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A Great Alternative to the Mario Series
For the longest time, Mario has arguably been the king of the platformer. Other franchises such as Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Banjo-Kazooie have done a good job of adding to the platformer genre, but Mario remains the most consistent platform game hero. Wario Land: Shake It! isn’t very likely to dethrone Nintendo’s mascot, but it will provide a handful of hours of action-packed platforming fun for those seeking a change of pace from what Mario brings to the table.
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The story in Wario Land: Shake It! sees Mario’s arch-rival trying to save a queen who has been taken captive at the hands of the Shake King. Those who are familiar with Wario’s antics will probably be aware that he isn’t really doing it for the queen or her kingdom, but for his own gain. A small sprite called a Merfle enlists Wario’s help in rescuing the queen of the Shake Dimension and promises that there are riches to be found during the journey. Being the greedy treasure hunter that he is, Wario readily agrees and sets out to find some treasure and save the queen.
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Wario Land: Shake It! doesn’t stray too far from the classic platforming gameplay set forth by the countless games in the genre, but it still manages to do a lot of things right. You’ll guide the yellow and purple clad anti-hero through pyramids, snowy hills, lush forests, and more, and you’ll see some clever and intricate level design throughout the game. You’ll definitely do a lot old-school platforming, but there is also a lot of brawling and some puzzle-solving to do in Wario Land: Shake It!
The Wii Remote’s motion-sensing technology also plays a role in the game. You hold the Wii Remote sideways to control Wario, and giving the Wii Remote a quick shake will cause Wario to pound his fist into the ground. Doing this can cause a variety of things to happen, from stunning enemies to dropping blocks that are teetering from high ledges, so it’s good to experiment with this move. Grabbing bags of money or stunned enemies and shaking the Wii Remote yields items from riches to health, so it’s safe to say that you’ll be doing a lot of shaking. Some gamers may find this constant movement repetitive, while others will just see it as what it is: an alternative to pressing a button.
The Shake Dimension consists of five separate continents, each with four main levels and a boss fight. In addition to these stages, the continents also feature hidden levels that you must uncover as you play. To clear a level you must reach the imprisoned Merfle. Once you get to the sprite, you’ll have to evacuate the stage by backtracking all the way to the beginning of the level. The time limit can add to the pressure, but the game never really gets too unforgiving, and you’ll hardly ever fail due to time constraints.
In addition to simply clearing the levels, you can also take on a number of side quests. Each stage has certain optional challenges to be met, such as evacuating the level in a certain amount of time, collecting a set number of coins, not taking damage, and seeking out the stage’s golden enemy. Additionally, each stage features hidden treasures to find, and most of them are tucked away carefully and require some exploration.
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Graphics and Sound
Wario Land: Shake It! features a beautiful hand-drawn graphical style akin to that of an anime. Locales are rich in color, backgrounds are beautifully detailed, and everything is just a treat for the eyes. The Wii has never been known to be a graphical powerhouse, but Nintendo and developer Good Feel managed to go in a different direction and provide an aesthetically impressive title.
The game’s soundtrack is full of quirky themes, and you’re more than likely to get the game’s music stuck in your head. There’s nothing epic about the score in Wario Land: Shake It!, but the music is definitely lighthearted and fun to listen to. In addition to the music, you’ll also hear Wario say a number of things and make his usual grunts and groans.
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With just five continents at four main levels apiece, players whose sole purpose is to get through the game are likely to beat Wario Land: Shake It! in just about four hours or so. However, those who want to get the most out of this package by collecting every hidden treasure, clearing every bonus objective, and finding each of the game’s hidden stages will see a slight increase in their clear time. Doing and seeing everything the game has to offer still doesn’t make this an extremely lengthy adventure, but it certainly adds to the overall value.
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Wario Land: Shake It! Overall Rating
Ultimately, Wario Land: Shake It! does a lot of things right and offers something different from Mario’s platforming adventures. Unfortunately, despite the fact that what the game brings to the table gameplay-wise is pure gold, it’s a very short experience overall. But as previously stated, what’s here is good, and gamers with a love for platformers or just fun games in general will enjoy Wario’s venture into the Shake Dimension.