keskiviikko 17. elokuuta 2011

REVIEW - WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! (2003)

GENRE(S): Compilation
RELEASED: March 2003
AVAILABLE ON: 3DS Virtual Console, GBA
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

Wario apparently needed a break from the Wario Land series, and his character a bit more versatility. So, in 2003, Nintendo gave Mario's mischeavous cousin his own minigame compilation. Just hearing about the concept, many people naturally thought the game would be Mario Party in a slightly different package. It's quite different, it's insanely addictive, it's strange above everything else, and it will also drive you out of your mind... but with good intentions. In my mind, WarioWare Inc. totally saved Wario's face after a long line of disappointments.

A whole new meaning to "development hell"

Looks... hard.
Inspired by a TV commercial of a new hit game called Pyoro, Wario creates his own video game company called WarioWare, Inc., already seeing the dollar signs. However, making video games is not quite as easy as he initially thinks, so he calls nine of his multi-talented friends around the world - and the galaxy - to share their ideas with him and join his endeavor for commercial domination.

I guess the following was around the time I reviewed Wario Land II. As the most dedicated readers are aware, I don't have any kind of special love for Wario games. Wario is OK as a character, I've enjoyed most games he's starred in as a supporting character, up to some extent, but up 'til now, he hasn't had much wind when it comes to his own games. So, when I reviewed Wario Land II - which I mostly hated - my friend told me I should get into WarioWare, which he thought was damn rad and by far the best time-killing shite money could buy for the Game Boy Advance. When I asked him what the game was about, he couldn't say anything else but "well, it's a compilation of minigames". I told him I'll stick with Mario Party, and he was like "no, no, it's completely different but you'll have to try it to get it". So I tried it, briefly, and it drove me NUTS! I was never going to try it again, but I couldn't just leave it out of this Mario-thon, I would've felt guilty. So, I tried it again. Initially it drove me even closer to the brink of insanity, but once I got used to its ridiculous tempo, I found a very essential, yet not perfect, handheld collection of microgames. That's right, MICROgames. They're like mini-minigames, and I'll tell you how they work soon enough.

Looks... strangely familiar.
The graphical input to this game was apparently minimal. It's not that pretty, but on the other hand, there's a huge number of microgames that totally differ from each other and have many different dimensional settings. Also, the animations are pretty detailed, some of them are damn funny - while some are just boring - and they're surprisingly vulgar on Nintendo's scale. One of the supporting characters is struck with a severe need to go to the crapper and he actually uses the toilet as his microgaming platform, and rolls of toilet paper to indicate how many lives he has left. There are many things to consider when rating the game's graphics - even if it doesn't immediately strike the player as the most beautiful game in the world, it has many impressive instances. The sound is not impressive at all; most of the sound effects are ripped straight off Wario Land 4, and the original music is horrible.

Looks even more familiar. Too bad I was
never a true fan of this game.
So, the game begins with an introductory round. Wario is at his desk, and he kind of shows the player all the games he's come up with all by himself. This practically means that you'll have to win at ten different games to get past this round. Sounds lengthy, huh? Well, playing through these ten games takes about 30 seconds. You see, each microgame doesn't last more than just a few seconds. Within those few seconds, you need to accomplish the very simple goal you're given to beat the game. The game occasionally speeds up, which means you'll have even less seconds to finish the rest of the round's games. You don't have to win in every game, but you need to hang on to at least one life 'til the end of the round - failure in one game equals one life lost. These games range from... well... EVERYTHING to EVERYTHING. Seriously - you might be given five seconds to successfully medicate a person with eye drops. You might be given five seconds to shoot down a small flurry of alien ships. You might be given five seconds to steer a paper plane down a vertical hallway without hitting any obstacles. Finally, you might be taken to a sudden flashback of the original Metroid and given five seconds to blast through Mother Brain's glass cocoon! This game will surprise you.

