Game & Wario is a game I’ve had for about a year and I still can’t figure out how to describe it, nor have I ever wanted to. The art style feels forced, the presentation is a mess, and half the games just aren’t very fun to play. I’ve had some fun with it and unlocked all the games but it still gives me an odd unfinished feeling after 20 hours playtime. With this being one of the free games in the new Mario Kart 8 promotion, many people have been asking about it, and for good reason because it’s a difficult game to gauge. Is it simple addictive fun like previous Wario Ware games? Are the games more fleshed out? Is it a platformer? Is it an FPS? Is there more content or less? What is content?
Game & Wario is full of ideas that are hard to define, not good or bad ideas; just new ones that focus on the Wii U GamePad. It all comes down to execution, and unfortunately many of the games are flawed on a fundamental level of playability. The Ski game for example could have been a great test of reflexes, but it’s a trial-and-error path of brain-dead level design where you simply get gold after finding the right path. There’s an excellent 3D view on the TV screen while you control Jimmy on the GamePad, but if you look at it you’ll crash. It feels like a sloppy mobile phone game and holding the GamePad vertically is not very comfortable. There’s 11 more “games” and I’m going to talk about all of them one-by-one, because that’s just how I roll. Here we go!
Arrow Shooting is a cool concept, using the GamePad not just to flick arrows with your finger, but as a deflective shield to hold up in front of your face. It works but the gyro feels sloppy and it’s much slower than Takamaru’s Ninja Castle in Nintendo Land (less levels, too). The level design is extremely basic as you can see in this picture, robot dudes slowly walk across the screen, daring you to combo them with an explosive arrow or land mine. I would pay a dollar for this game and feel OK about it.
Kung Fu has a great art style but incredibly simple gameplay. You automatically jump from platform to platform with a top-down view, using the gyro on the GamePad to guide your characters enthusiasm to solid ground. The controls are pretty accurate, but there aren’t many difficult jumps to really test them and only 5 levels. It’s playable by looking at the TV with the occasional glance on the zoomed-in GamePad screen just to fine-tune your landing. I’d pay a dollar for this and regret it.
Camera surprised me, it has the most engaging gameplay out of all of them. It’s fun to play and makes you think in a different way thanks to the GamePad. You have to search for 5 people on the TV screen, using the GamePad to zoom in, and people are constantly moving around behind doors and windows so you have to be sharp. The time limit really forces you to take a wide peripheral of the TV while looking at the GamePad so you don’t miss anything, and it does feel like you’re juggling the physical burden of a real camera. It tests your memory, reflexes and decision making all at once. Even when you screw up it’s still entertaining just to get an awkward shot of the wrong thing to post to the Miiverse. This is an excellent game but unfortunately the whole thing’s over after a quick 5 levels. I’d pay 10 dollars for this and demand monthly DLC.
Back to reality with this disaster of a puzzle game, Patchwork. You can probably tell what to do just by looking at that picture, and you’re right. You fill the slots on the left with pieces on the right, to make a picture of something. Sometimes pieces will overlap, and you have to find the “real” place for them. For some reason they put HUNDREDS of these levels in the game. It’s almost like the 1 developer assigned to make this game finished it in a day, and just kept adding more to pass the time. It’s not exactly a bad game, but I got bored before I could finish them all. I would rather just cut up a piece of paper and put it back together.
Design is one of those great ideas that isn’t very fun, but I still have to give it credit for providing a good challenge. The goal is to draw exact objects and you have to do your best to get the assigned length, diameter or angle on the GamePad. It’s a fun brain exercise that I got wrong every single time, but being “close” is enough to get a good cumulative score if you’re consistent. The 2 player mode makes it a bit more interesting, but excitement levels are still the easiest thing to measure; very low. I would not buy this game for a dollar, but I would acknowledge its presence and nod my head.
Gamer is the one I was looking forward to most, because it takes the traditional Wario Ware microgames we all love and adds a new twist. You’ve got to complete microgames on the GamePad while also keeping an eye on the TV screen so you don’t get caught playing them. It’s pretty fun to watch for cues, as Mum does some hilarious things and there’s a lot of tension like a horror game. However the games suffer as a result. They are somehow even simpler than Wario Ware microgames and the variety is poor. There’s almost no thought put into the games at all and the novelty is over very quickly after you master the bedroom and figure out all the cues. I’d buy this for a dollar and play it when nobody is looking.
