Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Wario Ware: Mega Microgames


From Nintendo's entire oeuvre of systems, the Game Boy Advance contains once of the best repertoires of games since the days of the NES. This isn't really taking into account the quality of the individual games but in terms of genre spanning, very few consoles have done better. This being said, the individual quality I mentioned earlier is rather debatable. Don't get me wrong, the GBA has a lot of good games, but that's all they were... good. Discounting games that are only subjectively great because of brand status (Is The Minish Cap REALLY one of the best games ever?), most of the truly great games share one thing in common: Nintendo R&D 1 (Although I will defend Drill Dozer untill the day I die). The common element that all these games share can be divided into two points: creativity and simplicity. Rhythm Tengoku is the pinnacle of this form of design but it's also displayed in the criminally under-rated Wario Land 4 and, of course, Wario Ware: Mega Micro Games.

For one thing this game is responsible for creating an entirely new genre of video games. Mini-game compilations are nothing new, dating as far back as the NES where games that weren't fleshed out enough to be sold as full games (usually sub-par), the famous game of that era being Action 52. Wario Ware's innovation was setting these games under a short time limit and demanded that the player complete these in rapid succession to proceed to the 'boss' minigame which only differs from the previous games in length, difficulty and lack of a time limit.

There's not really much else to say about the game. This process is repeated ten-fold with each set of mini-games containing common motifs which is emphasized that games character. Nowhere is this more obvious than 9 & 18 Volt whose interest in retro gaming paraphernalia is emphasised in the mini-games which are all based from old Nintendo games and also happen to be some of the best mini-games in the entire game.

The above paragraph demonstrates my biggest complaint with the game: the mini games themselves are actually rather boring. When you have a game that proclaims itself as a collection of over two hundred mini-games then you'd expect some over-lap between games (If there wasn't any then this would be the best video game ever made) but even so, almost all the games come off as incredibly derivative no matter how much the visual aesthetic tries to trick you into thinking that every game is different (at least this game genuinely tries to convince you every game is something new, unlike Action 52 where almost a quarter of the game consists of dull space shooters). This wouldn't be a problem in a tightly designed game but when the whole game consists of this it gets incredibly frustrating very quickly.

Wario Ware is simultaneously the most and least creative game from Nintendo R&D1. The premise itself is one that helped to unveil a new realm of potential for future games (including Nintendo's R&D1 own Rhythm Tengoku) but as a stand alone game it doesn't really hold up. The game was later remade for the GameCube as Mega Party Games. I think that MPG is what MMG should have been as it emphasises multiplayer over single player which adds a lot more mystery to the game while single player pressures the player to complete the game (which involves playing most of the mini-games in the process), multiplayer is a lot more flexible and actually involves some rather clever ideas of how the games should be judged. Why in the Wii version you have to complete single player to unlock multiplayer I have no idea.

Find Wario Ware: Mega Microgames on ebay

Released: 5/26/2003
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1

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