I’ve always loved the WarioWare series, although to be honest I’ve always viewed it as a mostly single player game. However, that opinion could soon change – because after several moves into multiplayer action, the series could have its best offering ever WarioWare: Move it.
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Maybe my attitude towards the series that’s best enjoyed alone comes from my history with it – I played that first game on GBA 20 years ago, and the joy of the game was unlocking new mini-games and challenging yourself, Survive the ever-accelerating nature of the game’s various challenges. In the sequels, multiplayer became a staple and even the focus of some later games – but honestly, none of it has ever given me as much joy as venturing into the rhythmic zone of WarioWare’s “microgames” on my own.
This is the second WarioWare title for the Switch, but it stands out in a few key ways. For one thing, the previous title “Get It Together” contained more “traditional” WarioWare mini-games that go back directly to the series’ GBA origins. With this new title, the clue is in the name: Move focuses on motion controls and should in many ways be considered a successor to WarioWare Smooth Moves on the Wii.
This move to motion controls lends itself to multiplayer – after all, it’s more fun to make a fool of yourself fidgeting and flailing your arms in front of others – but more has been done to emphasize this fact. The most important change: a more extensive multiplayer structure.
During a quick hands-on session with Move It, I was able to experience a snippet of each section of the game. Story mode appears to be quite similar to previous entries, telling the story of Wario and his gang of friends through short cartoon sequences and a series of stages. In the “Museum” you can repeat any mini-games you have seen in other modes. But the most interesting section was undoubtedly the party mode.
Party Mode consists of several different frameworks, of which I was only able to experience one: Galactic Conquest. The logic here is simple: players are placed on a board game-style board. At the end of the board there is a rocket ship. There are two objectives: Someone must reach the rocket to trigger the end of the game. At this point, the player with the most points is declared the winner.
In Galactic Conquest, the board is ruthless. Each space seemed to hide some kind of secondary effect when you landed on it; Teleporting players here and there, resetting progress, and even increasing the overall size of the game board. Points are earned by placing higher in competitive four-player microgames. So there is an element of frustrating but exciting randomness in the nature of the board effects, but also the strategy of possibly avoiding reaching the rocket ship before you have enough points to be declared the winner.
It all feels a bit like Mario Party, and I loved it. Obviously, this is just a framework to tie the microgames together – but when it comes to turning a title like WarioWare into a multiplayer experience, the framework can really make or break in terms of effectiveness. And this format works.
It works somewhat because the board game is simple, easy to understand and makes a lot of sense. The microgames take care of the second half – silly and immediately understandable even for grandma. It’s the best power of the Wii era, delivered with Joy-Cons.
Microgames are now divided into categories not only by theme, but also by “attitude.” For example, in the “Knight” stance, you hold Joy-Cons as if you had a two-handed sword hilt. In the “Choo-choo” pose, you place your arms at a 90-degree angle to your side, as if you are ready to mimic the movement of a steam locomotive’s coupling rod. You occupy these positions and then each mini-game must be played from these positions.
Nintendo wants to keep the list of exact microgames secret and has a secretive list about what can and cannot be discussed. And so it honestly feels safer to avoid the description at all. But believe me when I say they are very good. They meet the requirements of being quick to understand, challenging and deadly fun to watch – which is pretty much what a game like this requires.
Some of them are also damn exhausting. The “Squat” stance is exactly what you think, and actually contains a few microgames that can test your flexibility and musculature in ways that are surprising for a party game perhaps best played with excited ones children or after a few glasses of wine.
Anyway, the point is: I finally have a WarioWare game that I can imagine playing in multiplayer mode. I’ll almost always be there from day one to see the story mode of a WarioWare game, and if nothing else, to evoke nostalgia over 9-Volt’s classic Nintendo mini-games. But with Move It, the franchise finally seems to have a multiplayer mode that I can imagine playing with family over the holidays – or with friends after a few too many beers.
WarioWare: Move It will also be released in time for the celebrations – it will be released on November 3rd.