Platform(s): Nintendo Wii
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Released: January 15th 2007, $49.99
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
One instant you are picking a gigantic pixilated nose. The next, you are holding the Wii remote on your head and doing squats. Moments later you are holding the remote like a waiter holds a platter and trying to balance a broomstick onscreen. These are just a fraction of the frenetic micro-games featured in WarioWare: Smooth Moves for the Nintendo Wii.
Wario, Mario’s evil doppelganger, is quickly approaching his kinder alter-ego in terms of great games. WarioWare: Touched! and WarioWare: Twisted! for Nintendo’s DS and Game Boy Advance respectively, were cult hits. Wario’s games feature a myriad of super fast mini-games, or micro-games, which test player’s reflexes as well as attention spans. Touched! exploited the DS’s touch screen and air sensor, while Twisted! came with an internal gyro-scope for tilt sensing. The Wii’s motion sensitive controls seemed tailor made for a new WarioWare title.
If you have never played a WarioWare game let me give you an idea of what a micro-game will be like. You will be prompted with a word or phrase (“clean”, “dodge!” or “find him” for example) and you have a very short time limit to complete the given task. The challenge isn’t so much in the task, they are generally simple to complete, it is in figuring out exactly what you have to do before time runs out. How to complete each game is where the real fun lies.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves is the best WarioWare game to date, showcasing funny, inventive and completely insane micro-games that will leave players of all ages in stitches. The game’s “plot” boils down to a number of small vignettes: mini-stories with an ever-changing cast of characters. In each one the player is tasked with using the “form baton” (Wii remote) in a new way to complete a series of micro-games. You have a certain number of lives to complete the 10-20 mini-games and a boss fight at the end. But you don’t play this game for its sprawling storyline; you play it for the wacky micro-games.
The Wii remote is pushed to its creative limit in WarioWare: Smooth Moves. You complete each micro-game by using “forms” or ways to hold the remote. “The Mohawk” has the player holding the remote on top of his/her head like the namesake punk hairstyle. “The Elephant” asks the player to hold the remote to his/her nose, facing outward like an elephant’s trunk. If these poses sound ridiculous, they are. Those who have reservations about looking foolish while playing a video game should turn back now. What is impressive about WarioWare: Smooth Moves is the various ways in which the different forms are utilized. You won’t always be an elephant picking fruit while using the elephant pose. WarioWare finds cool and fun ways to push the forms to their limit, making for an experience that never feels stale or boring.
The micro-games style and look are the stuff of pure gaming joy. Many are hand drawn cartoons that look right out of a child’s coloring book. Some are throw-backs to old NES games. A few are even strange hyper-3D models. They all share one thing in common: being really weird and funny. WarioWare has style coming out its ears, even if it only lasts for 30 seconds. The games run the gamut from the everyday mundane like: swatting a fly, knocking on a door, using a key or picking your nose. To the bizarre: killing a ninja before it attacks you, directing anxious beach patrons to the correct restroom, plucking nose hair and scaring children with a skunk on a stick. They will make you smile, laugh and sometimes elicit a hearty “what?!”
Where WarioWare: Smooth Moves really shines is in the frantic multiplayer modes. There are four different multiplayer modes in WarioWare that all have something to offer. In Survival up to 12 different Mii’s can be uploaded from your Wii and used to play a simple game of last man standing. Taking turns each player plays one mini-game, if they lose that’s it for their Mii, which takes the form of an angel. As time goes on the games get more difficult and the completion time speeds up. This mode is a blast because of the sheer amount of people you can have playing this at once. Since WarioWare only requires a single remote, the act of madly passing it to the next person becomes a game in itself.
Lifeline is the next multiplayer mode and utilizes a race theme. Up to five Mii’s can participate in this race, taking turns doing micro-games of increasing point value. After five rounds, the racers are ranked and are taken to a jungle and strung up with ropes. Whoever finished the race in first gets three ropes, next gets two and so on. Players take turns cutting ropes until only one player remains. What makes this mode fun is the wild-card factor. Since there is no way to tell which rope goes to which player, the person in last can pull out upset wins.
Bomb is a variant on a childhood favorite, hot potato. The active player plays a mini-game. If they win they pick who goes next and what form they are to use. What makes this mode interesting is that each time the same form is picked; its difficulty level goes up. The only downside of this mode is it’s “whoever loses first, loses”, it doesn’t eliminate players until one remains. Balloon is similar in that the goal is to not be up when a balloon pops. When it is your turn you get a certain amount of time to pump up a balloon. After winning a micro-game, the next player in line steps up and can choose to pump the balloon. The key here is to pump up the balloon to put pressure one the player up next, but not so much that it pops on your turn. If you lose a mini-game, you have to keep going until you win, increasing the chance that it will burst on your turn. But again this mode is first person to lose, loses.
In addition to these traditional multiplayer modes, there are some more innovative ones to unlock. These utilize the Wii remote and nunchuk in coordination with one another to make for a unique co-operative experience. Speaking of unlockables, WarioWare has a good amount of unlockable content. There are practically hundreds of mini-games to unlock that take repeat play-throughs to get. There are also quite a few single player games that aren’t micro-game related. These are mostly variants on classic games such as Tetris, Breakout and Duck Hunt. That said, WarioWare won’t take very long for the average gamer to beat. My first run took about 2-3 hours and wasn’t all too difficult. Unlocking all the games takes longer (maybe an additional 1-2 hours) and the single player games can be fun in short bursts. Multiplayer and the “let me show you this hilarious game” factor will be what brings you back to this title.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves stands out in the sea of recent mini-game titles that have come out over the past few years. It also stands out as the best title in a long lineage of solid WarioWare games. Alongside The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, this is a must-own title for Wii owners. If for the nose-picking alone.