WarioWario: Let’s Get It Together! adds multiplayer and multiple characters to a fan favourite Nintendo franchise, but at what cost?
The WarioWare series has never quite lived up to the quality of its anarchic Game Boy Advance debut. The 2003 release was a quietly ground-breaking potpourri of humour and variety. A small plastic cartridge crammed with content and imagination.
The series has graced every Nintendo console since, sticking to the same formula but never quite recapturing the thrill of that first outing. WarioWare: Smooth Moves, WarioWare: D.I.Y. and WarioWare Twisted are excellent in their own way, but each game finds the fun through novelty control mechanics rather than pure gameplay concepts.
In 2017, the Nintendo 3DS was host to WarioWare: Gold, a polished retrospective of the franchise to date. It was a welcome celebration, but it also illustrated that it was time for WarioWare to change.
Unfortunately, then, WarioWare: Get it Together! on Nintendo Switch isn’t a full reboot – but an emphasis on multiple playable characters and local multiplayer does give the series a tangible shakeup.
Thankfully, Get it Together! is at least as stupid as ever. The plot, such as it is, sees Wario swallowed into the code of a bug-ridden video game. Along the way, he picks up a cast of characters, most of whom will be familiar to fans of the series.
The difference on this occasion is that the supporting cast is playable, and each character has a unique move set. Wario, for instance, can dash to the left or right. 18-Volt can throw a frisbee-like disc. Orbulon can suck objects across the screen. And fan-favourite witch Ashley zaps items with her wand.
Remarkably, every single microgame – there’s 222 in total – can be completed by each of the 18 unlockable characters. You can do the math, or not, but that’s some impressive game design.
To begin with, though, I wasn’t impressed. Or, to quote the great man, “This stinks!”
I wanted reinvention, but this change felt like an overcomplication. If there’s something a WarioWare game should never be, it’s fiddly. The magic of the series has always been its simplicity and readability.
Poke the nostril!
The combination of multiple playable characters and moves adds several layers of complexity.
Who am I again?
And what moves do I have?
Except, such is the momentum of the experience, and such is the onslaught of invention, these new moves are quickly learned. Eventually, success feels better than ever. What the game loses in instant accessibility, it gains in hard-earned bullets of euphoric achievement.
Unlocking every character requires completion of the game’s relatively short story mode. You won’t see every microgame on that first playthrough, but once you have rolled credits, the pick-and-mix of protagonists keeps the surprises coming.
Multiplayer is also a success, to a point. In story mode, two players can play together, either on the same console or via wireless local play. It’s frenetic, confusing, and relationship breaking, but enjoyable in small doses.
Online multiplayer is nowhere to be seen, but Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can participate in the Wario Cup’s weekly roster of challenges and rank against other players.
The package is fleshed out with a variety pack of 10 minigames which range from the boring (Gotta Bounce) to the bizarre (Daily Grind) to the sublime (Puck ‘er Up). A gacha-inspired mode also lets you spend currency to customise each character with new colours and costumes. It’s fine, but there’s nothing here to equal the first game’s generous Dr. Mario unlockable.
WarioWare: Get it Together! is all delivered with the franchise’s trademark cacophony of sound and colour. 8-bit vistas clash with renaissance artistry. Photo-realistic pots of stew sit beside crayon-drawn crime capers. And, behind it all, there’s another delicious soundscape of synth art and squelchy farts.
The aesthetics don’t feel quite as effortless and subversive as they did in 2003. 18 years of familiarity give the game the air of a dad dancing awkwardly at a wedding. But even that feels oddly appropriate for Wario.
The WarioWare franchise might need a more substantial reinvention, but I can’t think of another game released this year – other than Tux and Funny, maybe – that delivers such a smorgasbord of wild entertainment.
Here’s what the game asked me to do during one random two-minute play session:
- Pose for a photograph
- Squeeze toothpaste from a tube using a yo-yo
- Throw bombs into an Animal Crossing village to deliver a gift
- Save Earth from invasion by whacking clay squid aliens
- Protect a ball of fluff from a hungry vacuum cleaner
- Pluck some armpit hair from a roman statue
- Erase the ghoulish nightmares of a sleeping pooch
- Shave a man by headbutting a GBA playing WarioWare: Twisted! (very meta!)
So, yes. WarioWare has – just about – got it together.
WarioWare: Get It Together! review
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo EPD/Intelligent Systems
Release Date: Out now
WarioWare: Get It Together! isn’t the overhaul the series probably needs, but it’s another propulsive and compulsive blast of fun. The multiplayer modes are modest but well implemented, and the variety added by each character’s abilities adds longevity.
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