When WarioWare: Mega Microgame$ was first released in 2002, it was like someone re-injected fun back into handheld gaming. The complete off-the-wall approach, the lack of any real goals, and the immense amount of replay value brought the game into the forefront of gaming. WarioWare: Touched! is essentially the same concept as previous installments, but uses the new capabilities introduced by the Nintendo DS.
The gameplay sticks close to the formula established in the GBA and GC versions, but rather than using the directional pad and buttons, Touched! relies entirely on the Nintendo DS's features. The two screens, the built-in mic, and touch screen are all used, and are occasionally used together in order to create some of the wierdest "microgames" ever conceived.
The player begins with a few simple games, taking no more than five seconds a piece. Easy, right? Now, picture playing nearly 180 of these in an increasingly rapid pace, and you have what Touched! is all about. Unfortunately, five seconds per game for 180 games makes for a rather short experience, and most players will find they will be able to beat the whole game in one day.
The games in WarioWare Touched! are split up into different themes of distinct control mechanics. These range from just tapping the screen, to rubbing across the screen. One specific theme puts the microphone to use, providing gamers with a variety of breath-controlled minigames familiar to anyone who has played Sega's Feel the Magic. Simply put, the player breathes onto the microphone hole located below the touch screen, and the game responds to it.
The microgames range from simple tasks, such as popping a balloon, or putting a disc into a replica GameCube and then plugging in a controller, to something as awkward as caging a duck. One of the most notable parts is a series of games that use the classic Nintendo franchises, such as Mario Bros., Zelda II, the Game & Watch series, and Metroid. For example, in one microgame, the player must use the stylus to grab a Metroid off of a NES-era Samus and drag it off her. Little add-ons like this bring great feelings of nostalgia to the long-time gamer.
The visuals in the game are usually purposely lacking in order to simplify the gameplay, which is one of the highlights of the first WarioWare game. Unfortunately, being one of only a few titles available in nearly three months for the DS should have inspired the designers to showcase that it's capable of greater then last-generation graphics, but it looks as though it came out for the Game Boy Advance. There are a few instances in which the game does show off some 3D visuals, but they are too few and far in between.
The art style in the game is inconsistent, and often times makes one feel like they aren't playing the same game than from a minute ago. This may seem a little awkward, but it works amazingly well with the style of gameplay, and actually embodies the spirit of the absolute lack of direction found within the game.
The game's sound, while irrelevant to the real gameplay experience, is nicely implemented. The music that plays throughout each level speeds up and gets more and more frantic as you play, and it syncs up with the action well. During one particular set of games there are even English voice-overs for the music, which is a nice addition.
WarioWare: Touched! has a very low learning curve, as a majority of the game can be, and often times is, explained by a one-word command, like "Stretch!", or "Cage!". The game is not meant to be difficult, because a player cannot put too much thought into how to play a certain game, else forfeiting a precious amount of the five second timer at the bottom of the screen. It's nice to see that none of the games are overly complicated, and are at just the right difficulty considering the time constrictions.
As previously mentioned, the game is short. Far too short. Fortunately, the game is infinitely replayable for high scores and the like. The average player should be able to plow through this game in a matter of hours, but luckily there are unlockables, including cool little toys that you can play around with. One of these is a harmonica that responds to players blowing on the mic, with different notes being created by use of the DS's buttons. If you ever have a few minutes to waste in between the regular duties of your life, such as a bus ride to school, then WarioWare: Touched! is the perfect game to play.
WarioWare Touched! may be very short, but considering the rest of the DS's library being currently filled with average games, it should be considered a must-have title. Graphically, the game has an overall poor presentation, but its unique and features a constantly-changing art style that helps bring it up to par. In terms of sound, the game delivers fairly well, especially when the music begins to speed up as its difficulty increases, adding to the overall manic feel of the game. Overall, Touched! is slightly less exhilarating than its GBA predecessor, but still a noteworthy addition to the series. At worst, it's a frantic and silly game that rarely shows the graphical power behind the DS, but at best it's a frantic and silly game that shows off the unique and enjoyable aspects that Nintendo's new handheld contains. Regardless, this is a fun and satisfying game that should not be passed up.