For Nintendo, Mario is a symbol of perfection. He’s an icon of quality, one that means you’re going to play the best. Galaxy, 64 and World are inarguably three of the greatest platformers ever, and there’s never been a time in which Mario has slipped outside the best in his genre, and only a few when he’s not amongst the best games ever, hands down. Wario, however, provides something a bit more rigid, with less structure but more attitude. When Nintendo aren’t aiming for perfection, it’s Wario’s chance to shine. The Shake Dimension, however, seems to be an exception.
Just looking at the game gives off a very impressive vibe. The animation is absolutely brilliant, looking like a particularly nice cartoon, rather than a scruffy Wii game. It’s amongst the best graphics available on the system, and would probably be one of the best-looking 2D platformers ever made. This is all backed up by a couple of particularly cutscenes, which manage to steer away from the usual flatulence obsession associated with Wario, yet still be fairly amusing. He retains his usual love of garlic and cash, right down to a laugh-out-loud moment at the end involving the returning Captain Syrup.
The gameplay itself, however, walks the line between well-tweaked Mario and experimental Wario platforming surprisingly well for a fat lad, although at times it doesn’t feel like a natural synergy. Wario moves in an appropriately wobbly manor, but is occasionally required to pull off the incredible acrobatics of Super Mario, which feel very out-of-place and don’t fit in with the GBA titles predecessors. The game is almost too well-designed for its own good, boasting some excellent motion controls as well, despite the remote-on-side method being in use here.
At various points in the game, Wario takes control of or turns into various things, including a submarine, a bird and a number of flying platforms, all of which are totally tilt controlled. While normally this is enough to strike fear in all Wii owners’ hearts, they actually feel really smooth here. Aiming the submarine’s missiles with tilts is certainly in keeping with developer Good Feel’s name.
At heart, The Shake Dimension is an odd game. Despite the edges being wonderfully smooth, it still feels as if it’s rough, perhaps just by association. This game, nice as it is, has aspirations of being something higher, something divine, something Mario-esque, that it was never going to be instead of just accepting that it’s a Wario Land game and getting on with being an oddball, offbeat, slightly crude platformer. Painful as it is to say it, Wario’s ambition is in the end what lets him down.