I will start with admitting that my first adventure into the Wario Ware franchise came on the Wii with Smooth Moves. When I bought it I had zero idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was nothing short of insane amounts of fun and never regretted the purchase at all. Getting a Wario Ware game on a handheld seemed like an odd situation and I couldn’t imagine how it could be fun to play without the motion controls. But boy was I wrong, as this retro review will prove.
For those that don’t know, Wario Ware titles are a unique beast. You see you get games, and then you get mini games, and then you get micro games. Wario Ware is a game that has lots of mini games made out of micro games. It’s like the mini inception of gaming. That’s probably makes little sense, so let me elaborate on the wackiness of Wario Ware.
First off, there is a hint of a story which is suitably bizarre for the type of game it is, and for Wario as a character. It’s a little confusing but in essence Wario wants to dip into the money pool that is the gaming industry and comes up with an idea to make a new game based on micro games. He wants you to test them out. The story doesn’t get much deeper than that.
Along the way you will encounter all sorts of kooky characters who want you to play the micro games assigned to them. In between the games will be a ridiculous scene which leads up to the games. For example, Mona is late for work, she speeds off and is chased by the police. To help her you play games on her Bike panel and every time you pass a challenge you take out one of the cops. The insanity of it all is really what makes it so much fun.
But the real fun is the games themselves. Each micro game gives you 5 seconds to complete it and it’s really all about your reflexes. There are 200 micro games that require you to do all sorts of things using only the direction pad and the A button. Oh, and as the micro game loads you get a little hint as to what is needed giving you a split second to react in time to pass. The challenges vary greatly and you can’t believe just how much the game you get out of such a short time and such simple controls. There are borderline crazy things and you can see that the developers had a lot of fun designing. It’s Nintendo at the top of their ‘crazy’ game. So many examples, but things like sniffing up a booger, sinking a putt, chopping a board, shooting mars, brushing teeth and swatting flies are just some of the bizarre things you’ll need to do.
Each character you encounter has a set of these challenges with a particular theme, and while you have four lives to get to the end it can be a lot more difficult than you imagine. Time is your enemy. Fortunately you can learn as you go by trying again. Also at the end of each level is a boss level, which is a slightly longer challenge which you need to beat. The best of these are easily the Punch Out level and the Galaga-like level, but there are some real gems in there.
This is, of course, an old Gameboy Advance game, so the graphics and sound are never going to be amazing. But again the developers have really done a brilliant job of tying it all together. The references to actual games from the Nintendo world are part of the fun in seeing the challenges. Primal Rage dinosaurs with Mario’s face is a laugh every time. But the visuals of the originals is done excellently and the little sound clip used for each is as well utilized making it a great experience all-round.
Wario Ware on the Wii U works as well as you could hope, but it just feels better on the gamepad rather than the TV. In fact every time I tried to play on the TV I got distracted by the control and it just didn’t feel comfortable. Playing on the gamepad is perfect and definitely the ideal option.
The game isn’t the longest in terms of the story, but at the same time you won’t see all the challenges in one play-through so it makes it worth playing again. You also have some extended challenges which allow you to play each challenge for a bit longer than the 5 seconds, which makes it more difficult. And then there are some multiplayer sections where you and a friend can take on some of the micro games together.
Wario Ware Inc. is a game that is as much fun today as it must have been all those years ago when it released. My fears of how it could work without the motion controls were allayed immediately. Wario Ware holds up extremely well and if you are into the retro games and want something different to add to your library, this is an absolute no-brainer.