It's my Gold! I LOVE GOLD!
Back in 2004 when I first played WarioWare Mega Party Game$ for the GameCube, my life was changed. I’ll never forget going to the store with intentions to pick up Pokémon Fire Red and seeing that beautiful blue WarioWare game case calling out to me from the shelf. I looked at it and wondered “What is this magical game? And what does Wario have to do with it?” At that moment, I knew I had to play it, letting down my childhood best friend who was counting on me to use my limited child funds to trade and evolve our pocket monsters. After experiencing the phenomenon that was the “microgame”, I was instantly hooked into this newly created world of Wario and his deranged friends. After many years of steady, fantastic quality releases, the series has been on a sort of hiatus ever since its 2013 release, Game & Wario. Now it’s 2018, and the bizarre microgame-based series WarioWare has finally made its way to the 3DS. But does this return of everyone’s favorite pointy-eared, garlic-lover live up to its legacy - or go up in smoke?
To be honest, I don’t know if anyone can fully explain exactly what WarioWare is, but that makes it all the more better. The series has always been based around the concept of playing little two-to five-second “micro” games in a row. With only giving the player a simple one-line command, each bite sized game is always drastically different than the next. This leaves room for the game designers to be as weird as they want, resulting in interesting and sometimes grotesque gameplay mechanics like shooting an arrow at a watermelon... or inserting a finger into a matching nose.
As always, the microgames are divided into separate lists among various characters. Going deeper, they have been divided into 3 play styles: Mash, Twist and Touch. Mash is limited to physical inputs from the D-Pad and face buttons, Twist uses the 3DS’s gyrometer while Touch (as you’d probably expect) uses the bottom touchscreen. While previous WarioWare games have struggled with motion in the past, Gold seems to have finally nailed it in terms of consistency, for the accuracy of the twisting always feels responsive. Keeping the games to the bottom screen unfortunately comes with the caveat that there is no use of stereoscopic 3D. Quite a bummer for sure, but the overall presentation is still absolutely top notch.
Gold features the most microgames of any WarioWare yet, acting as a celebration of all of the previous games. Many classic favorites return sporting remastered graphics along with new concepts and ideas for each of them. I just can’t overstate how wacky and goofy these games get. Every game has different levels of difficulty to spice things up the longer you play. For instance, the game “Butterfingers” has you catching a piece of toast flinging out of a toaster. While starting slow and simple, grabbing it at first proves to be an easy challenge. Fast forward a bit and now it seems that some impatient monster has taken a big bite of the toast while it was still in measly bread form - thus making it harder to grab the flinging toast with your thumb, proving to be quite the challenge indeed. These upgrades in difficulty are present in every single one of the 300 microgames, and getting to play and see them all is quite a surprising treat.
After playing a round of any type of mode, a little capsule machine pops up with some sort of trinket to collect. The player can also visit the Arcade to spend hard-earned coinage on capsules that will unlock various toys to play around with in the Toy Room. These range from little mini-games (Game & Watch, Bowling, etc.) to collectible character profile cards to... absolute random weirdness. Also included here is the “Studio”, where the player can actually record and overdub their own voice for each of the cutscenes in the game. It's as crazy and funny as you can imagine. While the Toy Room is a staple of the WarioWare series, none of the content here is very deep, feeling more like little distractions. The Toy Room could have been one of the best parts of the game but is a disappointment instead.
WarioWare Gold stands out from the rest of the series with fully voiced and animated cutscenes. While cutscenes have always been a wacky staple, now the player gets to listen to the voices of each infamous character. While some can be quite jarring (Is that really how Jimmy T sounds?), I found them to be quite delightful and genuinely funny, cute and well-produced cartoons. Never has anyone heard Wario talk so much, so be prepared to be somewhat stupefied while watching the silly story unfold.
The creativity really overflows in the nine different Challenge modes. These act as alternate ways of playing through microgames like having to work against the clock to earn time back in “WarioWatch” or the unique “Cruise Controls” that lets the player control the speed of the microgames by tilting the system up and down. Game & Wario fans will be happy to hear that the awesome Gamer has returned as “Sneaky Gamer,” a game where you must hide your game-playing from your ever-so-horrifying mother. Amazingly enough, a standard multiplayer mode is tucked away in the Challenges with “Battle Time,” although requiring a separate system and game to play. I loved playing through each of these fun diversified modes and was genuinely surprised by the creativity of most of them, keeping me coming back to try and beat my high scores.
Keeping to its roots, WarioWare Gold is a wonderful showcase of the crazy, wacky and quirky history of both its own franchise and Nintendo in general. Acting as a remastered collection of microgames of it’s 15 year span - while also adding new ones for good measure - Gold both encapsulates the essence of WarioWare while also ushering it into a new era. Whether you are new to the series or a mega fan, there’s lots to enjoy here that no one should miss out on.
Wanna learn more about WarioWare? Check out this History of Wario video!
You can also check out Perry Burkum, Casey Gibson and Jonny Metts discuss WarioWare Gold on episode 100 of the Talk Nintendo Podcast here