It’s Like WarioWare, But Weirder
Before the Nintendo Entertainment System hit the market in 1983, Nintendo was getting their feet wet in the video game industry with a line of handhelds. The units served two purposes: They housed a primitive LCD-based video game, and they had a built-in clock. So, eschewing all creativity, Nintendo chose to give them the most obvious name possible: Game & Watch.
But over three decades have passed since the first Game & Watch system hit shelves, and those tiny, monochromatic systems have been usurped by far more functional pieces of technology. But Nintendo loves to remind everyone of its own historical importance, so when Game & Wario was announced last year, I giggled a little.
But the name is surprisingly fitting. Just like the handhelds, Game & Wario is a collection of mini-games that are supposed to introduce you to the latest video game technology. This time, however, the tech in question is a struggling tablet-based console.
As you play through the single-player game, Nintendo’s desperation to connect the Wii U with the company’s iconic history is apparent. But it’s all done tongue-in-cheek, so it somehow feels less desperate than it probably should.
At its core, Game & Wario is a modern take on the WarioWare franchise. The campaign is a collection of 12 mini-games that are unlocked as you polish off the stages. Part of me thinks that explaining the overarching storyline is a complete waste of time, considering how irrelevant it is to the game’s success, but here’s a general overview: Wario thinks that he can get rich by creating a game for the latest tablet-based console to hit the market. Obviously, the in-game console is an homage to the Wii U. So Wario’s dreams of finding financial stability in Wii U development are a little far-fetched.
But, just like the WarioWare series, storylines aren’t important. The campaign took less than an hour to complete, but I couldn’t help but spend several hours obsessively trying to beat my previous scores. The mini-games have a surprising amount of depth, but I definitely wouldn’t call them difficult.
I should mention, just for clarity’s sake, that this is not a WarioWare title. Nintendo sees a distinction between mini-games, like the ones found in Game & Wario, and microgames, like the ones found in WarioWare. Microgames are incredibly simple outings that should be completed within a few seconds. Mini-games, like the ones found in Game & Wario (or Mario Party, Nintendo Land, etc.) are slightly more complicated, but nowhere near the length of an actual game.
The game’s throwback motif is readily apparent throughout the entire title. Every mini-game has its own title screen, which has been created in a style similar to the original Mega Man box art. And remember how so many Atari 2600 games, with titles like Basketball and Sky Diver, were simply abbreviated explanations for what you would be doing in the game? Game & Wario uses the same naming philosophy. Actually, the last game, which is simply called Bird, has been styled in the same LCD motif that the original Game & Watch titles use. Plus, it’s also probably the most addicting game in the entire lot.
At this point in the review, I would love to tell you that Game & Wario is going to be incredibly fun at parties, but that’s probably not true. There are only four multiplayer games. But to Nintendo’s credit, they are clever. There’s a Pictionary-like game, which is actually a brilliant use of the Wii U’s gamepad. One game is like a battle mode for Dance Dance Revolution. Another sees players launching a net full of Fronks, an adorable in-game character, onto a scoring platform. And the last game is about secretly stealing fruit while all of your friends watch. The weirdest part about all four of the multiplayer mini-games is that they don’t require anything other than the GamePad.
The brutally honest truth, unfortunately, is that many of the mini-games in G&W aren’t very enjoyable. Nintendo has a knack for rethinking gaming in a way that draws you into the interactive space. So it’s disappointing when I have to play something as uninspired as a top-down skiing title, or when a game repeatedly asks me to draw a one-inch line. Luckily, these games are mercifully short.
On the other hand, there are several mini-games that are incredible. One stage in particular, called Gamer, is almost exactly like the original WarioWare game, but you have to play it while hiding from your mom. It’s brilliant.
At the end of the day, Game & Wario isn’t perfect, but it is fun. Nintendo has created a rock-solid collection of mini-games that showcases the Wii U’s unique super powers. But as much as I would like to think that G&W could be a part of the cure for the Wii U’s sales problem, it’s just not true. Game & Wario is one of the best games on the system, but it doesn’t have enough oomph to bring people back onto Nintendo’s side of the fence.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Not impressive. But perfectly suited for the title. 3.0 Control
Often annoying. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nintendo is the master of strange noises. 3.5 Play Value
For a game that’s built on replay value, it doesn’t have much. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best