When I think about you, I touch my DS.
The WarioWare series, as game or meta-game, certainly qualifies as one of the strangest things in the universe, right alongside the Giant Stinking Flower and the Papuan Swamp Bat. A series of five-second, badly drawn, bipolar episodes in a row, WarioWare Touched! will be instantly familiar to previous players, and a test of objective reality to the uninitiated. No, really.
Wario accidentally discovers the dual-screened DS, and in typically fiendish style enlists hapless victims to create games that he can sell for money. Thus, dozens of tiny micro-games are thrown at you rapid-fire, hosted by robots, disco dancers, goth chicks, ambulatory teddy bears and Wario himself.
However, unlike previous games in the series, all of the Touched games make use of either the DS touchpad or the built-in microphone. This has the dual effect of making the little diversions occasionally more original in concept while making the overall game feel like a DS tech demo (a common failing of first-gen DS games).
So grab your stylus, because Touched is a nonstop barrage: Slice the fruit! Aahh! Pop the balloons! Ahhhh! Trim the booger from the anime chick's nose! Ahhh! Swat the fly! Ahhh! Pet the kitty! Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhh! AAAAAHHHHH!!!
Slice the pizza. Put the sheep in the pen. Tickle the queer under the arm. The deranged list goes on and on, 180 of them in all, many with an obvious nasal fetish. Most of the games follow very similar patterns. Regardless of the bizarre scenario, you use the stylus to either poke things, drag things, or divide things. The few microphone games are usually less original, requiring you to simply blow into the microphone to inflate a balloon or blow away fog. This, by the way, makes you look like an idiot in public.
There are some original standouts. In one game, you draw lines that act as little trampolines under a smiling egg, which you must launch past obstacles higher and higher into the stratosphere. In another microphone game, you blow a dandelion seed up into the air, guiding it to safe ground where it can land and sprout. In either a moment of zen enlightenment or drug induced dementia, one of the games requires you to be quiet and not use the microphone while some walking waffles cross a tightrope. Quick! Do nothing! Aahh!
The graphics are terrible'on purpose...which makes it hard to critique. They look like they were drawn by a succession of different seven-year olds (or me), but as the game clearly enjoys its primitive, unprofessional look, I can only say that they have succeeded in their bizarre vision. Let me put it another way: the gameplay in Touched does not rely on fancy graphics, so by going for the opposite'oh crap, I don't know. They got exactly the weird thing they wanted. Works for me.
The audio, on the other hand, is better than average for a handheld. Sound effects are crisp and to the point, and some of the tunes will make you snicker out loud. Ashley's pipe organ and spooky chorus theme (she's the goth girl) stands out with Elfman-esque style.
So Touched is weird (to say the least) and works well as a pick-up-and-put-down game, but it lacks depth, even for WarioWare. It has a definite fun factor, but within a couple hours you'll have all the characters and games unlocked along with 90% of the "toys." After that, how many times can you go back and try to trim a faster booger?
The DS has a control pad and buttons as well, so I can't figure out why Touched limits itself to only the lower DS interface. There are moments in Touched where you play tiny bits of SNES Super Mario with the touchpad (for just a few seconds) and you think, "Why can't I have more of this?"
Much like going to the zoo to see the endangered Korean Hairless Dog Monkeys, WarioWare Touched! is good for a weird shot of fun, or a fun shot of weird, or maybe both. It's the kind of game that should have been available on your palm pilot five years ago (hell, it would still be a good palm pilot game). Still, most of its strange, tiny fragments don't really compel the way they should. Touch at your own discretion.