Over a week later, and I still cannot believe I hold the return of WarioWare in my hands. As a former addict to the first three games on Game Boy Advance and DS, the ensuing decline in both quality and relevance weighed heavily on my soul; heck, my demoralizing experience playing Wii U’s Game and Wario at Nintendo NY — wherein maybe two other people at best played the demo (with one parent telling his child, struggling with the Shutter mini-game, that “it’s not the game for you”) and my own despair in recognizing how much it betrayed WarioWare‘s fundamental design– was enough for me to assume the series was left for dead. I was wrong to fear, for WarioWare Gold reverts back to the series formula in what’s easily the series’ best game in over a decade.
For those of you unfamiliar with WarioWare, said formula remains not only one of Nintendo’s most innovative, but easily its zaniest. It works something like this: Wario and the Diamond City gang provide their respective collection of “microgames” — rapid-fire exercises you must complete under five seconds, be it scanning groceries, performing a haircut, and yes, picking your nose. The more you complete, the faster the games fly by, and an innate addiction is born. Like Tetris, failure is inevitable, but we resist our doom just to surpass our high scores; in other words, WarioWare is prime for that “Just One More Time” temptation, perfect for pick-up-and-play.
Sniff that loogie!
Operating through button presses, touch controls, and gyro motion — the three central control schemes from the first three games — WarioWare Gold constructs itself as a Greatest Hits edition, and that’s where its success lies. True, many of the microgames aren’t original, but who cares? The game is a delightful fracas chock-full of content, with 18 stages to tackle and all 300+ microgames available in the Index. Both modes complement each other — the stages are how you unlock microgames, but if there’s any microgames giving you trouble, you can always get some practice in the Index and shoot for some high scores there, too. It’s a familiar feeling, yes, but one I relished for not having engaged with in some time.
If I hadn’t implied it enough already, it goes without saying WarioWare Gold is really, really funny. Jam-packed with the series’ patented absurdist Japanese humor, I was left howling at countless numbers of microgames new or old, be it failure by “entering” the wrong toilet stall, shoving the front door against a door-to-door-salesman, or a patty-cake game gone wrong. Yet as always, laughter is just as much a bonus as it is a deterrent: even the sped-up mechanics and sound are prone to giggling, but laugh too much, and you’ll be losing lives before you know it. Silly as it may be, it is no exaggeration to say one must retain a stern disposition in approaching WarioWare, for it is always aiming to disrupt our concentration. Again, a futile task, but we keep attempting for the pursuit of science. (Or stubbornness; you decide)
This was pretty much my face playing this game.
Said humor leads me to my next point: I remain awed at how much WarioWare Gold offers features I never knew I wanted; case in point, the voice-acting for story cutscenes. Despite the brief voice clips populating the series prior, full-on voices I never would’ve anticipated for WarioWare, and while Charles Martinet’s Wario is as hysterical as ever, this direction provides a springboard for scenarios that never would’ve been possible before, be it a full-on rapping contest or Todd Haberkorn’s out-of-nowhere take on Fronk. A couple flubbed lines and perhaps one miscast in Penny hardly detract from how funny these scenes are, and I’ve often found myself revisiting the movie section to watch them again and again. While we’re on the subject, I am forever grateful to Nintendo and Intelligent Systems for the option to dub over cutscenes; naturally, I seized the moment and had the diminutive Fronk express his desire for the flesh of 9-Volt’s classmates.
Indeed, WarioWare Gold is something of a hilarious toy chest, filled to the brim with wacky gizmos and toys to unlock, bee they classic mini-games (Mewtroid!) or random phone numbers to call in-game strangers. While they perhaps went overboard with all the alarm clocks, much of the Arcade remains entertaining, right down to Wario drawing his artistic renditions of any amiibo you scan (Isabelle and Orange Inkling being my favorites thus far). All of these are collected via coins earned from completing missions, playing microgames, and even a collector of Wario’s gorgeous art, so with all the content and unlockables, you’ll be playing for quite a while. Even now, I still aim to collect all the mystery parts, wondering what they’ll possibly build. (A classic Nintendo toy, perhaps?)
See the craziness for yourself.
With over 30 years of gaming, it’s only natural Nintendo’s vast library of games has beloved titles fall to the wayside, be it F-Zero, Wave Race, or Hotel Dusk. The thought of losing WarioWare — a series I was championed as un-cynical joy — was perhaps my most poignant Nintendo sorrow, and I can’t be happier to have it back. Even if some of Gold‘s mechanics would have difficulty translating to Switch — I imagine touch controls would require it being undocked only — it’s provided a wondrous foundation for potential sequels, and all it had to do was go back to its roots.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: 3DS; Publisher: Nintendo; Developer: Nintendo, Intelligent Systems; Players: 1-4 ; Released: August 3rd, 2018; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of WarioWare Gold.