A surprising amount can happen in five seconds. 15,800 tons of water flow at Niagara Falls, 17 million emails are sent, and I probably say something stupid I’ll recall weekly for the rest of my life. Wario and his cast of cohorts have spent over two decades using this five-second timeframe throwing frantic microgames at us, usually accompanied by a new input method of some kind. Well, Wario is back again in WarioWare: Move It! (even if he sounds a little different this time around) and is ready to get you moving and looking like an idiot across over 200 microgames, five seconds at a time.
This time, Wario and pals stumble across some rather familiar-looking artifacts called Form Stones. Across each of the story mode’s ten main levels, you’ll take the form of two or three of the nearly twenty different Form Stone poses to play the microgames. These forms start simple enough. The “Sky Stretch” form has you holding your hands high above, whilst the “Knight” form has you placing one hand on top of the other as if you were holding a sword. As you progress, you’ll unlock forms like the “Squat” and “Archer”, and even forms that have you use the IR sensor, require button presses, or drop the joy-con entirely (yes, you’ll need to dig out those wrist-strap attachments).
There’s some genuine creativity on display across the various forms. You’re given a brief warning before each microgame of which form you’ll be required to use, and the mayhem truly begins once you’re playing the remix levels and switching rapidly between the entire range of forms. The variety means that there’s a broad enough range of actions you’ll be performing to keep things fresh throughout.
I did, however, take issue with how each of the Form Stones is introduced. When encountered for the first time, you’re taken to a small vignette ploddingly describing some superfluous backstory on the Form Stone and how best to replicate it, accompanied by old-timey western music and a crude 3D model demonstrating the Form. Whilst these are an okay, if not particularly entertaining, way to introduce the forms, they are slow. Painfully slow. In a game about rapid-fire action, these videos bring the pace to a grinding halt. One is tolerable in isolation, but as you’ll watch two to three of these on each stage when each stage only has ten to fifteen microgames each, it feels like you spend a huge chunk of story mode watching them. They need to be there to learn the pose, but at around forty seconds long each, not having the option to skip them after a few seconds is criminal.
Once you’re past the laborious tutorials, the microgames themselves are the exact type of shenanigans you would expect. The classic zany WarioWare humour is on display here in full effect, and it’s always a delight to see exactly what they’ll come up with next. One minute clinking glasses with a fellow wedding attendee, the next you’re yanking a stocking off someone’s head. You’ll chop trees, serve dinner, roll an apple through an intestinal tract, lock hands with a wrestler, waddle like a penguin, steer a wheelbarrow, scrub your back, unblock a toilet, and many, many more ridiculous things. Adding to the wackiness is the sheer variety of visual styles you’re treated to from game to game, which only heightens the madness. It all plays out with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that is well aware of how nonsensical it is, and the avalanche of absurdity is undoubtedly the best part of the game.
Whilst the variety of activities and the motions required to do them do keep things fresh throughout, it did result in a first for me in the WarioWare series. With games only lasting a few seconds, WarioWare has always done a good job at making the games immediately readable and clear with what you’re required to do to win the game. Here though, on more than a few occasions I encountered a microgame that, even with the Form Stone warning and the voice prompt upon starting, I was at a loss of what to do. Sure, a few seconds isn’t a long time, but even after dying and then reattempting the game again, there were a few where I still wasn’t sure exactly what I was meant to be doing.
This isn’t helped by some slightly iffy motion controls in places too. Maybe your mileage will vary, as I don’t have the highest fondness for motion controls in general, but too often I found my inputs not being recognised how I would suspect. One boss battle had the simple task of just holding up the object in either your left or right hand, and watching my on-screen character’s arms freak out in defiance of my input was an exercise in frustration. When combined with the fact that each new game represented a new control environment where you were never quite sure just how much on-screen movement would result from your joy-con movement, it meant that games requiring precision input became a sour point.
Aside from the occasional motion-control jank, most of the above issues become minimised with repeated plays of the offending microgame. Still, I felt like my first run through Story mode resulted in too many failures that I felt neither directly responsible for or could have reasonably avoided. Factor this in with the slow tutorial videos, and it makes for an unusual WarioWare experience where more joy is derived from repeated plays than the initial experience, even with the fresh novelty offered by the first playthrough.
Thankfully, Move It! Offers plenty of different ways to replay the games. You can of course replay the main stages for high scores, or constantly replay the same game at faster and faster speeds, but the best way to play is with some friends. Not only does this grant you access to some additional party modes, but you also get the added benefit of being able to share with others the experience of looking like a bit of an idiot while you do it.
Regardless of whether you’re feeling cooperative or competitive, there’s something here to enjoy with your friends. Double Act mode turns games into co-op versions with a task for each player to do, and working together while making the shape of a squawking parrot is just a good time. Other multiplayer options in the Story mode are somewhat less inspired. Switching Gears has one player wail their arms about to open a viewscreen so the other player can see the game they’re playing, and Showdown is a rather standard battle mode with both players taking on the same game simultaneously.
The best multiplayer options lay in Party Mode. Four of the games add some additional wrinkles to existing microgames. “Listen to the Doctor” tasks players with doing extra challenges as they complete the game, such as clicking their tongue or sticking out a butt cheek. The other players then vote on if they successfully followed the doctor’s orders. “Medusa March” is your classic “red light green light” game with microgames interspersed. “Go The Distance” is another standard two-player battle mode, and “Who’s In Control” has two teams of two facing off with only one player actively playing with the other team having to guess who that actually is.
Rounding out the roster is “Galactic Conquest”, which is a Mario Party-style board game with unique minigames only found in this mode. Playing with others is easily the best way to enjoy this game. There’s an inherent entertainment factor simply from having others perform silly actions alongside you. It’s easily where I had the most fun.
WarioWare: Move It! brings another cavalcade of outlandish ideas to the table in a collection of mostly enjoyable microgames. The variety of poses and actions, the insanity of the visuals, the many ways to play, and the classic WarioWare charm make for another solid entry in the series. Some occasionally unresponsive motion controls and unclear directives, as well as the tedious Form Stone introductions, do bring some frustrations to the package, but there’s something about the ludicrousness of doing things like lassoing a wild animal while standing like a fashion model that just brings a smile to your face.