The 3DS is winding down as Nintendo’s flagship portable console. However, WarioWare Gold, the latest in Nintendo’s “microgame collection” series, is here to offer something for the remaining 3DS players to chew on.
Whilst Mario has been attracting all the attention with his platforming and RPG franchises, his rival Wario has been carving out his own bizarre series of games with the WarioWare franchise. These are collections of microgames, which are tiny challenges consisting of a single mechanic. They also last only around 5 seconds in length. WarioWare Gold, the newest release for the 3DS, has 300 of these microgames, consisting of new ones and classic ones from other entries in the series.
These microgames are often incredibly bizarre, and seem to be an excuse for the developers to create the weirdest thing they can come up with. Examples can include sticking a finger up someone’s nose, or helping a cat win a breakdancing contest.
Many of these microgames abruptly shift art styles or include assets from other Nintendo games. The art shifts and strange sense of humour adds to the game’s overall surreal vibe.
The microgames are done in a random sequence, doing between 15-20 or so in a row before a “boss stage”. The game’s story mode groups them into different categories: “mash”, “twist” or “touch”. Mash games utilise the D-pad, Twist uses the 3DS’ gyroscope, and Touch uses the touch screen.
I was pretty impressed with how responsive the controls were. The games which used the gyroscope especially felt fairly natural. However, I found some of the games that utilised the 3DS’ microphone to be not quite sensitive enough.
In addition, I thought it was a bit of a missed opportunity to not have any functionality for the 3D slider. I realise that very few games on the 3DS really used that to its fullest extent, but for a series all about weird Nintendo gimmicks, it was disappointing not to see even one microgame rely on it.
Each game is introduced with a very short instruction, such as “Finish!” or “Throw!” or “Deflect!” Whilst it is usually pretty obvious what each instruction means from context, some can seem kind of cryptic at first. However, each microgame can be played individually from the menu once unlocked, giving players the chance to play it over and over until they have mastered it.
“WarioWare Gold’s soundtrack and visuals are constantly moving to the beat, creating a compelling sense of momentum.”
WarioWare Gold’s incredibly fast pace makes the challenge more on reflexes than skill at puzzles. As each sequence of microgames gets longer, the time available to complete them decreases. After a certain point, the player must be able to recognise how to complete each microgame as soon as it begins, and solve it almost without thinking.
WarioWare Gold’s soundtrack and visuals are constantly moving to the beat, creating a compelling sense of momentum. After a while of playing, it is easy to fall into a kind of WarioWare trance of recognising and beating each microgame, especially after you have seen all of them and are past the point of wondering how to beat each challenge.
The 300 microgames are tied together with what can charitably be described as a plot. Basically, the ever-greedy Wario is broke and decides to host a gaming tournament to raise money, and calls all of his weird band of associates to make games for him. Each of the series of challenges in the story mode is contextualised by some event each character is involved in.
For example, rapper 18-Volt is having a rap battle with a fellow rapper who stole his friend’s games, mad scientist Dr. Crygor is running away from a crazy robot and the alien Orbulon is abducting pigs. Whilst these odd misadventures are happening, there is a subplot about a young girl called Lulu trying to take revenge on Wario for stealing her village’s golden potty. Get used to toilet humour, there is a lot of it in this game.
Something WarioWare Gold brings to the series for the first time is voice acting for each of the barely-animated cutscenes. There is something oddly disquieting hearing Charles Martinet as Wario speak full sentences. However, the performances, combined with the game’s overall weird sense of humour, were quite charming.
After the fairly short story mode is completed, various optional challenges open up for the player. These include games with modifiers, like having to watch the touch screen and press prompts at certain times, or where Wario comes in and farts, clouding the touch screen in noxious gas.
There are also high scores and missions for each series of microgames, challenging the player’s mastery and reflexes. In addition, players can always aim to top their own high scores.
There is also a wealth of cool extras that can be unlocked with coins earned in-game. These include information about classic Nintendo products, extra unlockable minigames, phones which have secret messages when you enter codes, and even the ability to redub the game’s cutscenes with your own voice.
There is also a sort of multiplayer mode, allowing players to go head-to-head to complete microgames the fastest. These extras are unlocked randomly from a sort of loot box mechanic. However, coins are earned regularly enough that it still feels rewarding.
Experience Microgame Madness!
WarioWare is one of those strange franchises out of Japan that you are either into or aren’t, and Gold probably won’t resolve that. WarioWare Gold’s weird humour, thin plot and random microgame gameplay are likely to be polarising to many gamers. However, these microgames offer an intriguing insight into how the 3DS’ gimmicks can be used for different gameplay purposes.
As a game that celebrates the weird and creative side to Nintendo, whilst also commemorating its rich history, WarioWare Gold is a fun, somewhat trippy romp. If you’re ready for some mindless fun on your 3DS, there are definitely enjoyable times to be had with WarioWare Gold.