Platform: Wii U
Developer: Intelligent Systems
It’s late summer in 2008 before my junior year in high school. I was on my church’s bus filled to the brim with other people. We were returning from a fantastic trip in Colorado when our only mode of transportation decided to crash on us in the middle of the most boring town in New Mexico, and possibly the U.S.
Even though this was a camping trip, some of the guys in my youth group decided to bring a GameCube and PlayStation 3.
In order for everyone on the trip to play something, they picked Wario Ware, Inc. Mega Part Game$ for us to play. As a bored guy with a dead iPod, I decided to partake in this series of mini-games. To this day, I still have not played a series even slightly resembling Wario Ware.
As a party game, what separates Wario Ware from other mini-game compilations such as Mario Party or Wii Party is its hilarity, randomness, and micro-games, which are a huge variety of mini-games usually lasting five seconds or less and require quick reaction times. It’s always hilarious to watch whether you are playing alone or have other amigos to bask in the fun with you. Any time I have friends come over, I usually suggest Wario Ware, and they have a blast playing it whether it’s the Wii or the GameCube title because of how different it is.
Marking the series’ first appearance on an HD console, Game & Wario decided to ditch its unique micro-games in exchange for 16 mini-games. Twelve of these games focus on single-player experiences with some having two-player options while the remaining 4 mini games involve two or more people. Most of the games also have themes fitting the dozen or so characters seen across the Wario Ware universe.
Unlike Nintendo Land, the number of games I would come back to play on my own accord are few and far between. A majority of the single-player games were fun, but not engaging enough to make me crave more play time. Other games such as Dr. Crygor’s Design – where you are asked to draw specific shapes in order to design a robot – were flat-out boring after a couple of playthroughs because they were too short and lacked variety.
However, two singleplayer mini-games stood out above the rest for me.
The first is Patchwork, a puzzle game where you assemble pieces of stitched cloth together to create a random shape. The 90 plus puzzles available get more challenging as you climb to higher difficulties. Patchwork is simple, yet challenging and varying enough to keep me coming back to solve more puzzles or besting my previous time.
The second is simply called Gamer, and it’s one of the most terrifyingly hilarious games I have played in a while.
You assume the role of 9-Volt, a character who is the embodiment of a Nintendo freak and addicted gamer. 9-Volt is religiously playing a handheld game when his mother forces him to go to bed, but that doesn’t stop him from gaming onward. The whole objective is for you to continue gaming while avoiding the mother’s detection by hiding under the covers.
Part of what makes Gamer great is because you are playing the series’ signature micro-games on the GamePad. Though there are fewer of them compared to past entries, seeing the micro-games on-screen is a site for sore eyes among Game & Wario’s mostly mediocre mini-games.
The other part, which is what truly makes Gamer challenging, is trying not to get caught by 9-Volt’s mother, who is constantly peeking in his room in different ways to make certain he’s catching Z’s. You will always know when the mother is about to peak in the room because hair-raising music begins playing in the background and you can only see her silhouette as well as her glowing eyes. It makes concentrating on the micro-games all the more nerve-wracking, difficult and hilarious.
It also takes me back to my elementary school days when I simply couldn’t sleep because I wanted to venture to the next dungeon in Ocarina of Time or discover another painting in Super Mario 64. I always had to stay on my toes in the darkness of the night so my mother wouldn’t bust me, which made Gamer a more delightful and relatable experience for me.
Once you complete certain challenges and stages, you will earn tokens that can be used to unlock extras including tips for mini-games, an assortment of random apps and info cards for the game’s characters.
Singleplayer games aside, half of the multiplayer games are quite enjoyable, especially with five players.
The first game, which is also the best one, is called Sketch.
As a drawing game, the player holding the GamePad is given a noun to sketch out for the other participating players to guess what they’re drawing. The more correct guesses each player receives based within a two-minute timeframe, the better your grade will be at the end of the game. Some nouns such as a football are easy to draw, but when you’re asked to draw objects like a cutting board, the amount of “Oh crap!” moments that ensue make Sketch immensely entertaining.
Although it doesn’t don’t contain the same fun factor, Islands is quite enjoyable as an alternate take on darts. Players launch little block creatures called Fronks on targets to score the highest possible points. Using four different stages with their own distinctions, Islands is pleasant to play. Players, for example, can knock each other’s (name of creature) off to conquer the scoreboard. A seagull will also appear every few rounds to snatch a victim from a random team, which can sometimes make all the difference to who comes out victorious
The remaining two games, Fruit and Disco, need to be tweaked and scrapped all together respectfully.
Fruit is a detective game of sorts. The one holding the GamePad assumes the role of a fruit thief and attempts to steal fruit in different locales. The other players attempt to figure out who the thief is, who is blended into a crowd of hundreds of different on-screen characters. While it is an interesting idea on paper, the game is ultimately too difficult because of how many characters are present on the screen. The only way you can catch the thief is if the person using the GamePad makes it really obvious. After playing it for a while, my friends and I agreed it turned into a guessing game.
Lastly, in Disco, you and one other player use the GamePad and enter into a groovy battle where you come up with your own beats similar to the Tap Tap mobile games. Your beats attack the other player, who is defending against your funky assault by hitting the same notes you played. Disco is barely creative, takes little to no strategy to undertake and it doesn’t work half of the time when you tap the GamePad.
Outside of the singelplayer and multiplayer realms, people can post things for you to draw where your masterpiece will then upload to the Miiverse and vice versa. It’s a nice extra feature considering the fantastic drawings often seen on the Wii U’s starting screen.
Akin to mini-games, visuals have never been a staple to the Wario Ware series, and this doesn’t change with Game & Wario. However, the cartoonish cutscenes manage to look vibrant on an HD screen as well as the GamePad. It’s also nice to see a variety of looks in the different mini-games from 3D Dot Game Heroes-like blocks to cel-shaded visuals.
I don’t mind when game franchises venture in a different direction. It can often times lead to creative, inventive, and sometimes better ways for a series to branch out into a new concept that may have never been imagined before.
Unfortunately, Game & Wario missed its jump to the fun and innovative train. While its $39.99 price tag may sound like it sweetens deal, it doesn’t help justify the game when merely one-fourth of the mini-games are worth revisiting. Pushing the game away from its previous creative points to a more streamlined mini-game compilation ends up hurting the game rather than boosting its distinctiveness as well.
Instead, Game & Wario could’ve made for a great download title for half of its originally selling price.
If you’re looking for a fun game to experience with others, feast on Nintendo Land to whet your appetite. For now, the Wario Ware franchise needs to visit the drawing board and bring back the micro-games that made the series such a joy to play.
- Some fun mini-games
- Funny extras
- Most mini-games aren’t engaging
- Hardly any replay value
- Not as creative as past entries
- Almost void of series’ signature micro-games