WarioWare: Smooth Moves - WII - Review
In between the few Mario and Zelda releases, Nintendo produces two series that popularized the idea of mini-games: Mario Party and WarioWare. No one has been able to escape the plumber party, which once received yearly updates like a sports game. WarioWare, on the other hand, is the king of unusual and the master of quirky. Its strange ideas and eye-popping mini-games do not share the appearance of other Nintendo games.
Those who look at (but do not play) the latest chapter, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, could easily be turned off by the odd images of giant noses, uneven fingernails, and occasionally, a cow’s dirty rear. Onlookers may also be turned off when they discover the purpose of those odd images: you have to pick the nose, clip the fingernails, and wash the cow’s booty.
No, this doesn’t sound like a good or clever idea for a new game. But play Smooth Moves for five minutes and your mind will be changed. The quick, react-in-an-instant mini-games are really addictive. I’m not a big fan of cow-washing, but in a world where most games look, sound, and feel the same, it’s exciting when a game goes in a direction most people wouldn’t even consider an option. Visually and aurally, the most appealing thing is that Smooth Moves doesn’t care if it’s appealing.
Crazy? Ridiculous? In need of some serious psychiatric help? Yes, Smooth Moves is all those things. And that’s precisely the point.
Smooth Moves doesn’t play by the rules; it makes fun of them. The game is comprised of several different mini-games. Each is placed into a different category that determines how you’re supposed to hold and move the Wii remote, which the game refers to as a “Form Baton.” (“The Balance Stone,” AKA the nunchuck attachment, is detached for most of the game.)
The Chauffeur, one of the first categories, tells you to hold the remote sideways like a steering wheel. To be more precise, it says (with accompanying artwork, soap opera music, and a monotone voice-over):
“Turn the Form Baton sideways and wrap your hands around both ends. As the Form Baton turns, so too do the Earth and all upon it, from liver to liveryman.”
This weird message is the beginning of WarioWare’s unique brand of weirdness.
Form Baton Basics: “(1) Always use the wrist strap. (2) Play standing in an open area. (3) Let go of your inhibitions.”
Smooth Moves’s mini-games are so short that they’re referred to as “micro games.” Many of them can be finished – or lost – in less than 10 seconds. Some are over in five seconds. Too short? They probably would be in another game. But this isn’t any other game – you’re supposed to fly from one absurd task to the next.
The number of mini-games per level ranges from 8 to 18. You get four tries to make it to the boss, who must be defeated to proceed to the next round.
Using The Chauffeur position, players have to turn the remote quickly to launch a TV off a conveyer belt. If successful, the TV will be pushed through an enlarging machine and be given a Wario-approved mustache.
The Handlebar, a stance based on how you ride a bicycle, introduces you to the act of pumping (quickly pushing your hands up and down) to inflate a balloon.
The Waiter and The Discard are two of my favorite positions. They’re some of the best examples of how the game applies multiple micro games to each position. Holding the Form Baton like a waiter, you place the remote on the palm of your hand. In this position the game may require you to balance a broom (be very steady) or some other object.
“Hold the Form Baton straight with the tip pointing forward.
This simple stance reflects one of life’s fiercest – and greatest – sports: channel surfing.”
There’s another micro game that, from that same position, requires the use of your other hand. You have to tap the Form Baton (the remote itself, not a button) as if you were tapping a loose table. The goal is to tap it faster than your AI opponent. Both players have paper figures on the table – the faster you tap, the more likely it is that your opponent’s figure will fall first. Truthfully I couldn’t see myself playing a real game like this, but it’s amusing for the five seconds it appears in WarioWare.
The Discard is the most unusual of all the game’s positions. To play these games, you set the remote on the floor (or any other stable surface) and wait for a cue. The first one is pretty easy: it’s a drawing of a phone, which rings shortly after it appears on screen. I grabbed the remote as fast as I could, assuming that the phone needed to be answered. That turned out to be the case, which led me to believe that all other Discard micro games would involve a similar task.
