My Favorite Games Ever – Part 6: WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!

This is it. This is the finale. And call me crazy, but I believe the greatest video game I’ve ever played is..

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!

Age I was: 14

Last attempt at playing it: Today

Would I ever play it again: Yes

I thought the idea behind WarioWare sounded dumb. A bunch of one-button “micro-games” that last between 1 to 3 seconds? Utter hogwash. So credit due to Nintendo for one of the most genius uses of “gotcha” marketing in history. You see, back in 2003 Nintendo was struggling to convince gamers to buy third-party titles on its platform instead of just their own first party stuff. My oh my, how times have changed! To try to combat this, Nintendo created their first (and I think only real) demo disc, which was distributed at major retailers. It contained demos of such third-party fare Sonic Adventure DX, Splinter Cell, Viewtiful Joe, Billy Hatcher, and Soul Caliber 2. Good choices, mostly. Sonic Adventure could officially go fuck itself, but I ended up getting all the other games.

But, that’s not why I remember that disc. I’ll remember it because if you hooked your Game Boy Advance to the Gamecube while this disc was going, you could snag a full copy of Dr. Mario (which disappeared as soon as you turned off your GBA) or a demo of WarioWare. By this point, it had been released already. I had heard EGM call it “digital crack” and saw it get 9s from IGN and Gamespot. I also heard it described as “weird”, and at age 14, weird wasn’t on my radar. But hey, free is free! And besides, this would give me a chance to see just how much I would hate it.

An hour later, I was on my way to Best Buy to buy it.

WarioWare is the best game ever made. It strips gaming to its most pure mechanics (one button, directional pad, and high scores) and then weaponizes the addictive potential of what little gameplay is left. It tests a player’s reflexes, concentration, and likelihood of one day landing a stay in the Betty Ford Clinic (Update: years after this was wrote, I ended up in the Betty Ford Clinic! SEE!). Each one of the 200 “microgames” are designed to ruin your life, and they are well designed indeed. Games have “owned” me to a heavier degree, but I never actually liked any of those games as much as this. I’ll take the month I couldn’t put WarioWare down over the almost year I completely threw away on World of Warcraft.

I still haven’t heard a satisfactory explanation for why the boss of 9-Volt’s stage (themed around classic Nintendo games) is a fucking batting cage. Yes, I know Nintendo once did an electromagnetic baseball game. That’s a shitty explanation. It still doesn’t fit the theme or the mood. Jesus Christ, Nintendo! You guys could fuck up a cup of coffee.

Sometimes it’s okay for a game to challenge just yourself. I dread to think how damn addictive WarioWare could have been if I was challenging online leaderboards. When I dusted off my old GBA copy (eschewing the digital copy I got for free because I pissed away money on a launch-window 3DS), I went to check my old scores against the world records. Couldn’t do it, because Twin Galaxies is off to check for gummy substances and their site is on hiatus. It’s just as well, because otherwise I would probably end up clearing my schedule for the month. Who has time for work and eating and boyfriends and shit when you have immortality in the form of a moderately obscure gaming record?

You’ll notice that WarioWare is the one and only game I listed in my all-time gaming top 10 that I say is still worth playing today. There’s more than one reason for that. In all honesty, I would probably have a tough time arguing against stuff like Portal, Red Dead Redemption, or Super Mario Galaxy as the greatest game ever, especially against something as bizarre as WarioWare. But what’s the difference between those games and this one? No actual end, for one thing. A lot of people have chastised me for saying I don’t want to give Banjo or GoldenEye or Shadow of the Colossus another chance, even after I’ve said that I’ve gotten everything possible out of them. It’s like someone saying you waste the cow you just butchered if you don’t eat the eyeballs and suck the marrow out of the bone. But not all games carry the burden of being something that can be finished. Not all games require the type of time investment the nine epics that preceded WarioWare in this feature need. That’s why I’m cool with playing Bejeweled over Final Fantasy VII today. One game requires five minutes of my time while I wait for Jack in the Box to finish my Sourdough Jack. The other requires 70 hours spent at home in front of my TV, time that I could use to play something brand new that still has a chance at surprising me. For those of you who can’t understand why I choose not to play it again, I don’t know how else to articulate it.

That’s what I love about WarioWare. It’s something I can play for 15 minutes, potentially beat a high score in that time frame, put down for a month, and get back to without missing a beat. Let’s put this in perspective: while researching this feature, I went through all the WarioWare games again. For the original game, I shattered my record for Dribble’s stage that had stood for 8 years, going from an 84 to a 90. It’s probably not even that good of a score (though a quick check of this thread at GameFAQs shows I fucking own most of the scores on here and am quite possibly the best WarioWare player ever. Who needs to know how to throw a Dragon Punch when you can play WarioWare?) but I’m proud.

I don’t care to hear where the inspiration for some of the games came from. I can leave it up to my imagination.

