Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
The ever-scheming Wario stumbles upon the mysterious Temple of Form, where he discovers the Form Baton. The Baton is a magical wand, in the shape of a Wii Remote, that can grant its user the ability to overcome any challenge. Wario and his friends embark on quests where they must point, shake, and groove to hundreds of fast-paced "microgames," all taking advantage of the Wii's unique motion-sensing ability.
Nintendo has hit it big with the Nintendo Wii. The miniscule white console has created quite a stir amongst gamers and non-gamers alike, due to its unique remote control-shaped controller that translates real-world movements into actions on screen. WIi Sports has been critically acclaimed for its ability to demonstrate the precision of the Wii Remote. No other game for Nintendo's newest system has so effectively used the Remote ... that is, until now. WarioWare: Smooth Moves easily features the best implementation of the Wii Remote to date. However, like many other games on the console, the shallow nature of the game, and underdeveloped multiplayer and single player modes undermine what could easily be a truly engrossing and worthwhile experience. While WarioWare: Smooth Moves is incredibly fun, it could have been made even better, justifying its relatively high price tag.
For the unfamiliar, the WarioWare franchise is now a fairly long-running series of games that usually attempt to demonstrate one of Nintendo's newest control innovations. When the series debuted on the Game Boy Advance, it was quickly heralded for its unique, inventive gameplay that has been the series' mainstay. The focus of the original was speed and simplicity: games would last up to 3 seconds each, and players had to understand the premise of the "microgame," figure out how to win, and execute a winning play within the time constraints. As players make their way through more and more microgames, the gameplay increases speed, constantly accelerating until the player reaches failure. The speed of the game kept gamers on their toes, and without knowing what game would come next, players had to stay sharp at all times. The fiendish speeds that the game can reach are made tolerable thanks to the utter simplicity of the games: in the Game Boy Advance original, all players had to do was press a single button, "A," to get through most of the games.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves attempts to translate the frantic nature of its handheld roots for home consumption, and it works brilliantly. Once again, gamers must go through a series of microgames of equal length and complexity. However, instead of pressing buttons, players are now performing gestures. Using the Wii Remote, players will find themselves swinging a bat, hammering a nail, opening a lock, and more. The sheer variety of actions you can perform helps the game become a technical showcase for the system, allowing the player to fully appreciate the incredible potential the Wii Remote brings to gaming.
With its unique premise, and equally creative art style, WarioWare enthralled gamers around the world. The game has a peculiar Japanese sense of humor about it, and it permeates every aspect of the franchise, from the visuals to the gameplay. All of the games are incredibly fresh, and feature some interesting design choices that make you question the sanity of the developers. Even the simplest of games feature a wild sense of randomness and humor. For example, in one microgame, the player will have to drink water. Upon success, the on-screen character celebrates, and grows incredibly long nose hair. Huh? Moments of shock and surprise litter every game. Other tasks have you cleaning a cow's rear end, or shooting bananas out of your nose. The game teaches you to expect the unexpected, which inspires a childish sense of glee for this jaded reviewer.
The humor and style that the game embraces enhance the experience, but the game would ultimately fail without some genuinely satisfying gameplay. Although simplistic in nature, the hundreds of microgames all feel accurate, something that can't be stated for numerous Wii titles. The accurate translation of a player's actions is rewarding, as it becomes a truly empowering experience. A three-second baseball game has you batting a ball, and it feels just as great as Wii Sports. The game feels so responsive, that one can't help but wish these microgames to be fully developed into stand-alone retail products. For example, one volleyball game has you volleying, and it feels spot-on. It makes you hope that a Wii Sports sequel will feature the sport. Billiards, racing, and boxing all feel great. One particularly impressive game has you standing up and dancing. Yes, dancing. The game has you shaking your entire body, swinging your arms, spinning around, and keeping a beat. It is an incredible (and horrifyingly embarrassing) demonstration of the power of the Wii Remote. The execution of each of these games is incredibly solid, making for a truly fulfilling gaming experience.
Fans of Japanese culture will appreciate the numerous references to Japanese pop and folk culture. There are samurai, ninjas, and robots to be found everywhere. The game employs a pleasing anime-inspired art style that translates well on the big screen. Even without HD support, the game looks incredibly sharp, featuring vibrant colors and some pleasing animation that can be best compared to excellent Flash animation. The various microgames borrow visual inspiration from a huge variety of sources, from traditional Japanese prints, to modern 3D games, and the end result is a pleasing array of styles that truly captures the game's eclectic nature. The game's equally varied soundtrack is excellent, featuring some of the best tunes to come out of Nintendo in a long time.
Because the game suceeds on so many levels, it's sad to see that after playing for a few hours, the game feels shallow. The microgames premise is fresh and fun, but becomes tiresome after a while. In short doses, the game will undoubtedly prove to be exciting, but fails to provide a meaningful, lengthy experience. It will take about three hours to get to the game's credits, and only a few more hours to unlock everything the game has to offer. While WarioWare is a game you can return to at any time, like Tetris, it is still somewhat disappointing to see the experience end so quickly, especially when compared to the lengthy adventure provided by the Game Boy Advance original.
Also, the game's multiplayer modes seem shallow, and unnecessary. While the potential to play with up to twelve people by passing around the Wii Remote is exciting, the execution is somewhat underwhelming. The game adds a series of other rules to the multiplayer experience that make the game unnecessarily complex, and surprisingly unsatisfying. However, this doesn't mean that WarioWare is meant to be played alone. In fact, it's still meant to be played in front of an audience. Extensive play has shown that the best multiplayer experience in the game is to simply play single player together. Certainly, your friends will appreciate your foolish appearance as you perform your "smooth moves." And, unlike in multiplayer, you'll be able to play more than one microgame at a time, giving you the true WarioWare experience. When you fail, simply pass the controller to another person, and revel in the sheer silliness of it all.
Although the game's length and multiplayer leaves a lot to be desired, WarioWare: Smooth Moves is easily one of the best, and most satisfying games to arrive on Nintendo's new console. However, with only a few hours of gameplay packed in the game, one has to question if its worth the full purchase price. Gamers looking for an intensely fun, albeit brief, gaming experience with friends will get the most out of this game. Gamers that want a showcase of the Wii Remote's incredible potential will also want to add it to their collections. However, for most people, the game only warrants a rental. Invite some friends, buy some drinks, and play WarioWare through the night. You'll wake up with a smile, having experienced everything the game has to offer.
Overall : B
Graphics : B
Sound/Music : B
Gameplay : B
Presentation : B
+ Best use of Wii Remote so far. Huge variety of satisfying microgames with a great sense of humor.
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