He’s had a little bit of a break from us but now our Jake is back! With, er, a game that went under most of our radars. Nintendo are the masters of minigame compendiums (Mario Party, I’m looking at you) but how does the microgame-oriented WarioWare: Smooth Moves! stack up? If you like this be sure to check out Jake’s retrogaming videos.
Back when Wii consoles weren’t gathering dust in cupboards and were instead entertaining families across the world, Nintendo were pushing the capabilities of the Wii Remote and its
motion controls. In 2009, Intelligent Games released a title that had players using this funky little peripheral in the most creative and humorous ways yet, and it was none other than
WarioWare: Smooth Moves! Aptly described as “the best game to play while drunk” by some bloke who worked at a game shop that I spoke to many years ago, Wario’s outing on the Wii
is easily one of his finest, and nuttiest, titles to date.
One day, in Diamond City, Wario ends up being robbed of his snacks by a weird creature. After chasing it back to a nearby temple, he finds an odd bit of treasure: the Form Baton
(which suspiciously looks like the Wii Remote). This weird little stick makes people want to move their bodies in wacky ways. For a game developer like Wario, this turns out to be a
huge money-maker of an idea, so he calls his friends to help him make another batch of his trademark ‘microgames’.
So, what the heck is a ‘microgame’, anyway? Well, think of a minigame… but smaller. That’s right, even smaller. They can range from 5 to 10 seconds, and you’ll need to complete the
specified objective on-screen before the time runs out ends. These are thrown at the player in rapid succession, with a few seconds break in between each. You’ll have a limited number
of lives to last you until you reach the boss microgame, which is a lot more complicated and challenging than the normal microgames. If you complete it for the first time, you’ll win the
stage. Otherwise, an additional life will be rewarded, as you continue to play the games as they get faster and more difficult. If you run out of lives, then it’s game over.
So that’s pretty much how the formula of the WarioWare series works. In this title, each stage features microgames that specialise in a small number of Forms, which are different
ways of holding and using the Form Baton. Brief, informative tutorials will pop up to explain how these work, and they’re exceptionally bizarre and funny to hear.
For instance, one Form is called ‘The Remote Control’ and there are microgames that use this one in every stage. You will need to point the controller at the screen, though what you
need to do will depend on the microgame at hand. Some will have you flipping pancakes. In others, you need to shoot targets, shave facial hair, or even pick a nose. The various Forms
require you to hold the controller over your nose, by your side, on a flat surface, tilted upwards, and, in one specific stage, with the Nunchuk (known in-game as the Balance
In total, there are 19 different Forms and 205 microgames. It may sound a bit daunting, but the vast number of forms and microgames to play with the little time to prepare in between
(don’t worry, you’ll be notified which Form is required before each one starts) just adds to the frantic nature of the game. It’s a very unique feature that helps the title stand apart from the
others in the series, forcing you to wave your entire body around in wacky ways. The microgames in question are often exceptionally strange and very funny, with some catchy
tunes and eye catching visuals (drawings, 3D models to 8-bit sprites, etc.) to go alongside. Plus, your Mii characters will even appear in a few of them.
Admittedly, it’s a pretty short game, like the rest in the series. You could beat all of the main stages within a couple of hours. Thing is, there’s a lot of replayability to be had with this one.
Completing the high scores will unlock full-length minigames, which are extended versions of the microgames. You’ll have one chance to see how many points you’ll reach before losing.
Then there are bonus stages that mix up all of your unlocked microgames, albeit with a few additional twists (higher speed, no Form cards, etc.). One stage will have you trying to move
as much as possible to burn off calories during them. It’s a smorgasbord of fun, and it’s always worth revising in order to try and unlock everything.
The game heavily relies on the motion sensor that you need to pop on top of the monitor. It tends to pick up movement accurately, though there are times when you might end up
pointing the controller a bit too far to the edges; the game will jam the cursor in the corner of the screen as a result, which could cost you a life. There’s also a few rare microgames that
just don’t seem to pick up nearly as much movement as you’d hope, which can be frustrating. Also, the sound effects that come through the Wii remote sound like crackling
farts and hardly all that immersive, so you’d best turn that feature off entirely. Otherwise, the whole thing works pretty damn well.
There are indeed multiplayer modes in WarioWare: Smooth Moves! Annoyingly, you need to beat the game to unlock them, so that you have microgames from each stage to play from
the get-go. Even then, each of them must be played at least once to unlock the other. While there are a few of the full-length minigames available from 2-to-4 players, these aren’t
particularly interesting, though they are accessible for pretty much anyone.
However, the other games that use the microgames are a lot more enjoyable, and still retain the zaniness of the single player mode. Survival mode has each player compete with one life
each; Balloon requires players who’ve failed a microgame to pump up a balloon, whereby whoever pops it will ultimately lose; Lifeline offers points to those who win microgames for a
couple of rounds, before their Miis are tied up and held over a crocodile-filled lake. Each player takes turns cutting ropes randomly (more points means more ropes), until the last one
standing wins. They’re a lot more fun to play with people who have played the game before, though these are still great time-wasters.
There were a lot of highlight titles from the Wii’s lifespan, and there’s no denying that one of the best of the bunch has to be WarioWare: Smooth Moves! The up-tempo, chaotic nature of
the series is only made more enjoyable and accessible thanks to its creative use of the Wii Remote, perfect for solo play or multiplayer. While there are some slight issues to be had
with the sensor, it’s never enough to stop all the fun to be had from swinging home runs, waving away fart gas, and dancing around like a monkey, all within the space of a few
seconds each. Wario’s games are always full of unusual twists and bizarre jokes, and this is no exception, which makes pulling out that old console to replay it after all these years all the more worthwhile.