Wario Land: The Shake Dimension
Developer Good-Feel feels our pain. In a world of destabilisin, low-quality mini-games and cheap ports they suddenly come with a new Wario game with, hang onto your seatbelts, old-skool 2D platforming! We happily put Wario Land: The Shake Dimension in our Wii to see whether it really is cyclops in the land of the blind.
A certain Captain Maply Syrup comes to offer you, Wario, the entire Shake universe. Quickly it becomes clear that the queen of that world was abducted (where did we hear that again?) by King Shake. For Mario this would be enough to go across multiple worlds but Wario needs some additional motivation: a bottomless bag of gold that was stolen by that same king.
The first thing I personally do with a Wii-game is cross my fingers and hope for good controls. For this game you keep the Wii-mote horizontal and use the buttons like with a classic controller. Good news, but quickly the infamous “shaking” starts popping its head. If you’re next to something that’s loose, or an enemy, by shaking your remote you can get them loose or eathquake-wise put your adversaries to the ground. Also the aiming when throwing defeated enemies is done by tilting the Wii-mote like a mortar, just like the controlling of some frustrating vehicles.
Compared to just about all other Wii titles the controls all in all aren’t too bad but I would have prefered it without the shaking or motion-control. The marketing boys, however, would have had to come up with a different title and the casual gamer would probably still be scratching his head. How would they have to play a wii-game without acting like a regressing monkey and shake the damn thing?
That same casual gamer will be completely surprised by the graphics. They look fantastic, are hand-drawn (or look that way) and filled with vivid details, soft colors and offer more than the low-quality polygones we get to see on the Wii all too often. It’s therefore unbelievable that the makers opted to show that beautiful art only on 4:3 instead of widescreen.
More classic is the structure, with five worlds that each contain five levels and an endboss. These bring some variation to the gameplay and fill your bag with money a little further down the line. This cash is necessary to buy the next levels which means that now and then you need to replay a map to collect more money. As with Zelda you can also buy additional hearts to extend your life, and potions to add to lost hearts. Positivos would say this is a piece of RPG.
Contrary to Mario the idea here isn’t to just reach the end flag of each level. You need to liberate Merfles from their cages (indeed, shake it baby!) to finish them, and optionally you can go look for hidden items in treasure chests. The twist here is that you have to finish maps in two ways. First you walk through a level in the classic way, but once the cages are opened you need to get back to the starting point as fast as possible. That way you get the chance to explore unknown routes and discover new places and secrets or get achievements. That’s where The Shake Dimension becomes fun and a lot of variation and replayability is offered. Here also you again notice that Nintendo still knows how to make good and surprising games with that specific extra layer of magic.
The Shake Dimension has become a very good platform game, with beautiful graphics and classic gameplay that gets shaken up a bit by the Wii controls and the fact that you can walk through levels in two ways. We became a lot more enthousiastic about that last innovation than the first. Although this doesn’t reach the level of let’s say Super Mario Galaxy, it’s a welcome piece of oasis in the desert of mini-games.