Game & Wario is a very different experience compared to the traditional WarioWare setup. Instead of a handful of quick-fire mini games, there are sixteen separate titles, each lead by members of the WarioWare cast. There's the return of 9-volt, Mona, Jimmy, Young Cricket and various other quirky chums from Wario's illustrious career. These minigames have been crafted to focus with the new Wii U GamePad in mind, each aiming to use the controller in different ways instead of simply tapping buttons or swiping on the touch-screen - lasting minutes instead of seconds. Those looking for another WarioWare experience on the TV should be aware that although there is a small portion of quick-fire games, the majority of Game & Wario is a very different, yet equally enjoyable, design that's shifted to fuller mini-games this time round.
Players will each be able to setup a new Game & Wario profile, working through each of the individual solo titles in succession, only unlocking the next after completing the current one to a reasonable standard. The roster itself is a rather mixed bag, offering some truly interesting and compelling ideas but others remaining shallow and uncooked. Particular highlights include "Arrow", one of the mini-games that have been touted about since Nintendo announced Game & Wario. Hosted by Wario himself, players fend off MechaWario minions plodding about a large terrain by dragging arrows back on the touch-screen and literally flinging the pointy tools of destruction into the distance. It's a simple premise, but thoroughly enjoyable to pelt robot Wario with nippy finger presses.
"Shutter", lead by series reporter Mona, is another that makes good use of the controller - pitting players in specific scenes like a bustling town, stage show or on a train, and using the GamePad screens to pick out specific people and snapping them within a two minute time-limit. Think Pokémon Snap using the controller. "Shutter" is certainly one of the more interesting of the collection, eventually involving ghosts and masked burlesque-esque characters to up the sleuthing ante.
"Taxi", driven by Dribble and Spitz, find players saving a farm from a horde of nasty alien critters by simply shooting using a giant bazooka strapped to their taxi. It's a really peculiar setting, perhaps reminiscent of the farm mission in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, but is one of the more fleshed out uses of the GamePad.
Those wanting a more relaxed pace can opt for the puzzlers "Patchwork" lead by the ninja twins Kat and Ana, plus Dr. Crygor's test of drawing skills in "Design". In the former, the stylus is used to slot patchwork pieces together and form preset shapes. Initially a very basic idea, the later puzzles - of which there are a fair few - can induce a healthy sense of mind-numbing frustration. It's not, pardon the pun, clear cut which makes "Patchwork" all the more compelling as the puzzles go on.
In the mad doctor's "Design", it's a case of undergoing a short list of drawing-based tasks to test those all-important hand skills, such as: draw a 5cm circle, plot an equal sided triangle and free-hand a straight line. At the end, accuracy is totted up and a score given for how close players came to using these newly formed blueprints to building a robot. This is certainly one of those marmite games in Game & Wario, and after a few goes doesn't quite captailise on the initial idea, but one of those more unique approaches.
For those still itching for the classic WarioWare formula, it is available in Game & Wario as part of a mini-game lead by retro enthusiasts 9-Volt & 18-Volt. Instead of simply playing the classic microgames in succession, players will need to tap into their senses to avoid being caught by 9-Volt's rather scary demon mother whilst continuing to play; a game within a game as it were. Initially seeming like a straight playthrough, an emulation of older WarioWare ideas, "Gamer" is one of the stand-out titles, relying on both the GamePad and TV simultaneously, giving that instant connection and familiarity.
The throwbacks don't end with "Gamer" and seep into the final title unlocked in the Single Player campaign - "Pyoro" - A recurring character from WarioWare, who uses his long tongue to collect falling fruit. If missed, the fruit disintegrate the floor, limiting his movement and as soon as one splats neatly onto Pyoro's fur, it's very much game-over. The GamePad shows the classic 8-bit design, whilst the TV displays something a little more contemporary; colourful and high-definition. The concept is far from being revolutionary by any means, but is rather addictive.
Bowling, oddly coming only with a single player option, is handled remarkably well despite using the touch-screen instead of the more natural Wii Remote method. Here a flick of a finger is used to launch the ball and the GamePad's gyroscopes used to essentially cheat physics and curve the ball's direction at will. It isn't the standard ten pin design either, pitting players against different formations and sizes with only a handful of tries to get it right. Enjoyable whilst it lasts, but another one of those that starts off well but hasn't been cooked quite enough.
The remainder don't offer anything too rewarding or challenging and could have benefitted from additional ideas,pushing the concept forward. "Ski" finds players navigating the slopes using the GamePad's tilt sensors and once you've reached the goal, that's about it. "Young Cricket and Master Mantis" also relies heavily on the motion aspect of the controller, where a ninja navigates tricky platforms, collecting Dim Sum buns along the way. This one isn't too bad, though problematic because of the need to flex the GamePad away from the viewing angle, which makes certain sections of the game's design a chore to attempt. "Pirates" is an interesting defense concept where cannonballs are flung from all directions and the controller acts as a shield - it works, but there doesn't seem to be a concrete purpose with this particular title.
The problem with these games, despite using the GamePad well in most cases is that they seem fairly shallow - the replay value isn't terribly high except for trying to earn high scores. Some titles like "Patchwork" and "Shutter" have enough variety to sustain interest, but in others the impact can start to wane quickly.
Multiplayer is, like the solo effort, a mixed bag. It's odd how the majority of titles in Game & Wario are just single player, when a fair few could have also been pitched for more than one - even playing sequentially. The four that are playable with friends include "Sketch", a brilliant and addictive take on Pictionary for up to five players, plus the odd rhythm concept "Disco" which sees two players using the GamePad to outwit one another musically. Again, innovative designs yet not enough for most to come back for more in a multiplayer setting.
Visually Game & Wario is a difficult title to pen down as each of the individual titles weave different and sometimes conflicting styles - from the traditional oriental, painted design of "Kung-Fu" to the bright and simplistic "Taxi". It's certainly not the game that pushes the hardware to any degree, often relying on simplistic and sometimes jarring animation, but does radiate a certain charm and uniqueness that's very much in line with the Wario flavour. The texture work, backgrounds and drawings have been scaled up and optimised for the HD output however, and it is a shame to see Nintendo and Intelligent systems not exploring some more unique presentation ideas given the leap in hardware.