Thursday, January 25, 2007

Review Day -- Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

Overview
This is, without a doubt, the craziest game I have ever played. Sure, Milon's Secret Castle had a boy in pajamas with an umbrella shooting bubbles at dragons, and Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist required you to collect a horse's fart in a paper bag, but neither one can hold a candle to the latest game in the Wario Ware series. The developers were obviously in an altered state of mind when they created this.

Gameplay
By now, everyone is familiar with the concept of the "mini-game", a small simple contest that forms the basis for games like Mario Party, or add optional fun things to do in games like Zelda. Wario Ware takes this concept one step further by introducing "micro-games". Every micro-game lasts five seconds or less, and generally involves a very simple combination of timing and movement. The game is played with the main Wii Remote (although you can unlock some extra games that use the Nunchuck attachment at the end), and every micro-game requires you to hold the Remote in a different way. The goals are varied: you might be hitting a white guy with a baseball bat in one game and putting an alarm clock through a cheese grater in the next.

In Story Mode, all of the forms are taught through a series of nonsensical storylines about discoing cats and cheerleaders. Micro-games are thrown at you with progressive difficulty and speed until you reach a final boss level which requires you to master the latest form. Because words don't do it justice, I've included a gameplay video so you can see exactly how a thirteen-level story might play out. The second video is the cinematic that shows when you successfully beat the Story of Jimmy P:

Gameplay Video (3 MB WMV)
Story Mode Cinematic: Jimmy P and the Disco Cats (5 MB WMV)

Once you've beating the Story Mode (and it won't take longer than a couple hours), you unlock a hot-seat multiplayer mode, several standalone mini-games, and Endless Mode, where you replay a Story and the pace gets faster and faster until you collapse in a heap on the floor. New micro-games appear from time to time, and the goals increase in difficulty as well.

Graphics and Sound
Sometimes the graphics are crap, but it's intentional. The hyperkinetic pastiche of doodles, 3D renderings, and clip art are part of what gives this game its tone. The music and sound are perfect.

Fun Factor / Replayability
The Story Mode game is over very quickly, but its purpose is really just to show you how to play. The real replayability comes in Endless Mode or Multiplayer Mode. Because the moves are so easy and so ridiculous, this is a game you can pick up for a few minutes at a time. It's also simple enough that anyone can jump right in, even if they don't know how to play. The instructions for every micro-game are always one or two words, and the motions are almost always intuitive. Occasionally you'll run into problems where the Remote moves out of the detection field of your TV and you'll lose a game trying to make it reappear, but this is a problem with the Wii control system in general, and not this specific game.

Bottom Line
Definitely worth the $50 price tag, even moreso if you entertain a lot. Even just a rental to get through Story Mode will make for a very enjoyable afternoon. I tend to cringe when movie and book reviews call something "hilarious" (especially when the ad copy is written by the same company that made the movie) because humour is so subjective. In this case, I can honestly say that I found this game to be both fun and hilarious.

A perfect heist gone wrong
New fame for the putting parakeet
Juror sips vodka throughout trial

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 5 comments


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