Addictive, fun, original; three adjectives you wont hear in every review associated with a Game Boy game. Wario Ware not only garners all three, but something much more. A word you'll only truly appreciate until you actually play the game. That word is 'Wow'. And even those words themselves donï¿½t do the game justice. Wario Ware is by no means a perfect game, but its ambitiously original design makes it worth a look alone.
3 second hero
The driving force behind Wario Ware's gameplay is essentially mini games. But these aren't just any kind of mini games mind you, their micro games. What's the difference? You only have about three seconds to complete each one before moving on to the next. It's more frantic than sonic with a caffeine overdose. And it is this simple concept that makes the entire game so pick-up-and-play addictive and so why-didn't-I-think-of-it original. There are about 200 micro-games in total and whether this is a small or large number to you, I'll assure you it is more than enough.
The micro games themselves were made simple, able to be completed in at most 3 seconds. Objectives range from the mundane, such as brushing a pair of teeth to the crazy, like making a crying Anime girl sniff back her snot. The game travels at breakneck speed, your only weapon your lightening fast reflexes, your only guide the zany sense of humour the game will constantly throw at you. The controls are simple, so simple in fact all you will use are the directional pad and occasionally the A-Button and each game uses these controls in different ways. The games might be simple, but that doesnï¿½t mean their easy. The more games you complete in sequence the faster the games will get, until you'll be going so eye-wateringly fast you will literally wet yourself should you slip up.
Believe it or not, there is a story to this utterly addictive madness. Wario (hence 'Wario' Ware) has called his bizarre range of friends together to create a Game Boy game. Unfortunately they all have the attention spans of goldfish on speed, so their ideas only last about 3 seconds (hence the 3 seconds). Through the actual game, you will take on different characters themed micro games, often having to complete a set number of them before culminating with a boss battle. It sounds linear, but all the micro games are randomly picked and there is so much variety and originality it's always entertaining. The different themed micro games are a joy to play, and every player will have their favourites. Themes range from sport games, sc-fi games, reality games all the way to IQ games; personally I love the Nintendo themed games which are composed of old school favourites such as Duck Hunt, Balloon Fight, F-Zero and many more.
Look at that snot go
With so much delicious variety between the micro games, graphics vary in a way that's like comparing pong to pikmin. Some games are simple stick figure affairs or emulations of NES graphics, others on the other hand are in pseudo 3D. One moment you will be making a stick figure dodge a cup, the next you'll be thrown in a three second emulation of F-Zero for the SNES. Overall the in-game graphics are good, the simpler graphics and sprites are in the name of style. And style is something that Wario Ware has a six inch coating of.
The animated cut scenes ooze with this charm, theyï¿½re packed with Wario Ware's zany, monkey like humour. The short cut scenes appear before and after you complete one of Wario's friends' set of micro games, and they really help bring some of the characters to life. They are simply animated but are colourful cartoony and vibrant, and generally are a pleasure to watch. Ultimately Wario Ware will not displease graphically, it is chocï¿½ full of simple graphics but will take you by surprise with some pseudo 3D effects. Unfortunately it's not going to make you drool either, Wario Ware's graphics are heavily stylised but ultimately donï¿½t push the system for more than three seconds.
Sounds like fun
In a word, the sound is wonderful. In these some odd 200 micro games each has their own different sound effects and many their own music. From the sounds of fruit exploding to the character voice samples, Wario Ware is an aural triumph on the GBA. Sound effects are spot on and intuitive, they match perfectly that ball you caught in your baseball glove or the laser fire expelling from your cannon. There are plenty of voice samples from Wario and company themselves, often simple cheering words and phrases like 'Good!' or 'Now you got it!' Their presence is well appreciated and can often help signal whether youï¿½ve completed a micro game satisfactorily.
The music isn't painful on the ears either. There are a number of catchy tunes that all reek with a Japanese charisma. Quite a few of the micro games have their own music, particularly some of the NES classics that come complete with their catchy 8-bit jingles. There is even some singing, which can be a bit hard to hear on the tiny GBA speakers but still sounds nice. My only real qualm with the music is with the theme song on a particular character's stage, it is an irritating mournful song which doesn't mesh with the exciting pace of the game. It is annoying to a point where I dislike playing that character's stage just because of the music. Despite this, the rest of the music, sound effects and voice samples are superb.
Addictive as crack, but how long will crack last?
Wario Wareï¿½s replay value will really come down as the deciding factor in your purchase. Wario Ware is certainly not a long game, in fact you can complete all the characters set number of micro games in a matter of hours, despite probably failing them the first time. It's a quick game if this is all you play Wario Ware for, but it wonï¿½t be. Playing each of the micro games for the first time is an absolutely magical experience that truly becomes a test of your reflexes and quick thinking, but for some reason it is still fun to play them again, and againï¿½ and again. The only games that donï¿½t stand this test of time are the boss battles, which are fun the first few times through but just become too repetitive and too long when youï¿½re completing one for the umpteenth time.
Wario Ware will have you addicted for at least 10 hours, by which you would have already completed the game the first time through in about half that time. Whether you still play after these 10 hours comes down to Wario Ware's biggest replay draw: high scores. Wario Ware is full of high scores, and it emphasises this everywhere. The game will save your high scores on every single one of those 200 micro games; the game will save your high scores on every character's themed micro games and the game will save your high scores on every mini game you unlock.
Yes, you heard me there are unlockables too. Unfortunately you will unlock the bulk of these secret games in your first play through the game, offering no real replay value except for a few harder to unlock ones that only the hardcorest of Wario Ware players will bother to unlock (so yes I did unlock them). The unlockables themselves however do make excellent diversions from the micro game gameplay and do extend the replay value even more. There are even some quaint little multiplayer games that can be played by two people on the same GBA. One controls the L-button, the other the R-button for what makes for some rather inventive, but unfortunately shallow mini games that will only hold your attention for a few minutes. I wonï¿½t spoil any of the real mini games, but you will find a few old favourites. And keeping with the pattern, the game will save your high scores for each of them.
What the replay value in Wario Ware really boils down to is whether you like beating high scores or not. You can still have a few hours of fun with the game even if you donï¿½t, but you will only truly appreciate the game if you have the personal drive to keep beating your old high scores. It is unfortunate that Wario Ware didnï¿½t put more application in to rewarding players for high scores, which really makes how long Wario Ware will entertain you up to the player alone. If you were ever addicted to the arcades and beating yours or somebody else's high scores than Wario Ware might be just up your alley and even if you werenï¿½t its still worth a look
I was hesitant about purchasing Wario Ware at first. I had heard mixed opinion about the game, most people loved it, but others would find they completed the game in one night and returned it to the store the next day. My point is Wario Ware will not be for everybody. You don't have to have the greatest reflexes to play it, nor be a gaming Einstein, all you really need to have is the draw to beat that micro game you failed last time, or that old high score you just have to better. Personally I think as long as you don't absolutely hate beating your high scores, Wario Ware will more than offer you a satisfactory replay value, heck I'm a testament to that.
Wario Ware is a very fresh experience the first few hours through, and you still wonï¿½t find an experience quite like it 15 hours later. And the game is still challenging, it has a wonderful level of difficulty that thanks to the high score emphasis really adapts to the player. The problem is like anything, the micro games will begin to grow stale after a while, especially some of the more common ones. So even if you absolutely love beating high scores, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll never get bored of it. But for the moment I have put some 30+ hours into the game, and still find it worthy to pick up and play when I'm not busy.