Now THAT is some trippy shite. Looks
worse than the SMB movie... uh, wait... let
me take that back.
Most characters have different themes, or genres, to their collections of games. There's one character that uses reality as his theme. For example, there's a moving picture of a real cat. The briefing says "SLEEP!", so what you have to do is wait until the cat closes his eyes and press A. That's it, you won. A duo of characters has a nature theme, which is not that prohibited from including just about everything. My favourite character in the whole game is 9-Volt, a young DJ who's crazy about classic Nintendo games; his genre is simply "Nintendo". Very brief instances of whatever classic Nintendo games or hardware you can imagine will come your way once you get to 9-Volt's round; The Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, F-Zero, Balloon Fight, Hogan's Alley, even Mario Clash for the Virtual Boy! It's a total blast!

To beat a whole round, you need to engage in a boss fight, which, just like the microgames, can be of any sort. The boss fights do not have strict time limits tied to seconds, you can take your sweet time with them as long as you beat them. To once again note the ridiculous variety between boss fights, one of them is a game in which you need to use a hammer to pound a nail as steadily as possible - minor mistakes are allowed, but if you hit your own hand, the game's over. One recurring boss fight is a generic recreation of a classic Punch-Out!! bout, which gets harder over time. Upon beating a round, you earn the right to play all of the microgames you've won, freely, and usually, you unlock an additional, special game that cannot be taken part in during the storyline. Most of them are vs. games.

OK, uhh... what do I press, what do I press?
Down to the flaws of the whole thing. Even though the genres are different, all the games are the same in the sense that only the directional button and A are used. Still, it is sometimes damn hard to figure out what you need to do in each game, and that's what will drive you nuts! You can't be sure how the controls work before you try them - which you do not have time to do - and you're not even given a clear indication what it is you're controlling each time! The briefing is very vague, there never are more than two words used to tell you what to do. The developers have said that is one of the game's strongest ideas - not having a freakin' clue how a particular game works and be given just a couple of seconds to figure it out and win it - but I don't see how it's such a fabulous idea. The game is hectic and unfairly punishes you from small mistakes as it is. On top of that, the controls are not that smooth throughout the whole line. As a final flaw, I'd like to take a look into a certain round of games, hosted by the alien Orbulon, whose genre is "IQ". As it tends to be with many video games that are supposed to challenge your intelligence, these games only challenge your SPEED, not a shard of your intelligence. There's no balance. Well, at least this game doesn't berate you like the more recent Brain Challenge - a good memory has always been one of my strongest traits, and I got an F for memory in that game... just because the memory test went at an inhuman speed. "How many frogs were there?" "Frogs? I didn't see any damn frogs. All I saw was a green flash on the screen. Oh, there were nine of them? Cool." The IQ round isn't quite that hard or ridiculous. It's even fun. It's just as hard to figure out as the rest of the game.

Don't you let that mucus fall! Don't you dare!
WarioWare, Inc. is a quite challenging game in its entirety, and it certainly has a lot of replay value. The games and whole rounds are extremely addictive, and if you manage to beat all of those rounds, you'll unlock a host of "survival modes" for your trouble, which are perhaps even more addictive than the main game. This game will help you wake up in the mornings, that's for sure, and it's definitely one of the most essential GBA cartridges to have with you on long and boring trips. See that time slain!

I'm so glad that Wario hasn't gone to complete waste since the first Wario Land game. WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$! sounds horrible, and it is a strange, flawed, but all in all, a great curiosity of a game. As a whole, it's better than any Mario Party game out there. The Nintendo retro clips alone would be enough to keep me hooked on this one for a long time. Let's see if the sequel fares even better, I'm rooting for it.

SOUND : 5.0


a.k.a. WarioWare Inc., WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!, Made in Wario (JAP), WarioWare, Inc.: Minigame Mania (EU)

GameRankings: 88.97%

Nintendo Power ranks WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! #77 on their list of the Top 200 Nintendo Games of All Time.

The game was quickly remade for the Nintendo GameCube as WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$!.

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