Nintendo may have been hiding this game in their meeting room, but I was lucky enough to have a go at it. Going into E3, I had three titles that I desperately wanted to get some hands-on with. Those titles were Mega Man 9, Wario Land: Shake It!, and The Conduit. I had already had my time with Mega Man and The Conduit, and those games didn’t fail to disappoint by any means. After spending time with Wario Land: Shake It!, I had completed my Wii checklist, and came away happy knowing that I picked three more-than-worthy games to be excited about.
For those that were worried, you needn’t. This is a true return-to-form for Wario. Without a doubt, Shake It! is worthy of being branded with the Wario Land title. It took me about 30 seconds of gameplay to know that this is indeed the next entry in the series, and plays just as it should. The mechanics are simple 2d fodder, beautifully crafted and fully engaging. The console return to 2d games is really reigniting a spark in me. I will always love 2d games more than 3d, but Shake It! is one more reason to remind me of why.
You also don’t have to worry about things getting mucked up via motion controls. Everything that is present is used very well, and it never gets obnoxious. At some points in the game, you’ll have to throw objects to hit switches, or perform other tasks. All you do is tilt the Wiimote, and an arrow will pop up. The arrow clicks into positions based on your tilt, and then with the press of a button, you can toss the object. Very simply, very fun, and very reminiscent of Yoshi’s Island.
There are other uses for the Wiiimote, as well. The two others that I got to try out involved shaking enemies/money bags, and punching the ground. Whenever you pick up a money bag, you have to shake it to knock the coins out. The faster you shake the Wiimote, the more money flies out. Once again, simple but enjoyable. Punching the ground at certain points allows you to open up new rooms, doors, and so on. This takes a quick slam downwards of the Wiimote. Out of all the motion-controlled moves, I felt this one made the most sense.
Other than that, this is classic 2d gameplay at its best. What makes things even better is the beautiful artwork/animation from Production I.G.. I still can’t get over how gorgeous this game was. The animations are always fun to watch, and even make you chuckle over and over again. Just watching Wario hypnotically wiggle his butt before entering a level put a smile on my face. Gamers often play through games just to get to cut-scenes. Plenty of people will search through Shake It! just to find how Wario reactions to different situations.
One portion of gameplay that people may not have picked up on is the Merfle hunt. This is actually the main objective of each level. Wario has to hunt down the Merfle hidden within each level, and then race back to the start before time is up. You don’t run to the start the same way you came, although you will cross paths. The Merfles carry helpful signs to point you in the direction you need to go, and all you have to do is beat the clock back. The further you get in the game, the more challenging it will be to make it to the start.
From what I could see, there will be 5 worlds with 5 levels in each. I could already see from my few level playthough that these stages are going to become longer and longer. Of course, there are hidden treasures and objectives in each one that are going to keep you coming back after you’ve completed the game. This return to 2d form is almost too good to be true. I say almost, because Shake It! doesn’t have a true 16:9 mode. You can the half-assed borders, much like what we saw in Mario Party. It really bugs me in the case of Shake It!, considering how gorgeous the game is.
Wario Land: Shake It needs to come out right now. All you need is a few minutes with the game to realize what its trying to do, and how well it does it. This title proves that there is still so much fun to be had with 2d gaming. I cannot wait for the North American release. I am going to flood the site with as much direct-feed footage as I can. If you were worried that this game was going to be a return to classic gaming in looks only, let those fears go. Wario is back, and he’s ready to steal as much treasure as he can…including the money right out of your wallets. I am more than happy to offer up mine.