Games starring Wario come in two flavours – Wario Land platforming-type titles and WarioWare Inc. party collections. As a big platforming fan, I often enjoyed the former for providing a slightly different spin on the traditional Mario formula. However, I’ve got to admit that the WarioWare games never really caught my eye. Let’s be honest, Wario (perhaps like his partner in crime Waluigi) can be a bit of an acquired taste. And Wario’s particular flavour of, let’s call it ‘garlic-infused boorish charm’, tends to be turned up to eleven for the WarioWare titles. So, the madcap art style, sometimes puerile humour and probably the fact that I never had a group of friends that were particularly into the series mean I had never really spent much time with WarioWare games. So, how was my first proper outing into microgame madness? Well, while some of the comedy and art style is still not for me, a surprisingly addictive pace, a wide range of content and a heck of a lot of fun in two-player mode mean Get It Together! is an oddball party game that just about won me over – zig-zagging moustache and all.
A game within a game within a garlic clove
If you’ve had a chance to try out the free demo that’s been available on the eShop for a while – you’ll already know pretty much all you need to when it comes to the ‘story’. Wario has made a new game. However, something is seriously wrong! The opening cinematic even has Wario and his motley crew of friends/fellow game designers being sucked into the very game they’ve nearly completed. And it’s up to you to defeat the nefarious bugs within the game and escape back into the real (err… slightly more real) world. Sure, it’s a bit flimsy and probably not that original – however when it comes to a collection of mini or in this case microgames (we’ll get that soon) – a light narrative to stitch things together is something I’m really okay with.
At first, the frantic pace can be a little overwhelming.
In fact, when you play the game for the first time, pretty much the only mode you have access to is the Story Mode. Now, that may initially seem like a strange choice. And sure if you’ve just downloaded the game and already invited a couple of friends over – it may get a little awkward as you stare at your three friends sheepishly shrugging your shoulders. It’ll likely mean that in your particular case you’ll have to postpone the WarioWare mayhem for a bit. However, the way I played it for the review (starting off on my own and then having my wife jump in later) means that it worked pretty perfectly. Either way though, the good news is you can play the whole Story Mode in two-player and it’s likely to take you less than five hours. Now, that may seem a little quick. But, I can assure you there’s enough to keep you interested post the main story’s completion and the very nature of the microgames within the Story Mode work mean you can jump back into the story and repeat the different levels quite easily without it feeling boringly repetitive.
Many minions and many more Microgames
To explain why the repetition is avoided – it’s probably important to understand why WarioWare games are called a collection of MICROgames – as opposed to mini-games for example. Now this will obviously be old news to fans of the series, but for those that are newcomers like me… what makes WarioWare games quite unique is that rather than the more traditional party-game format where you’re tasked with completing a short game (probably lasting at least several minutes) after having it explained to you in great detail you now have a one or two-word explanation, an almost instantaneous countdown and then just a few seconds to actually complete a task. So as a basic example – in the image below… a screen will suddenly burst into life with the text “Flip!” suddenly appearing and you’ll have less than 15 seconds or so to figure out that you have to do something to make the random crash-test Horizontal Bar gymnast spin forward. And every time you get something right – you have to do it even faster the next time around.
Now, that may seem a bit insane… and it is. At first, the frantic pace can be a little overwhelming. And if that wasn’t wonderfully stressful enough – as the game progresses you’ll unlock new characters (that motley crew we mentioned earlier) one of which will be randomly assigned to you before each microgame. Now, each of these peculiar personages has slightly different abilities: Some automatically (and incessantly) move horizontally left to right. Others fly around but are difficult to control or vulnerable to attack. Others still, can fire projectiles (but often only in one direction) to get the job done while the rest pretty much just jump uselessly around the screen. So it’s your job not only to almost immediately figure out what you need to do – but also how your particular character can achieve that feat. And double that when you’ve decided to tackle the level as a two-player combo. All that in less time than it takes for the fuse to runs out…
Once you start getting the hang of what each character does, and figure out each of the microgames – challenging yourself to come up with instantaneous solutions is an adrenaline rush.
