|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Good Feel||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 22, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
July 18, 2008 - Good news for those of you who like to root for the baddies: this fall will mark the premiere Wii-ward, side-scrolling jaunt of Mario's ill-tempered nemesis. For some, Nintendo's recent pre-E3 announcement of Wario Land: Shake It! may have been lost amidst the recent buzz and a few of the bigger guns unveiled at Electronic Entertainment Expo, but the 2D platformer shows promise with its playful, stylish presentation and creative gameplay.
Over the years, Wario has been featured in his own numerous adventures across Nintendo's handhelds and consoles, and he's made plenty of cameos in other games as well. The chubby guy is known for more than his zany mini-game collections. It's been a while since the last Wario Land title hit the Game Boy Advance in 2001, but the gross and greasy anti-hero hasn't lost his greed or his charm. His big solo debut on the Wii appears as goofy as ever; get ready to shake it.
Ever the reluctant hero, it takes a lot to motivate the lazy, greed-ridden Wario to jump into action. This time he's lured through the promise of fame and fortune into helping the captured Queen Merelda and her diminutive subjects, the Merfles, escape the clutches of the piratical Shake King who's taken to invading their peaceful world of Yuretopia. Curiously, the land resides in the mysterious Shake Dimension located deep within an ancient globe artifact that arrives on Wario's doorstep - thanks to the scheming return of female pirate Captain Syrup. Both covet the same prize in the Shake King's possession: the Bottomless Coin Sack. With no time to lose, Wario and his rival soon find themselves embarking on another wacky platforming adventure.
Gallivanting across the five unique continents of Yuretopia, Wario must run, jump, and shake his way through a variety of stages to defeat bosses, free imprisoned Merfles, and escape unharmed (while filling his pockets with as much coin as he can put his hands on along the way). After saving the Merfle located in each stage, a countdown timer pops up, and you'll have to rush back through the start of the level before time runs out. A range of wacky bosses also await Wario at the end of each continent. Plenty of secrets and bonus stages are littered throughout the game, and it appears diligent exploration will yield ample surprises.
Shake It! will bring Wario's odd brand of classic, side-scrolling platforming to the Wii. When done properly, the old-school genre can be an excellent fit for the system. Aside from the usual whacking, butt stomping, and other typical melee shenanigans Wario fans are accustomed to, the game will incorporate many different puzzles and other elements that complement the Wii Remote's range of control possibilities.
As the title implies, the game integrates shaking and other motion sensing features into its simple control scheme. The Wii Remote is held horizontally in a classic control fashion. Wario's movements and attacks are controlled primarily between the D-pad and 1 and 2 buttons. When grabbing sacks of coins, you can shake the controller frantically to make Wario send their contents flying in all directions. Doing the same with some enemies makes them drop health power-ups. Shaking can also be used to trigger other moves. When preparing to chuck an enemy or other object, tilting the Wii Remote left or right will move an on-screen arrow that corresponds to the direction of the throw. This is also useful for controlling various vehicles Wario will find along his adventure. The tilt controls add an interesting element to aiming throws and steering vehicles. Though the shaking mechanic is humorous, it seems gimmicky and it's hard to say whether players will find it more fun than annoyance.
From what we've seen so far, Shake It! looks great on the Wii in 2.5D from a visual perspective. The cool cel-shaded, artistic style featured throughout the game is very slick. The intro has a strong cartoonish, anime vibe, which some players will likely enjoy immensely. This stylistic direction flows into the gameplay, and it really feels like you're playing an interactive cartoon. Each level is packed with a high level of detail, making Shake It! a cut above your typical platformer. The Wii may not be the most graphically powerful console on the market, but it's certainly no pushover.
As consoles become more and more powerful, some fear the marvels of classic side-scrolling games will be lost amongst the high-end visual experiences and new gameplay styles afforded by heftier hardware. Shake It! may very well prove the naysayers wrong; there's still a place for 2D platforming in the future.
CCC Staff Contributor