Back in 2004-2005, Nintendo saw fit to cash in on yet another first-party, money-making franchise: the WarioWare series of insane microgames that make very little sense individually, but provide an entire carnival’s worth of fun as a collective whole. However, they also did something that no-one in this world could have possibly fathomed at the time; they brought out the cartridge medium along with a built-in gyrometer. Now, by simply tilting your portable unit, you could manipulate what happens on-screen, whether it be by literally affecting the gravity of the situation or by simply shaking, rocking and of course, twisting things around until Wario and his loony gang start to turn blue with nausea.
There are more than 200 microgames to race through here, but although the number appears to reach skyscraper heights, it’s not all that much when you’re only spending a mean time of 2 seconds for each one. Quantity definitely takes precedence over individual quality here, and if you were never fond of Wario’s style of rapid-fire play, WarioWare: Twisted probably won’t turn you around 180. But it’s very hard NOT to like Twisted at all. Going through a single set of microgames that all share the philosophy of “don’t think, just move” is bound to hook even the most flat-lining introvert. Where else would you find yourself madly shaking a Game Boy or DS console as if a bird had crapped on top of it?
It could only be in a WarioWare game.
The microgames are as diverse as they are bizarre. You are gently eased into the highly interactive tilting mechanics with some slow spinning activities, but soon enough you’ll be jerking on reaction to quickly light a match, shaking back and forth to perform sit-ups, or turning the entire console upside-down to make the handyman’s work-helmet fall off. The story mode is a breeze to complete, but the real fun lies in achieving those high-scores, unlocking all the microgames that are available, and seeing how long you can go for until your sweaty, shaky hands inevitably bring about your downfall. It harks back to those good old days when the story didn’t matter (because no surprise, it sucks here) and when friends would scramble over each other just to have one more go at breaking the top score.
It’s a shame that there isn’t any proper multi-player mode to speak of then. There is a trove of goodies to unlock, some of them playable by two players holding either side of the unit, but nearly all of them as worthless as they are numerous. Seriously, how long do you think an ‘Oinker’, an instrument that mimics a pig snorting when you shake it, will hold your attention? Less than 2 seconds for me.
So it’s a really damn good thing that the main attraction of hysteria-inducing microgames is a load of light pennies that add up to a real treasure when brought together. Each set is themed as usual, with characters like Dr. Crygor providing gravity-based challenges such as tilting a bar table to slide the wine glass to the hot chick over at the other end without spilling it. And then you have everyone’s favourite hip-kid – 9-volt – providing retro-based tasks sourcing material from a wide selection of all-time NES classics; the ‘boss’ level that is the original stage 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. played out on a rotating ‘planet’ is in two words: “teh awesome”. (The inspiration for Super Mario Galaxy?) Later on, things really heat up as you’re faced with microgames that can arise from any situation at a moment’s notice, alongside some stringent time and life limits that will really test your dexterity and level of 1337-ness.
Gyroscopy sounds like it shouldn’t fit anywhere near a videogame, but then who would’ve thought that a string of nonsensical microgames sewn together would produce such a fine, albeit quirky product? The learning curve is a cinch, with the A button and some motor control being all that’s needed. Mad-cap humour is on par with that seen in other WarioWares: Mega MicroGame$, Mega Party Game$, Touched!, Smooth Moves. And with this highly interactive, jiggling way to play – clearly the portable precursor to the modern innovative wonder known as the Wii – Wario serves up yet another delicious feast that gamers who are never satisfied with their high scores, or who prefer games that revolve around plenty of action and reaction, will no doubt enjoy digging into.