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Nintendo Wii Review: Wario Land – Shake It!

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Wario Land: Shake It! is a traditional 2D platformer with appealing, hand drawn animation and dynamic backgrounds that players maneuver through with a sideways orientation of the Wii remote. This orientation brings back some classic Nintendo System console memories (even more if the remote was slimmer… maybe a special version is on the way, which other games could also incorporate).

In this installment, an assumed sequel to the 2001 Wario Land 4 on Game Boy Advance, Wario must save a queen while rescuing a never-ending coin-producing sack and return it to the rightful owners. These owners recruit Wario easily by appealing to his selfish, money grubbing side. Players can take a page from that perspective as well because progression depends on endless coin collecting.

Wario must defeat five boss levels (each with four stages) then take back the sack from The Shake King. Each level has various missions and three treasure chests to find amid the simple left to right movement schemes, which fits the control scheme perfectly. Some of the puzzles bring good challenges and the worldwide settings are very appealing. All these elements combine to create a simple, satisfying experience with kinetic gameplay that always stimulates the senses. The high quality animated introduction and ending bookends all the action as Wario smashes and slides his way through levels, which also change with a time limit after reaching a certain checkpoint.

Developers demonstrate the controls by doing as players complete each action themselves in a nice introduction. Various remote shakes can stun baddies (no deaths in this land), retrieve money, move objects and huge quakes. Butt stomps are fun and effective among the mostly shallow learning curve. Aiming throws is probably the biggest initial challenge, but gets easier with practice (watching demonstrations also helps). Players get control of a submarine unicycle contraption and cannons, which enhances the action elements. The mental challenges stem from mastering the actions then matching newfound skills in puzzles and problem solving throughout the levels. Players can finish fast, but be wary of shortcuts like a special shooter that blasts Wario out at super speeds once he climbs inside. It would be nice to get an overview of the entire course for strategy sake before blast through the unknown.

The game has a high replay value full of hidden paths and objects to be found and times and coin tallies to increase. Other unlockables include music tracks (a definite plus for variety), secret level maps and various upgrades. Some of the character sound effects provide a bit of humor while the sound/music could use a little more variety. Parents/guardians of little tykes should pay attention to the low-brow humor. A nice, recommended change of platform pace for any age with charm and attitude.

Wario Land: Shake It! is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief and Mild Cartoon Violence.


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