Game & Wario (Wii U) Review
Mini game collections are probably nothing new to your standard Nintendo fan. They saw the peak of their relevance with the advent of motion controls (and as such, the Wii itself) and many could argue that they also saw their decline within the same system life cycle. For the Wii U, on the other hand, there hasn’t been a “must have” collection of titles that show off what the GamePad is truly capable of. Nintendo Land was the beginning of a step in the right direction, but didn’t have the charm or the virility that Wii Sports did with the Wii. Given that Game & Wario, another mini game compilation, started out its life as something similar to Wii Sports, but for the Wii U, many are wondering just how well it uses the GamePad and if it acts as a true successor to Wii Sports. Well, on one hand it uses the GamePad really well. On the other, it’s not particularly innovative in its approach to the peripheral and in fact is quite possibly hampered by its Wario branding. But we’ll discuss this and more later on in this review.
To start off with, it’s probably best to dispel any incorrect assumptions or expectations that might be associated with Game & Wario. First off, this doesn’t have the WarioWare moniker and it’s for good reason too – this is a collection of mini-games based within the WarioWare world but with a significantly different style and presentation. Secondly, it’s a full priced title and while we could write an entire feature article about pricing in Australia, I will keep it short and simple. Price will definitely determine whether or not you will buy Game & Wario. It’s available internationally for less than forty dollars, but locally for nearly double that price at eighty dollars. Given that price is transient in relation to gameplay and contents, it will obviously be up to the individual to discern whether this game is worth it for them or not. But I will provide a good balanced opinion on Game & Wario so you’re empowered with the knowledge to make an informed purchasing decision. So anyway, on with the review.
Game & Wario provides players with sixteen mini-games. Twelve of these are single-player, while the remaining four are multi-player only. To make things even more confusing, two of the single-player games can be enjoyed with two players instead of one. So you’ve got a total of six mini-games in which you can play multiplayer. The game exclusively employs the GamePad – which is great for those who might not own a Wii Remote but also potentially holds back the package from standing out. It’s clear this was originally developed as a pack-in and the fact that all the games use the GamePad exclusively best reflects this. Each mini-game has quite a bit of depth to it – with different tiers of difficulty unlocking as players progress. It’s not as superficial as your other mini game compilations and many players will love playing their way to new levels and new rewards.
The easiest way for me to review this package is to break it down into the games that are fantastic, the games that are okay, and the games that aren’t that great. Of course, my opinions are not always going to align with your opinions, but I would encourage discussion on your favourite and least favourite games on the forums or in the comments! Game & Wario is a package that will have a variety of opinions surrounding it, no doubt.
We’ll start off with Gamer because it’s, quite simply put, a WarioWare mini-game. Players can play through a very select set of micro games from previous WarioWare games and see how far they can get. It’s a cool game, but with a twist – your character (9-Volt) is staying up past his bed time and must hide and pause his console whenever he sees or hears his mother approaching his room. It’s a nice twist on the classic WarioWare format and the way the team has thought of ways for your mother to appear (including a frightening Ring-esque jump from the television) is ingenious too. Fast paced and frenetic. Traditionalists can choose to play with 18-Volt, who is older and doesn’t have his mother to worry about. This mode is mirrored on the GamePad which basically offers an Off-Screen version of WarioWare.
Kung Fu has Young Cricket jumping his way to Master Mantis’ temple. The Wii U GamePad provides a birds eye view of Cricket’s jumps, allowing players to guide him to steady ground, while the television shows the game from a more traditional view behind Cricket. The use of both screens is great here and tilting the GamePad alters the trajectory of Cricket’s jump. It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly fun.
Pirate is quite possibly my favourite – in it, players must stand and pivot on the spot to block arrows from several pirate ships (using the GamePad as a shield), but must remove them by lowering their GamePad in rhythm with a beat. At the end of each barrage, the game also asks you to mimic poses that Captain Wario dictates to the player – its goofy fun that anyone who loves games like Dance Central or Just Dance will absolutely enjoy playing.
Taxi has the Dribble & Spitz running a taxi service across various environments. The GamePad provides a first person view of the action, while the television displays a full map. It’s a great way to find your bearings and the use of the GamePad’s motion sensors is used to great effect for aiming at enemies.
