Minigame compilations are a hard sell, in most cases. The games need to be interesting in their gameplay, visuals, and overall presentation in order to stand out from the rest. If you think back to the Nintendo Wii catalogue of games, a lot of the shovelware that was found in the super deep discount bins in Wal-Mart locations across the globe were exactly that: minigame compilations. A lot of those games feature similar watered down visuals and milquetoast gameplay loops that just don’t hit the mark. Minigames are supposed to be fleeting moments of joy or frustration. You know a game is designed well when winning is just as fun as losing. However, the issue with most of these compilation style games is that even winning isn’t very fun at all. Mario Party was obviously the cream of the crop when it game to minigames. There were a lot of Mario Party clones out there, but none of them had the magic or sheer fun factor that Nintendo’s super popular series had. I’d say 99 percent of the swings taken at the genre had been misses. What’s shocking is that there was already a terrific little game out there that these developers didn’t take inspiration from, and they should have — WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, released in 2005 in North America on the GameBoy Advance.
Nintendo was (and is) the king of this genre. WarioWare introduced the concept of microgames. That’s right, even smaller than minigames. Mario Party games often had several dozen minigames that often took a minute or two to complete. In between games you’d roll dice and move across the game board to collect coins and stars. WarioWare decided to take that concept, and make those games even faster. Games in WarioWare often take 4-5 seconds to complete. Once you’re done a game, you have about a three-second buffer until the next one starts. It creates this feeling of breakneck speed that is not found in games like this. The more games you win in a row, the faster the game gets. This rings true for every entry in this series and is the main gameplay loop. I always found the series to be a tough sell back when it was a single player handheld experience. However, we are in 2023, and Nintendo has really prioritized making multiplayer gaming as easy and approachable as possible. Thank goodness for that because games like WarioWare: Move It! on the Nintendo Switch should be played with as many people as possible!
WarioWare: Move It! boasts an impressive 223 microgames to play. The vast majority of the games are completed in under 10 seconds. You will be able to play most of the games through the single player campaign. There isn’t really much of a campaign to speak about. The main story is finished in just over an hour. Wario and his extremely likeable group of friends are getting into mischief on this remote island. Each level, if you will, consists of 10 or so microgames a piece. They then conclude with a bossfight, which is just a longer microgame. These boss encounters are closer to the 1 to 2 minute mark. The thing is, they aren’t actually difficult at all, so don’t expect a challenge from these “fights.” Same goes for the microgames. It’s kind of hard to balance difficulty in a very small game that utilizes motion controls.
The games are intentionally silly and are designed to make you look silly while playing them. Each level you’re introduced to a few new forms. The forms are just stances and positions in which you need to hold the Joy-Con in order to play the games properly. It checks that you’re actually holding the controllers properly, so you actually have to do exactly as the game demonstrates in order to play. Some games require the “Choo Choo” form. That’s where you put your arms to your side and bend your elbows upward so your thumbs are facing the sky. Those games require the motion of a train wheel moving in order to beat them. One of my favourites was the “Hand Model” form. In this stance you hold out your hands, palms facing upward, and place the Joy-Con on top. Some games require you to flip your hand, some require you to drop the controller (hope you have a strap for your Joy-Con, I could only find one). It’s fun and inventive! Not many games out there ask you to drop your controller. Maybe do that one sitting down to avoid any major damage. There are 18 forms in total, so finding which one you like the best is actually pretty fun. I groaned at a few of them, but that was mostly because I was feeling lazy.
The main reason you’re should buy WarioWare: Movie It! should be for how good it is in a party setting. Party Mode is the multiplayer section of the game. There are a handful of modes within Party Mode that are fun to play even if it’s only you and your roommate that you asked to play like two days in advance. We had a blast! Galactic Conquest is a small board game that has you playing head to head microgames in between each roll of the dice. The vast majority of spaces you land on actually have negative effects, and it causes the lead to be thrown around between the two players. It’s actually a lot of fun and over pretty quickly. But given how fast the game can turn around, you will typically want to play it more than once. Listen To The Doctor! was probably my least favourite mode to play. You are told to do a certain action by the doctor character, and whether you do it or not, the other people you’re playing with can applaud for you. The idea is to applaud when you do it right, but you can mess around and applaud for people who failed. The winner is the one with the most applause. You gotta play this one with an honest group of people. Go The Distance is a head to head boxing game where instead of throwing punches, you guessed it, you play some microgames. This was my favourite as it was as close to the good ol’ fashioned WarioWare experience I know and love. The other modes I didn’t spend as much time with, but that was because one needed 4 or more players (The “Who’s In Control” Show,) and I didn’t care for the other mode (Medusa March.)
Where WarioWare shines is its presentation, music, art-style, and characters. Leave it to Nintendo to introduce like 20 brand new, equally loveable characters in one series. As far as I’m aware, not a single one of these guys has their own game which is a shame. WarioWare is a spinoff of the Mario series, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t make a spinoff of a spinoff, but I really do think they each deserve some special love from Nintendo. Fan favourites like Ashley, 9-Volt, Cricket, and Jimmy T all have major protagonist vibes. I hope one day I get to play a great 2D platformer starring the super stoic and serious Ashley. Unfortunately, I don’t think that day will come. But, enough harping on things we don’t have. What we do have is a stunning game filled with the most charming cast of characters, stunning colours and one of the wackiest upbeat soundtracks you’ll hear this year. It’s impossible to play WarioWare: Move It! without having a huge smile on your face.
If you’re in the market for a new game to pull out at a party with your loved ones, then WarioWare: Move It! is a pretty safe bet. I would say the biggest thing that detracts from this game’s longevity is that the games do get fairly repetitive. You might be playing a different game every few seconds, but you don’t have much opportunity to get good at any of them. That could be seen as a positive if you and everyone else are drunk enough. Having everyone on the same sort of skill level is good for a party setting, but there isn’t really any competitive skill to be learned. Swapping between the 18 forms does allow for the gameplay to be shaken up quite a bit, but you soon realize that you’re doing the same motions for most of the games, and it can take you out of the fun of it all once you hit that level of familiarity. However, if you’re like me, you’re probably not going to be playing this game for hours on end in your free time. You’ll probably bust it out if some friends stop by, or if you’re in a large group and want to get everyone in on it. With the ridiculousness of the forms you need to take, the noises you’ll make while flailing around all over the place, and the friendly cussing that comes flying at you when you beat your friends – it’s very easy to find the fun. WarioWare: Move It! may not win any Game of The Year awards, but it’ll definitely be Game of The Party.