Although I am more partial to the Game Boy Advance than I am to the GameCube, I have wanted to see a fresh, unique GBA alternative to all the SNES ports that have plagued the system. The closest I was able to get to before was Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, but even that is becoming redundant.
Leave it to the company who made the GBA to solve my dilemma. Before leaving for E3 I read a review in Electronic Gaming Monthly for a title called Warioware Inc. Considering the pictures that were used in the review, including a black and white drawing of a finger and nose (take a guess what it is doing there), an NES-quality screenshot of Metroid, and even a crying dog, I thought the title was nothing more than an April Fool’s joke (despite the review being posted in a June issue). My thoughts of complete B.S. were rescinded when a friend of mine who owns a software store showed me his copy of Warioware. Needless to say for such a strange title, I was instantly hooked.
The producers of Warioware must be recovering from a week-long bender to come up with this idea. It seems as though Mario’s arch nemesis Wario decides to go legit, and while sitting around on his lazy rump he sees a commercial about a new Game Boy cart that is earning record sales (strange that it’s not Zelda or anything else Nintendo came out with). Having thoughts of IGN’s greed lust, Wario decides to make his own game, but is too lazy to do it himself, so he has several colleagues show off their own microgames.
What is a microgame, you may ask? They are simplistic, extremely fast tests of reflexes, skill, and hand-eye coordination. For each game that starts, you are given one simple clue of what to do (such as Jump!, Dodge!, Shoot!, Catch!, Get 5!, or my personal favorite, Pick!). Not only must you figure out what to do, but it must be done within the 5 second time limit you have for each game.
There are 200 microgames branched into eight separate categories: Sports, Classic Nintendo (NES, SNES, and even before), Strange (and we DO mean strange, i.e. nose picking, deploying an air bag, brushing teeth, frying an egg, etc.), IQ, Nature, Reality (cutting meat, shaking a dog’s paw, eating both an apple and banana, etc.), and Anything Goes (Wario’s special challenges). While they can be played at random, they can also be selected individually to practice when they start going at lightning speed.
At first opinion, after hearing the simplistic aspects of Warioware, you might be like my editor and dismiss it as being stupid (as he did when I tried to explain it to him), but try doing the same thing repeatedly, not knowing what is coming up next, and each event going faster and faster. Suddenly this becomes less of a simple game and more like a serious case of a virtual drug, one that is near impossible to put down once you get started.
Visually the game works, as it can depend on whatever microgame is played. We could have something simplistic such as the previously mentioned black and white drawing, or we could end up running a perfectly emulated copy of F-Zero, Mode 7 and all. Audio is also very impressive for such a strange package. There are times when the soundtrack brings back fond memories of the classic Commodore 64 sound chip (always a welcome return), with some other tracks even featuring lyrics (although Japanese), an impressive feat for a Game Boy Advance title.
There is one thing that should be taken into consideration while playing. If this game seems strange to you, it’s because it’s purely a Japanese theme, and we know how strange their games can be. But then again, it is the very strange titles that sometimes become good. We saw it happen with the DDR series, and now Nintendo is adding to the weirdness.
I am not a drug addict. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do anything illegal or even daring for that matter, but I will admit that I am an instant Warioware addict. Nintendo deviated from the norm of SNES ports to come up with a unique, refreshing dose of video heroin that will hook anyone who plays it, even those who are prejudiced to label it as stupid when they don’t even touch it. For those people, go back to your nerdy role playing sessions! I’ll stick with Warioware.