– Tons (200+) of short, fast paced micro games
– Game is addicting, quick, and perfect for short or long play sessions
– Only uses the control pad and one button. That’s simplicity!
– Music and graphics are charming, with some games taking nods from old NES classics
– Insane number of unlockables, including a full version of Dr. Mario
– Story is absurd but fun, and the characters are charming
– Seriously, there’s a nose picking minigame. How can this not be great?
– Some of the microgames are duds
– Being unable to skip story sequences for the first viewing was an oversight
– No way to compare high scores online/between systems
– Eventually you run out of games
In-game advertising at its finest
WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$! is a game idea that I’m honestly surprised nobody has thought up before. Essentially a minigame (or “microgame”) collection, WarioWare sounds like a simple, basic idea that would bore someone quickly. I mean, sure there’s like a two-hundred games on here, but most of them usually only involve one button and all of the last no longer than ten seconds. How can this sort of ADHD game design work?
Well, it does. And WarioWare’s absolutely brilliant blend of weirdness, speedy gameplay, and fantastic minigames makes it one of the best games ever released on the Game Boy Advance. And, truth be told, it could very well be my most favorite game on the system.
Don’t get stomped. Simple enough, right?
The plot is hilariously self-aware. Wario, who is tired of being shoved to the side by Nintendo (despite having the honor of having the best Virtual Boy game as well as some great puzzle and platforming games along the way) decides to make his own game in order to rake in the cash. The problem is he isn’t very good at making games that are very long, so he goes for a “quantity over quality” approach. Hence, the microgame.
The “story” follows between Wario and a cast of friends that (as far as I know) were invented solely for this franchies. Each has their own theme of minigames to grow accustomed to, and once you figure out their specific style you move on to the next one. My absolute favorite is the retro gaming kid, whose minigames are usually just segments cut straight from classes NES games, sometimes with Wario inserted for no reason. Absolutely hysterical.
Nintendo: Drawing on their rich history for Wario’s fun and profit.
So what do you do in WarioWare? It’s actually a very simple concept: you have four lives (or chances to fail, rather), and the game blasts you through a boatload of microgames. Some are simply timing a button press. Others require a bit of movement. And some require both movement and a button press. Yeah, advanced tactics here.
Each game is no longer than ten seconds, some shorter. A bomb at the bottom of the screen counts down, meaning you have to learn what to do in the games very quickly and then accomplish it at breakneck speed. Which, on the final stages, can mean even a fraction of a second’s hesitation can ruin you.
Shoot the duck!
As you continue the speed ramps up and up until you fight a “boss” stage. These are usually longer than the usual stage (sometimes reaching 30+ seconds) and are a bit more challenging. Beat them and you recover one life, the difficulty for all the minigames goes up a notch, and you are at it again. There are three levels of difficulty and who knows how many levels of speed (once you max out difficulty it just keeps getting faster and faster until you lose), turning it into a frantic, insane dash.
The game works because of its brilliant blend of silly, nostalgic, and absurd all wrapped up with solid and addicting gameplay. Each microgame is so fast and instantly rewarding that failing out completely only makes you want to load it up again. High scores are saved and special unlocks are rewarded when you do particularly great. Unfortunately, there is no real way to share these scores unless you have a friend locally to show off with, but such is the days before the internet. Or WiFi, at least.
Eventually you’ll get through all of Wario’s friends, and this is where I think the best part of the game unlocks: the towers. Basically there are three infinite runs that cycle through all the minigames you’ve unlocked (you unlock them by playing and beating them across the various characters) but each has special parameters. None have bosses or the ability to recover lives.
One starts you at the easiest speed and level, and slowly ramps up. Another stays on the easiest level but on max speed, making it absolutely frantic. And my favorite, the most difficult, puts it on the hardest difficulty, one life, and with the ability for the game to speed up. It’s extremely taxing but quite rewarding when you beat your high scores. I probably sunk hours into these three levels alone, if only because they are such a fast-paced, intense rush.
You’ll have most of the games memorized, but that won’t mean you’ve mastered them.
The game also has a plethora of unlocks, including full versions of Dr. Mario and a few other NES classes (though in this case it’s “Dr. Wario.”). There’s also a ton of minigames that you can unlock that are specific to WarioWare, and while most are just throwaway jokes, several are quite addicting.
Graphically this game is delightful. Every game looks distinct and unique, whether it’s using imported photographs, altering 8-bit NES games to put Wario in them, or simply having a style unto itself. You’d think it wouldn’t mesh (with some anime themes going alongside a minigame where you have to catch a cat when it’s blinking), but somehow the bizarreness fuses into a cohesive whole. I have no idea how it works, but it’s brilliant.
The music and sounds are also frantic and appropriate, with some actual voice work for Wario and his friends. It all sounds GBA tinny (and I swear I don’t know what they are saying half the time because of it), but whatever…it doesn’t hurt the presentation.
I love how bizarre this game is.
WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$! is awesome. For someone as ADD as myself, this is like the perfect game for me. Constantly moving, constantly changing, constantly challenging. Others will also enjoy it’s frantic, breakneck pace mixed with the silliness of Wario’s game choices. It is one of the few games I ever took the time to 100% (and believe me, that took a while) and, even with my extensive GBA library, is probably the game I sunk the most time into (with Final Fantasy VI Advance and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow pulling in close).
Considering the game is currently available on the eShop for some price I couldn’t bother to look up ($10 probably, or $5), I’d say if you have a 3DS you should absolutely go buy it right now. If you sport the DS Lite or GBA SP (like I do), then carts are pretty cheap too. It’s addicting, fast, and fun. It also started a whole franchise (that, unfortunately, most installments don’t live up to the original) of silly games, so it’s got that going for it too.