WarioWare: Get It Together – Aptly Named Mayhem
It’s Friday night. My partner and I are enjoying a night of gaming together, allowing some healthy competition to bring us closer. “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TWEEZE”, I yell, as the ever-growing hair is yanked from the statue’s arm. We succeed, but we don’t have time to celebrate. We’ve taken on different forms, and the game is speeding up. Our instructions change. ‘SMOOCH’. Then ‘STEAL BACK’, then ‘CLEAR’. Clear what? We don’t know, but somehow we’ve done it. The crowd cheers – we’ve made it. We’ve tweezed/smooched/stolen/cleared/closed/unlocked/escaped our way through one section of this incredibly chaotic game. We’re doing it. We’re playing WarioWare.
It’s been a while since I’ve played a WarioWare game, but I remember the absolute absurdity. The series has always been based around a collection of very short microgames that ask you to interact with quickly changing scenarios in different ways. Each one only goes for about ten seconds, and the goal is constantly changing. One of the strangest ones involves tweezing arm hairs from a statue, but there’s always a diverse selection of games to keep you on your toes. To be good at WarioWare you don’t necessarily need experience, you just need to be able to think quickly. In past iterations of the series, innovative approaches to mini-games usually relied on whatever the gimmick of that console’s generation was – interacting with the touch screen, using the microphone or closing the lid on the DS, for example – but this time they’ve taken a different approach. When I first heard that they’d steered away from that, I was sceptical – it was one of the touchstones of the series – but what they’ve done instead is a clever way of making the gameplay even more varied, and more accessible. They’ve introduced playable characters.
Instead of being an omnipotent presence with characters watching from the sidelines, you’ll now interact with them directly. The weird cast of WarioWare have banded together in order to fix a series of escalating bugs in the video game Wario’s company is creating, and each will need to use their unique talents in order to make that happen (and yes, I can confirm, squeezing toothpaste from a tube is an entirely logical way to fix game bugs in the real world). The premise is already ridiculous, but the characters’ unique movement styles and abilities add an extra layer of chaos to the whole thing. Some of the characters will only move or shoot in one direction, one only moves by attaching onto stationary rings, and some will never stop moving, but they all come with their own unique challenges and benefits. The game’s main mode will introduce you to – and force you to use – all of the characters, but you’ll quickly work out which ones you like best. I found myself using a rotating roster of the same four or five, even when they weren’t necessarily the recommended ones for the types of stages I’d be tackling. You do whatever you can to make it through.
Aside from the story mode, the series’ latest installation has clearly incorporated a lot of elements that are designed to keep players coming back. There are timed challenges to complete, party games to enjoy with friends and even a weird gacha-slash-gift-giving mechanic that allows you to level up your characters and customise their appearance. I’d say it feels out of place, but Wario Ware is by its very nature a series of disconnected mechanics trying to work together to somehow form a cohesive whole, so… maybe it’s exactly what makes sense for the game? I’m honestly not sure. I did find that trying to customise my characters did make them harder to distinguish from one another, which added a layer of difficulty to the game. Many of the modes will have you quickly switching between characters, often with only a split second to work out which one you’re actually playing for that round, and you need every bit of help you can get to make that process easier. But it’s also possible that customisation might actually help some players with distinguishing the characters further – I just found it easier to stick with what I was given, outside the use of some special themed outfits.
If you want to enjoy the chaos with friends, you have several options. The main story can be played co-op in two-player mode, and I’m genuinely not sure whether having a second person there was a help or hindrance – but it certainly made it more fun. If you have a few more friends, you can jump into a bunch of different party games that have you competing or working together to do things like play (or disrupt) microgames, fight it out brawl-style, or try to create the biggest triangle to claim the most space on a board. The mini-games are fun, but they’re also the basis for my biggest gripe with this game – you have to make it all the way through story mode before you can play them. You can’t just buy this game and sit down to play it with friends, you’ll have to beat it on your own (or with just one of them) first, and that takes a while. If you want to show up at a party with this game, you’ll have to be prepared. I understand wanting to lock off content to make sure players engage with the game, but in this case, it feels counterintuitive. I actively chose to play other games with my housemates instead of this one, because I hadn’t found the time by myself to make it through the story.
Overall, I think the changes made in this game add to the fun. It feels less gimmicky than past incarnations, but there’s still a whole lot going on here, most of which makes little to no sense. Maybe that’s a good thing, because if it made sense, then it wouldn’t be WarioWare. You just have to accept that the journey is going to be wild and confusing, and find the fun in the chaos. There’s definitely nothing else quite like it, and there’s a good time here for anyone who wants to revel in absurdity and just whisper ‘what’ to themselves every time a new mini-game pops up. I know I’ll certainly be gently haunted by this game in my dreams and nightmares alike, and I feel like you should be too.
WarioWare: Get it Together was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with code kindly supplied by Nintendo Australia
Jess is a writer and researcher who loves games with good puzzles, good stories, and a tendency to punch you straight in your feelings. She is one of the directors of not-for-profit organisation Queerly Represent Me and is particularly interested in games told from unique perspectives that highlight themes or characters from groups that are often underrepresented. She also just really loves coffee, hot chips, and terrible superhero TV shows, and is always secretly hoping that one day the world will give her a good Sherlock Holmes game.