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Platform: Wii U

five-stars

WarioWare Smooth Moves was a solid party game with a variety of mini-games, plenty of replay value, and a quirky sense of humor. But more importantly, Smooth Moves did a wonderful job of demonstrating the uniqueness of the Wii remote’s motion controls. Rhythm Heaven Fever, a rhythmic mini-game collection, was another weird (but charming) game from producer Yoshio Sakamoto. Both of these games are essential additions to anyone’s Wii collection.

Unfortunately, “Game & Wario” fails to live up to the brilliance of those previously mentioned titles. Sure, it has the same charming artwork and lovable characters as previous WarioWare games, but everything about it feels so uninspired.

Game & Wario offers an assortment of sixteen mini-games, but only five of these mini-games are worth playing more than once: Gamer, Fruit, Pirates, Shutter, and Taxi. It makes sense that Game & Wario was originally intended to be a pre-installed Wii U title. Two thirds of Game & Wario is padded with filler to create a false illusion of value. How else could Nintendo sell a collection of rough tech demos as a $30-$40 package? If we’re being honest with ourselves, Game & Wario’s five best mini-games should have just been sold separately on the eShop for $2.99 – $3.99 each. It’s unfortunate that we have to sift through mediocrity just to unlock Game & Wario’s good stuff.

In the mini-game called “Taxi” — one of Game & Wario’s better mini games — players shoot down alien invaders on a 3D map and drive their captives to safety.  I really enjoyed the concept of using the GamePad as a bazooka, while driving around on the television screen. Why couldn’t more of Game & Wario’s mini-games be this imaginative?

There is a single player game called “Arrow” where the player uses the GamePad as a bow to launch arrows at oncoming robots. Your goal is to defend your crop of strawberries and prevent the robots from reaching the front of the screen. But here’s the problem: Nintendo Land offers a very similar mini-game called Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, where the player uses the GamePad to flick paper shuriken at waves of ninjas.

Why would I want to play Game & Wario’s boring  “Arrow” game when Takamaru’s Ninja Castle (Nintendo Land) does a better job at executing the same concept? It also doesn’t help that Arrow feels like a massive step back from last console generation when we were using the Wii remote’s intuitive pointer controls.

Futhermore, there’s a real lack of creativity with Game & Wario.

Too many of Game & Wario’s games lazily rely on “tilt-sensitivity” as a gameplay mechanic. “Skiing” asks players to tilt their controller in different directions to guide Jimmy through slopes. “Ashley” asks the player to tilt the GamePad in different directions to help a witch avoid obstacles. Since Ashley only offers three stages — all slow moving with very little action– there’s very little reason to keep coming back to this. I’ve seen developers put more effort into free browser games than what’s found in “Ashley”. Then there is “Kung Fu” which asks players to tilt the controller to determine where your character lands. This is by far one of the dullest games in the entire compilation.

Tilt-sensitivity is not some unique innovation anymore — it’s old news. It’s boring and completely normal at this point. We’ve already seen plenty of games use tilt-sensitivity on the Wii last generation. We’ve seen plenty of mobile games on tablets and smartphones use tilt-sensitivity. Star Fox 64 3D demonstrated tilt-sensitivity on the Nintendo 3DS. We’ve seen tilt-sensitivity on the Game Boy Advance and  Game Boy Color with WarioWare Twisted, Yoshi Topsy Turvy, and Kirby Tilt N’ Tumble.

Do you remember the mini-games in 2004’s Super Mario 64 DS? Those mini-games had more creative ideas and usages for dual screens/touchscreens than most of the mini-games found in Game & Wario.  You heard me correctly. Super Mario 64 DS mini-games like “Bo-Bomb Squad” and “Sort n’ Splode” offer far more replay-ability. I’d rather be playing those games instead of this snoozefest.

It’s difficult to recommend this game to anyone looking for a good multiplayer party title. Out of sixteen mini-games, there are only four multiplayer games, and only two of them are worth replaying more than once. The best multiplayer game out of the bunch is “Fruit” which allows up to five players. In Fruit, the first player controls the GamePad to randomly select a player within the crowd to control as a thief. The thief’s goal is to steal apples while not getting noticed by other players viewing the television screen. To a lesser extent, Sketch is another decent multiplayer game, but it’s nothing more than a Pictionary clone where players take turns drawing pictures on the GamePad.

The other two multiplayer mini-games, “Islands” and “Disco,” are rather boring in comparison. Island asks the player to launch Fronk creatures at a target, but this mini-game suffers from many of the same precision problems as “Arrow”. Disco is a decent game where players send each other musical notes to hit in a rhythmic pattern, but it can get tiresome rather quickly.

Some people believe that it’s unfair to compare Game & Wario to “WarioWare”. They’ll try to convince you that Game & Wario should be treated as it’s own thing. But I find this to be somewhat amusing because the best mini-game is “Gamer”. In Gamer, the goal is to play WarioWare Micro games while watching out for your crazy mom. That’s right! Ironically, the best mini-game in Game & Wario is the one that reminds people of WarioWare. When you play Gamer, it makes you wish that Wii U had received a real WarioWare game instead of whatever-the-hell-this-is.

Game & Wario feels like a bunch of low effort tech demos that were cobbled together with very little thought on how they all fit together as a whole. The experience doesn’t feel cohesive, and the quality of the mini-games are inconsistent. Everything feels like a major step down from brilliant titles such as “WarioWare: Smooth Moves” and “Rhythm Heaven Fever”. It should have remained as pre-installed software instead of being transformed into a retail package padded with filler.

Wii U owners deserved a better game from producer Yoshio Sakamoto.

Rating:

five-stars