I was caught off guard by the last Wario title, and the fat maniac is back again in WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, a Game Boy Advance title like no other.
Some games give you time to practice the controls. Some games tell you the rules of their world. WarioWare gives you five seconds and a one-word clue to figure out what to do before you fail.
Sounds pretty good, actually.
While watching television, Wario is inspired to make his own video game. Other games are getting recognition and sales, so why not my game as well? Off he races to the shops to buy himself a computer and hatch a plan.
No single screen in WarioWare looks great. It all looks like it was drawn very quickly, very simply, and coloured with the brightest hues available in their paint program, but don't be fooled. When the game gets going, you'll be thankful for its simplicity.
Wario jumps into a boom box (why wouldn't he?) and the music starts pumping. Something is about to happen, but I haven't got a clue what, until 'Stop me!' appears on the screen, and a second later, a turntable with Wario on it starts to spin.
"I hope it's A, it better be A..." Sure enough, a jab of the A button stops Wario in his tracks, mini-game complete.
This is WarioWare in a nutshell, only the nutshell is somehow bigger and more complicated than WarioWare itself. All you do is get ready for a clue as to what you're doing to appear on the screen, and then, based on what you see, work out how that clue relates to the imagery, and what buttons you might need to press in order to do the thing.
You can make some mistakes and keep going, but make too many and you'll have to do the sequence of challenges again. Given that they all take literal seconds to complete, it's no big deal when you do mess it up, and I suppose it's useful to get you in the zone, ready for when the mini-games speed up.
References to previous Nintendo games, as well as common daily activities and sports all make an appearance in seconds-long bursts of gameplay. It's amazing how little you need to convey to a player in order to get them to do something. Even if you fluke your way through a challenge, you were on the right lines - it's just that your reactions got to the solution before your brain did.
Beating one string of challenges unlocks another character, and with them, yet more mini-games, themed in some way. Jimmy here, despite looking like a disco dancer, challenges us to some sporting mini-games.
You could probably work out what I was doing in most, if not all of those screenshots, but they just don't do WarioWare any favours in showing what this game plays like, so here's the third character I was introduced to, Mona, as she desperately tries to make it in to work on time.
It doesn't make much sense, does it, and it looks quite bad, certainly in my opinion, and yet this stupid little game is quite the time sink, as you try - and fail - to guess and what ridiculous challenge is going to come next.
There are more than 200 games here, according to Wikipedia, along with longer boss fights to finish off each section. That's enough to keep you busy and entertained, isn't it? Even if it isn't, WarioWare is simple enough for pretty much anyone to give it a go, whether they expect to be able to get through them all or not.
The more you progress through the terribly basic story, the more wacky mini-games you'll see, and I'm sure you'll be able to find your favourites. Maybe those that are well-drawn, or perhaps the references to other games. You might like to absurd ones that make no sense whatsoever.
I don't quite know what the replayability of WarioWare is like, having not yet finished it. I imagine that once you've seen and done it all that there's probably no reason to stick around, unless you have literally nothing to do, happen to have a Game Boy Advance with you, and want to bust out 10 games that last five seconds.
But it's worth a bash. Literally no harm in spending five minutes with this title, during which you'll have played umpteen games. Well, 'games' in a loose sense of the word...
Ideas for mini-games were drafted onto post-it notes, and the whole game was developed on the side until there was enough of a game to show to management, who OK'd the idea and set out to make something more significant of it, casting Wario because "he's idiotic".
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, developed by Nintendo R&D1, first released in 2003.
Version played: Game Boy Advance, 2003, via emulation.