As an unfamiliar man lay still on the floor, you wait for his assassin to approach. Pick up the remote just before the killer strikes and his victim will spring from the floor and attack first. There’s no blood or implications of murder involved with the preemptive strike – just a silly animation.
“Turn the Form Baton sideways and hold it firmly from above in your right hand.
Let the spirit of the noble sucker punch guide you to victory.”
There is also a Discard micro game where you control a six-sided die. You wait for the game to tell you what to roll. My first thought was to pick up the remote immediately after the number was given, but that was not the answer. Since the die’s movement is directly tied to the remote, you’re not supposed to pick up or roll anything. The object is to, after studying the die’s position, tilt the remote in the direction that will make your number appear.
Boss battles are not what you’d expect. Rather than take on some disgusting, overgrown monster, you must complete an objective that fits within the rest of the game’s framework. The first puts you in control of a large paper fan. Wave the Form Baton forward – repeatedly – until the enemy blows away.
Bosses are more fleshed out toward the end, but don’t expect the quirkiness to go away. You’ll fire blasts into a big nose, battle sword-to-sword with a mechanical samurai, and drive a car (Chauffeur-style) while trying to avoid hitting animals as they run through the street.
The Dumbbell: “Turn the Form Baton sideways and clutch it from below in your right hand.
True masters exhibit a firm grip and an exaggerated grimace.”
Though the wacky, too-insane-to-believe-it storyline has one set path, there are reasons to veer off along the way. Longer and more challenging mini-games – not micro games – are unlocked for completing certain levels. These games include a 1980s-style light gun shooter with one life per game! It’s very fast and fun, and is a zillion times more accurate than the previous generations of light gun shooters.
The Tetris-inspired Block Star is a mini-game of thought and balance. Blocks fall from above, and your goal is to catch them on a moving platform (whose movement is tied directly to the remote). Catching them does not cause them to disappear – you must collect every block and prevent them from falling off the platform. The blocks come in many different shapes and sizes, and will fall at varying speeds.
Tower Tennis is like ping-pong meets Arkanoid. Keep the ball bouncing as you move up through the tower. Blast through bricks along the way, and hit special objects to gain extra points.
Review Scoring Details for WarioWare: Smooth Moves
One of the strangest games released in the States, WarioWare: Smooth Moves is enjoyment from an unexpected place. The too-short-for-words micro games are physically entertaining and aesthetically amusing. You don’t have much time to think about what you’re doing – just grab the remote, use the proper position, and don’t look back. The main quest is over in a couple hours, but there are tons of bonuses, additional mini-games, and high replay value to ensure you don’t get bored.
There isn’t much to WarioWare’s visuals, but the game looks sharp. The paper-thin drawings are like Flash animations. Interactive images of Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin are a cool treat for every Nintendo fan. (Two-dimensional, 1980-Mario holding a Wii remote – how cool is that!?)
The sound perfectly fits Smooth Moves’s ridiculous atmosphere. But it can be a little annoying, which was most likely done to build tension and to make us laugh. The controller explanation sequences are some of the weirdest (and strangely amusing) things you will ever see in a game.
Smooth Moves’s difficulty leans more toward easy, but is fairly flexible with its growing challenges and bonus games.
A new breed of crazy quirky. WarioWare is trippy and generally indescribable. You have to see and play it to believe it. Once that happens, you won’t want to play anything else.
Darts, jumping, and big nose flight/combat are among Smooth Moves’s multiplayer game selection. They’re fun, but not as entertaining as the single-player games.
If everything you’ve just read has made you confused or worried, you might want to play WarioWare: Smooth Moves before making a purchase. It’s original and addictive – but it’s not for everyone.
If this review has intrigued you, or at the very least made you curious, then hesitate no more. When Smooth Moves puts its moves on, you’ll be swooning faster than Wario after finding a pot of gold.