‘WarioWare‘ has always been a stark, fresh experiment into just what constitutes a ‘videogame’, throwing endless micro-games at the player to be understood and bested in just a handful of seconds. To be able to distil the essence of play into an activity that that’s over before it’s really begun is really quite special, and it’s always been a joy to behold and partake in with Wariogames of yesteryear. Warioware Gold is a celebration of that storied history, slapping over 300 of the series’ best games onto a single cart.
Warioware Gold trusses up what could have otherwise been a shameless cash in, with a full-blown, fully voice-acted story about… well, a shameless cash-in. Wario’s out of Pizza money, and to make a quick buck he extorts the easily duped gamers – his words, not mine – into forking over money for mindless microgames. He tricks his ‘friends’ – the colourful cast of characters that have enlivened every Warioware game to date – into creating the games and sits back to watch the coins roll in.
Each character has a little story of their own, from rap battles to a fierce virus-versus-medicine war happening inside someone’s body, but it’s mostly senseless framing for the minigame parade. It doesn’t tie into the gameplay at all, but it’s all entertaining enough not to care. Kids are going to love the goofy antics of Wario and co., whilst older gamers might find the cutscenes beginning to grate after a while. As nice as it is to see Nintendo stretch their legs when it comes to voice acted cutscenes, these brief vignettes still managed to get in the way of the rhythm of the game.
And what a game it is – though that should come as no surprise. Considering Gold is a ‘best-of’ for a beloved series, getting to play through all the favourites again is predictably enjoyable. If you’re an absolute Warioware nut you’ll feel altogether too comfortable with the proceedings, however, and you’ll be able to breeze through most of the familiar challenges.
From plucking nose hairs, assembling robots, separating cakes and snakes, defending yourself against watermelons and a whole host of ever increasingly bizarre tasks, Warioware Gold truly has it all. The series has always been known for its madcap microgames, and Gold truly mines every entry for the best of the best. Being on the 3DS, the game is able to play host to a variety of gametypes that previously made up entire instalments. You can use the gyro sensors of the system to lean left and right to control rolling balls or skiiers on the slopes, use the face buttons and D-Pad for some truly old fashioned Gamecube-era Warioware or grab a stylus and touch your way to victory.
My only gripe with some of these games – especially when they’re presented in their control categories – is that they can feel a little samey. There’s only so many ways to interact with a microgame when all you can do is tilt left and right. Later on the game finally allows you to mix the games up and the constant switch between control styles really keeps players on their toes and stops the games feeling repetetive– especially when Wario screws you over and doesn’t warn you how to control the next game. It’s frantic times like this when Warioware feels a little unfair – and it’s at its absolute best because of it.
Warioware has always flirted with a myriad collage of styles and aesthetics, some ugly and simple, some beautiful in their brevity, and strangely in doing so the series has cultivated a look all of its own. Warioware harkens back to countless other games – including brief actual gameplay moments from some of Nintendo’s most beloved series such as Mario and Zelda –and a lot of the joy of the series comes from recognizing these cameos and nailing a challenge immediately because you’re intimately familiar with the source material. In this way Warioware pays homage to a rich legacy, whilst never being afraid to poke fun at Nintendo themselves and the medium of videogames as a whole. A large part of this is thanks to its snappy, instantly recognizable visuals, and here it looks better than ever.
Aurally the game is a triumph as well, with tense music between rounds that builds and quickens as the microgames come faster and faster, demanding more from your reflexes. The score is full of little winks and nods to the games Warioware is ripping off too, along with a fun soundtrack of its own that is playful and goofy in equal measure. The voice acting is good, and fits the overly caricatured cast of zany individuals, though a couple of them rubbed me the wrong way – Wario included. He sounds exactly like I always imagined the villainous cousin of Mario to sound – but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“WarioWare Gold” is a great celebration of a series quite unlike any other. Since their inception in 2003, Wario’s microgames have been fun, demanding and wonderfully fresh – though if you’re a diehard fan you might be a little too familiar with the games to get the most out of the package. Warioware has always been a great anti-game, something wacky and instantly fun to come down from the lofty heights gaming is so often trying to reach nowadays.
Sometimes, it’s refreshing just to pluck a nose hair from a thankful individual in three seconds or less. Warioware Gold understands that – that fun should be at the heart of our medium – and in collecting the best games the series has seen to date, it delivers on this value time and time again.