Ashley is one of the highlights because this game has solid gameplay. The controls are excellent and you move by tilting the GamePad to go up and down, and you can do a spin in each direction by pressing ZL or ZR. When you get into the rhythm of collecting things it feels quite amazing to glide along the perfect path. Unfortunately there’s only 3 levels and not much depth in the level design. I’d buy this for 2 dollars, but only if it was on sale from a launch price of 5 dollars.
Taxi is EXCELLENT and the concept is absolutely incredible. It’s Crazy Taxi with 2 views at once and a gyro-controlled bazooka on your car. On the GamePad you drive around in first-person view with some pretty solid driving physics. Feeling every bump on the road, you press the ZL button and the gyro takes control of a bazooka’s aiming cursor. Why do you need a bazooka? To stop the aliens from stealing your passengers, of course. It’s crucial to also look at the top screen because you can see a clear view of your destination, and you can keep driving there like a regular 2D top-down racer. It’s more fun driving on the GamePad, but some situations demand a wide scope and the option is always there. The downside much like Ashley, is there’s only 3 levels again and they are quite small, being restricted to one screen for the top-down view to stay in place. SUCH A SHAME! If someone made an actual full game out of this control method, it would make millions. You would revolutionise gaming. This is why it bugs me when companies say they aren’t bothering to make a Wii U version of XXX AAA Multiplatform Game, because they are scared of how amazing it could be. I would buy this game for 10 dollars and not shut up about it.
Pirates is horrible. I hate making broad impressions (and reading them) but it doesn’t deserve more than that, the controls don’t respond half the time and that’s all you’re doing, standing there mimicking what’s on the TV. Would not download if it was free.
Bowling is alright. It’s bowling. I don’t know why it’s here, it’s like they had 11 games and the director said “we need one more” and this happened. You flick the bowling ball to aim, then tilt the gyro to control spin. It works but it’s not very satisfying.
Bird (yes it’s called Bird) had me excited because it’s classic Pyoro, but it’s the worst version of Pyoro I’ve played sadly. The Game & Watch style grid is cute, but it plays like a dumbed down version of the handheld games. The simplicity also makes it dramatically more difficult, because objects falling down faster was the only way they could add depth. Still fun to play, but I feel they wasted an opportunity to expand it. Would buy for a dollar, in the situational occurrence that all my previous Wario Ware games caught on fire.
The final positive for this game is a big one, Miiverse Artwork is a mode outside of the mini-game menu, and undoubtedly has the best use of the Miiverse of any Wii U game to date. The drawing game is an extremely thrilling 60 second test of your imagination and ability to execute your thoughts on the spot. After you hit play there is no turning back, you’re given 4 words to choose from, all suggested by other people on the Miiverse. You have 5 seconds to pick the one word you feel comfortable drawing, and then 60 seconds to draw it. When time is up, your drawing gets automatically posted to the Miiverse for all your friends to laugh or groan at. The pressure is huge and can usually bring out some obscure drawings if you can’t think of a perfect response right away. It’s intense and this is pretty much the only reason I boot up the game anymore, just for a quick thrilling session. I feel like this game is held back by being inside Game & Wario, as the concept is bigger than the game itself and it would’ve been huge as a separate eShop download. The slow sales of Game & Wario also hurts the word variety since all the suggestions are by real people (so please if you have it, upload your own words).
Overall I’d say Game & Wario is a game worth experiencing, but it’s tough to recommend. There’s a lot of strange ideas and a few really great moments, but it blows so many chances to be fun. It feels like the developers had no vision further than “Wario game on Wii U“, and it’s just a bunch of ideas nailed to a disc in the wrong places. There isn’t even a cool narrative like previous Wario Ware games, just a very basic intro where Wario wants to make money from the GamePad with no follow-up. Don’t buy Game & Wario if you’re looking for content or replayability; only if you’re open to new ideas and you have enough imagination to fill up Wario’s empty soul. I hope you think a bit harder about your next scheme, Wario.