Shake it, shake-shake, shake it! Shake it like a Polaroid picture!
Wario Land: Shake It is a game that went mostly under the radar, which is unfortunate for anybody that likes good games. Developed by Good Feel, who recently did Kirby's Epic Yarn, this game features hand-drawn visuals, unique puzzle-platforming, and (the subject of this post) a brilliant score. Unfortunately, as I get about 1 hit a month on my blog (thanks, Mom), this trend of overlooking Wario Land will continue. But that won't deter me!
Stonecarving City is the first big level you get set loose on your money-grabbing adventure, and it sets a great tone. A low key, funky beat with one of Wario's familiar tunes gets you started, and it eventually evolves into a giant, all-out celebration. Have a listen.
On the theme of stones, is Stonetooth Cave. Another jazzy groove, this time adding some synthesized guitars, this track makes it nearly impossible to bounce too. It might sound a little cheesy, but that's the sort of Wario aesthetic that comes through in this game. And if Good Feel has a good grip on anything in games, it's audio-visual aesthetics.
If there's one thing I'm getting tired of in video games, it's desert levels having the same twangy middle-east vibe. We get it. It's a desert. Let's move on. Well Whoopsy Desert does a fine job of skirting that stereotype just enough to still be on the same page, but throws in a low, quick electronic beat and some swanky guitar chords to help keep it from sounding as dry as the levels look.
Touching back on the Wario Tune used for Stonecarving City, we visit Launchpad Labyrinth for a superbly salsa-fied mix. The latin flavor is like like a carne guisada of the heavens.
Using the same sound that would eventually go on to frame a lot of what Kirby's Epic Yarn would use to melt your pleasure-center into a gelatinous mound of happy, Gurgle Gulch is a wonderful piano-based tune that just feels fun.
Perhaps the most bullshit boss in the game, the infuriating Large Fry Cook was a controller-snapping experience like no other. It wasn't so much cheap: He has a very distinct pattern. But like so many Mega Man bosses of old, it's there's a narrow path to victory. His music, however, is a fast-paced jazz beat that helped balance out his enraging mechanics.
Soggybog River is a great little ditty with a deep baseline and droning melody that reminds me of something from a Sonic level. The overly-synethic construction of the song just hits me in a nostalgia zone.
I hope you've enjoyed our trek through some of the music of Wario Land: Shake it. There's so much more out there, with over 40 songs (not including the incidental stuff) to sit through. It's an audio journey that I really hope you'll take, even if you never sit down to play the brilliant platformer it came from.
What think you of this soundtrack? Have your eyes and ears been opened to a brand new sound? Am I preaching to a choir that knows good tunes? Which is your favorite? I am desperate to know!
This has been another Game Music Appreciation blog with Randy. Please. Tell your friends.
-Make it a good one.