WarioWare: Move It! turns your family and friends into wriggling chaos demons

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Investing / Thursday, 02 November 2023 14:28

It's currently 1:00 PM on a Saturday, and I've never watched TV this attentively.

Roughly every five seconds, I'm commanded to wave my hands to blend in with a forest of seaweed. Or I have to shake them like train wheels. Or I need to place them on my thighs and lift them to avoid oncoming rocks. There's always something new, and it's always absurd.

That's the joy of WarioWare: Move It!, which launches this Friday on the Nintendo Switch. Following the last WarioWare game, Get It Together!, which experimented with wildly unbalanced control schemes tied to various in-game characters, Move It! returns to a more familiar format. You're back on even footing, playing simple microgames reminiscent of the ones that made the early Game Boy Advance and GameCube games so memorable. It doesn't quite reach the heights of the latest one, but it's a noticeable improvement over the last entry with its dynamic gameplay in Smooth Moves.

Bopping worms in WarioWare: Move It! Nintendo Back to basics Nobody plays WarioWare games for the plot, but I'll give you the basic idea anyway. Wario, a mischievous and quirky version of Mario, wins an all-inclusive vacation on a resort island, bringing along a motley crew of characters, from underage ninja twins to a space alien and talking dogs and cats in matching jumpsuits. You'll assist this madcap ensemble in completing corresponding chapters using "forms" provided by the island's inhabitants. You might have to hold your Joy-Cons like a sword or a dumbbell or clap them to your face as if you were Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. After brief, ironic tutorials, you'll cycle through the forms to tackle wave after wave of five-second microgames accompanied by instructions ranging from obvious to cryptic: "Clean up!" "Punch!" "Empty!" "Get candy!" "Play a card!" "Face the ghost!"

While the game bombards you with rapid novelty, it's usually intuitive. Previous WarioWare games had you interpreting each command through random, opaque button presses. Move It! you, well, move, which is crucial for folks who aren't accustomed to playing many video games. Sure, the instruction to "lay an egg" might throw you off at first, but you'll see hands on the screen and understand it wants you to squeeze them... sort of, you know, lay an egg.

Not all trials are about chickens, but there are more of them than you'd think! Nintendo Engine for delightful humiliation In good company, this perpetual bafflement becomes a lot more fun. I ran through the game's entire two-player story mode with my wife and son over a few hours. While we played as teams, the seated person had to watch the crazy onlookers as hapless players tried to mimic chickens pecking at worms, waddle like penguins, or draw shapes with their butts. And best of all, co-op is particularly forgiving of mistakes; if you fail a task, your partner can redo it to redeem your goof-up. If you run out of lives, you can respawn by imitating a special form on the screen.

Party modes in the game aren't quite as engaging, although their unique gimmicks are worth trying at least once. Medusa March complicates gameplay by making you randomly stand still. Galactic Party Quest resembles Mario Party, but it's even more arbitrary (just what I wanted!). Who's in control? you must carefully watch opponent commands to figure out who's acting out microgames and who's genuinely playing them. Of all the party modes, "Go the Distance" is the only one that became a staple in my home, and that's because it's the simplest: battle through microgames until there's one player left standing.

So while Move It! lacks the varied competitive opportunities that had my siblings and me spending countless evenings with the GameCube's Mega Party Game$ it's still the best WarioWare game in years. Who knows—I'll be seeing my brother and sister on Thanksgiving—maybe we'll all pick up this goofball game again while making fools of ourselves in the living room.