Wario Land Shake It! Review

Wario Land: Shake It! ReviewFans of Nintendo’s Wario Land series will feel right at home with Shake It!. This 2D platformer provides a top-notch visual presentation and plenty of replay value, though the formula and level design start to wear thin towards the end of the game.  

The story of Wario Land: Shake It! Sees the titular anti-hero obtain a magic globe and telescope that let him travel to the once peaceful Shake Dimension.  Once there, Wario sets out to rescue the citizens known as Merfles and their young Queen Mirelda from the clutches of the evil Shake King.

Aided by his long-time rival Captain Syrup, Wario will have to traverse five continents to rescue the queen and most importantly, the mythical Bottomless Coin Sack that contains a never ending supply of gold. The story is light and a bit nonsensical. In other words, it’s perfect for a game starring Wario. Read More...

There are 20 levels spread across the five continents. The main goal in every level is to reach the end, rescue the Merfle trapped within and then hightail it out of the level before a set timer expires. Each level has three treasures to collect as well as a few “missions” to complete like collecting a certain amount of coins or defeating a specific enemy.

This game is designed like many Nintendo platformers before it. Getting through each level is really quite simple, however getting to every treasure, collecting all available coins and completing all of the missions will take some skill and light puzzle solving thanks to some great level designs.

This is One Good-Looking Game

After completing all of the levels on a continent, Wario will have a showdown with that continent’s boss. The boss fights in Wario Land: Shake It! are quite fun and memorable; a real highlight of the game for me. Once all five continents are explored and their bosses dispatched, Wario will use emblems he obtained by defeating them to access the lair of the Shake King and confront him in a final showdown.

It should take anywhere from 4-6 hours to clear the 20 main levels, defeat the Shake King and see the conclusion of the story. Once the credits have rolled, players will be able to revisit any level in the game to complete all of the missions. Boss challenges will appear as well, along with missions of their own to attempt.

There are also more than 10 bonus levels to unlock by finding secret maps in certain levels. Though these can be found at any point in the game, the spot in which they are located will shimmer after completing the main game making it quite a bit easier to locate them. Anyone attempting to complete 100% of all the levels, treasures and missions in the game can expect to spend well over 10 hours with Wario Land: Shake It!.

The time you spend looking at the game will certainly be easy on your eyes. Wario Land: Shake It! is a beautiful game. The whole thing was drawn and animated by the wizards at Production I.G., makers of the famed Ghost in the Shell anime series.  Everything in the game pops with vibrant colour and lively animation to give the effect of a player controlling a cartoon.

The game runs natively in a 4:3 aspect ratio. When playing with a Wii set to 16:9, the area that would normally be black bars is used to display each level’s treasure and mission lists. At first I was a little put off by the lack of true widescreen support, but after a few levels I no longer even noticed. Even using the non-HD, 480p output of the Wii, Wario Land: Shake It!. looked absolutely stunning on an HDTV with not a jaggy line in sight.

One of the Memorable Boss Fights

The audio however, was a mixed bag for my taste.  Each level has at least two themes in it; some are quite good and reminiscent of the “Classic Nintendo” sound and compositions of old, though many more of the tunes seemed out of place. I found some of the songs to be downright annoying, especially when exploring a level for 20 minutes trying to get everything in it.

Though the music did not suit my taste, it was not enough to sour my experience. A few other things did detract from my enjoyment of Wario Land: Shake It! though.

The thing that irritated me most was having to purchase continent maps to access all of the levels. The last two maps cost 100,000 and 200,000 coins each. By the time I reached the end of the fourth continent I was essentially stuck. I was forced to go back and replay earlier levels to collect enough coins to buy the final map. I would have preferred a simple progression based on completing levels, though that would render the game’s coin system essentially useless.

My other main complaint is that towards the end of the game, the level design became more predictable. I always seemed to know where the next hidden treasure or giant coin sack was.  It felt like there was a distinct point where the levels stopped getting increasingly tricky and started becoming less inspired.

Finally, there are a number of vehicle-based levels that really weren’t that fun. There is a rocket cart that allows Wario to fly around certain areas and a wheel cart that traverses cables in others. There are some levels that take place entirely with Wario controlling his Subwarine as well. The Subwarine levels resemble a side-scrolling shooter. Though these levels help to add variety to the game, imprecise tilt controls tend to mar the experience.

Shaking a Coin Sack

Aside from that, Wario Land: Shake it! controls rather well. The title is played using a standard Wii Remote held sideways. Wario moves using the d-pad, jumps with the 2 button and the 1 button triggers his power dash. A simple shake of the Wii Remote creates a powerful ground pound move that is used quite a bit to solve environmental puzzles and defeat bosses.  Vigorous shaking of the Wii remote is used to extract coins from coin sacks and also to extract garlic from enemies which is used to replenish Wario’s health.

As usual with a game of this nature, Classic Controller support would have been nice for players with larger hands or those unable to vigorously shake a controller. The shaking could have easily mapped to the right analog stick. As it stands though, one must be comfortable with the Wii Remote in “NES Mode” to enjoy this game.

Complaints aside, I was left with good feelings about Wario Land: Shake It!. This is an excellent 2D platformer that oozes an undeniable Nintendo charm.  There is enough content to keep anybody interested playing for a dozen hours and the game is a real treat to look at.

Fans of the series or 2D platformers in general should pick it up without question. If you’re the type that wants to complete a game to 100%, I would advise a purchase. For players that just want to see the end of the game, a rental period would be plenty of time to do so.


+ Beautiful art and animation
+ Lots of content and replay value
+ Fun, memorable boss fights


- Level design seems to get worse near the end of the game
- Some music is awful
- Tilt control levels are more annoying than tricky


Game Forward score: 4/5

Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward

Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii) Quick Facts:

Genre: 2D Platformer
Developer: Good-Feel, Ltd.
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: September 22, 2008
Price: $49.99 US/CAN
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)