Gimmicky? Sure, but in the best way possible.
Like a big, unwieldy cartridge of Listerine, Wario Ware Twisted has arrived to wash away the taste of Wario Ware Touched. Twisted, a lowly GBA game, is everything that the DS-powered Touched was not. It's big, it's funny, it's well designed, and it's fun. Twisted's time spent in your cartridge slot will be measured in hours, not in minutes. Best of all, this game uses its crazy control gimmick for the power of good (…gameplay).
You've probably heard by now that Twisted gets its name from a spin sensor built into the rather large cartridge, which also houses a rumble motor. The sensor is used in about 90% of the microgames, sometimes in conjunction with the A button. None of the other buttons or the D-pad is ever used, not even for menu navigation. The sensor recalibrates between every microgame, so it's okay to move around while you play, so long as you do it during the break between games. The key motion is akin to turning the steering wheel of a car or, if you tend to hold the GBA parallel with the floor, of a bus. The sensor is extremely sensitive, but even so, many games require dramatic spins that may be hard to perform in certain body positions. If you know these games are coming up (they are the major theme of Jimmy T's scenario, for instance), you can stand and spin your whole body in a circle for better results, even though the game warns you not to. ("You'll get dizzy!!")
The cartridge's built-in rumble is nothing short of brilliant. It adds nothing but texture to the game's control, but that subtle feedback gives the game even more charm than the Wario Ware gameplay could serve up on its own. The motor, which draws power from the GBA, produces a weak, low frequency rumble that can best be described as feeling like the bumps you feel when closing a sandwich bag zipper. Its effect on the feel of the game is to help indicate that you're turning the system on the correct plane of motion so as to register with the sensor. It also simulates resistance to the spinning motion, which makes the system feel heavier and more satisfying to spin. All of this probably sounds like mumbo-jumbo in writing, but when you feel the rumble, it will all make sense.
Twisted's microgames are like nothing you've ever played before…unless you've played any of the other Wario Ware titles. Though the control method has changed, the style of the microgames has not. They're short, simple, often hilarious, and even more frequently bewildering until your second or third attempt. The seat-of-your-pants ambiguity in the microgames' instructions will always be the strength and the curse of this series, and Twisted piles on more confusion, because it's usually not clear what direction the characters or background will move when you tilt the system. By the time you test it with a jiggle, the microgame will likely be over, so the process of grasping each microgame's controls tends to happen over the course of playing it several times. Twisted is therefore a bit more frustrating than its predecessors, but it's not a major problem considering that you'll sometimes beat new microgames on sheer luck and can thereafter practice them in the Spindex (microgame library). If not, well, that's why the game gives you extra lives.
The variety and bulk of microgames in Twisted recalls the glory of the original Wario Ware, which is a relief after the smattering of inbred activities in Touched. Even though most microgames are based on the spinning motion, that simple action is translated into scores of different on-screen effects, and it's a natural enough movement that you can usually forget what you're physically doing to make that food travel through the man's intestines. It's hard to explain why the tilt sensor is less obtrusive than the stylus, but the difference is palpable. The overall result is that Twisted's microgames don't feel like 200 variations on the same idea; they feel like 200 completely different ideas.
That sounds like a lot of gameplay, and it is, but Twisted also has an extensive collection of unlockable goodies ranging from (scratchable) music records to special mini-games and bizarre "Doodads" like an egg timer that must be spun upside down to be turned on. What does it do then? It takes exactly five minutes to fill the empty hourglass chamber, just long enough to boil an egg. You probably won't ever use the timer, but the insanity of including it in the game is humorous enough to warrant its existence.
What's funny is that these novelty unlockables are just a small part of a game built entirely out of novelty mini-games that revolve around the use of a novelty input device. Yet Wario Ware Twisted feels very much like a full, real game, and it's most definitely worth your real dollars.