Sat, flicking through channels at home, Wario learns of a new console launching on the market and soon sets out to develop his own games and make millions.
Game & Wario is the culmination of his ideas and serves to demonstrate the potential of the Wii U GamePad in a manner similar to that achieved by the more well-established WarioWare series.
Although rather than being quick-fire concepts à la WarioWare: Smooth Moves on Wii, here we have much lengthier experiences that broadly vary in both depth and quality.
Surprisingly, there’s more to occupy you in single-player than there is as a group, going solo seeing you welcomed with an expansive selection of 12-differing games against the four within multiplayer. Each must be locked individually by completing the first stage of that which came before it, although at this point it’s most likely best we take you through one-by-one.
Inspired by a pest mouse that continually annoys Wario at home, Arrow sees players fend off advancing waves of enemies eager to steal your prized strawberry snacks.
With the Wii U GamePad side-on, you draw arrows back and let them fly – using the controller’s gyroscope to steer the trajectory of your shots, whilst requiring you to lift vertically to block incoming cannonballs.
Let wandering enemies get too close, and they’ll leap on to the Wii U GamePad screen immediately needing players to respond quickly to splatter them with your finger.
Each stage culminates with a tyrannical MechaWario tank, the player targeting weak points before dealing the killer blow, with later stages throwing in more challenging foes armed with springs and shields, whilst wind dynamics signal an increased challenge.
Next up is Camera, where, in the shoes of snappy journalist Mona, you must take photos of specified crime suspects, celebrities or ghosts within the designated time limit.
Each is relatively easy to spot, but the quality of your shots will determine the score that is individually awarded. You’ll lose points if the suspect isn’t looking directly at you, smiling, or if they aren’t centred within each shot – which is a challenge considering they pull blinds down and change direction at any given moment.
You only have a limited number of photos that you can take, so isn’t as easy as becoming overtly trigger happy, but you’ll be aiming to achieve a perfect 100 points for each. Further bonus points up for grabs if you manage to snap an odd creature hidden among the scene.
Ski becomes the first mini-game that feels like it has been plucked from the iOS development playbook, which isn’t necessarily a criticism. Holding the Wii U GamePad vertically, players steer their afro-toting character left and right using the gyroscope, aiming for boost and jump pads that will allow you to cross the finish line as quickly as possible.
Moving on to something entirely different, Patchwork is described by child ninjas Ana and Kat as “a super-fun, super-cute puzzle game.” In essence it’s more of an extravagant jigsaw challenge, the catch being that patches can occupy multiple areas across those designated on the grid.
Hints are available for those that struggle, which place a spotlight over the area in which that piece goes at the cost of adding 30 seconds to the clock, although if you place the patch in the correct position then it’ll get stitched into place.
Patches don’t necessarily fill the entire grid either, taking a sleeve out of Picross in which the final creation forms a flower, horse, and even Mario.
Kung Fu is a whimsical, artistically-visualised platformer, in which players tilt the Wii U GamePad to steer their character as they leap across treacherous terrain to reach Master Mantis.
You’re required to keep an eye on energy gauge, which, if it depletes, will mean that you’re no longer able to move. In order to replenish your energy, you must jump toward locations that have dumplings which you’ll immediately munch.
Along the path, there are also three hidden scrolls to discover, the reward of which being additional tokens.
Gamer proves an inevitable highlight, referencing a situation that many will have at least partly encountered. Having not done his homework, 9-Volt’s mother confiscates his game device only to top the leaderboard with a perfect score herself.
Mortified, 9-Volt burns the midnight oil in trying to surpass her score, but in-between stages must duck under the covers to avoid being caught, performed by slamming the ZL + ZR buttons on the Wii U GamePad. You’ll listen for the ominous rattle of the door handle, watch as she wanders past your window, and even be wary of television static unless she climbs through there.
It’s hilariously tense, with light breezes and cats seeking to keep you off-guard – staying under the covers for too long seeing 9-Volt’s energy run out and causing you to fall asleep.
