A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game features Wario, a crude antihero to the squeaky-clean Mario. Wario enjoys picking his nose and smacking his butt, among other things. There's nothing overtly offensive about him, however, and the character is actually quite funny and endearing in spite of his greed, which is his primary motivation for helping the subjects of the Shake Dimension. Aside from boss battles, there is scant combat in the game. Wario can stomp on enemies, shake them, pick them up, and throw them into walls or at each other, but this is often done in the context of solving a puzzle.
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What's it about?
After the mediocre showing in Wario: Master of Disguise, Nintendo's greedy anti-hero Wario has redeemed himself with WARIO LAND: SHAKE IT!. Wario travels to the Shake Dimension to rescue the queen from a pirate who calls himself the Shake King. While it sounds heroic, Wario is actually after the Shake King's treasure -- a magical Bottomless Coin Sack that could make him rich.
To find the Shake King, Wario must collect the five Boss Emblems by traveling through five different regions and rescuing the queen's subjects along the way. Wario must make it to the end of each level, free the subject, then race back to the beginning of the level before the timer runs down. Along the way he can complete optional bonus challenges like finding secret treasure chests, collecting a certain number of coins, or pass the level without taking damage.
Is it any good?
Wario Land: Shake It! is simply one of those platformers where everything clicks. (Well, everything except the inane elevator music soundtrack). The game features spectacular hand-drawn graphics and plenty of ingenious platforming gimmicks like Wario's ability to transform into fire and a snowball to break special barriers, swing from bars like a gymnast, ride a mechanical unicycle along a tight rope, and pick up and throw bouncing balls and bombs. The Wii remote is held sideways, and cleverly incorporates various shake functions into the gameplay, including rapidly bringing the controller downloads to execute a bodyslam, and shaking it to swing on bars or rattle enemies and make them drop useful items. Wario Land: Shake It's length is on the short side, and it doesn't push the boundaries of platform gaming like Super Mario Galaxy does, but if players are looking for a solid example of old-school, two-dimensional platforming then they'd be hard-pressed to find anything better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Nintendo created a character that is so crude. Were you grossed out by Wario's crude behavior or did you think it was funny? Why is it not appropriate to do some of the things Wario does in real life? What are the major differences between Wario and Mario in terms of actions and motivations?
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