They say that you should never start a review with a history lesson, but me and WarioWare go way back, so I can’t resist the urge. If you’re not bothered and just want to read the review, scroll down a few paragraphs. I’ve handily marked the beginning of the actual review with a header.
Back in 2003, when I was the lofty and mature age of 12, there were a lot of changes in my previous happy life. The transition into high school was a living hell; a completely unpleasant experience that I don’t, and will never look back on, with any fondness. Still, there was one respite in my life at the time, and that was video games, mostly played through my PC. I was proficient with emulators at the time, and since Gameboy Advance emulation was so easy, I played a vast number of new releases for the console via keyboard rather than handheld.
I had been a fan of Wario and his antics since Wario Land 3, and whilst Wario Land 4 was a slight disappointment to me, I was more than happy to see a game called WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgames make it’s way into the new releases section on all of my happy little ROM websites. I downloaded it immediately, played it immediately, and immediately fell in love, to the point where my Dad took me to Toys R’ Us a couple of days after release so I could get a physical copy. Fond, fond memories.
For those unfamiliar, WarioWare: Mega Microgames is a collection of 200 ‘micro games’, spread across a dozen or so levels. These microgames are about fifteen seconds long at most, and they usually give you a single word objective. You can see an example of one of them in a handy dandy GIF seen below – in this one, the game tells you to cut, and cut you must.
Despite the campaign of the game only being about four hours long at best, that little cart got so much play that the label began to wear away from the cartridge itself, as I beat my high scores on the game time and time again. I still have it knocking around somewhere – perhaps I’ll add a picture of it later.
A year later, a party-themed port of it came out for the Nintendo GameCube, appropriately called WarioWare Inc: Mega Party Games. I immediately bought it, and it immediately replaced Mario Party and Super Smash Bros as the go to multiplayer game amongst my friends, at least for a little while. To those not keeping track, that’s five times that I’ve used the word ‘immediately’ in the past four paragraphs, which is 1.25 uses of ‘immediately’ per paragraph.
WarioWare Twisted, the next game in the series was unavailable to me, at least on a physical cart. You see, the game had a gyroscope packed into the cart, and, unlike the last game, you had to wobble your Gameboy Advance around to play! But because the gyroscope had magnesium or lead or something in it, it meant that it couldn’t be sold in European territories, which lead to me being shit out of luck when it came to purchasing it. I could have imported it at a high price, but let me tell ya, that wasn’t possible on my measly budget when I was 14 years old. I managed to experience it via the magic of emulation, but using the directional keys on a keyboard to tilt the screen around isn’t quite the same as doing it by hand.
Two more games followed, shortly after one another. WarioWare Touched came out in 2005 for the Nintendo DS, which gave us our first taste of touchscreen microgames. A year later, in 2006, WarioWare: Smooth Moves was brought out for the Wii. To those of you not keeping track, that’s five games that came out in the WarioWare series in four years, which is 1.25 titles a year. If I said that I didn’t feel a little saturated at this point, I’d be lying.
Even with so many titles released in a short space of time, I was not feeling the slightest bit saturated. Nintendo was wildly embracing this new series that I loved. Good times.
After that, though, the WarioWare train came to a screeching halt, and I’ve never known why. Perhaps it was a decline in sales, perhaps it was simply that the team who worked on them could no longer be arsed. Sure, there were a few piecemeal efforts that came out afterward. The DSi shop got WarioWare Snapped in 2009, which was a limited affair even by WarioWare standards. WarioWare DIY, circa 2010, gave players a toolkit so that they could make their own microgames, but didn’t feature a proper collection of games within itself. Then there was Game & Wario for the Wii U , and I ain’t even gonna call that a WarioWare game, despite the fact that Nintendo insists that it is.
So, the last proper WarioWare game, at least in my opinion, came out in 2006. It’s been twelve years since the last one. Just before this game got announced, I was asking myself – where has WarioWare gone? Then, like Nintendo heard my plea, a direct came along a few days later, announcing WarioWare Gold, a collection of the best that the big troll has to offer.
And that’s what we’re here to review today. Fair warning – as you might be able to tell from the above, I’m a huge fan of this franchise. The below is definitely not going to be unbiased in the slightest, because, ultimately, the only thing that I can do is (spoiler) recommend this game.
