Shake Kids

Shake Kids (シェイクキッズ) - PlayStation (1998)

Shake Kids (シェイクキッズ)
Developer: Digital Kids
Release Date: 1998
Platforms: PlayStation

This article is part of our Japanese Obscurities feature. We put out a whole book about them, which is available as both a full color hardcover and a Kindle ebook from Amazon! If you’d like to see more of these features, please check out the book and if you enjoyed it, leave a five star review so we can do a follow up with even more interesting, offbeat, or historically important Japanese games!

In this 2.5 side-scrolling platformer from Digital Kids, a Japanese company that was later consumed by Ubisoft, you play as one of two children, each wielding an enormous cocktail shaker. You can toss it a short distance to attack enemies, which will stun them and eventually defeat them after several hits. But it’s much more effective to use a shake attack, which will suck all of them up into the shaker and turn the whole screen into a dance floor. Here, you use the trigger buttons to perform various shaking maneuvers, damaging the enemies until they’re knocked into the afterlife.

The first time this happens, this is weird and hilarious! The second, and every subsequent time, not so much. Shake Kids regularly stops the action as you perform this bizarre ritual, which really hampers the pacing. The stages also have many points where the screen stops scrolling while it’s flooded with enemies, requiring that you stun as many as possible before performing a shake maneuver, so it’s not like you can avoid it. In addition to different types of shake moves, typically needed to be certain bosses, you’ll also find additional items, like magnets that let you suck up enemies without stunning them, and glasses to see how much vitality enemies have left.

The platforming action feels a little like Klonoa, though many areas let you jump back and forth between various planes, rather than being constrained to just running left and right. This makes the levels feel a little more dynamic, but they’re pretty basic. You’ll also need to use your shaker to bounce off certain floating things and perform multi-jumps.

As expected, given the bizarre premise, this is one silly experience. All of the characters are cartoony in an ugly-cute kind of way, with large heads and small eyes. You’re accompanied by Mr. Shaker, a large anthropomorphic shaker with thick eyebrows and a manly mustache, who gives tutorials and other bits of advice through your journey. The opening levels take place in your town, but through a portal in your house, you’ll visit the Great Wall of China, the icy realm of the Himalaya Mountains, and the plains of Africa.

Shake Kids feels a lot like a half-formed Treasure game, which typically feature goofy characters and eccentric game mechanics. But the whole shaking thing really isn’t that fun and quickly grows tedious, which is a big problem when it’s central to the game’s identity. It also looks and feels low budget compared to the polish of contemporary Treasure games like Mischief Makes or Silhouette Mirage, so it never really comes together.


Manage Cookie Settings