It’s been a long hard wait for Wii U owners awaiting the arrival of software on the platform, and Nintendo is finally allowing some content to trickle onto the home console starting with Game & Wario. This discounted exclusive is a much welcomed addition to the Wii U lineup that will offer gamers a fun distraction with redeeming pickup and play mechanics. That said, its lack of multiplayer mini-games and focus on single-player snippets won’t keep it in the spotlight for very long; leaving fans longing for more shortly after being completed.
Taking on the moniker of Game & Wario, the title itself is more like the WarioWare titles that have appeared on so many handhelds. Those unfamiliar with the brand should know that it’s more or less a compilation of mini-games that are played through any one of the many different characters that can be found within the series (everyone from the garlic-munching Wario to everyone’s favorite Nintendo fanatic 9-Volt). Each character has their own mini-games, so players will immediately be drawn to their own personal favorites.
There are a grand total of 12 single-player mini-games, all of which use the Wii U’s GamePad in a plethora of different ways. Of these 12, there are only a handful that are worth revisiting, but each has its own unique quirks that make for an enjoyable time — at least initially. Mini-games such as ‘Gamer’, ‘Patchwork’, and ‘Taxi’ are all standouts from the other selections for a myriad of different reasons, but their use of the Wii U GamePad (coupled with the fact that they’re just fun to play) really make them standout in a sea of otherwise bland offerings.
Gamer stars 9-Volt and his older brother 18-Volt, and this game is more reminiscent of the classic WarioWare games than anything else offered in Game & Wario. The twist in this one, however, is that players must complete the mini-games as they appear on the GamePad while keeping their eyes peeled to the television screen so that they’re not caught playing games by 9-Volt’s mom. Failing to tuck yourself under the covers and getting caught by Mom will end the game, but it’s successful in immersing players and makes some of the best use of the Wii U’s unique controller.
Taxi. on the other hand, will have players looking back and forth between the Wii U controller and the TV as they zip around trying to rescue farm animals from UFOs. The television provides an overhead view of the entire map, while the GamePad offers a first-person perspective of the action. Meanwhile, Patchwork is an enjoyable little puzzle game that requires users to piece together bits of fabric to create images using the GamePad’s touchscreen and stylus.
All of these games are enjoyable, but other than these (along with the incredibly short-lived games ‘Shutter’ and ‘Arrow’) there isn’t anything that will hold players’ attentions for very long. The developers have implemented a rewards system for those dedicated enough to keep playing Game & Wario. For every challenge that’s completed, gamers will receive coins to unlock random items from the ‘Cluck-A-Pop’. The balls that are dispensed from this chicken-shaped capsule machine contain anything from specific types of mini-games, to hints, to a pig nose that appears on the GamePad.
Incorporating this feature into the game does prolong the lifespan of the title itself, but none of the collectibles are really worth the time or effort of gathering. Completionists may find some value in attempting to collect all 240 items that emerge from the capsules, but, for the most part, they’re completely trivial and fail to add anything of value to the final product.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of Game & Wario is the title’s multiplayer, although it falls incredibly short of being a go-to party game. There are only a total of four multiplayer mini-games (Fruit, Disco, Islands, and Sketch) and they’re all played using a single Wii U GamePad, so there’s no need for any additional controllers. Despite only using the tablet controller, it’s actually more fun to tear through these titles with more people. Fruit does a particularly good job of keeping gamers on their toes, and has been a reason to bust out the game on more than one occasion.
The premise behind Fruit is for the thief (the player with the GamePad) to steal fruits on-screen while other people in the room watch and try to pinpoint which character is actually doing the thieving. This game is ingenious in its design, and will have gamers equal parts puzzled and entertained. Meanwhile, Disco has two users share a single controller and send each other musical notes that they must hit, Islands requires players to slingshot creatures onto platforms to net points, and Sketch acts as a simplified — albeit very entertaining — version of Pictionary.
Game & Wario has some enjoyable moments, but overall it falls short of being a must-have game for every Wii U owner’s collection. There’s no denying that the multiplayer options offer their own brand of fun, but the biggest problem with these four mini-games is that there are only four of them. Pair that with a lackluster single-player experience that only provides a few worthwhile games, and there’s really not all that much to be excited about. There’s fun to be had in Game & Wario, and it’ll tide patient Wii U owners over until bigger games hit in the coming months, but overall it’s something that can be overlooked.
Game & Wario is available now for the Wii U at brick-and-mortar retailers and as a download from the eShop.
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