- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he Nintendo Wii’s motion controls and Wario’s fondness for minigames seemed like a match made in heaven, so why has Mario’s garlic-loving nemesis abandoned the pick-up-and-play party genre for a return to the simpler days of side-scrollers? Quite simply, because they make for better games. “Wario Land: Shake It!” may not be the most impressive title of the fall season, but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable, and though the Wii has gotten a bad rap lately for failing to deliver its share of quality titles, Wario's latest adventure is a step in the right direction.
The story is simple: when Queen Merelda is kidnapped by the evil Shake King, Captain Syrup is sent to Wario's dimension to recruit him for help. Not exactly known for his random acts of kindness, Wario all but ignores the request until he discovers that the Shake King is also in possession of the Bottomless Coin Sack, a magical bag capable of holding an unlimited amount of wealth. But before Wario can challenge the Shake King and inherit his riches, he must first punch and jump his way through a series of cleverly themed levels, defeat each of the five world’s bosses, and, of course, collect as much gold and treasure as humanly possible.
The gimmick, of course, is that with the exception of the D-pad and 1 and 2 buttons, you’ll also be shaking the Wiimote for other actions, like activating Wario’s trademark Earthquake Punch, emptying out coin bags, grabbing power-ups from enemies, and even swinging from poles – but not like you think. (Wario is money-hungry, but he’s not that desperate.) The Wiimote’s motion controls are also put to use when you’re at the wheel of a vehicle, tilting the controller in order to change direction. The latter is more frustrating than it sounds, but it doesn’t change the fact that those levels are a nice diversion from the sometimes monotonous platforming.
For hardcore completists who may not find the main campaign difficult enough, there are also secondary challenges in each level. Some of the tasks (like not taking any damage or collecting all hidden treasures) are easy enough for the casual gamer, but most of them (collecting a set number of coins, finishing the level in a set time limit, etc.) really demands an expert knowledge of each level. It’s just too bad that Nintendo has yet to implement a reward system similar to the Xbox 360’s Achievements and the PlayStation 3’s Trophies, because it would definitely make completing some of these challenges a little more, well, rewarding.
If there’s any major complaint, however, it’s that “Wario Land: Shake It!” is just a little too short. You might not notice, because you’ll be too busy fighting the Shake King for hours as a result of his cheap combat moves, but the game could have done with the full eight worlds that “Super Mario Bros.” fans are used to. Also high up on the list of criticisms is that, in order to move on to the next world, you have to buy the area map first. That wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t cost so much, but more times than not, you’re forced to replay levels over again just to collect enough coins. It’s not exactly motivating to defeat that world’s boss, only to discover you still can’t progress in the game; developers Good-Feel would have been better off just increasing the difficulty instead. Still, it’s hard to deny the sheer fun you’ll have playing “Wario Land: Shake It!,” and the game’s hand-drawn animation only makes the experience that much better. It’s not exactly cause to rush out and buy a Wii, but if you’re looking for a satisfying rainy-day rental, you could do much worse than this.