Developer: Good Feel
Date Released: September 22, 2008 (USA)
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
2D platformers have become a rare thing today. They're usually limited to either downloadable services like XBLA and WiiWare (Braid, Mega Man 9, etc.) or handheld systems like the DS (New Super Mario Bros., etc.). Wario Land: Shake It! breaks that mold by appearing both on a home console, the Wii, and in retail form. Some people may be turned off by a $50 2D platformer in this day and age. Read on to find out if Wario's latest outing is worth it.
The story of Wario Land: Shake It! is very short, spanning about two 5-minute cutscenes, one at the beginning of the game, the other at the end. It's very Mario-like with it's simplistic nature and simply being there to have a reason for Wario to get to the end of each level. In the game, there's this distant land (located in a globe) named Yuretopia. It's been invated by a pirate known as the Shake King. He imprisioned the Queen of Yuretopia, Merelda, and her loyal subjects, the Merfles. He also took the legendary Bottomless Coin Sack, a bag that, when shaken, will spit out endless amounts of coins. Captain Syrup and a Merfle come to Wario and urge him to free the land from the Shake King. Uniterested, Wario is about to shoo them away when he hears of the Botttomless Coin Sack and his greed takes over.
Yuretopia is split into levels, just like almost every other 2D platforming game. The goal of each level is to get to the end, rescue the Merfle, then make it back to the beginning under a time limit. You control Wario with the Wii remote held sideways. As you'd expect the D-pad moves him, 2 is to jump, and 1 is to make a dash, which can break certain items and defeat certain enemies. The game controls wonderfully and the different moves of Wario are tight and responsive.
As the "Shake It!" subtitle implies, a few motion controls are thrown in, here and there, but they're most aren't overdone. I say "most" as the basic motion, shaking, is a bit overused. Basically whenever you obtain a bag or get a hold of a stunned enemy, you waggle (I know, it's a horrible word) the remote to gain massive amounts of coins or items. Though it's kind of cool, for the most part, the shaking is a bit overdone. The other uses of the motion controls are much more subtle and enjoyable in my opinion. You use the accelerometer in the Wii's remote to tilt and control submarines, carts balancing on a single wheel, and the direction of fire for cannons. To expand on the cannon shooting, imagine this. Yoshi's Island's aiming, just instead of a cursor moving up and down, the cursor is controlled by how much or how little you tilt the Wii remote. It's an awesome concept that works very well in the game.
The game is broken into five continents, each holding four regular levels, several hidden stages, and a boss battle. The regular stages are pretty easy, and I'll be surprised if you have any trouble with those. The hidden stages are unlocked by finding special maps through out the regular stages. These are definitely a bit more challenging, plus you have to find the map to unloack them first. The bosses really range in difficulty. The first two are so easy, it'd probably take most people two, if not less, trues to defeat them. But from there, the difficulty really ramps up a considerable amount. Both the fifth boss and the final boss are pretty damn difficult.
That being said, other than the last several boss battles, Wario Land: Shake It! is an easy game. You'll fly through most levels without meeting a Game Over screen. And the ones you do will probably be because of some mission (like collecting all the coins in the stage, which I'll get to later) and you run out of time instead of you running out of lives. This is one of the game's main faults, as you'll cruise through most of the main game easily.
One of the high points of the game is replay value. Most gamers will rip through the game in five to eight hours easily. But in no way does the game end there. There is so much bonus content to do in each level. Other than completing each level and unlocking every hidden level, there are three hidden treasures to find in each level. These will test your skills as a gamer, as they're usually hidden in some way or another. Other than that, there's also missions which are somewhat like Xbox Live Achievements. Each level comes with three to six missions that make you do certain things within each level. Every level will come with simple tasks like get back to portal within 2 minutes or collect 30,000 coins. But then there's others like jump on three enemies in a row, don't lose a life throughout the stage, or detonate all the bombs throughout the stage. In Wario Land: Shake It!, it's a long and hard road to get that 100% completion.
Another of the bad aspects of the game is originality. Besides the few motion controlled segments of the game, the Shake It! doesn't really do much to innovate the age old genre. But is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Why fix what isn't broken? Despite that fact it would've been nice to see some new things in the 2D platforming, the game's still a blast to play. Plus, it has a visual style that's really unique and definitely differs it from platformers found on the Virtual Console.
Wario Land: Shake It!'s graphics are beautiful. They're all gorgeously hand-drawn. Everything, from the characters and enemies to environments and cutscenes look exactly like classic hand-drawn cartoons (the ones before computers and Macromedia Flash). Production I.G. really outdid themselves with this one. On the music side of things, the soundtrack is pretty nice and you'll never tire from Wario's grunts and exclamations.
While Wario Land: Shake It! doesn't do much for the genre and its core game isn't all that long, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't have some fun with the game. The motion controls are used nicely, albeit the shaking in some parts. The hidden depth of game, and the flat out amazing visual style make this one heck of a game and definitely worth your purchase.
Gameplay: 8/10 True 2D platforming. It may not innovate much, but the motion controls are used nice (most of the time) and the level design is top-notch.
Graphics: 9/10 Gorgeous, hand drawn animation is to be found here. Everything from the characters to the environments are beautifully stylized.
Sound: 8/10 The Wario sounds are amusing and the music is actually pretty nice.
Lasting Value: 9/10 A long game? The main game? Not so much. But where the depth really is, is in all the hidden treasures, levels, and missions through out the game.
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