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• Wario Ware Inc. Mega Micro Games

developed & published by Nintendo/2003.05.21
1 player/cartridge/GameBoy Advance, Gamecube

Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Microgames (Mini Game Mania in Europe) capitalized on a game genre that arguably first appeared on the SEGA Saturn in 1998 (Segata Sanshirō Shinken Yūgi). Containing 200 microgames, two dozen full-fledged minigames, and one or two complete remakes, Wario Ware is all about testing your reflexes in a huge variety of strange challenges. It can be played for more than two hours or for less than one minute at a time, and the player will accomplish something – perfect for gaming on the go on the GameBoy Advance.

Wario’s Get Rich Quick Scheme

One day Wario is picking his nose while watching tv, and sees how incredibly successful game development can be. Being the greedy thug that he is, he decides to gather his friends (the strangest group you’ll ever encounter) to create as many games as possible in order to cash in. The result is Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Microgame$. Each of Wario’s friends has a range of challenging microgames centered around a specific theme (sci-fi, sports, nature, realism, retro, etc.) and a storyline. Each of Wario’s friends must be challenged and defeated before the final confrontation with Wario can take place.

Forget mini-games, these are MICRO-games!

Game play is deceptively simple, often requiring only a single button to play, yet demanding a keen sense of timing and quick reflexes. Half the fun is simply trying to figure out what to do in each game. Be it sticking a roving finger up a nose, shaking hands with a dog, working your way through a maze, or playing segments from classic Nintendo games, if you can think of it, you’ll probably do it in Wario Ware. As you win more and more of the games, they increase in speed and difficulty – requiring faster and better timing and reflexes in a shorter amount of time. In a sense, the game play is very similar to the old Game & Watch games Nintendo put out during the 1980s, always starting off simple but by the end testing even the best player’s skill.

Boss Stages

At the end of a series of microgames, a challenging Boss stage awaits. These are like the microgames but are longer and present more varied challenges. One of them plays like a vertically scrolling space shoot-em-up, another is a parody of Nintendo’s classic boxing game Punch Out!!.  And once you’ve encountered a game, you can play it whenever you want by accessing it on the game grid. This allows players to practice microgames and possibly achieve a high-score. Like Game & Watch, microgames on the game grid become faster and faster until the player simply can’t keep up. If the player can grab the high score on every single microgame, two extra mini-games become available.

Style to Spare

Where Wario Ware ups the ante is with its incredibly diverse, hand-made style. This isn’t just Game & Watch – its Game & Watch on crack for the Attention Deficit Disorder generation. Almost every game and character storyline are guaranteed to make you laugh. And speaking of style, each microgame is designed with a unique approach. Some are simple line drawings (often smoothly animated), while others are digitized photos of people, animals, or objects. Only adding to the insane variety are three distinct levels of difficulty for each minigame, often featuring a different visual element. Each game also rewards the player with a funny payoff for both winning and losing a game, to the point where it’s actually fun just to see what happens when you fail. Equal attention was paid to the game’s bizarre soundtrack and sound effects, which add to the game’s zaniness.

The game proved popular enough that Nintendo ported it to their home console at the time, the Gamecube.  Unfortunately they didn’t update the graphics or really add anything to the experience, so it didn’t translate very well.  Since then, more successful sequels have been released on the GameBoy Advance, Wii, and DS – all of which put a new spin on the formula.

Quick Run Down

PROs:

  • Perfect for short bursts of fun on the go
  • Makes the most of the premise with over 200 micro games
  • Distinctly “hand-made” graphical style
  • Funny characters and stories
  • Dr. Mario and other bonus games

CONs:

  • At first glance, objectives can be difficult to decipher
  • Gamecube version adds nothing new

One Sentence Review: 5 second microgames put your reflexes to the test in this weird but highly enjoyable portable game.
One Word Review: Addictive.

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