Warioware: Get it Together! Review

I have been away from writing for a fair bit now, and I haven’t really been playing anything which inspired me to write. I have been playing a lot of arcade titles such as Slay the Spire and Resogun in addition to Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, the latter of which may lead to a post later down the line.

To coincide with some large changes in my life, along comes Warioware, which is as scatter-brained as I am on a day-to-day basis. As I rapidly ping-pong from one project to another, this game really feels like a stream of my own consciousness.

Anyway, enough about me. This is something that got me super jazzed when it was first announced at one of the recent Nintendo Directs. I have always enjoyed the series, from playing in the car with my old school friends as their parents drove us to a nearby swimming pool. It wasn’t until the arrival of the Nintendo DS though that I truly fell in love with the series. Warioware: Touched. What a game. Needless to say I was excited to try out the latest entry, particularly as it allows me to play with my other half – a huge bonus when sharing a TV.

Does Warioware get the series back together, or has the lengthy hiatus caused it to fall apart?

Story beat-down

As with other entries into the series, story isn’t really the strong-suit here. Wario has just finished his latest game, with the help of his team. Unfortunately, presumably through some cut corners and some brackets which were left unclosed, the game grows sentient. Plagued with bugs, the nose- shaped console sucks the designers into the world they themselves created. It is then up to the crew to find one another and find a way to escape this poorly constructed digital world.

The structure is a series of small, self-contained levels designed by different members of the Warioware cast. These range from Mona trying to clean up her bedroom after her stuffed animals wreck the place on the daily, to a personal favourite of Orbulon’s, an alien who just wants to consume as much “culture” as possible to gain a greater understanding of the human race. The story mode is surprisingly short, lasting under four hours which will be a huge turn-off for some people. This isn’t where the meat of the game lies however, rest assured.

Each Warioware game usually comes with a gimmick, whether that be utalising the secondary touch screen in Touched, the Wiimote in Smooth Moves, or the gyro attachment in Twisted. This latest entry is no different and the catch here is the large cast of characters, allowing you to assemble a team to best suit your preferred play style. These vary somewhat, with characters being able to teleport, utilise tractor beams or shoot whater with a super-soaker. There are however less interesting changes, with some characters being essentially the same, but only being able to shoot projectiles in a certain direction – this is the case with Mike, Dribble, Spitz, and a few more. I don’t expect every character to be too different however, and there is enough variety here if you want to experiment a bit more with your team composition.

After all, every character needs to be able to complete every single one of the 200+ microgames, making this possible is no small feat. Some games definitely favour certain characters, but this cannot be helped.

Micro-games, macro-fun

Speaking of microgames, lets get into what a full round of Warioware actually looks like. For the uninitiated, the name of the game is to get through as many rounds as possible and beat a “boss challenge”. This “boss” isn’t necessarily a battle, although sometimes it is, it is usually just an extended minigame which is more challenging than those which came before.

Each microgame round lasts approximately five seconds, during which time you need to decode what the game wants of you and execute on that demand. For example it could be an order such as “shake the apples off”, during the miniscule time allowance your character would have to shake an apple tree, removing all the fruit before time runs out. Fail these microgames four times and you’re out. As each round progresses, the character you control will also switch, giving an additional variable to keep track of.

The real beauty in Warioware comes in it’s simplicity. These microgames are so straightforward, the skill ceiling for completing the task is so low, the challenge comes from knowing who your selected character is and not losing your cool. Each task is easy, but when strung together in rapid succession leads to silly mistakes and serves to ratchet the tension up as the speed of the challenges increases. It takes some getting used to, with a fairly steep learning curve for those unfamiliar, but the story mode adds new characters at a manageable rate, giving you time to get to grips with their quirks and settle on your favourites.

Now, these microgames do vary in quality, there are many variations on a “go here, hit this thing”. The great thing about this is that they only last 5 seconds anyway. The inclusion of some games which require you to NOT hit something are enough to keep you on your toes and preventing you from shooting or ramming anything that moves.

