Good as Gold
The original WarioWare for Game Boy Advance was a collection of microgames – three- to five-second challenges that you would play in succession – ranging from silly to utterly insane. Later entries in the series took advantage of unique gimmicks; WarioWare Touched used the Nintendo DS’ touch screen for its fast-paced trials, and WarioWare Twisted had motion-controlled games that utilized the GBA’s gyroscope. WarioWare Gold embraces this legacy as greatest hits compilation including over 300 microgames representing these different control styles.
Once again, Wario is up to his usual money-grubbing schemes. This time, he proposes a video game tournament, charging high fees to entrants while tricking his colleagues into making the games for him. The cartoonish artwork and cutscenes featuring Wario and “friends” are as charming as ever, and they’re greatly enhanced with full voice acting. The voice cast does a wonderful job highlighting their characters’ quirks and making their individual silly stories shine. The showstopper was Charles Martinet speaking entire lines as Wario, who manages to sound even more psychotic with fully dialogue. Watching the ridiculous story unfold motivated me to re-experience these greatest hits.
Much like Mario Party: The Top 100 and Rhythm Heaven Megamix before it, WarioWare Gold mostly features content that was previously seen in the series’ older entries. Approximately only a sixth of the 300+ microgames are novel. It’s not a bad ratio of new to old, but it’s certainly not as exciting as a wholly original game. Regardless, this is the largest collection of microgames, eclipsing the second biggest by nearly 100. In addition, the whole package has a refreshing coat of paint, thanks to its improved presentation and multiple playstyles.
The microgames, even if they’re familiar to veterans, are as fun as ever. Each one only lasts a few seconds, and the challenge lies both in figuring out what to do and accomplishing it within that tight timeframe. For instance, one microgame might simply tell you to “Dodge,” and you’ll have to quickly press the “A” button to make Wario jump over a hot dog car. Other games have you mashing a button to shut the door on a solicitor, rotating your Nintendo 3DS to trim fingernails, and using your stylus to unroll toilet paper. And no WarioWare game would be complete without the obligatory nose-picking game. You experience these ridiculous sequences by playing through each character’s game selection, each tasking you to win a set amount of microgames (usually around 10-30), and beat the slightly longer boss stage that follows. Part of the charm is flashing through each game one after another at lightning speed. Twitch-like reactions, expert timing, and an understanding of the game’s absurd humor are required, as the speed and difficulty only ramp up over time.
There is a wonderful variety of microgames, divided into several themes, like fantasy and sports. Of course, my favorite is the Nintendo category, which features bite-sized challenges from beloved titles like Super Mario World and Star Fox. Fans of the Big N will be pleased to know that this category hosts many of the new microgames, and it’s a treat to see representation from Pushmo, Super Mario Maker, and the Nintendo Switch itself. The games are also divided into three main control styles: buttons (mash), gyroscrope motion (twist), and touch-screen. The different control schemes keep the game fresh and recall the franchise’s legacy. The best parts are the later challenges that mix together all three playstyles, plus a bonus one that uses the 3DS’s microphone. It’s cognitively stimulating to engage with the 3DS from every angle as if it were a Bop-It.
There are additional modes that frame the microgame rush in even more clever ways. For example, in one mode, Wario literally blocks your screen with a wine glass or with gas from his…bottom. Another mode truly tests your reflexes by having you switch between the 3DS’ top and bottom screen to play microgames with no breaks in-between. Another highlight is Sneaky Gamer mode, a returning gem from the Wii U’s Game and Wario, in which you play through as normal but must also occasionally hide from your mom who may show up at any time to chastise you for your poor gaming habits.
The story mode only lasts about two to three hours, but unlocking every collectible more than doubles that length. You can only get them via a capsule toy lottery system, and you must complete achievement missions and play through microgames repeatedly to earn coins for the random prizes, which can get repetitious. Your mileage will depend on how much you enjoy chasing high scores. Only some of the collectibles are worth it anyway. While the simpler ones range from in-game musical records to a museum of Nintendo products, the studio provides an unexpectedly fun opportunity to redub any of the character voices during cutscenes. The true prizes are the bonus arcade minigames. Between feline parodies of Metroid, the fan-favorite Pyoro, and a surprisingly deep card game, these slightly more substantial offerings provide meaningful diversions to the chaos.
WarioWare Gold may not have many new microgames, but its revamped presentation, satisfying modes, and potluck of playstyles manage to keep the experience fresh. The short, rapid fire challenges are as fun as ever, and the multiple approaches to the same premise make this golden compilation an enticing option for short bursts or hyperactive binge sessions.
Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was written on DarkStation.