Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wario Land: Shake It! Review

Hey there, been playing Wario Land for the past couple days and finished my review last night. It is now up at Classic VFH so go take a look.

Currently, I've actually been having trouble viewing the Classic site, so if you are having problems as well, then please let us know by simply leaving a comment and we'll get to work on that.

I also want to mention that we are running a contest right now where you can win a BRAND NEW, FACTORY SEALED COPY OF WARIO LAND: SHAKE IT! FOR THE WII!!!!!! Just click that link, or the one from the main page in the top right corner, for details and enter. All you have to do is find an item(s) to create a mustache with and send us a pic; it's that easy, and you can get a free game outta the deal, so you have nothing to lose. Enter. Do it.

UPDATE: Contest cancelled, Sorry.

UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

Wario Land: Shake It! has just been released for the Wii, and is one of the first from Nintendo in a little while, with only Wii Music and Animal Crossing coming out later in the year. Does this new Wario Land game have what it takes to fill in the gap and give gamers, both core and casual alike, a good dose of gaming? Read on to find out.

The game starts up with an anime-inspired video that shows how the evil Shake King has taken over the Shake Dimension and imprisoned Queen Merelda and the Merfles and stolen their prized possession, the Bottomless Coin Sack. Fortunately, one Merfle avoids capture and runs off to get help from the ever lovely Captain Syrup, who in turn calls on Wario and gives him an antique globe and special telescope that allows him to be transported to the Shake Dimension.

The Shake Dimension consists of five continents, which each house 4 levels, plus a boss stage. Once you beat all five bosses, you can move on to the last area where you will face the Shake King himself in a fiery battle. The levels themselves play out the same; you work your way to the end, where you rescue a Merfle from his imprisonment, and then must race your way back to the beginning of the level to the exit before time expires. However, there is a lot more to these levels than simply reaching the end. Every level has three hidden treasures and a number of missions to complete, however, obtaining and completing all of these objectives is not necessary to beat the game. These missions range in number and assortment, from 3-6 per stage, and from completing a level without taking damage, getting a certain number of coins, beating the level in a certain amount of time, and many others. Completing all of these missions can be very, very difficult and will require you to replay levels many times in order to complete everything, so this is where the replay value really comes in. If you are a completionist, then you have your work cut out for you.

One of Wario's new moves is this super smash that stuns enemies and allows for special things to happen with structures marked with a "!", so be on the look out for such objects.

Some stages have multiple ways to get around, but most are fairly linear, with some offshoots to hidden areas that house a treasure chest or coin bag. Also, if you really didn’t care about anything, you could speed through a level to the end fairly quickly without much thought, for the earlier levels at least. However, once you make it to the spot in which you rescue your little Merfle friend, some more strategy and precision comes into play, at least if you do want to make the most of your trip back. On the way back, there is almost always a speed boost box that will propel you forward very quickly, until you run into a wall or solid object, so you will need to be quick with your jumps and prepared to take immediate action if you wish to complete certain assignments. For one, you can get the speed mission completed, and almost all of these trips will lead to a treasure chest that can only be gotten while running fast after one of the boosters. Also, your trip back will have many routes to take, so you’ll have to go through it a few times, if not only to memorize the track and when you need to jump and such.

Here, you can see Wario making a break for it. He has gone through a speed boost and is hauling, so be careful not to run into any walls, or you'll lose your boost, and also, keep an eye on that timer if you hope to clear that mission, or at the least, make it out alive.

There are a few stages that break up the monotony of this formula though, and those consist of underwater levels, where you get to man a submarine. These levels are on rails, constantly propelling you forward, and are fairly fun to play. There are also a lot of enemies coming at you, most of which are varied, which is unusual for the game. All of the regular levels only contain a few enemies, all of which are variants of a standard little goomba-looking fellow, and they don’t really pose much of a threat. There are some enemies that you should avoid and some with spikes that will hurt you if you come into contact with them, but for the most part, the enemies are slow push-overs who can be taken out in a variety of ways, and even running into them might not hurt you, so I usually just jump over them or charge into them with ease, which simply makes them a nuisance that get in the way, as opposed to actual obstacles or enemies.