Nearly ten years later and WarioWare can still wreck my day. I went to play it for a few minutes, just to see how it feels today. Hours later, with my eyes hurting and my fingers starting to cramp, I did the only sensible thing someone who is highly capable of physically overdosing on a game could do: waited for the battery on my old GBA to die, switched the game to the Game Boy Player on my TV, and kept going. Five-and-a-half hours spent busting scores and zoning out while listening to the catchy tunes and enjoying the trippy visuals. I will never play another game like WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! Prove me wrong, developers.

But let’s not kid ourselves: even Nintendo can’t prove me wrong. They’ve put out a half-dozen spin-offs and sequels and they range from meh-able to absolutely fucking horrid. Since I just went through them, I really want to talk about them.

Mega Party Games: Can’t really comment too much on this one because I didn’t have the required three friends. However, I’ll say that it’s pretty lazy of Nintendo to do straight-ports of all 200 games, even cropping the screen to accommodate them. Why you lazy fucks!

Touched: The Nintendo DS game was the first sequel to hit stateside (Twisted came out first in Japan) and it started the trend of Nintendo using the franchise as a glorified tech-demo for whatever new system their shilling. The problem here is the games were created to emphasize the touch screen capabilities instead of being fun. Plus, not all the games are suited for a series that’s hook is accelerating gameplay. Some of the games (especially Ashley’s) are fucking impossible once the game gets whipping. I’m not being a smart ass there. I mean they literally cannot be beaten. You neither have enough time nor can the system keep up with it. Touched isn’t totally abysmal, but it’s nowhere near the original’s league. And it only got worse from there.

Mike’s stage was just stpuid. One stage requires you to make no noise at all. I find any game that can be mastered by leaving it alone in another room is not a very well made game.

Twisted: Ugh. For some reason, Twisted is held in esteem for being quirky. Well, do you know what else was quirky? The first WarioWare. All future quirkiness from the series is thus redundant. Instead, Twisted relies on a gyroscopic sensor. So did another rightfully forgotten piece of shit, Yoshi Topsy-Turvy. The game has mucho problems with centering, accuracy, and playability. Ultimately, I don’t want to play a game that doesn’t want me to look at the screen. Maybe it’s just me. MetaCritic would have me believe that, because not one person came out and said “this really isn’t very fun.” I obviously didn’t spend a lot of time with it. I beat Super Wario’s stage just once, and my latest shitty score of a 6 on Crygor’s stage was good enough to make my leaderboard. Well, I just did play through it again and I didn’t miss anything.

Smooth Moves: One of the biggest disappointments of my gaming lifetime, yet another game that was inexplicably showered with critical praise. I read a lot of it and I wondered if they played the same game as me. The game they played seemed to do what they wanted it to do. The game I played was broken. As in, it didn’t work. I’ll give you some examples: in Ashley’s stage, one of the games requires you to drop the controller and let it sway from the wrist strap. About half the time I played that stage, I lost because the game didn’t recognize the motion. Even though the only thing the game required you to do was LET GO OF THE CONTROLLER! What the hell, Wiimote? Are you in a fucking coma?

The biggest problem, besides the fact that the famous lightning-speed of the franchise is crippled by the constant shifting of handling positions, is how the motions the game needs don’t match up with the motions it would seem you should use. The motions you would use to swing a bat or operate a crank in Wii Land differ greatly from reality. Part of the problem is the Wiimote wasn’t ready to handle this kind of gameplay at this point of in its lifetime. If they had waited for the Wii Motion Plus, it might have worked. But Nintendo had to get out their latest tech demo and further stomp out the legacy of the original and there is no time like the present. Fuck this game rotten.

Most of the games that required you to “push” something at the screen leaned towards the broken side.

Snapped: Yea! Another shitty, obvious rush-job tech demo! One that uses some of the shittiest hardware Nintendo has done in the last ten years, and that’s really saying something. The DSi camera is so low-resolution that time travelers from the 1960s would laugh at it, but Nintendo decided to go with that instead of charging players an extra $10 and include a camera that you wouldn’t be ashamed to use. But even if they were using space-age technology, WarioWare Snapped is just plain shitty. Let’s start with the total games: 20. That’s 10% of the total games found on the Game Boy Advance. Not that I was expecting a lot from a $5 digital download, but really you’re paying for a glorified expansion for Touched that strips as much core gameplay out of the franchise as possible. You have to sit the DSi on a table to play, stay perfectly still between rounds so that the game doesn’t have a sulk, and the camera can’t recognize you more than half the time anyway! No speed-ups either, or high scores, or boss stages, or fun. The worse game in the series? Nah, that would be Smooth Moves on account of it costing $50, not working, and sucking. Snapped only costs $5, doesn’t work, and sucks. By my math, that makes it suck only 10% as much as Smooth Moves.

DIY: I can’t really say this one sucks, but it certainly wasn’t for me. User-created content and level-editing tools have never been among my favorite features. I loved Little Big Planet, but I am not interested at all in making my own stages, nor am I all that interested in playing the shitty user-made content that is boring and unfinished 90% of the time. I wasn’t really impressed with any of the user content for WarioWare DIY, which mostly looked like stuff drawn in MS Paint. Yea, it’s better than I could do, but that doesn’t make it worth playing. The professional Microgames done by Nintendo are also among the worst the series has, which makes me think this started as a normal game before Nintendo fired the whole staff and decided to let gamers finish it themselves.

Everyone has tried to make their own WarioWare. Sony just put out one on the Vita, the putridly awful Frobisher Says. There’s also been Work Time Fun, the most artificially quirky pile of shit ever. Ha, it’s called “WTF” get it? Hilarious! Funny enough, the best WarioWare Wannabe is on XBLIG:  Minigame Marathon. It’s not perfect, but it actually plays well and more or less “gets it” when it comes to what made WarioWare work. It’s actually better than any of the official Nintendo sequels, and for only $1.

You know what? I don’t expect anything further from this series. Assuming they make any more. The next title, Game & Wario, is dumping microgames in favor of being a mascot-driven version of Wii Play. And it looks fucking horrible. But it doesn’t matter. I have the perfect version of WarioWare already, and it’s still fun to play today. I doubt anyone else in the whole wide world will agree with me, but I think the best game ever made is WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$. Do you know what else? I can’t wait for a game to come along and dethrone it.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

17 Responses to My Favorite Games Ever – Part 6: WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!

  1. Argamae says:

    Seriously, from your line of reasoning I actually would agree. WarioWare, Inc. Minigame Mania (as it’s called in Germany – and probably Europe) kept me coming back to it over and over again just trying to beat that one high score. And maybe one more.
    And when the Ambassador programme hit the 3DS it came as a pleasant surprise that WarioWare was among the games offered for free. Played it all over again, so that is saying something.
    But honestly, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it when asked to do a list of my favourite ten games.
    It is weird and I gave it some thought as to why this is but it probably has to do with games for handhelds not being considered “real” games in some corner of my mind. Which is utterly wrong of course. But somehow I am drawn to games on the “big screen” when thinking about favourites…

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  3. I had a lot of fun with Wario Ware Smooth Moves and everything (except 2 or 3 games which isnt a high number in relation to the number of microgames in it) worked fine. Also the multiplayer mode ist absolutely awesome 😉

  4. I thought I would share my list of most memorable games. Honestly, I couldn’t pick just ten. Like Indie Gamer Chick’s list, these aren’t necessarily the best games I’ve ever played, but instead the ones that seemed to break the mold at the time. These aren’t ranked in any way, but I tried to put them in somewhat chronological order.

    Super Mario Bros, NES – The first game I owned and introduced me to platformers
    Final Fantasy Legend, GB – The game that introduced me to RPGs, and one of the best RPGs on the original GameBoy
    Final Fantasy II US (aka FFIV), SNES – I had enjoyed Dragon Warrior 1 on the NES, but FFIIUS took storytelling and battle system to a whole new level for RPGs
    Banjo Kazooie, N64 – First 3D platformer done correctly with memorable characters
    Tekken 2, PS1 – Wide variety of fighting styles and character backstories
    Chrono Cross, PS1 – Wide variety of characters and one my favorite battle systems
    Phantasy Star Online, DC – My first online action RPG, and free SegaNet dailup service made online accessible to everyone
    Trade Wars 2002, BBS – My first “online” game, and the first BBS Door game that had a persistent game world
    Wing Commander 3, PS1 – Best use of FMV at the time which brought the characters from the previous two WC games to life, plus it had a great cast consisting of Mark Hamill, Malcom McDowell, John Rhys-Davies and others
    Space Quest IV, PC – Great use of humor in a video game
    Jet Grind Radio (aka Jet Set Radio), DC – First use of cell shaded graphics and a great soundtrack
    Valkyrie Profile, PS1 – Wide variety of characters with distinct personalities
    Grand Theft Auto 3, PS2 – My first sandbox game
    Dynasty Warriors 3, PS2 – Never got boring to me, and I have enjoyed every game in the Warriors series since
    Odin Sphere, PS2 – Great mixture of RPG elements with side scrolling combat
    World of Warcraft, PC – Raiding stole most of my late 20s, but the game went downhill after the first expansion
    Resonance of Fate (End of Eternity), X360 – Great battle system and unique story, and it has the best weapon customization system that I’ve seen in a game
    Persona 4, PS2 – Standard battle system, but very memorable characters and story
    Devil May Cry 4, X360 – Great combination of action and attitude

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  6. CJ says:

    Man, DMC3 was better than 4. 3 was SMOKIN’ SICK COOL and it was HARD AS HELL(ok, enough with the DMC puns! Geez!)

    • I played DMC1 when it first came out, and I didn’t play another game in the series until DMC4 came out for the XBox 360. I recently bought the DMC HD Collection, and I’m attempting to play through the first three games in my spare time. However, I honestly enjoyed Bayonetta a lot more than DMC4 but it didn’t seem to be as groundbreaking.

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