Stop scrolling, it’s review time
So, enough history – let’s crack on with the review itself.
WarioWare Gold is a collection of over 300 micro games, the majority of which are from the past games in the series. Which you should know plenty about by now, providing that you read the above.
The story is nothing unusual. Wario, being the greedy prick that he is, fancies making a ton of money. Since it’s worked out so well before for him in the past, he decides that the best way to do this is by conning all of his mates into making microgames for him. Surprisingly, despite being conned into doing this in pretty much every single game prior, Wario’s mates are more than happy to be duped by the big mustachioed troll, proving that nothing in this world ever really changes. Queue Wario setting up some kind of microgame tournament that’s purposefully designed to scam as many people out of their hard-earned coins as possible.
The story might be the usual rote, but there’s a big difference this time – fully acted voice sequences. While I’ve seen other sites (cough) knocking them to bits for some reason, I think that they’re incredible. They’re as irreverent as the game that surrounds them, and I’m not afraid to admit that they made me chuckle a time or two. Nintendo, if you’re listening – seriously, keep up with the voice acting in your games. It was great in Breath of the Wild, and it’s great here. Don’t listen to that other outlet – they’re full of piss. The cutscenes are charming, and they’re a joy that I won’t spoil in the least, even if they aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of the game itself.
Moving on, for those unfamiliar with the concept of micro games, they’re essentially mini challenges that give you a simple – but usually odd – objective to fulfil in fifteen seconds or less. The games feature a wide variety of art styles within it – some games look like claymation, some look like a child’s doodle, one of ’em looks like a Salvador Dali painting. And, honestly, they all look fantastic. There’s similar variety in the gameplay department, too. Since this game is a mashup of previous games, this means that they come in four different styles – bash, twist, touch and blow.
The first style, bash, tasks you with completing your objective with the D-pad and the A button. Twist takes advantage of the 3DS’ gyroscope, making you to turn and twist the handheld to complete your goal. Touch, perhaps the most obvious of the bunch, focuses on using the touch screen, whereas blow, despite sounding a bit rude, basically boils down to you puffing air into the 3DS microphone.
These gameplay styles are split across eighteen different levels, where, for the most part, you’ll only have to use one control method at a time. For the final three levels of the game, though, you’ll have to switch between all four, with the game only giving you the briefest of warnings as to what game you’ll be playing. Rather than being frustrating, this leads to fun times, where you’re juggling a stylus around in your hand between games.
On the first run of each level in the game, you’ll be tasked with beating fifteen or so micro games, which are always followed by a more involved boss stage. Win, you move along without penalty. Fail, and you’ll lose one of your four lives. Beat this first run, and you’ll unlock the next level. If you’re only interested in beating the levels once, then, as much as I hate to say it, WarioWare Gold isn’t worth the asking price – you’re looking at four hours gameplay at best, nothing more than a lazy afternoon. There are some post game levels in the form of challenge towers, but these are little more than (admittedly inventive) high score attacks.
However, for me, this is where the longevity comes from – beating your own high scores. For each level you complete, the speed of the game increases, meaning that it both throws the games at you with shorter pauses between them to get your bearings, and forces you to beat them in progessively briefer time frames. Beat so many, and the difficulty will increase too, usually by making the microgame’s objective a slight more convoluted. This makes chasing high scores fun because you get a different experience each time you play. Depending on the level you play, you’ll have a pool of between twenty and, well, over three hundred microgames for the game to draw from, each one coming at you faster and faster, forcing you to fulfil bizarre micro objectives at top speed, until you inevitably fail four times.
Don’t let this put you off if high scores aren’t necessarily your jam, because beating your high scores has an incentive to it, too. Every time you finish a level, you’re rewarded with an appropriate amount of coins, depending on how well you did. You can also complete in-game challenges, such as ‘achieve this score’ which’ll get you a bounty of gold too. These coins are spent exclusively at a capsule machine, which dishes out random prizes, akin to a gacha game, but without any real cash spent.