The submarine levels are a nice break from the regular platforming gameplay, but they are all pretty much the same, with a mini-boss at the end. It would have been nice to see some different vehicle levels too.

Anyways, once you beat a continent, you can go to the Pirate Shop, where Captain Syrup will sell you some valuable objects, such as maps to new continents, potions, and extra heart containers. The potions act like fairies in Zelda, where they refill your health meter if you die. An unfortunate thing though is that you must purchase new maps to continue forward with your quest. In theory, this is ok, but with my experience, I found that two or three times I would have beaten a boss and continent, only to not have enough money to purchase the new map, so instead of playing the much anticipated next and new levels, I had to go back to old levels to get some more coin. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to revisit a level to get treasures or complete some missions, but I just found it annoying.

Once you beat the final boss, you are rewarding with a few new things. For starters, you are now allowed to replay any boss you like as many times as you like, and there is even a purpose for this, as there are now boss missions. Most of these missions consist of defeating a boss within a certain time limit or to not take damage, however, some are more boss-specific which make for some fun and challenging times. Overall, the bosses are really cool and unique and fun to battle against, so I was more than excited to see you able to replay them, as you couldn’t until after you beat the final boss. The most exciting difference though, is that some levels now contain hidden maps. These maps open up new levels, which are much, much more challenging and awesome than any of the other levels, so finding these maps should be your first priority after taking out the S. King.

One of the six or so bosses you'll face. All bosses have a pattern to their attacks, so once you learn those, you should be able to take them out, although some are a bit trickier than others.

To back things up a little bit, let me talk about the controls. For starters, you play the game with the Wii remote exclusively and held on its side, retro style. You move with the D-pad, jump with the 2 button and charge with the 1 button. You can also perform a special smash move by quickly shaking the remote. This move as a variety of effects, namely flipping over and stunning enemies and making special "!" emblazed structures temporarily move, allowing you access to previously closed off areas or working in some simple puzzle solving. You can also perform a ground pound by jumping and then pressing the down button on the D-pad. Also, you can pick up dazed enemies, money bags, and other items simply by walking into them. Once you have them in your hands, you can either shake them about by shaking the remote or throw them by holding the 1 button. Once you press the 1 button, a directional arrow comes up, which shows you in which direction you will be throwing that object. You can reposition this arrow simply by tilting the remote, although if you are sitting in an awkward position, this can be a bit difficult.

Luckily, the waggle function isn’t really overused. The only times you will use it is to shake enemies, bags, and to twirl around bars, although this can sometimes get annoying, but it’s ok. You also use the tilting function to direct the submarine and other vehicles, your throws, and your cannon blasts, all of which work very well.

You must shake the crap out of those bags to get all the coins. This isn't too bad, but having to shake enemies for a second or two to get a piece of garlic to replenish health is a bit of a pain.

Two other great things about Wario Land are the music and graphics. The soundtrack is very expansive and plays both to the classic gaming era and to each environment very well, with some memorable tunes. Luckily, there is a sound room where you can listen to any of the songs you like, however, you must unlock them first, which is yet another reason you will be coming back to beat this game and complete all of the missions. The game also features a very colorful, cartoony, hand-painted look, which is very expressive. The environments and backgrounds are very beautifully drawn and bright, and this style allows for a lot of different, distinct animations, which really flesh out Wario’s behavior and mannerisms.

I was really excited for Wario Land: Shake It! and now having played it, I wasn’t disappointed. Some of the levels can seem dull and easy to beat, and if you are just a casual gamer who wants to get through the game, then you will be able to do that with relative ease, although some of the bosses may give you some trouble. However, if you are a hardcore gamer looking for a deep experience, then you will find that here too. The missions are very, very difficult to complete, and with 3-6 in each level, you will find plenty of replay value and platforming goodness. Like I said, it doesn’t take much skill to simply get through the levels, but if you want to complete this game 100%, you will need some major skills and quick reflexes; now, it’s no Mega Man 9, but there is still plenty of difficulty and challenge to be had. Nintendo did a great job of shaping this game up to cater to both parties, the casual and core, and they did it while keeping the Wario-style platforming and gameplay intact, making for a great Wii title.


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