animefringe june 2003 / reviews

Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$
Format: Game Boy Advance
Production: Nintendo
Comments: Wario comes roaring into action in the most cracked out game in Nintendo’s history.
Animefringe Reviews:
Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$

We’ve all heard of mini-games, the little diversions put in games for fun; Final Fantasy X’s Chocobo racing is a mini-game along those lines. Well, Nintendo has introduced the “micro-game.” Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ (Japanese title: Made in Wario)is a fun, bizarre experience that is a complete blast to play.

Wario Ware is a bizarre little title, which features Mario’s archenemy Wario looking to make some quick cash; how better to do this than to market “instant games”? Wario Ware consists of more than 200 of these micro-games (213 single-player and four two player micro-games, plus eight other “full” games). Included in these games are moments from classic NES titles like Super Mario Bros., Metroid, and Duck Hunt. These instant games last for a few seconds and an entire set of them can last over a minute. For those of you familiar with the Game and Watch series of games for the Game Boy, Wario Ware is much like those, hopped up on caffeine and Saturday morning cartoons.

The game basically sets up each set of games with an opening animation, featuring one of the game’s nine characters, and then lets the player have at it, in a barrage of micro-games. As mentioned above, the games can last for mere seconds. Some allow the player to only make one or two moves before ending; despite text blurbs at the beginning of each game, it’s up to the player to figure out what exactly the game is looking for one to do. Sometimes games are relatively easy. For example, one early game features a few seconds of Wario in a set up similar to the original Super Mario Bros. game for the NES (complete with 8-bit graphics). The screen features Wario, a Goomba, and a few seconds to smash it. Another game features a golf ball and a hole and the player has to aim a shot into the hole.

If it all sounds easy, it isn’t. The games move in such a quick succession it is difficult to figure out what each individual game wants the player to do on the first play through. One game features a moving character and a spotlight. However, you’re controlling the spotlight, not the character and you must keep the character in the spotlight. Later in the game, one must keep ready to use the control pad or the A and B buttons. Since the order of the games is different on each play through, the player has to be ready to quickly (almost instinctively) press the D-pad or A and B buttons, before the game ends.

The game’s graphics and sound match the frenetic pace of the action. The colors in Wario Ware are day-glo, which fits the overwhelming, cartoony pace of the game. Some of the instant games are extremely simplistic - one game consists of a simple squid creature and two lines making a ">" - but some other games take better advantage of the GBA's graphics capability. It’s hard to pay much attention to the music in the middle of the game, but Wario Ware’s music is competent enough. The game even features a vocal song, of sorts, while the sound effects really add to the pace and mood; during each of the game sets, when you finish an instant game, there’s an excellent sound effect for winning and for losing, and though it sounds simplistic, it really adds to the game’s pacing.

One special note: in a brilliant marketing coup (atypical of Nintendo), the game’s site is accessible at http://www.warioware.biz. The site is as frenetic as the game itself and features a bizarre, over the top Flash interface. Anyone interested in the game should give the site a look. Additionally Wario Ware is reported to link up with the Gamecube Wario World title, allowing you to download instant games.

Unfortunately, some of the games are repeated throughout some of the levels. It's not a huge deal, since the games only last a few seconds, but a game centered around "instant games" ought to have new ones for each level. The title’s quirkiness may also be an issue, as some players will be put off by the bizarre nature of some of the games. Wario Ware is very Japanese, both in graphical style and in the games themselves; the games are much like short cell-phone games (indeed, the second stage of Wario Ware is presented as being on a cell-phone). Some of the games, like trying not to let a snot drop fall from a girl’s nose, will seem very Japanese. However, in America, we’re living in a generation of kids raised on Sesame Street. That show packed in entire lessons on numbers and letters in a few minutes. After watching Sesame Street for so long, this generation’s brains work much faster than their parents; a generation ago, one kid in one hundred had Attention Deficient Disorder. In this generation the statistic is closer to one in four. Wario Ware is the game for the Sesame Street generation.