Review: A scribblin', cuttin', blowin' good time.
Nintendo definitely struck gold in 2003, thanks to the release of WarioWare Inc.
for the Game Boy Advance. Creating the concept of 'microgames', or better stated as an endless assault of tasks that last about 10 seconds each, WarioWare Inc. was a massive hit on GBA and led to a 2004 release of a similar series of microgames on the GameCube. With the advent of the Nintendo DS though, the potential for these wacky games became even greater; the touch screen presented the platform for all new concepts. Christened WarioWare Touched!
, this DS installment of Nintendo's popular series brings almost 200 microgames to the party, complete with Wi-Fi competitive play if you see fit. Bringing back favorite characters from previous games, Touched! will satisfy old fans and bring new ones into the fold with goofy games that really show what the DS can do, even if it is in short bursts. Complimented with the recently released WarioWare Twisted
, the genre of microgames seems ready to become one of Nintendo's biggest and most creative ? and who knows what the goofs will come up with on the forthcoming Revolution.
Though simple, Nintendo actually spends some time with a basic storyline. Wario is playing his GBA when he falls into a sewer, and finds both his GBA and a newfangled DS laying around. Claiming the DS as his own, he sees the 2nd screen as a path to double his riches, and gets his team to create all new microgames that take advantage of the unique qualities of the console. And with that, you're dropped into nearly 200 different games, split up by characters who each have their own unique set of microgames, and each have a simple storyline that explains why you're playing all these games...well I guess that's what the intention is. In addition there's some wireless play for players to complete against each other, though it's not all that robust. Also, as you progress through the game and complete various challenges, special little games open up that really are nothing like the speedy microgames, but instead little toys to play with that show off the DS capabilities in various ways. Except the Grandma one, that was freaky as hell.
As mentioned previously, each of the 15 (or so) characters have their own unique games that use a particular style of play, but almost all involve using the stylus to perform the action. Some sets are all about cutting things (or more like flinging something across the screen in some cases), drawing lines to finish a goal, blowing into the microphone to lift things, make people breathe, etc, dragging things across the screen, to even a really cool series of games that are actually old NES games, such as Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Punch-Out (though quite altered), Hogan's Alley, and the infamous Duck Hunt, amongst other less famous retro NES titles (and there's even a game where your goal is to connect a GameCube for play at various points). There's also 'remix' characters that mix up games from a set of characters and spit them back out in slightly altered form to further challenge you. Each of these are set up like many games, with a set amount of 'lives' that cover for mistakes ? screw up a game and lose a life, so to speak. The 'boss battle' is actually just a more complicated mini-game, and not so much a 'fight' of any kind. Clearing the boss fight finishes a character's series of games, but if you were to replay any character, you get a '1-up' to recover from any lost life and go until you run out of lives, and if you're good it could take hours. After you beat a stage, you unlock more characters to play, and unlock the ability to play any microgame again, over and over with increased challenge every time.
If you've never played one of these microgames in your life, you just don't know what to expect from them, and won't until you play. In all reality, they last just a few seconds, which seems dumb at first but as time goes on, it becomes more of a challenge vs. the in-game clock, to beat the game as fast as possible before the slight break...then right back to the insanity. All the games are goofy little things that include petting cats, reciting piano notes, using a peeing statue to put out a fire (I kid you not), drawing lines so a guy can finish his slalom run, tickling the armpits of two guys with a spaghetti noodle connecting them, going into the nose of some random guy to find a treasure, etc. There's roughly around 200 games to mess around with, and most of them are amusing little things. The non-stop action of a series of games only gets crazier with repeated plays; games get harder and faster as you get deeper into a series. If you play an individual game, it eventually becomes so fast that it lasts about a second ? if you haven't mastered the patterns and seen the game so often that you can do it blind, it eventually becomes impossible, but you will have a damn good time doing it. A quick hand is your only ally in this case.
The most vital thing about WarioWare Touched!
is the ease of play ? these are games anyone can get into, whether they're a gamer or not (I even let my mother play this game and she got hooked on playing all these goofy games, because the simple setup is perfect for someone who's not an avid game player). It can get challenging, sure, but the simple gameplay and use of something other than buttons, thanks to the stylus and microphone will bring in those intimidated by the huge gamepads you have on the home consoles. Nintendo wants the DS to be something for even non-gamers, and stuff like WarioWare Touched!
delivers the goods. It does an even better job than the great Feel the Magic
, simply because WarioWare really is for everyone, due to the lighthearted humor and more family-friendly atmosphere (as opposed to FtM's story of doing crazy crap to earn the love of some random girl). A downside is you can beat the game in just a couple days, though it will take more time to unlock every microgame and every 'toy' game, which is enough to squeeze another few hours in for completists who want everything unlocked.
Due to their fairly strict 2D nature, the graphics of Touched! aren't all that advanced, but get the job done in terms of presenting a colorful batch of games. Seeing that each game lasts just a short time, there's not much of a chance to enjoy the visual presentation anyway. Some games are more visually advanced than others but even they are still fairly basic. On the other hand, character designs are really good and everyone is really...different if you get my drift. The audio is different, with strange music and catchy tunes here and there as well...and if you play a microgame individually, the music starts slowly, and gets fast. And faster. And faster. And faster until it's going at like 100x speed to coincide with the split-second you get to finish a game. All of the dialogue is done via text boxes due to the limitations of a DS game card, but there's actually one song for the min-goth girl Ashley that features full singing voiceover, and oddly, it's probably the best 'theme' for any of the characters. How ironic. Try not humming it while your DS recharges for the next WarioWare fix.