The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Wario and his weird amalgamation of friends are here to give you a handful of games that do their best to showcase all the assorted capabilities of the Wii U. Game & Wario is different from WarioWare titles in that it doesn’t have any new microgames. Instead, it offers a collection of 16 minigames that use the GamePad in interesting ways.
Some of the games are forgettable and some really stand out, but none are downright terrible. The highlights include Wario’s rhythm pirate game, which was used to demo the GamePad when the Wii U was first shown. Once you get into the groove of blocking incoming cannon fire in time with the music, you find yourself moving to a highly choreographed rhythm without realizing it until after the game is over. Kat and Ana have a fun Picross-like puzzle game; you won’t be using the same addictive logic of Picross, but the structure and payoff is similar.
The highlight of Game & Wario comes from 9-Volt. You play familiar WarioWare microgames on the GamePad, while keeping an eye on the television for your mother who is trying to catch you playing games after your bedtime. If you see her coming, you have to hold down both trigger buttons to hide under your sheets. The sound and visual design of the mother really sells it; she is absolutely terrifying, climbing through your bedroom window and out of your TV with glowing eyes, fangs, and crazy hair. Playing 9-Volt’s game with friends warning me to when to hide was the high point of my time with Game & Wario. It’s fun and wouldn’t work on any other console. The Wii U may not be the only system that uses two screens, but balancing your focus between them is something that the DS and 3DS can’t emulate.
Playing in single-player nets you coins that can be used to unlock more than 200 hilarious and bizarre toys. My favorite unlockable toy, Hitchhiker, asks you to simply write where you want to go on the GamePad, and then you hold up your desired destination as to your television, where an animation of cars driving by plays. After a few cars pass, you get picked up and taken somewhere, but I refuse to ruin the surprise. These toys are best displayed with an audience to appreciate their strangeness, but I found myself laughing out loud at some of them even when I was completely alone.
The selection of multiplayer games is disappointingly small, with only five in total. Similar to the single-player game, even though the choices are limited, the offerings are of high quality and built to be played with a single GamePad. You won’t need additional controllers, which fosters inclusion without much investment. A decent version of Pictionary is included, as well as a game where the GamePad player tries to hide in a crowd of NPCs while other players try to pick out who the player character is. My friends and I had fun trying to pick each other out of a line-up, and trying to blend in with a crowd.
Game & Wario is a strange game that doesn’t offer a particularly cohesive experience, but that’s all part of the charm. It is a humorous and fun title that is perfect for showing off why the Wii U is special.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.