WarioWare, Inc. is one of the most important games of all time

Nintendo’s back catalog is so rich that at launch new Game Boy and Game Boy Advance collection on Nintendo Switch Online, it can afford to offer a combination of cult curiosities, major and minor entries in the popular series, and a hit like the Game Boy. jigsaw puzzle, while still saving a lot for later. Still, even for this company, nothing can sway the prophetic influence and abandonment of the punk-rock style of one of Nintendo’s boldest designs ever: WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!

It’s not that Nintendo invented the idea of ​​anarchist minigame synthesis with this 2003 release of GBA, which went on to make a series of minigames and cult obsession. Konami’s similarly bizarre and silly Bishi Bashi games, including competitive mini-games like “Jump for the Meat,” first appeared in video games in the late 1990s. But WarioWare took this idea to a high degree of formality and aesthetics, depending on your point of view, either reducing the entire concept of video games to its purest essence, or breaking it down completely. whole.

The idea is simple: survive a series of “mini-games” that accelerate as you progress. What makes it extraordinary is the Nintendo developers — WarioWare, Inc. made by a small team within Nintendo’s in-house R&D1 department – it’s really no joke when they implement the term “micro”. The games are no more than three or four seconds long, and their rules are reduced to a single verb: Avoid! Shoot! Dance! Land! Tiny! Enter! Detonated! Sniff! You have fractions of a second to parse instructions and images, figure out the required input (directions or a tap on button A or both) and execute it. Of course, you’ll get used to them over time, but each game has many variations in speed, length, and timing that keep you on edge.

There’s a radical compression of casual player-game conversation here, which is quite thrilling to experience: a snap occurs in the gap between the word, the image, and the insistent tick-tock soundtrack. insists. WarioWare shrink the process of experiencing, learning, and mastering a new game down to literally seconds. Players act according to a mixture of instincts and patterns learned over a lifetime of gaming: when to touch, when to hammer, when to change direction.

A photo of a white cat's face with the word

Image: Nintendo

Image of vegetables, cut in half and mismatched.  At the top is the word “Potato!”

Image: Nintendo

Screenshot from the NES Metroid, with Samus facing the Mother Brain.  The top is superimposed with letters

Image: Nintendo

A beautiful anime girl with white hair has a giant drop of water dangling from her nose.  In the background is a lighthouse.  On the same word read

Image: Nintendo

You can imagine the concept fitting in with a minimalist, rustic visual style, but Nintendo went the other way. WarioWare, Inc. messy, ugly, and intentionally inconsistent to look at: a postmodern mess of wireframes, shadows, unfinished programmer artwork, archival photos, and extreme illustration style contrast period. The game is amusing in the face of Nintendo’s usual perfectionism, scribbling game ideas like graffiti on too many digital tiles and sampling some of the company’s own hits ranging from Duck hunting ARRIVE Legend of Zelda, like loops on hip-hop music. Some of the ideas — which the designers documented on individual Post-it Notes — are childish, such as the girl in the anime sniffing a long string of dangling snot. There’s even a mock fighting game where a giant, muscular Mario and a Bowser look like a bored kaiju face to face. Nothing is sacred.

Wario, Mario’s selfish, lazy, and incompetent rival, is the perfect mascot for all this anarchy. conceit of WarioWare is that he’s decided to go into game development as a get-rich-quick scheme, and you’re playing half-baked products he and his eccentric friends came up with. Each set of mini-games is framed by an eerie story starring Wario’s friends, such as Jimmy, the disco king with flip phones, or Dribble and Spitz, the cat drivers and dogs, and these cutscenes often don’t have a sequel at all. (Hey, turns out the Dribble fare is a fishing boy!) These make no sense, but the rhythm, marked by the windshield wipers or the pump decibel meter on the boombox, still continue.

the unthinkable about WarioWare – unlikely, but absolutely necessary – is it perfect as it is wild. Jokes play out with the same rhythmic accuracy as players return a tennis rally or extend Wario’s hand to catch a beer sliding along the bar. The game is non-stop, intoxicating, and its duration is endless. As the 3D era of gaming began to evolve and the game began to complicate snowballs, this brilliant, contrasting work decided to split them up instead. You can see Nintendo’s campaign back to basics with the Wii and DS heralded here, as well as the one-touch, bite-size ethos of the coming smartphone revolution. WarioWare, Inc. anticipating, parodying, and overcoming these trends without breaking its stride — while giving everything self-important and over-determined about video games with the life-affirming middle finger gloriously.

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