It is increasingly becoming a tradition that, with each new Nintendo console release, so too comes a WarioWare game that will flaunt the unique features of the system.
While WarioWare Touched was a fantastic example of creative use of the DS touch-screen and mic, the Wii game Smooth Moves allowed people to truly understand the fantastic versatility of the Wii Remote. Even the DSiWare title (WarioWare: Snapped) unwittingly emphasised how rubbish the DSi camera was.
Considering that we have yet to see a game that makes full use of the Wii U GamePad, it stands to reason that WarioWare could have been the perfect addition to the new console's library. And while Game & Wario still flaunts the capabilities of the tablet controller, it hasn't done so with those intense rapid-fire microgames of old, but instead a selection of middleweight mini-games.
There are a total of twelve single-player games on offer here, instead of the hundred or so microgames that feature in previous WarioWare titles. Some of these are hit and miss too.
Camera is a highlight. Originally shown off as a Wii U tech demo, it has you using the GamePad as a camera with a zoom lens as you try to snap photos of five suspects within a street scene. Your TV gives a full view of the scene, letting you spot targets easier. Players maneuver the GamePad to zoom in for a snapshot of their face while avoiding intruding scenery.
After snapping all five suspects, you're then ranked on the quality of each photo and given a final score. perform well and you unlock a new scene (the second being a musical performance at a theatre) and so on until all five levels are unlocked. It's a simple idea but a great example of the type of experience that simply wouldn't work well without that second screen.
Far less impressive, meanwhile, is Design, which is about as basic as a Nintendo idea can get. You're asked to draw five things at a certain length (a straight line, a circle, a triangle, an angle and a freehand line) and then the game calculates how accurate they were and makes a robot face with the shapes. That's one of your twelve mini-games that you'll likely to never touch again.
Each game differs greatly in terms of replayability, though Design is by far the worst offender. The rest at least offer multiple stages to unlock and play through. Take Patchwork, a charming cross between Picross and tangram puzzles, which offers 90 different stages plus an unlockable Challenge mode.
It's also odd that, for a game seemingly designed to show off the breadth of the GamePad's unique features, a quarter of them focus on tilting. With Ski, players hold the GamePad vertically and tilt it to the side to guide the afroed Jimmy T down a slope, while Ashley is a side-scrolling shooter in which you tilt to direct a sarcastic broomstick-riding witch through a garishly coloured land.
Elsewhere innovation is more forthcoming. Gamer, for example, is a wonderful post-modern nod to the WarioWare days. Depicted on TV is a young boy playing his Gameboy in bed, with the GamePad transforming into the virtual GameBoy Advance he's playing on. The challenge is to complete the challenges (thirty classic and new microgames) whilst also keeping an eye on your surroundings to ensure your mum doesn't come in and catch you playing instead of sleeping. Bursts of gameplay between hiding under the covers is the order of the day.
Another favourite is Taxi, which has you driving around a small farmyard shooting UFOs and rescuing animals. The TV shows a wide view of the entire stage so you can see where the UFOs are, while the GamePad shows a first-person view from inside the taxi, letting you aim your cannon accurately.
Despite its change of focus from microgames to mini-games, Game & Wario still retains WarioWare series' emphasis on single-player gaming. Alongside the twelve solo mini-games there are a meagre four multiplayer offerings.
Of these, Fruit is the best. Previously shown off in a Nintendo Direct broadcast, this game has one player controlling a random character as they walk around a busy street stealing fruit while trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. Up to four other players have to watch the TV and try to figure out which of the hundreds of pedestrians rushing around is the player.
The others are forgettable for various reasons. Sketch is Pictionary, which is fun enough but not exactly laced with originality. Disco is a sort of two-player Guitar Hero, where one player creates notes to a beat and the other player has to match them (it's not as good as it sounds).
Then there's Islands, which is initially great fun, as four players take turns flicking little creatures onto a giant target, bowls-style. Eventually though the game introduces so many random elements that it becomes impossible to actually play it with any skill. That may be well and good for families since it means literally anyone could win each time they play, but it's not so much a game as an extravagant alternative to rolling a dice.
It's solo gamers that will get the most out of Game & Wario. Each mini-game varies in quality but the majority are entertaining enough to retain your interest. Not only can you clear every level on each, but you can also play through them again to reach the target 'expert' scores set by the game.
Doing this has a purpose - there are 240 'achievements' in the game (which mainly involve the aforementioned clearing of levels and reaching of expert scores). Each time you get an achievement you're given a coin, which is inserted into a giant chicken that lays en egg containing a random unlockable. These range from sensible to crazy.
One gives you a phone number, which you dial into an in-game phone to be greeted by a robotic man telling you how much he loves Game & Wario. Another teaches you how to make a Wario bento box, while another is an odd little 'game' where you can pull out a rope across a street to trip up people walking by. They're a brilliant reward for playing through each mini-game, and will have you chuckling like a goon.
Game & Wario's mini-games may not be as refined or deep as those in Nintendo Land, but they have that bizarre charm that fans of the WarioWare series have come to know and love.
The limited multiplayer offerings are disappointing, but there's enough in here for solo players who want to unlock everything. Considering Nintendo is selling it for a budget price (£34.99 on eShop, £29.99 on Amazon) it's a fun way to pass the time, but not exactly reaching its full potential.
You're not going to be playing it six months from now, but what's there is a fun compilation of mini-games aimed more at the solo gamer than a party environment. Nintendo Land for loners.
- Mini-games offer more hits than misses
- Some unlockables are insane
- Generally feels a bit lightweight
- Not enough multiplayer gaming