Warioware, Inc. Mega Microgame$!
Developer: Nintendo R&D1 | Publisher: Nintendo | Release Date: 2003| Genre: Action / Rhythm | Website: Official Website | Purchase: n/a
It appears that Mario (the most famous plumber in the gaming universe) is taking a step back and letting his evil twin, Wario, steal the limelight with a collection of mini-games. After watching TV and seeing how much cash a videogame is making, Wario decides to give it a go himself and create his own best sellers. Of course creating games is hard work, and Wario isn’t known for putting much effort into anything, so he starts a company named “Wario Ware Inc.” and employs a few of his friends to do the actual work.
When you start playing Wario Ware Inc. MEGA Microgames don’t expect to see any trace of Mario and his pals. Instead, you have Wario and pals like Jimmy T, 9-Volt, Orbulon as well as Dribble & Spitz. They all look like a bunch of rejects from 8-bit games and all have a series of microgames based around their theme. 9-Volt, for example, loves classic Nintendo games, so his minigames are all snippets from Donkey Kong, Zelda and even Balloon fight. Dr. Crygor, on the other hand, likes his games rooted in reality, so you’ll be peeling a banana or shaking a dog’s paw. If it all sounds bizarre, don’t worry, as it is supposed to be. Don’t expect anything close to any Mario/Wario game you’ve played before.
At the start of each microgame, you are shown a word or short phrase after which you have about five seconds to figure out what needs to be done and do it. Fail, and you lose one of four chances, and the next microgame starts. Succeed, and you continue as the random microgames increase their speed. If you make it all the way to the end, there will be a boss battle that cannot be skipped. These are usually longer than the preceding microgames. If you do well enough in the games, you can even unlock some fun new minigames, including two player (same Gameboy Advance) ones. Each character also has its own bizarre set of cut-scenes that once again look like N.E.S. rejects and further sets the tone for this game.
Visually, the mini-games all look like they were created in Flash, apart from the classic Nintendo ones, which are actually pretty accurate. Since everything flashes past you so quickly, it doesn’t matter that the graphics look (intentionally) bad. There’s literally hundreds of the little buggers, and while most of them are merely clones or variations of others, it will still take a while for you to see them all. The new gameplay modes that unlock upon completion of the main game, also adds some much needed longevity. The visuals take a backseat to gameplay, however, so don’t go expecting too much.
The audio matches the graphics and are a total assault on the senses. Seemingly random speech snippets and remixes of familiar Nintendo tracks along with weird special effects will constantly assail you. Expect to draw a few curios stares if you play this game in public without earphones. The controls are extremely simple, and all you ever use are the d-pad and “A” button. Don’t expect this to make the mini-games any easier, though, as a few of them are quite fiendish. Most of them are reflex tests and after a few tries, you will be able to complete most of them, unless you lack hand-eye coordination. It is a nice touch that the 2-player mini games are still fun, despite each player only controlling one button (L or R).
I started playing this game, not really knowing what to expect, and had a blast. For a bunch of short, random games, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. It is not going to feel like much value for money if you sit down and try to finish them all in one session, but if you take your time and really soak in the experience, you will appreciate it more. Mega Microgames is the perfect travel companion for your Gameboy Advance and is a ton of fun while it lasts. Nintendo has once again struck gold and I expect to see a lot more of Wario and his bunch of misfits in the future.
*Review originally published June 2003.