It’s not often it happens, but sometimes we get to play games that defy anything that’s been done before. These days it’s easy to think that we’ve played “everything”, and there aren’t any original design ideas left. Luckily Nintendo doesn’t think this way, because WarioWare Inc is unlike anything I’ve tried before, and may very well be the strangest game I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. I’ve tried first-person shooters in black and white and an old dos game where you just mowed progressively difficult lawns, but this is just something else...
As most of us know, Wario has a thing for money, and it doesn’t really matter how he obtains it, as long as he does. One day when watching TV he realized that you can get filthy rich by making video games, and that’s when a bulb lights up above his head. Wario starts making games, but contacts a few friends of his, who also happen to be in the business, and it seems you’ll be able to test them all. The thing is, these games aren’t like your average platformer, not by a long shot.
At the start of the game you’re shown a ladder, which consists of several steps. Climbing upwards sometimes requires you to finish the games by just one of Wario’s pals, but sometimes you have to do the ones by three of his friends. Jimmy is the only recurring friend, a real disco freak who likes to make cell phone games when he’s not grooving to the beat on the dance floor. Besides him you have a pit bull who drives a taxi, you have a weird looking alien, a cute little girl, and a good load more. Each of these have made about twenty games, but the unique thing is that each of the games last about three-four seconds, so in that time you have to identify what’s happening, figure out what the best thing to do is, and then do it. Just before you start a game you’re given a hint about what to do, like Avoid, which means you have to jump over the sausage that’s coming against you. What’s truly impressive about this title is the creative aspect behind it, because making games that involve threading a needle, dodging cars, taking pictures of birds, and dropping water on someone’s eye is far from anything you’ve done before. Even though many of the games are truly weird and original there are also some that are clones of for instance Mario, Zelda and Metroid, because you may have to jump on some mushroom villains with Mario, move Zelda into a cave, or have Metroid blow up an alien. Owners of the NES are very likely to feel nostalgic with this game, which is obviously a good thing.
When you’re done with the games that one of the friends have made you’ll face a boss, which is usually a longer, slightly harder game. Boxing is a recurring theme, but you’ll also jump on clouds and be chased by a rock of some sort. Additionally, as you climb the ladder you’ll also unlock new single and multiplayer games, where the goal is basically to get a score better than the high-score. These multiplayer games work differently from your average link-cable games, because two people actually play on one GBA! The games share basic game mechanics that don’t require much more than a cunning aim or a quick tapping finger, so the games are played with one person using the L1 button and the other using the R1 button. This does in fact work quite nicely, although link-cable gaming is usually a bit more practical.
As you get closer to the top of the ladder the games also get a bit harder, requiring you to pay even more attention, and making sure you time things even better. Things do get challenging near the end, but by that time you should be reasonably good at finishing them. You sometimes have to replay games you’ve finished earlier, but the targets are usually smaller, and things usually move faster, so you can be sure that playing this game on a drowsy Sunday night will be difficult.
Technically WarioWare Inc doesn’t push the envelope far when it comes to graphics, but what’s very impressive is the artistic flair, because the cut-scenes share a impressive cartoony style, with big characters, zoomed in faces, and excellent use of colors. Granted, some of the “micro-games” look quite basic, but that seems to be intentional to remain comparable with the games they were based on, or the graphical detail that the hardware of the eighties could provide.
At an equally high artistic level is the game’s audio, which is just incredibly diverse. Absolutely all of the “micro-games” have a sufficient number of sound effects and unique background music tracks, so at least I was impressed with how much was dished out
You should be able to finish WarioWare Inc in about a day gaming, which isn’t very much, but even when you’ve finished it there’ll be games you haven’t played before, and there’s still the new single- and multi player games you’ve unlocked which are quite fun to play with a friend.
This really is a game unlike any other. The game design is very innovative, and the gameplay, visuals, and audio have that distinct Nintendo magic, which isn’t known to fail. I liked this game quite a lot, and can recommend it without a guilty conscience, but if you’re looking for a game with a great replay-value, or a long single player mode then you may want to consider something else.