Stages themselves are suitably quirky in style, and familiar to those that have previously played WarioWare – players picking noses, transforming into superheroes, cracking eggs, and rolling pizza dough. This is certainly one that you’ll be enjoying for hours on end, with an additional 18-Volt mode that simply allows you to play the games without worry.
Enlisted as Dr. Crygor’s new assistant, Design sees your drawing skills challenged. Players are tasked with drawing lines, shapes, and angles of a specified length, after which your estimations are evaluated on how accurate they are to what was requested.
The closer you are, the more points are awarded, which will see you awarded the usual Bronze, Silver or Gold tiers dependent on meeting such goals.
Whilst a novel idea, it doesn’t sit as well alongside Game & Wario’s other offerings, even if the idea’s fairly unique.
Young witch Ashley is next up, who’s largely one of the more recognisable characters within the WarioWare series. It’s a shame then, that her appearance here coincides with the very worst that Game & Wario has to offer.
Gliding on her broomstick, she must navigate a course before her spell power runs out. Steering is controlled entirely by tilting the Wii U GamePad, with the ability to loop up or down through use of the triggers. Ashley automatically blasts enemies with magic once they’re within range, meaning you only need to concentrate on steering your way to collect the spell power orbs that fill each stage.
It isn’t the controls that are the problem here, but the uninspiring level design that fails to ignite any enthusiasm within the player. Boss fights prove somewhat interesting, but such sections isolate issues where you don’t feel capable enough of dodging out the way of incoming spells. Worst of the bunch, regrettably.
Dribble and Spitz appearance sees them countering UFO abductions on a farm, shooting down the alien invaders with a bazooka before returning the abductees to the barn for safety in their taxi.
Whilst the main screen provides you with a top-down overview of your surroundings, the Wii U GamePad provides a first-person perspective, granting multiple views of the action. It’s frantic, with UFOs disappearing if you take too long to blast them from the skies, with each stage ending with the Mothership arriving on the scene.
Here, players must then target weak spots whilst dodging laser shots to bring the gargantuan vessel down, returning stars that fall on the farm to the barn. Pure brilliance.
Wario makes a return, his latest game being inspired by a Pirate costume that he sees in a shop window, and this mini-game will be familiar to anyone that remembers the early Wii U experiences after the console was first revealed.
Players will be assaulted by a flurry of arrows that descend upon them from multiple directions. You must respond quickly by raising the Wii U GamePad as a shield in the designated direction to block them, to then lower it to remove any projectiles stuck to it.
Entirely rhythmical in design, the cartoon seascape becomes ever the more vibrant as you succeed, with stages closing with the player performing a dance-off against Captain Wario. It’s enjoyable, if not fairly basic in approach.
Game & Wario actually deems Pirates to be the creation that sees Wario’s design skills become a global phenomenon, yet doesn’t amount to being the best of the package. After the epilogue plays, you can then move on to Bowling where you must knock down all inflatable targets in one bowl, and Bird, which is vintage Game & Watch original Pyoro reworked for the Wii U GamePad.
Multiplayer throws up just four separate modes: Fruit, where one player is a thief who must steal an apple whilst blending in with the surrounding crowds, as the others guess their identity; Disco, a rhythm-game that sees two-players perform a dance-off; Artwork, seemingly inspired by Pictionary and which integrates with Miiverse; and Islands, where players throw Fronks onto islands to score points in a manner similar to boules.
Tokens collected through playing any of the games can be redeemed within the Capsule Machine, players receiving a randomised Wario-themed item in a Chick-N-Win capsule. It’s a nice method of objectifying the experience, even if not entirely necessary. Nevertheless, there are 240 items to collect if you wish to invest your time.
As a whole, Game & Wario provides the innovative experiences that we expect from such games attributed to Mario’s antagonist. Yet each moment of brilliance is soon followed by a dud that detracts from the package. Although stick to those that you love, and there’s much to adore here. Still, it’s a display of what use may come of the Wii U GamePad, and for that alone it proves exciting.