Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Wario Land: The Shake Dimension (Wii) Review

The Wario Land series of platform games started way back with Super Mario Land 3 on the humble Game Boy, eventually branching out onto the Game Boy Advance with Wario Land 4 several years later before disappearing. That is until he appeared on the home console scene Wario, either being forced into an average 3D romp or simply relegated to taking on the role of host in the (albeit very impressive) WarioWare mini-game franchise. Now, though, the greedy character has been taken back to his 2D platform roots for Wario Land: The Shake Dimension on Wii and given the chance to shine once more. But with the title not internally developed, can an external party manage to retain that old magic?

Platform games very rarely require anything in the way of in-depth storylines to get things underway, instead relying on an enjoyable gameplay mechanic to keep gamers hooked. In this respect Wario Land certainly does not buck the trend, with its wafer-thin plot that has the rotund protagonist traipsing after the Shake King in the hope of gaining untold treasures as a reward, inadvertently saving a whole world in the process…The gimmick for this latest Wii Remote motion-led product is that in the ‘Shake Dimension’ Wario can pound the ground, as well as jiggle enemies and items around with a simple waggle of the controller. Tilting also comes into play when aiming objects before launching them around the screen, similar to the egg-shooting ability in the Yoshi’s Island series, either to hit switches or merely despatch enemies in an alternative way to pounding into them from above using Wario’s butt-stomp.

One of the main attractions of Wario Land for Wii is its gorgeous graphics. As soon as the game commences, players are treated to a fantastic animated introduction sequence, courtesy of Production IG, the group that works closely with the likes of Bandai Namco on video clips for several ‘Tales of’ RPGs. Sadly the lack of voice-overs and plethora of subtitles tarnish the experience to a certain degree, but it still looks spectacular. And thankfully the allure of the game’s visuals is not limited to the initial scene, as when jumping into the main adventure players are thrown into what appears to be an interactive cartoon show, with highly detailed 2D characters and locations, complete with vibrant colours throughout. The production levels are certainly of the highest calibre on the aesthetic side, which is why the almost instantly forgettable soundtrack comes as quite a shock. Gone are the catchy tunes of Wario Land 4 and in come a whole host of cheesy, extremely out-of-place ditties that are totally lacklustre and can seriously detract from the overall enjoyment factor in places.

Screenshot for Wario Land: The Shake Dimension on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Once the volume has been turned down it is time to get back to business, and jumping into the thick of the action Wario is controlled by holding the Wii Remote on its side, as with the old 8-bit NES pad, the 1 and 2 buttons are used for jumping and dashing, whilst the directional pad takes control of Wario’s movement. The game is split into five separate worlds, each with five levels contained within, plus a bunch of hidden stages complete with extremely heightened difficulty to throw a bone to traditional gamers that believe the main jaunt is too much of a walk in the park. Each level has Wario trundling his way through the sumptuous, highly-detailed, hand-drawn locales, pounding the ground when certain objects block his way (launching them into the air to continue past), grabbing enemies and bags of money (shaking them like crazy to collect as many coins as possible), and then finally reaching the end point where a Merfle from the Shake Dimension has been captured by the Shake King.

Screenshot for Wario Land: The Shake Dimension on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

At this point the game turns on its head somewhat, removing the sedate pace and replacing it with a hectic bout of nerve-twitching platforming. A large timer appears on-screen and gamers are tasked with having to charge back through the level to reach the start point once more before the Shake King annihilates Wario. In Wario Land 4, when the timer reached zero, Wario would start losing a considerable amount of the treasure he had accrued over the course of the stage, yet in The Shake Dimension it is a simple case of ‘if the entrance is not reached in the allotted time, gamers must start the stage over again’. To spice matters up even more, rather than simply taking the exact same route back to whence you came, Wario can be guided through previously inaccessible sections, uncovering hidden treasure and being able to complete objectives set out at the start of each stage (such as Defeat the Golden Enemy, Reach the Goal in a Set Time or even Do Not Fall in the Water…there is plenty of variety to stretch even the toughest of gamers).

This is where what appears to be a very short game opens up to reveal itself as a much longer one for those that take the time to weasel out every last hidden element and complete all of the set objectives to reach the 100% completion mark. The only problem is, no matter how pretty the game looks or how many extra achievements are packed in, something is definitely missing on the whole; a little je ne sais quoi that prevents Good Feel’s The Shake Dimension from reaching the dizzy heights of quality reached by the previously internally-developed Wario Land games.