Helping bump up the fun factor is the game’s namesake, getting it together, with a friend, loved one, future enemy. The ethos of Nintendo getting co-op into their latest titles is always a welcome one, and rarely seems to impact the single-player enjoyment, case-in-point Luigi’s Mansion 3. Warioware is no different in this regard, it is an absolute blast with a friend. It is the kind of multiplayer chaos that can evoke a very loud response from either party, but is nowhere near as frustrating as something like Overcooked or Moving Out.

If you want something to play with a friend over a few drinks, this is absolutely made for that. I am sure that there can be some devious drinking games made off the back of this too.

Just the tip of the nose

Once you have completed the story mode, this is where the “true” Warioware experience begins. Completing the story mode unlocks a slew of other modes, the quality of which, varies wildly.

this is your online leader board. Compete with everyone online, to see who is the Wario-est? You basically enter these rounds with a team of five characters, each of which has a score multiplier on them – if you choose a character who is tricky to handle, you’ll gain a small bonus for each microgame you complete with them. This is great since it allows for competitors who play it safe to need to knock out more rounds to achieve a decent score, alternative you can go in with a squad of difficult characters and rack up the same score with fewer rounds completed. The more games you beat, the faster it gets, when you fail a game, your character is out for good, lose all of your team and you’re out. From there you can post your score online and see where you land in the grand scheme of things.

The other mode I like a lot is the Colosseum, which pitches you head-to-head against a friend. You complete the same games side-by-side and whoever survives the longest, wins. Whilst it is simple, it remains a tense and fund romp for those lucky enough to play with a friend locally. The other game modes are fine, I guess. There is a battle arena mode, which is shallow and unbalanced from what I experienced. A sidescroller game where you work together with a friend to see how far you can get. An air hockey-esque game is also present, and that is okay. These are fine additions, but they never really screamed “fun” to me. I played them for 10 minutes or so and then found myself wanting to go back to the Wario Cup or the Colosseum.

Even with a plethora of modes on offer, I just don’t find myself drawn to come back to Warioware like I did on the DS. Perhaps now that I have the disposable income to buy whatever games I want means that I am less likely to stick around for this arcade style of game or maybe my attention span is actually getting worse as I advance through my 20s. Whatever the reason, this is just how I’m feeling, as scattered and fleeting as Wario’s game design.

Assault on the senses

From an art style perspective, Warioware is all over the shop, in the best possible way. Each microgame has it’s own particular brand of weird painted all over it. Whether it is a polygonal nose turned rocket ship, or a Greek god with extremely hairy armpits sketched in the back of an adolescent textbook, it oddly comes together cohesively. Organised chaos. Fitting for a game created by Wario himself. I personally love how it can turn on a dime, from one style to another, it reminds me of those gross-out cartoons from the 90s, like Ah Real Monsters, or Ed, Edd & Eddy. It is certainly not for everyone, but I’ve been charmed by it ever since those secondary school days when I first was introduced to the series.

Similarly, from a musical perspective, it is an eclectic mix. Each suited to the stage currently being played, but jarring when stitched together in such a manner. This works in the context of Warioware, as the art style clashes do and it continues to be the only series that can successfully do so, aside from perhaps Suda51 with No More Heroes. Worth noting also, the menu theme is an absolute bop, it will worm itself into your ears and have you humming hours after playing – you’ve been warned.

Should you get it together?

After all this, would I recommend Warioware: Get it Together? I’m not sure, certainly not at the current price-point. You must adore Warioware to be able to make that endorsement, and if that sounds like you, you’ve almost certainly already committed to the purchase. The price this is on offer for is a tad too high to make a recommendation to the average gamer. Frustratingly, I am pretty sure that this will rarely be on sale, making the option to wait for a discount an unlikely solution. What I will say is, get the demo, and see if the score-chasing is for you. If that is a solid motivator for you, I would say to go for it.

If you do pick it up however, I’ll see you on the Wario Cup leaderboard, somewhere in the bottom 2% most likely.

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