Unfortunately, like gacha games, the prizes that you win range from fantastic to absolute garbage. The fantastic come in the form of mini-game offerings, like Mewtroid, a top-down shooter which pays homage to Metroid, in the form of giving a cat a Samus-like arm cannon and remixing classic Metroid tunes so that they’re made up entirely of cat’s meowing. There’s also some more rudimentary but still fun games to be found, too, like bowling with the touch screen, or a special version of golf where you have to twist the 3DS system to stimulate swinging a golf club.
To unlock stuff like this, though, you’ll have to potentially wade through a sea of utter gash. The worst examples are the four-letter codes that you have to dial into an in-game telephone. After doing this, the game will make a text message scroll across the screen, which normally boils down to someone asking you why the hell you’re calling them in the first place. Pointless – and worse yet, the game has ‘prizes’ like this in spades. For every ten capsules I’ve bought so far, I’d say that there at least three or four out of ten was this shady excuse for a collectable.
The avalanche of crap prizes doesn’t stop there, though – while the rest of the offerings might be slightly less shite, they’re still lacklustre. Other ‘treats’ include 3D models of various DS systems that you can manipulate with the touch screen, short summaries of Nintendo products dating all the way back to the playing cards that they used to make, and, worst of all, alarm clocks. Yes, there’s an alarm clock for every character in the game. I can confidently state that not a single person will ever use these. What kind of nutter uses their 3DS as an alarm clock? The 3DS can’t even be closed – you would literally have to lay there, DS open, charging and at max volume so that you could be awoken by the sound of it’s tiny plastic speakers pumping out Mona Pizza at whatever designated hour.
Fortunately for me, however, I need no incentive to grind out my high scores, because the game itself is just so much damn fun. As I mentioned before, it’s been twelve years since a proper WarioWare title, and while I would’ve appreciated one sooner, it’s also benefited from the break. If a collection like this had come out in say, 2008, I might’ve had zero nostalgia for the microgames on offer. Seeing them over a decade later, enhanced and redesigned with the occasional added twist is an absolute joy to both behold and play.
Playing the bash and touch games in particular is like stepping back into a time machine to revisit my murky childhood, a reminder of playing these games in the backseat of the car on my way home from school. Admittedly, I’m less fond of the twist style of gameplay, though that’s a combination of a lack of nostalgia and the 3DS’ gyroscope being a bit shonky. Still, even some of the microgames featured within the twist category take me back, since some of them are taken from WarioWare: Smooth Moves which I played the shit out of. To name a highlight, there’s a boss level where you have to drive a car around a track, turning the 3DS in your hands like it’s a steering wheel. It’s amazing fun.
It’s all amazing fun. I’ve sank about twenty hours into this game, and I’m confident that I’ll sink at least double that into it before I’m done. Bash, twist, touch, blow, or a hectic combination of all four, it doesn’t matter. While it might not be the finest that the 3DS has to offer when it comes to story, graphics, and design, it’s definitely one of the funnest titles on the system, and, honestly, that’s all that matters to me.
Because of my nostalgia, though, it’s hard for me to tear myself away and make myself unbiased as I usually do. You’re reading the opinion of someone who’s been an enormous fan of this strange series from day one – I’m bound to recommend it. I can’t not recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of the series. It’s unbridled, bizarre fun, and there isn’t a single worthwhile game like it. Even if the rewards are crap, the game is so much fun that I can easily push past this and enjoy the good unlockables that it has, even if they’re few and far between and locked behind gacha bullshit.
If you’re a longtime fan of the series like me, or even if you’ve just had a passing interest playing it as a party title, I can one hundred percent recommend this game. If you’re a fan of bizarre, quirky games that lend well to fifteen minute play sessions, I can one hundred percent recommend this game. If you hated everything that you read above, I can one hundred percent recommend this game.
Buy this game. Never let Nintendo go for twelve years without making one again. Do it. Go on. Buy it, you prick. I mean, buy it, please.
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Unlike more fortunate folk, I dumped £34.99 of my own money on this, so you can rest assured, the review above is unbiased. Except for this one time. Buy the game.
If you want to buy this game and you live in the UK, you can help me out by buying it off Amazon through this here link. This’ll get me some pennies, which makes me happy. You have a new game, which makes you happy. We’re all happy.
And no, I don’t do scoring.
But if I did, I’d give it a ten out of ten.