The good news is that the Story Mode is basically a series of cutscene-introduced themed areas (think a toned-down version of Super Mario World) filled with a sequence of different microgames ending in an enjoyable Boss Fight where you test the skill of a specific character to the limit. This mode then not only slowly introduces you to the different characters (their strengths and weaknesses) – but by the time you’re done – you’ve also seen quite a few of huge variety of oddball games (there are over 200!). So, you also start to recognise patterns and decipher the unsaid requirements for each game. And once you start getting the hang of what each character does, and figure out each of the microgames themselves – challenging yourself to come up with quick solutions is an adrenaline rush. And because of how different each character is – completing a game with one whose skills don’t really match the requirements (and doing so in a wonderful chaotic flash) is immensely satisfying.
A crude cacophony of cohorts
As mentioned above – the Story Mode can be tackled in two-player. And having played a bit of this with my wife I am happy to report that it’s a lot of fun. That being said – If I was not a fan of some of the more childish humour and art style – she’s even less so. So that’ was a bit of a hindrance. However, looking beyond that she did find that starting off, the speed was a little intimidating. So just keep in mind that if you’ve got a bit of experience playing Get it Together! before having friends over there will be a bit of a barrier to entry before they get to the level where everyone had a basic idea of what’s going on. And the beginning it can seem like an incomprehensible confusion – but once you get over that hump and you start to corral the chaos, multiplayer really shines. And the good news is that there is a rather surprising amount of content you can tackle (on your own) but preferably with friends.
I would normally worry that I shouldn’t ‘reveal’ the extra modes you unlock along the Story Mode playthrough. However, Nintendo’s own page dedicated to the game tells you all about them so I think we’re pretty safe. And you’ll want to know what’s in store. In the Play-o-Pedia mode – any microgame you’ve unlocked can be repeated alone or with a friend. In this case, you’ll play a single microgame again and again until you lose all four of your ‘lives’. After each successful attempt – the microgame will iterate slightly; get a little more difficult. And each time you’ll have less time to complete it. My wife and I found our favourites and as we headed up to around Level 40 and the speed became simply ridiculous – we couldn’t help but laugh hysterically from pure joy.
Multiplayer proves the adage: The more (mayhem) the merrier.
However, when you have some more friends over – the best party-game mode is Variety Pack. Here the mechanics from some microgames are drawn out a bit. Some are given new life by adding layers of complexity (like adding a competitive Volleyball element to a microgame about keeping a soccer ball in the air). While others get a bit of the competitive board game treatment – where winning a microgame adds to your overall score or allows you to cover an area in a shared Risk-lite like pin-board. Combining chaotic microgames with this more structured co-op or cooperative elements meant this was great in two-player mode and with some party games including up to four players, I strongly suspect this will prove the adage: The more (mayhem) the merrier.
Plus, if all that multiplayer stuff wasn’t enough there are even a few more single-player surprises to look forward to (that I won’t spoil for the purposes of the review but will be happy to talk about at a future date) as well as the now almost inevitable character customization options and even a ‘Missions’ section – that is so hefty that 100%ers out there will be spending way too many hours in Wario’s latest oddball adventure.
Wario’s (mostly) gold
All in all, I enjoyed WarioWare Get It Together! a lot more than I expected I would. There are still elements that are not particularly to my taste (including some characters which you can pretty much just choose not to use) – but as a multiplayer party game with a decent amount of single-player content (after you’ve gotten over that initial hump), there’s a lot to love about it. And whether playing alone or with a friend there’s really something special that happens when you’ve gotten good at a certain microgame. Completing it in what feels like split seconds is super addictive and to an outside viewer, it looks like you’re bordering on video game precognition. The game starts and ends before they’ve noticed how you’ve flicked the analogue stick and pressed a button or two at precisely the right time. And once you do it, again and again, is such a rush. You feel like Neo in the Matrix… except you smell of garlic and gold.