Over the weekend I spent much of my time fighting ninjas, balancing blocks, shaving chins, shooting monsters and disco dancing with a bunch of cats. No, I wasn’t hallucinating after drinking too much coffee (again.) I was playing Wario Ware: Smooth Moves on the Wii, which was released last Friday.
If you’re not acquainted with the series, Wario Ware is pretty manic. Everything is broken down into mini games, each lasting only a few seconds. Within those few seconds, you must follow the sometimes cryptic instructions on screen. For example, "Clean it!" can refer to tilting a dirty plate so water can wash over it. "Rescue!" could refer to freeing a tiny pig from a pig-pen by rotating it. "Saw!" could be telling you to hack through a wooden log. Most of the mini-games are extremely simple in design, but the trick is taking in the information and performing the task before your few precious seconds run out.
The Wario Ware series has always been a pioneer in using the latest Nintendo hardware in interesting ways. It employed a new tilt sensor for the Game Boy Advance in Wario Ware: Twisted!, and used the most of the DS’s microphone and touch facilities in Wario Ware: Touched! The varied uses of the Wii’s nunchuck and remote add a whole new dimension of craziness to the mini games. Each game employs one of a number of subtly different, cleverly named "holds" for the wiimote. The Waiter has you balancing the wiimote in the palm of your hand like a tray; The Boxer has you holding the wiimote in your fist; The Mortar and Pestle has you gripping the wiimote in one hand with its base in the palm of your other, The CEO has you resting the wiimote with your hands on your hips like a proud captain of industry, and so on.
Balancing a broom in the palm of your hand using The Waiter, or swinging your hips to keep a hula hoop moving with The CEO are clever - though some of the mini games are even more inspired / ridiculous. For example, one simply asks you to place your wiimote face down on a table (a hold called The Discard). There it transforms into a telephone, and the challenge is to grab it back quickly enough when it rings. The icing on the cake? Holding said ‘telephone’ to your ear and hearing the caller apologise for dialling a wrong number through the remote’s in-built speaker.
As always with Wario Ware, the games are hit and miss. Occasionally it’s not clear enough what you have to do, and the use of the controllers can sometimes hinder rather than help the gaming experience. It’s also about how much you allow yourself to get into the swing of things. You can stay sat on your sofa and cheat your way through many of the games without using the proper motions, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the fun. There are also a bunch of fun multiplayer modes for you and your friends to sink your teeth into once they're unlocked (these are single-remote, take-it-in-turns only - but that's ok as half the fun is in spectating), as well as some standalone mini games. Personally I challenge you to try and complete all fifty levels in Block Star. The fiftieth level will have you begging for blocky mercy.
It’s cute, it’s crazy, and it’s out now. Go hula your way to victory!