THE WASHINGTON POST – The WarioWare series is known for its frenetic pace and wacky microgames, but its newest entry adds a new component to that chaos: multi-player co-op.
It’s one of several new features introduced in WarioWare: Get It Together! set to release September 10 on the Nintendo Switch. And after previewing a demo hosted by Nintendo Treehouse, the product development arm of Nintendo of America, it’s already clear that this is one of the most ambitious additions to the series.
For the first time, players can choose who to play as among the eccentric cast of characters at WarioWare Inc, the fictional video game company founded by Mario’s nemesis. Each one has unique abilities that make them better suited for beating certain microgames than others. For example, Wario flies around in a jet pack and can body slam into anything in his path; Mona putters around on a scooter and sends a remote-control boomerang bouncing around on screen; the alien Orbulon zooms around in a spaceship that can suck up and move objects; and 18-Volt has limited movement but can fire off powerful discs from afar. Some characters can only be controlled with two players, with each player limited to firing from the left or the right side. Regardless of your choice, the controls are identical, pared down to moving with the joystick and hitting a single button to attack.
WarioWare: Get It Together! features more than 200 microgames and a dizzying number of game modes. In story mode, WarioWare Inc’s staff gets sucked into a video game they developed. You and a crew of up to three characters play through a collection of randomised, seconds-long microgames where you hurry to squeeze out a tube of toothpaste, pluck every last armpit hair, and other madcap objectives while the pace and difficulty steadily ramp up.
Each collection of microgames has a different theme, such as fantasy or Nintendo’s game library. Players are allowed four losses on each run and, after beating a certain number of microgames, enter a boss stage where they dodge enemy attacks and environmental dangers rather than race against the clock. Beating bosses earns you in-game currency, which can be spent to customise each character’s appearance among other things.
In another first for the series, you can tackle story mode with another player using the Switch’s two JoyCon controllers or through local co-op with two Switch consoles (each person will need to own a copy of the game).
Some of the characters, such as the cat and dog duo Dribble and Spitz, are only available in two-player mode, as each player fires projectiles from the left or right side. Technically both players are on the same team, but the gameplay’s frantic pace means cooperation and communication often fall by the wayside, representatives from Nintendo Treehouse explained during the demo.
This adds a new layer of difficulty to the WarioWare formula, since you have to avoid accidentally obstructing your teammate in the mad dash to complete each objective as quickly as possible. You can also play co-op with another person in party mode, a side-scrolling platforming-style minigame.
Themed around office culture, players fight WarioWare Inc’s business competitors and collect contracts to rack up points for the chance at a high score, all the while switching randomly between characters each time they hit a character token. Up to four players can go up against each other in the game’s variety mode. Each player tries to collect the most stars through a series of two-part rounds.
During the first half, they compete to be the first to score a goal in an air hockey-style minigame, each playing as the same randomly selected character. The winner then plays a microgame to try to win stars while the loser does everything in their power to stop them. WarioWare: Get It Together! achieves this dynamic in a unique way. The winner’s microgame takes place in a windowed, floating screen, similar to a phone’s picture-in-picture display.
As they rush to beat the game, the loser manipulates the shape of the screen itself, sending it bouncing around like the DVD logo screen saver or squishing it to the size of a pancake. The effects are randomised for each round, and are all designed to keep you on your toes even when playing a microgame you may have beaten a million times before.
In addition to these modes, WarioWare: Get It Together! has a practice area where players can get used to each character’s unique style of movement and attack. Then there’s endless mode where, as the name suggests, players choose a single microgame and race through endless variations of it. The pace picks up each time they win, to see how long of a streak they can set before losing.
There will also be weekly challenges for players to compete worldwide through the console’s online multi-player service, Nintendo Switch Online. Nintendo Treehouse declined to go into too much detail about this feature, but said players would compete for the highest score in a set microgame with a specific objective, with more points awarded to those who opt for characters that aren’t as suited for that particular game.
Curiously, none of the microgames in WarioWare: Get It Together! make use of the JoyCon’s motion controls or HD rumble features. Previous entries in the series were designed to capitalise on the features unique to whatever system they released on, such as WarioWare: Smooth Moves for the Wii having motion controls baked into many of its microgames or WarioWare: Touched for the DS incorporating touch-based mechanics.
So it was a surprise to see that none of the features that Nintendo hyped in its initial advertisements for the Switch made an appearance in the demo.
When asked about this, Nintendo Treehouse said the team was more focused on integrating multi-player co-op into WarioWare’s formula of bite-size, frenetic gameplay.
This decision also makes sense from a sales standpoint as well as a creative one: Nintendo dropped HD rumble from its console’s budget version, the Switch Lite, so it could risk isolating those players by relying too heavily on a feature they can’t use.
Either way, this latest addition to the WarioWare series appears to have all the makings of the next big multi-player hit for the Switch.