Distilling the fun of years of games into handy micro-gaming moments.
and Game and Wario
, Nintendo is converting me into a mini-games believer. This is pure blasphemy, making me think that my future is filled with Mario Party
games and casual mobile and Facebook fare. Say it's not so! Casual will assimilate all...
Or it could just be that Game and Wario
is particularly excellent. It is, like a lot of these more casual first-party Wii U
titles, similar to playing a master class in how Nintendo wants developers to design games for Wii U. In virtually every game, the Gamepad is used to augment the reality of the game, acting as a window, a shield, the first-person view, or in one very fun case, a virtual game device.
That last one is for a mini-game called Gamer, a surprisingly meta-gaming experience that was the highlight of the individual games shown in a recent preview event for the title. In Gamer, you have the option of playing as series regulars 9-Volt and 18-Volt, who have been chastised by Mom, or 5-Volt, to finish their work before playing video games.
As 9-Volt, the Gamepad is his handheld gaming device, and you navigate the hero of Balloon Fight to giant bubbles, whichs allow you to play simple WarioWare-style games that last mere seconds. This, in and of itself, is fun. However, the meta aspect of the game is that it's bedtime, and 9-Volt is supposed to be sleeping, but is playing video games after being told to go to sleep. On the top screen, the player must keep constant watch for his mom, 5-Volt, whose footsteps mean an approach to the bedroom door, a silhouette announces her about to look through the window, and static on 9-Volt's television means she's about to leap out of it like a demon.
This is extremely fun, as you have to divide your attention constantly between the tasks on the small screen and the television, from which ominous strings play as 5-Volt hones in closer and closer on the player, sometimes performing a fake, approaching the window but suddenly leaping from the television instead. On the selection screen there was also the option to play as the family's dad, 18-Volt, but the Nintendo rep, J.C., told me that I'd need to stay tuned to see what that was like.
Other games were fun, though none quite reached the height of Gamer. Pirates challenged the player to block suction-cup arrows from multiple directions around the player with the Gamepad as a shield, then dance to power up a blast at Pirate Wario's minions. Disco, with a DDR-style TV-screen had both players holding the Gamepad to trade rhythmic taps to a beat, SIMON-style, but with the taps shooting across the surface of the pad from one player to the other.
In Taxi, the player has an overmap on the top screen and a first-person view on the bottom screen. As a taxi driver in a farm location shooting down UFOs, the player must transport the animals they're abducting back to farm's barn. The location and basic navigation can be performed on the television screen, but the first-person mode is used to shoot down the UFOs. This made for fast, fun gameplay.
The games ranged from the single-player experiences like Taxi, Pirate, and Gamer, to the multiplayer party games like Disco and Sketch, a Pictionary-like game where the player with the Gamepad is given a time limit and then has to make it through drawing as many words as possible (both the player with the Gamepad and the player who guessed the right answer received points). The Nintendo reps mentioned that words could be generated from the Miiverse, the social meeting ground for Mii's on Wii U. What really stands out about them is the level of fun the games had from moment to moment from a lifetime of gaming.
The Nintendo reps even called out some of the mini-games influences. Taxi feels like an odd mix of Grand Theft Auto 1
's 2D driving and Earth Defense Force
's shooting. Pirates surprisingly manages to capture a lot of the fun of arcade light-gun gaming and dance games, with the way the Gamepad doubles as the shield first and then capturing the motion of the dance second. Gamer takes the cake, mixing the simple gameplay with the total nostalgia of the childhood experience of playing a game while you were supposed to be asleep.
Game and Wario
is shaping up to be a fantastic collection of short or simple games with what looks like a lot of return on the gameplay and replayability. It's fun to take a vacation from the frustration of modern gaming now and then. It is light and breezy, but the games are so much fun that so far, it just feels like a plus. Game and Wario
releases on the Wii U on June 23.