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When Nintendo announced Game & Wario, I was disappointed that they opted out of an installment of WarioWare in exchange with a plain old minigame collection. While it uses Wario, Mona, and the rest from the WarioWare series (in addition to some Rhythm Heaven cameos), the game feels like Nintendo Land with sixteen minigames to pick up and play. However, instead of Mario, Metroid and Zelda-themed theme park attractions, Game & Wario contains the wonderful zaniness of what you expect from the WarioWare cast. The downside to this new take though is that the duds overweigh the brilliance, with the end result being a lackluster effort to a game that really needed to show off the Gamepad for its unique way to experience the medium.
Out of the sixteen minigames on display, twelve are single player-focused and the other four are multiplayer-exclusive. Out of all of them, nine were forgettable and only seven varied between acceptable to awesome. Each of the games has multiple levels or modes to unlock, so they have at least a smidge of replayability. When you achieve certain accomplishments in each of the games, you’re given tokens to unlock 240 different things like interactive toys or hints. The toys vary from a bubble blower to tops to one of the best credits screens I've ever seen.
In the “single-player” part of Game & Wario (quotes added since some single-player games had some multiplayer modes in it), only Shutter, Patchwork, Kung Fu, and Gamer were stand out titles. Shutter has Mona tackling the task to catch various tabloid targets on film. This is one of the few games that utilize the Gamepad nicely, with your camera’s POV on the small screen and the entire landscape on the TV. Patchwork is like Tangrams without the triangles, where the player creates a picture of something with various pieces of cloth. Kung Fu is a platformer where the player has to tilt the Gamepad to get the bouncy hero across various objectives in order to get to his mentor at the goal.
Gamer however will be the one that the core audience will walk away from satisfied, and it is not because it hits a little too close to home. Gamer is pretty much WarioWare, but while you’re playing those microgames on the Gamepad, your mom is patrolling around your room and you must put away your handheld when your mom pokes her head in. If you don’t and she pops in via the door, window or…TV, its game over.
The Multiplayer portion of Game & Wario has a much better crap to great ratio with three out of four being really fun and great to come back to. Fruits is a Where’s Waldo-like game where players guess who’s the fruit thief (Gamepad player) amidst a crowd of similar looking NPC’s. Islands has players launching creatures called Fronks on various-scoring platforms, and whoever scores the most during the hectic matches wins. However, I walked away the most satisfied with the third multiplayer game worth mentioning, Sketch.
Sketch is, simply, the best version of Pictionary I've ever played and was by far the best game in the collection. Using the Gamepad to draw and having the other player(s) scream out answers was the best use of the tech I've seen yet, despite how simple the game was. Once we tried it out, we literally stopped checking out the rest of the game to continue playing it for hours. If I got just this on disk or eShop with some more words and features, I’d slap a really high score and call it a day. It was really that much fun.
The rest of the selection - Arrow, Ski, Ashley, Design, Taxi, Pirates, Bowling, Bird, Disco – were complete bores and aren't worth the cost of admission. Some like Ashley were too easy, some like Arrow were too gimmicky or some like Disco were just plain bad. It is funny because some of these duds were Wii U tech demos from E3 2011 and were supposed to be examples of how to utilize the system in the “best” ways.
One last feature Game & Wario has up its sleeve is the Miiverse Sketch mode, probably the best way to take advantage of the Wii U's social network. Owners of the game can draw Miiverse posts of a trending word within sixty seconds and pics are treated as Miiverse posts, though these posts tell the world what you drew, how long it took you to draw it and your age (for some reason). Participants can also create new trending words for others to draw. It is really weird since Miiverse just became a game in itself, but it works and works well.
Granted Game & Wario uses the Gamepad in some of the best ways since Nintendo Land, but the package in its entirety is severely lacking in quality content. I’d recommend it for the few good games if it was a cheap eShop download, but there’s just too little of a game to justify a full retail release, even at the “budgeted” $39.99 price tag. It is so sad because the Wii U is begging, craving for an awesome WarioWare-like experience like how Smooth Moves did for Wii, and instead we’re treated to a more artistic Wii Play.