: Shake It

CONCLUSION
Playing through Wario Land: Shake It, I never got the impression I was holding gold in my hands. It’s not too innovative, and it doesn’t really do anything different. But what I did think was that this game just took me back. Super Mario Bros. was my first video game, and the only one I own for the NES. I love those old platformers, and they just don’t make them anymore.
Well, Wario’s here, and he’ s restoring the genre.
While the game isn’t innovative, it just takes me all the way back and reminds me of why I loved platformers in the first place. It borrows elements from a lot of great classics and blends them into a game that’s plain and simple fun.
So it’s not that long. It’s not that deep. It’s not that hard. But it’s FUN. Really, really fun. Play it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s impossible not to be charmed by this game.

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Year of Release — 2008

[tags] 4 stars, Platform, Nintendo Wii, E (Everyone), Nintendo [/tags]

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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