WarioWare Touched!

WarioWare Touched is a microgame collection game on the Nintendo DS. This is not the first installment in the WarioWare series, but since it’s the first one I’ve been able to review, I’d like to start out with some more basic information on the series in general, as I was already familiar with its Game Boy Advance debut. Essentially, these games are made up of lots of different microgames that you play in rapid succession. Microgames are conceptually similar to minigames except they tend to only last a few seconds. Because they happen in rapid succession in these games, you’ll usually be given a word or phrase to tip you off as to what to do and then you’ll need to use the contextual clues of the visuals and sounds to figure out what you must do in an instant. These microgames are generally sectioned off into different groupings in order for you to learn and retain them in shorter bursts before mixing more of them together. And most of these are done with very simplistic controls in order to keep them fast and manageable. Also, the series tends to have lots of very goofy and absurd visuals and sounds to give it its own sense of style and humor. And of course, it prominently features the titular Wario throughout. I think that covers the basics, so let’s get into WarioWare Touched.

There’s a bit of a story here… sort of. It’s unimportant, but basically Wario discovers a gaming system that is surprisingly similar to the Nintendo DS, a coincidence I’m sure, and hypothesizes that with twice the screens he can make twice the money! So he starts making more of his famous microgames. There are other characters you meet along the way, each with their own small story bits to witness, but overall it’s not really a story based game. Each character has their own set of microgames to play. Most of them will have a theme on how you use the stylus. That’s right, this a DS game after all, so get used to only using that stylus for this one. So you might have a batch of microgames that focus on tapping, scratching, spinning, holding, pulling, and more! Some characters will have you playing a mix of a few previous characters though, and near the end you’ll be playing a giant mashup of them all. The one exception is that one character has microgames based solely on using the microphone. Typically you’ll only need to reach a certain score the first time you play one of these stages in order to get their epilogue cutscene and unlock new stages. You will have four lives or misses, essentially, and messing up on a microgame will result in losing one. Losing all of these will be a game over. At the end you’ll play a longer, more difficult microgame, more akin to an actual minigame, as a boss. Beat this to win the stage. Afterwards you can play again to try and get a high score, usually with a score of 30 or so unlocking another bonus. The microgames will get faster and start throwing more difficult variants of the existing ones at you while you get further and further in the endless attempts, but beating a boss game will reward you with replenishing one of your misses up to the max of four. Most of the bonuses are strange little interactive experiences that wouldn’t really work as microgames. Some of them are minigames, but most of them seem to be odd extras like a calculator, a pet chameleon, and a harmonica just to name a few. You can even go back and play specific microgames, see if you’ve witnessed all the microgames in each area, and replay the character epilogues whenever you’d like. And that’s… pretty much it. You play, unlock, and then try to get your best scores.

I was already a fan of the first game, but I was skeptical of this one at first. I’m not typically into the stylus controls in general, but WarioWare Touched had a clever way to ease me into it with each set of microgrames being based around one simple use of said controls. You learn the different ways to use poking, scratching, holding, spinning… all of these simple ideas that have a variety of uses when you favor in things like precision and timing to the situation. And the developers once again hit it out of the park with being able to take simple controls and concepts and turn them into a fun and engaging experience. It’s not just the previous games in the series with a touch gimmick. These are almost all new games, with a few similar ones and a few old ones with a twist, but clearly it was made for the DS from the ground up. The way it slowly teaches as it challenges is something I really appreciated given my personal biases. And it retains the same level of humor, creativity, and personal competition as the previous games. And it’s all portable, man! So there’s a lot about this game I really like, and I think it certainly achieves what it sets out to achieve. However, I had a few complaints.

One complaint you might already guess is that the stylus controls are not as precise as using buttons. Sometimes the screen doesn’t register your taps or movements properly enough which can result in failures that aren’t your fault. It didn’t happen to me often, but it DID happen at times so it should be mentioned. Also, sometimes your hand is in the way of the screen because of how you’re holding the stylus. You can adjust I suppose, but it’s a hard habit to break. Then there’s the set of microphone microgames. These are neat for what they are, though they pretty much revolve only about blowing into the mic. There are the interesting layers of timing or the pressure of the blowing, but it’s all blowing and doesn’t use the stylus like the rest of the game. Plus, when they put it into the mix-ups, you periodically will need to blow into your microphone and look like a dipshit if you’e playing in public. I didn’t have that issue, but someone might. It just ends up feeling like a gimmick and doesn’t fit with the rest of the game. The same can be said for the bonus unlockables. Some of the minigame ones are okay. There’s even a cool multiplayer one where you play table tennis while sitting on either side of the one system. But a lot of them, like the calculator or the one with the gelatin? I mean, these will most likely be used twice at most. Once to see what you unlocked, and once more to show your friends the weird thing that was tacked onto your game. Unlocking stuff is fun, but it’s usually better to have things worth unlocking, and sadly most of these aren’t.

All that being said, WarioWare Touched is still a pretty good game for what it is. It’s no system seller, but it definitely has its appeal as a filler game in addition to the bigger, must-have titles. I’d say it’s worth about twenty bucks or less. If you’re into the arcadey, high score aspect on a portable system then it’s a great one to pick up and put down on a whim. Even if you’re not into the stylus controls but are a WarioWare fan, it’s certainly worth checking out. And if you just like the idea of some fun, simple microgames on your DS with stylus controls then it should satisfy. Not the best place to start the series, but it’s not a bad place by any means. Personally, I got this on 3DS for free through the My Nintendo rewards site. It shows up periodically so keep your eyes peeled for a nice freebie, but I believe it’s also available on the Wii U virtual console as well, though you’ll lose the portability… but… I mean it’ll be reasonably priced. I’m not sure what the physical DS game goes for, but keep your eyes open if you’re interested. It’s some simple, goofy fun. EXCELLENT!

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