Wario has never been the most popular Nintendo character. Overshadowed by his cousin Mario, Wario could never steal the light away. But when Wario had his first game launched in the Wario Ware series, you could see the tables turning. Now, first out of the blocks on the Wii, Wario beat Mario to the console. If Wario could pull of a great game, people would forget about the lack of a Mario title. Fail, and everyone will still ignore Wario.
The game starts off with a nice little intro that sort of explains the story, if you can call it that, behind this latest Wario title. Basically, Wario discovers an old building named the “Temple of Form”. Inside he finds some amazing treasure, the “Form Baton”. There are many ways to hold and move the baton (which are explained as you go through, under the “Form” heading) and legend has it that if the holder can follow all of the Forms, any challenge can be overcome. With this discovery, the Form craze spreads through Diamond City, and soon everybody is doing their best to master the moves. The story is pretty irrelevant; it’s not a huge part of the game, and as you progress through the single player, it seems that every stage is unrelated, until you get back to Wario.
The “Form Baton” represents your Wii Remote. There are 18 different ways you can hold the Remote, and each are explained in a very amusing style. Nearly every Form has a ridiculous name, and a ridiculous way to hold the Remote. Each new Form is also presented in brilliant style, with a voice that you cannot help but laugh at. There is always a quirky comment at the end which will make you smile, and you’ll soon realise this game is a lot of fun. One example of a ridiculous way to hold the Remote is “The Mohawk”. You have to put the Remote on top of your head and hold it there, then performing the designated task. It’s fun, funny and very clever.
The game starts off with just the one stage available, that of Wario. You’ll learn a couple of Forms, and you’ll also see the first part of the story played out. Each stage consists of a different number of microgames that you must play. You always start with four lives, and you have to complete the microgame before the time runs out or else you’ll lose one of your lives. The microgames themselves will last only five seconds, some stretching to eight. This may not sound a long time, and you’re right, it isn’t. If you’ve ever played a Wario Ware game before, you’ll know what to expect. If you haven’t, then it’s even better. You’ll start off wondering what the hell is going on, because each microgame, just before the game starts, has one or two words explaining what to do. To process the word or words, then to take in the surroundings, and then to perform the task can often take up to five seconds, by which time it’s too late. Initially it will be a tad frustrating, but once the understanding of what you have to do is found, it becomes a whole different experience. There will always be one microgame that someone won’t understand, simply because they wouldn’t have long enough to process what’s going on.
Each microgame has a specified Form in which the Remote must be held, from the possible 18. When you have the Remote in position, it’s important to remember to use it the way it was intended. That way you get a good feel for the microgame you are about to experience, and makes it slightly easier. It’s true that you can play the whole game sitting down without getting the Remote in position. However there really is no point in buying this game if you plan on doing that, since the fun is instantly removed. Standing up is the way to go, and you will probably notice, at the end of each stage, your heart beating faster than it would playing sitting down. It gets people involved and active.
There are so many microgames that I’m not going to go through them all, nor will I spoil the fun of discovering a new way to use the “Form Baton”, since that is really something that should be discovered on your own; it really will make you smile. Using the aforementioned “The Mohawk” Form, where you place the Remote on top of your head, there is a microgame that requires the player to do a certain amount of squats. It will only last five seconds, but again makes you feel more involved and will make you laugh if you accidentally stumble.
Most microgames aren’t repeated either. If they are repeated, they are usually harder, depending on how far into the game you’ve gotten. Also, if all four lives are lost, you will have to replay the stage which includes all the same microgames but in a different order. I wouldn’t say that was a fault with the game itself though, since there is only so many microgames you can include in one game. As you progress through the stage, it will reach a certain point when “FASTER!” is flashed across the screen, in which case the delay between each microgame is shortened, and you will have to be even sharper than you were before.
There are 11 stages in the game, and it is here where the game falls down. You’ll be playing away, having a great time, and all of a sudden you’ll see the credits roll. Yet you wouldn’t have used the Nunchuck once, despite it saying on the back of the box you do need it. Good job then that one more true stage appears. However, the game is already over, and the Nunchuck microgames, while good fun and enjoyable, are altogether too easy. This was one out of two stages where I didn’t lose a life. After those two stages, that’s it, the game is pretty much done. Along the way you unlock special events, where minigames feature. One such game would be a table tennis variant, where the idea is to keep the ball up for as long as possible, as the screen scrolls up and puts different objects in your way. It’s sort of like Breakout crossed with table tennis, since bricks get in the way and can be broken. It’s good for a time, but soon becomes either boring, tedious or annoying, depending on your skill. There are other games playable as well, again I won’t spoil it, but ultimately you’ll be left wanting more action packed stages.
Fortunately, after a stage is complete, you can go back and replay it. When you do this though, there is no limit to the amount of microgames playable, therefore you could go on for a long time afterwards if you possess enough skill. This makes for great leaderboard battles, and serves as a nice purpose to play the game again once done. There is some multiplayer action as well. Most multiplayer games are “hot-seat” games, whereby each player takes it in turns to play the game. Darts is a clever game and makes use of the Remote well. Pull the Remote back and throw forward, trying to line up your reticule on the desired landing point. It’s good, but one annoying problem was discovered. In real Darts, you have to finish on a double. On my first play through, I did just that. On the second play through, as an experiment, I finished by counting down the numbers. Sure enough, you still finish, with or without a double. A minor overlook I know, but frustrating as a sports fan.
Perhaps the highlight of the minigames, is one using the Nunchuck as well. For two players, one player takes the Nunchuck whilst the other takes the Remote. One player controls the character on the left, and one player controls the player on the right. Both characters are running and tied together. As you run, various obstacles are in the way, and you must jump over these obstacles to continue running, by flicking the correct controller up. If one player falls down a hole, there will be a short delay while you recover. It’s great, and is laugh-a-minute. Player 1 will blame Player 2, and Player 2 will blame Player 1. Perfect.
There really are very few negatives in the game. The single player is great while it lasts, and there is enough to keep you playing, even if you know the microgames like the back of your hand. The multiplayer minigames are OK, and are a nice time waster. Despite the story shortcomings, this game goes to show that you can have an enjoyable single player experience on the Wii. Multiplayer isn’t essential, and this game does enough, and a lot more besides, to make the player know they don’t need a companion. The game has great visual style, presented in cartoon colours with great cel-shading to look at. The way each Form is presented is brilliant, with some amusing descriptions that anyone will enjoy. The microgames themselves are excellent and well thought out, and each game really uses the Remote well in a very unique way.
If you’re struggling for a game that will keep you interested in your Wii for a while, then this is it. Yes, it’s short, but the replayability value is massive, and will provide much entertainment amongst friends as they see you adopting various positions with the Remote. Anyone can play it, and everyone will love it. It’s a game that should be in anyone’s collection of Wii titles, and one that won’t be taken out of the tray too often for a while yet. Have you forgotten about the lack of a Mario title? For now, yes.
Final Score: 9 out of 10 - Very Good (How do we rate games?)