Since the series was first introduced in 2003, playing a WarioWare game has required an open mind, quick reflexes, and a willingness to truly embrace the absurd. The latest entry in the series, WarioWare: Move It!, requires all those things, plus a desire to look like an absolute fool in front of your friends while getting a moderate workout at the same time. And honestly? The series has never been better.
The plot is simultaneously simple and absurd, and follows Wario and his friends as they embark on an island getaway won by the titular character in a contest. While exploring, Wario stumbles upon a temple and learns of the existence of ‘Form Stones’ – stones in the shape of joy-cons that contain mystical powers when wielded in certain ways, known as ‘Forms’. As the cast of characters continue to explore and relax on the island, more of these Forms are discovered, with each character group subplot containing two or three relevant Forms to add to your repertoire.
WarioWare: Move It! is a clear successor to the Wii-era title, WarioWare: Smooth Moves. In order to complete a series of wildly chaotic minigames, you’re asked to position yourself in these different ‘Forms’, all of which involve standing with the joy-cons held against different parts of your body, and some of which make more sense than others. Each one comes with its own lore that taps into the series’ unique sense of humour, and though you’ll mostly be holding the joycons in the same way throughout the course of the game, there are notable exceptions that truly open the door to what these minigames can involve.
Though the game’s story mode isn’t particularly lengthy, it functions as an engaging way to learn each of the game’s Forms to prepare you for all of its other modes. Each level is based around a certain collection of Forms, with each set of mini-games connected only by the way in which the joy-cons need to be held to complete them. It makes for controlled chaos – trying to figure out how a mini-game works and complete it in a five second time limit is a challenge, but by limiting the amount of forms you’re jumping between as you learn them, your brain is given plenty of space for ridiculous solving. The pacing is excellent, and paves the way for an early mastery of the positions that will help you succeed in all parts of the game.
It’s also not overly punishing. Each level of mini-games comes with four lives, giving you chances to fail while you’re working through the chaos of what the hell vague instructions like ‘SLIDE’ or ‘ESCAPE’ mean in any given context. When you run out of these four lives, you’re afforded the chance to assume a ‘Second Chance Position’ to earn another shot at your objective – and you can repeat this as many times as you like within a level. Playing with a friend also gives you an extra chance to retain your lives, by giving them the option to ‘tag in’ if you fail a mini-game – they’ll get to have a go at the game you just failed, with the benefit of having seen it before, which can make all the difference – and you’ll earn back the life you should have lost. Given how quickly everything in this game moves, it’s a relief that you aren’t punished harshly for small failures – the game clearly wants you to learn and succeed, and it honestly feels really encouraging.
Somehow I was surprised by just how much this game gets your adrenaline pumping. There’s something about being asked to assume the Forms that really gets your head in the game, and I found myself limbering up and feeling hyped for every new challenge. It’s a really physical activity, and I can see myself using it for fitness in the future – it’s such a fun way to get moving. Sometimes you’re asking to hold the joy-cons as if you’re holding a sword, or a bow and arrow, and in those moments you just feel cool; but at other times you’re basically doing squats or arm stretches, and it becomes clear that this could function as a serious workout. The game even has a mode dedicated to mini-games that are particularly physically demanding which unlocks after the main story is completed, and when you’re unfit like me, you’ll be out of breath about three mini-games in.
It’s also, obviously, intended to be a party game – and it delivers on that front too. Along with the main story mode is a party mode that can be played by up to four players and which offers several new scaffolds for approaching a slew of mini-game challenges. Whether you’re interested in a Mario Party-esque game board, or a weird Simon Says-style layer of directions to add your mini-games, there’s something to be found here. Playing WarioWare makes you look absolutely ridiculous, but in exactly the sort of way that’ll have you in fits of laughter with your friends pretty quickly.
To be clear, this game is super weird. Just… so very, very weird. It asks you to do things you’d never expect, and uses the joy-cons in ways that frighteningly creative minds must have dreamed into existence – but it’s also a true showcase of what they can do. It’s so simple that it’s genius, and it flaunts a particular kind of weirdness that few games manage to successfully achieve. It’s one of those games that makes me want to invite everyone I know over to my house to play it with me so that I can show them just how weird it is, and have them experience it for themselves – and it also gets me moving in ways that a game hasn’t done in ages. It’s a true feat of creativity and chaos, and it’s definitely going to be one that I go back to for laughs and a pretty serious workout.
WarioWare: Move It! was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code kindly provided by Nintendo.