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Nintendo Wii U Review: ‘Game & Wario’

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gamewariosmallWario’s plan to scrape together millions involves videogame development software crafted for Game & Wario’s cartoonishly kitsch faux-Wii U. Wario’s concoction never acknowledges NPD hardware sales, a critical misjudgment toward a path of success.

Then again, in this alternate reality, faux-Wii U could dominate. Who could resist the boxy allure of cartridges enormous enough to require Gamecube-like plastic handles? If that is a minor impediment toward playing ‘Design,’ which has players drawing length-specific lines to craft preposterous helper ‘bots, so be it.

Game & Wario is an inviting and leisurely stroll into nutty ideas surrounding a GamePad peripheral most of Nintendo’s Wii audience still doesn’t understand. To that end, maybe Nintendo Land should be junked as a pack-in, replaced by this madcap design frenzy. Functionality is broad and inventive, daring in knowing failures can rest on the shoulders of other mini-successes.

Stroking designer ingenuity is frantic picture taking session ‘Shutter,’ with the pad becoming a motion controlled camera. Photographer Mona picks up challenging assignments where photo suspects hide behind objects, draw blinds, or do twirls. Insistence on perfection holds across almost each bit of mini-software on the disc, here with the photos requiring alignment, focus, and framing.

Less successful is ‘Kung Fu,’ an anime juiced jumping campaign requiring both the TV and pad, each with different viewpoints. In conjunction, the two work shoddily, with motion controlled jumping a tipsy nightmare, while platforms struggle to hold orientation via shadow. Pits become unwelcome invitations as well.

Throw-aways like dopey puzzling mischief ‘Pathwork’ fall into a category of wasted time, and mobile-inspired ‘Ski’ goes against Nintendo’s defiantly anti-mobile business methodology. Think small time, top down Temple Run with a skier more akin to a Sega produced cartoon fest here.

Highlights align with ‘Arrow’ and ‘Gamer.’ The former is a battle against marauding pixel monsters who march forward in unison. The pad serves as an arrow catapult, blending screen and tablet in line with Nintendo Land’s ninja skewering side quest. ‘Gamer’ is infused with childlike wonder, not only offering Nintendo’s (only) modern day acknowledgment of Virtual Boy, but panic as a mother peers in on her child past his bedtime. The goal? Keep playing videogames without drawing the ire of a mobile parental unit who can transpose themselves into television technology. The spitfire energy of WarioWare surfaces with these two button, hastened shorts between ducking sessions.

‘Pirate’ pushes motion controls past their limit, it is a rhythm based seaward rumble and too complex a concoction for something serving as more of an introductory piece. Aligning movements in multiple directions to bat away opposing plunger projectiles requires precision not afforded here. ‘Bird’ preys on the ancient LCD-enthused gamer, ‘ Ashley’ is personality sparked gem collection fest, and ‘Taxi’ a UFO blasting excursion with lightly tapered enthusiasm.

‘Bowling’ too serves up touch screen flicks, slinging a ball down the lane, twisting the Pad to add spin. Pins come in bulk representing WarioWare staples to differentiate the game from standard sport form. It is mindless and, unfortunately, would have been great if locked to the Pad. Instead, pin knock outs are stupidly kept on TV.

Game & Wario jumps between multi- and single-player, some of the above delivering on variety once unlocked, while separate selections only add bits and pieces to the game for multiplayer. Inventive here is ‘Disco,’ a musically inclined tapping title planted on the Pad, a notable implementation of a feature Nintendo showed ages ago at E3. ‘Sketch’ (see: Pictionary), ‘Fruit’ (interactive hidden object), and ‘Islands’ (curling-ish) prove serviceable as diversions if your Wii U library is thin on competition.

None of the templates require powering up a WiiMote, sticking to the GamePad as if Game & Wario serves as purchasable marketing for crowded parties. It is accessible, if low on spunk, with much of its attitude buried in 240 unlockable items. These non-secateurs vary in usefulness from game tips to shadow puppet creation via the GamePad camera. It is a shame so many of these are crammed in and buried in a delightfully unnerving menu that sees a chicken plopping out bonus balls in close-up. Unlocking it all demands repetitive play sessions.

Some of the shrewd nonsense dictated by Wario’s interpretive gameplay physique is here, although too many align with a broader Nintendo vision for their hardware. Ideas are defined not by their frantic zest of manic existence so much as they are meant to deliver a cautiously crafted means to sell the GamePad – and the system with which it comes.

Game & Wario is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.