There’s also a fair bit of tilting. At times, Wario needs to hurl enemies or objects at targets or switches, and you do so by holding the throw button, tilting the remote until the crosshair is aiming in the right direction, then releasing it. There are also some nice levels that feature little carts that move according to the pitch of the remote. All this stuff works really, really well, and it’s good to see that Nintendo has managed to marry the innovative controls with some cool game mechanics and puzzles.
It seems that every level introduces something new, whether man-eating plant platforms that need a careful step, bomb-dispensing slot machines or little boxes that charge up Wario’s shoulder barge to send him flying through packs of enemies and special solid blocks. Wario Land: The Shake Dimension might fall short in some areas, but it doesn’t fall short on ideas.
Why, then, does it fall a little flat? Partly it’s a question of size and structure. The basic idea of each level is to rescue some kind of imprisoned sprite (frankly, the details of the bizarre plot are either beneath me or beyond me, or possibly both). This means racing through the level one way to find the cage in which the sprite is imprisoned, then back the same way (or often following another route) to get it back to safety.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but to hide the fact that this is a fairly small adventure, with only five worlds of five stages each to work through (plus some hidden extra levels in each), the game practically forces you to replay stages in order to earn extra coins so that you can visit your local pirate shop, buy the next map and so unlock the next world.
Wario Land: The Shake Dimension sweetens the deal by also throwing in optional missions (collect 5000 coins, don’t lose a life, destroy three enemies in a certain manner) to challenge the keen player. That’s good for obsessive players, but it all turns into a bit of a dull exercise after a while.
More seriously, the difficulty curve is less a gentle slope and more a square-wave. Wario Land: The Shake Dimension is either so easy and lazily paced that you can practically snooze through it, or so fiendishly difficult that you’ll be tearing your hair out. In the last two worlds, you find a handful of levels that just about hit the sweet spot in between, but most of the time you’re either talking cakewalk or worst nightmare.
The later boss battles are probably the worst offenders on the latter count, combining some practically unavoidable attack patterns and painfully short pauses while the boss is vulnerable. The easy levels won’t suit long-term platform game fiends, but they’re the only ones who will cope with the boss battles. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense.