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WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 04/06/04 | Genre: Puzzle

The original WarioWare, released on the Game Boy Advance, was a surprisingly addictive hit. It was extremely unique and weird. It helps to understand what the original GBA game was about before I start discussing the GameCube iteration. You can read the GBA review here, or just read the synopsis below.

The first WarioWare game was mainly a single player game (there were a couple two player mini-games, but it's nothing like the multiplayer featured in the GameCube sequel). The basic concept of the game was to play several mini-games in rapid succession. These games were so small and simple that they are called microgames. Each microgame only required a single action button and the directional controls (d-pad). A one word instruction is given to the player and then he or she must figure out what to do. The catch is that each microgame starts out with a five second time limit. As you successfully complete microgames, the time limit becomes shorter and the gameplay gets faster. The game becomes about how fast you can think and react. To give you an idea, one microgame tasks you with parking a car while another might have you catch a baseball. Some microgames were even pulled straight out of old Nintendo games like The Legend of Zelda or Ice Climber. WarioWare GBA was a very stylish and hilarious game. Everyone seemed to love it. There was a lot of varied art styles for the 200+ microgames. There were also incredibly strange stories to sort of put the games in context. Overall, gamers were surprised by this quirky concept.

Now WarioWare has hit the GameCube. The biggest feature is the new multiplayer mode (or modes, I should say). However, let me describe the single player first. If you play WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$ (hence called WarioWare GCN) by yourself, you won't feel much to be impressed by. All of the same microgames from the GBA original are present. That's the main problem. There's nothing new to do for a single player. Everything has just been repackaged. What makes it worse is that all of the games have been emulated in GBA form. While the graphics and sound were nice on the GBA, they are not too impressive at all on the GameCube. If you already played the GBA original, WarioWare GCN might seem kind of boring. There's nothing new to do in terms of single player modes. In fact, for a single player, I would even recommend the GBA original over WarioWare GCN. Things were just presented better in the GBA version. WarioWare also has kooky animation sequences, but they're not as charming as the GBA presentation. It feels like the basic structure of the GBA game repackaged for the GCN. In fact there's less. The GBA version included several unlockable games to play in addition to microgames. If you haven't played the GBA original, then you won't feel as disappointed as I do, but you will still notice the bad graphics and sound. WarioWare is fun, but if you've already played the GBA version, then there's not really much reason to play the single player of WarioWare GCN. I would have really liked to see new microgames. They missed the opportunity to create entirely new types of microgames with 3D graphics. It's disappointing that there is nothing really new to do here.

Multiplayer is a different story. This is where the game can be a lot of fun. The basic idea of the multiplayer modes is to take the same microgames from the single player game and play them in a competition setting. Two to four players can play in each mode (a couple allow up to 16). I found the game to be fun even with just two people, but of course, it's the most fun with four. There are several multiplayer modes. For the most part, all of the same microgames from before are used. However, in a few of the game modes feature brand new microgames in which 2-4 players compete in at the same time. The first and most basic mode is Survival Fever. In this mode, each player must play a microgame until they fail three times. After three failures, you're out. Players usually take turns playing microgames, but occasionally every one plays a microgame at the same time (it is split screen, each player plays a normal single player microgame at the same time, but separately, not a microgame in which everyone plays together). Survival Fever can be pretty fun. It flows a lot like the single player game. Another similar multiplayer mode is 1 Controller Survival. Up to 16 players can play this mode. This is because the only one controller is used. Only one person plays at a time and the controller is just passed around. In this mode, each player plays a microgame when it is his or her turn. If you fail once, you are out of the game. If you succeed, you pass the controller to the next player. Gameplay gets faster and faster with each turn, and the speed ramps up more quickly here than in other modes. The last player left is the winner. This is another multiplayer mode that I enjoy.

The next mode is called Outta My Way! This is a mode that most people do not find fun. Each player takes a turn playing a fixed amount of microgames. Whoever succeeded in the most microgames wins. The trick is that while one player is player, the other players can cover the game screen by moving their characters across the screen. The strategy is to block your opponents' view of the most crucial part of the game view. However, this is not very fun. Obviously, it is not fun to try to play a game in which you cannot see. If you are the one blocking someone else's view, you also don't have fun because you realize that if they lose a game, it is because they could not see what they were doing, not lack of skill. No one will want to play this game mode.

The next game mode is called Card-e Cards. This can be pretty fun, but there is some randomness involved. Each player takes turns drawing cards from a deck. Most cards have a picture of a microgame on them. Players continue drawing cards until one of them draws the e-Reader card. The player that drew that card now has to play all of the microgames represented on the cards they drew. If they succeed, then they get to keep all of those cards. If they fail even one microgame, then they lose their cards. So tension can mount up when a player has many games to play. The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the game. There are opportunities to lose and steal cards. Though you must win the microgames to win the overall game, luck is involved in drawing the e-Reader cards. You need to draw the e-Reader cards in order to play the cards in your hand which gives you a chance to keep those cards. I found this mode to be pretty fun.

The next game mode is Listen to Doctor. This game mode can be really fun, but only if all of the players are into it. In this mode, players take turns playing microgames. However, before each game is played, a doctor instructs the player to perform a real action in life while playing the microgame. For instance, you might have to stand on one leg, or yell something ridiculous while you play the microgame. Then after you are finished the other players "clap" for you by pressing the 'A' button. Winning this mode depends entirely on applause, not how many microgames you win. So this game requires two important things from the players. First, they get out of their comfort zone and perform silly actions while playing, and secondly they must judge each others' performances fairly. So you press the 'A' button (clap) more times if the other player did a good job following the doctor's orders. Of course, you also want to consider if they won the microgame or not. This mode can be fun if people play it correctly.

The next mode has got to be everyone's favorite. It's called Wobbly Bobbly. Two things make this mode the most fun: new multiplayer microgames, and turtles. Let me explain how each round works. First, everyone plays a multiplayer microgame together. These can be really fun. These are new games that everyone plays together simultaneously. On game has everyone navigating a maze, while another has everyone scrambling for money that is floating to the ground. The winner of this multiplayer microgame then must play a normal microgame by himself or herself. This is where things get interesting. Between each round, each character has a character standing on top of a turtle. When you play a microgame (after winning the multiplayer microgame), if you win the game, then each player will have another turtle added to their stack. If you lose the microgame, then you will have a turtle added to your stack. Then, at the end of the round, all of the players must balance on top of their stack of turtles by pushing left and right. The higher the stack, the more difficult it is to balance. If a player falls, then that player is eliminated. Then after a fixed amount of time, a new round starts. Winning the microgames is important to keeping your stack small and the other player's stacks tall, but it is the actually balancing portion of the game that determines who loses. This game mode is a lot of fun.

The next game mode is another one I like. It is basically like the board game Othello. If you don't know what Othello is, the basic idea is to place pieces on a grid of your color. You can turn other players' pieces into your color by lining them up between two pieces of your own color. Once the grid is filled up, the pieces are counted. Whoever has the most pieces of their color on the board wins. The trick is that to place your color in the grid, you must win a certain amount of microgames. Different spaces on the grid have different numbers corresponding to how many microgames you must win to get that space. This mode is a fun mix of WarioWare and Othello.

The next game mode is another fun one, though there is some luck involved. It's called Balloon Bang, and it's a lot like Hot Potato. Each player takes turns playing microgames. While one person is playing a microgame, the other players are busy pumping a balloon at the top of the screen. If the balloon pops while you are playing a microgame, then you lose. If you fail the microgame you are playing, then you must continue playing microgames until you win one. Things can get pretty tense when the balloon gets big. You can also adopt certain strategies such as losing microgames purposefully to delay the next player from playing until the balloon has become more inflated.

The last multiplayer mode isn't that fun because it takes away the very thing that generally makes multiplayer games fun: competition. This mode is called All for One. One player is chosen to play microgames. The other players must help that player by shining spotlights on the screen. The screen is pitch black except for the areas that the helping players move their spotlights to. The idea is to move the spotlights to the important areas of the screen that the player needs to see to play each microgame. Players see how high of a score they can achieve together. Again, this mode isn't that fun because it's a lot more fun to compete with each other rather than help each other out (sad but true).

So basically, WarioWare GCN is the same single player experience as the GBA version and many multiplayer games that mainly use the old microgames for competitions. I do like the multiplayer, but I wish they made a lot more of the new simultaneous multiplayer microgames. There are only 15 of those games in WarioWare GCN. In the end, WarioWare GCN suffers from the fact that it's mostly the GBA version that has been repackaged fro the GameCube. The multiplayer can be a lot of fun, but I was still disappointed by the fact that multiplayer modes mainly centered around taking the same old microgames and playing them in turns. I would have liked to see many more new simultaneous multiplayer microgames. I also would have liked to see many new single player microgames as well, perhaps using 3D graphics and such. WarioWare should have had more new things in it, but instead, it's just a repackaged version of the GBA game. Nintendo seems to have realized this and thankfully set the MSRP at $29.99. Still, I can't give a great score to a game that tries to be something new, but really isn't. The multiplayer saves this game from being dull. I can recommend a purchase if you will make use of the multiplayer modes. This is definitely a fun party game that can be enjoyed by people who aren't even that familiar with video games. However, Nintendo should have added a lot of new content if they wanted to get great review scores.

By Andrew Thivyanathan - 04/18/04
ESRB Details: Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
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