Some of the less interesting games include Arrow, which is like a more fleshed out version of Takamaru’s Ninja Castle from Nintendo Land. It’s great but it’s nothing new. Bowling feels like a natural extension to both of these games, though it quite possibly has a limited audience. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. The game itself performs admirably though, with the GamePad being used to tilt the balls direction ever so slightly. Design is a very, very limited game that asks players to draw (for example) what they believe will be a 3cm line on the GamePad. This one can be passed around for two players, with the game hiding the first players drawing so the second player can’t just copy them. It’s a good implementation of multiplayer with one GamePad, but an unremarkable game.
Patchwork, hosted by Kat and Ana, is basically a puzzle game where players have to piece together a painting or object from pieces on the GamePad. It’s very simplistic, but to Nintendo’s credit there are over a hundred puzzles included so it’s quite substantial. It’s just not particularly enthralling. Ski has Jimmy T sliding down a slope, and the GamePad being tilted (while held vertically) to move him around – an alternate mode has the player collecting his “Ski Bunnies” too. Shutter is hosted by Mona and has players holding the GamePad up to the screen to zoom in to an environment and pick out “targets” to photograph, with players being graded on how good their photos are. This is a cool mode and I enjoyed it at first but upon reflection it’s not particularly exciting after the first few tries.
Quite possibly the worst two mini-games in the entire compilation are Ashley and Disco. Ashley sees the eponymous witch flying through the skies in a Gradius-like mini-game, where getting her close to enemies has her obliterating them with various spells. It sounds cool in theory, but it’s incredibly boring in practice. Ashley moves slowly, the GamePad is only tilted to move where she’s going and the enemies are boringly designed cookies and sweets. It was easily the worst single player mini-game for me. Bird is unlocked at the end of the game, and is a remake of Pyoro games from previous WarioWare games. It’s nice and tranquil, but also quite boring.
Disco, on the other hand, while a great idea is played entirely on the GamePad between two players. At first, I loved the idea – it’s basically Guitar Hero or Rock Band, except that one player sends the beats and notes from one end of the GamePad and the other player has to tap them on the other end. It sounds great, and is probably fun to play on more responsive hardware – but too many times did we miss notes because the GamePad was seemingly unable to pick up a large amount of inputs at once and it thus kind of diminished the impact the game had.
The great news, however, is that the other multiplayer centric games are fantastic fun! Fruit has one player using the GamePad to blend into a crowd while someone else spies on the crowd on the television to spot out who the fruit thief is. At the end of each round, the GamePad is handed over to the observer to pick out the thief. It’s very simple but it’s very fun and feels like a natural progression from the asymmetrical gameplay we saw in the Luigi’s Mansion segment of Nintendo Land. Islands has players aiming small projectiles onto a moving target to score points – think of it as an aerial mixture of bocce and darts. Sketch is your standard Pictionary game, and is also great fun to play and just what you’d expect.
Completing each of the mini-games unlocks tokens, which can then be exchanged with a bizarre chicken shaped vending machine for all kinds of items including hints, strange stories, artworks and even smaller mini games (which some keen eyes might recognise as being early Wii U tech demos from E3 2011). There’s heaps of stuff to unlock here, and I really enjoyed trying to unlock it all. There’s no point in my including a completion timer for Game & Wario in this review – you can easily breeze through the games quite quickly, but it’s a very solid mini-game collection that anyone with a group of friends could easily enjoy for a few hours here or there.
Just touching briefly on presentation – Game & Wario is fantastically presented. The now signature WarioWare artistic direction looks crisp and vibrant in full high definition, and each game also utilises an interesting artistic direction. The stand out here is the very colourful and cheery paper craft looking art style for Pirates, though everything here is very well presented and there’s nothing that feels either out of place or half assed. The soundtrack is just as wacky and zany too, so fans of previous games will enjoy this faithful transition.
Game & Wario is a good pack of mini-games that do a great job at showing what the GamePad is capable of, but I feel like we’ve seen a lot of the techniques and design choices before in games like Nintendo Land. Still, the great mini-games here outweigh the good ones, but one has to ponder where this game really is worth the $79AU pricing point that it’s being peddled at here in Australia. All I can really say is this – I had a lot of fun with Game &Wario as both a solo gamer and with friends, so that’s really all I felt that mattered. It’s a really great collection of mini-games with only a few bad ones scattered throughout, and incorporates some really clever use of multiplayer with only the use on one GamePad. It really is some great fun.
If price really carries a lot of weight in your buying decision, then subtract one point.
4 / 5