Screenshot for Wario Land: The Shake Dimension on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The majority of the elements from past adventures have been included, such as harming Wario for his own benefit in order to solve puzzles (setting fire to him and directing his burning carcass towards fire blocks to barge through them being just one example), unearthing zany collectible treasure items, and even facing off against weird and wacky bosses at the end of each world. Good Feel has tried to go the extra mile as well, mixing the aiming technique from Yoshi’s Island into Wario’s exploits in the lavish Shake Dimension, complete with a motion-based twist (tilt the Wii Remote left or right to aim in either direction before letting rip), as well as the use of ‘vehicles’ like the Unibucket (a large Unicycle with a bucket on top for Wario to sit in, which is guided by tilting left and right with the controller) or the Subwarine (again guiding the submarine up or down by tilting appropriately), and even gymnastics (grab a metal bar and keeping shaking the controller up and down the spin Wario around enough before letting fly) to help make this a better end product. Yet that little spark, the touch of magic that Nintendo-developed games normally have, is sadly absent. That is not to say the game does not have its fun moments, because Wario Land: The Shake Dimension is definitely an enjoyable platform romp for the most part, and will give most gamers good value for money. Just keep your expectations a little lower than some others would say and disappointment will not come crashing down upon your head…

Screenshot for Wario Land: The Shake Dimension on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Solid platform antics ahoy, with intriguing use of the Wii motion controls and lots of extras tacked on. But just missing that ‘magic’ Nintendo touch.

Graphics

Wondrous hand-drawn visuals that give the game such a fantastic feel throughout.

Sound

Extremely disappointing, instantly forgettable tunes and no speech other than the odd little mutter.

Value

Whilst the main adventure itself is very short, there is definitely much more fun to be had for those that take the time to uncover the game’s hidden elements.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Wario Land: The Shake Dimension proves that 2D platform games can definitely hold their own in today’s world, even on powerful home consoles, since this outing is truly a sight to behold. Solid gameplay elements and a few extras lifted from other titles help to make Good Feel’s effort a very enjoyable one, yet a certain Nintendo magic is missing, which prevents this becoming an instant must-have in its genre.

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18.10.2008

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Developer

Good Feel

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (4 Votes)

European release date 2008   North America release date TBA   Japan release date July 2008   Australian release date 2008   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Good review, and I mostly agree. It definitely feels like it's missing something, as I enjoy it when I play it, but if I play too much, I just get bored, and that's not normal for a platform game (for me anyway). It's hard to explain, because it's a lot of fun too... "that Nintendo magic" probably sums it up quite well.

And while I do agree that the music isn't memorable, I do like it a lot, and after playing through the same stage again and again to get the 100% clear, I began humming it and enjoying it. I guess it's just different.

Lastly, can't help but agree that the graphics are just amazing. I don't see why there aren't more games like this.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Cheers SuperLink - you a fan of previous WL games then?

I definitely think that Yoshi's Island Wii should take this graphical approach, or at least do the 2D route and make it all sketchy-like as in the first SNES game.

I reckon sales of this will have encouraged Nintendo, even if it's just to look at the possibility of a New Super Mario Bros. 2 for WiiWare, or something.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Yes, a Yoshi's Island with this graphical style would be amazing!

And yeah I'm a big Wario fan, despite only owning 2 of the Wario Land games (this and WL4, still tracking the others down)

I definitely wouldn't say no to a Wiiware platformer or NSMB2 either. Would be a shame for Nintendo to just drop SMB again after all these years.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

A 2D Metroid and a Super Mario Bros. on WiiWare would be fantastic.

Wario Land 4 is a blinding game - loved it to pieces. WL2 is great as well. Wasn't too struck on WL3 for some reason. Still really fun, but just compared to 2 and 4 it didn't gel with me as much.

Some class Wario World and Wario: Master of Disguise as part of the series, but I'd beg to differ. WW lacks soul, more so than Shake Dimension, and Master of Disguise was surprisingly fun, despite many slating it.

Whilst I have my reservations about WL: TSD, I'm still pleased to see the risk paying off, with success here in Europe.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Nice review Adam, shame it didn't score a little higher but still sounds awesome.

I've yet to try it, but hopefully will soon! I love the visual style and animation - this a route some games really should go down!

Would love a full on Mario platformer in this style, and defo agree about Yoshi heading this way too.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Cheers Jorge. I was so hyped up about this when I first saw it, and really love the stylistic approach, but just wish that perhaps it had more of that Nintendo love that WL4 on GBA had.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I don't see Mario doing this. While Wario has always had an exaggerated almost Japanimation style to him, Mario's style has pretty much completely gone to CG promo images. Know what I mean? I don't know how Mario would be animated to suit his look.

And I noticed the line for the review on the front page, and I'd like to reiterate, Wii hasn't been too great in the 3D gaming world that dominates home consoles, yet the Wii does this excellently.

Just something to think about Nintendo. Smilie I wouldn't mind a full scale 2D gaming revival at all.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Considering how popular Super Paper Mario was, though, I don't see why not. However, I kind of agree that since NSMB had a tiny 3D-esque Mario in, Nintendo will probably refrain from taking the portly plumber back in that direction. However, Kirby's 2D exploits have proven very popular on DS, Super Princess Peach didn't do too bad worldwide (think it broke a million!) and Yoshi's Island was a smash hit. All contenders for the same treatment as Wario, I reckon...

Got an interview with Nintendo about this game that should be published later this evening, with any luck. Want Wario Land for the DS? Get ready to raise your voices! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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