Wario is Bizarro Mario, the plumber's id, a Tourette's victim obsessed with burps, boogers and bad ideas. He can't really help being so mean and nasty – to coin a phrase from Roger Rabbit, he was simple "drawn that way." But that doesn't change the fact that when it comes to being weird, Wario takes the cake.
So imagine him as the head of a multinational video game company and think about the kind of games this company would churn out. Scary stuff, but also tons of fun, as demonstrated in the breakout Game Boy Advance hit WarioWare Inc.: Mega MicroGame$ and now found as the premise behind WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$, a Gamecube remix of the original GBA title.
In the GBA game, Wario attempted to create his own high falutin' game company. Keen to downsizing and stretching the bang for the buck, Wario hired all his loony friends to create rapid-fire games that utilized simple one-button and D-pad controls. The games themselves were hardly compelling, but eventually came flying at you so quickly it would tax your memory and twitch skills unlike any other game before. Oddly enough, the result was great fun and more successful than the often needlessly complex games we see from real game companies.
The five-second bite-sized games in the GBA title have effectively been ported over to the Gamecube for Mega Party Game$, now with the added twist of more serious multiplayer. All 200 games from the GBA version are here, including picking a giant nose, jumping rope, cutting meat, watering plants – anyone familiar with the GBA game will instantly recognize these. Even more bizarre are the mini-games that re-contextualize the classic NES library; wacky nods to games like Excitebike, Super Mario, Metroid, Ice Climber and Zelda just add to the game's charm.
As a single-player game, Mega Party Games$ doesn't offer much. You can unlock stuff by scoring well in the various single-player mini-game competitions, but it just isn't as fun doing this on the GC as it was on the GBA. The intensity doesn't carry over well from the GBA to the Gamecube, working much better as a handheld title played in short spurts.
But luckily, Mega Party Game$ isn't simply a port; there's a big new multiplayer component here that changes the focus. Through clever variations, the mini-games have been given a second life for you and your friends. One has all players dancing in a disco with a rotating spotlight. When it lands on someone, he or she partakes in a mini-game. Another centers around one player's attempt to get through the mini-games, while the other players run about trying to block the mini-game screen. There's even a co-op game in which one player plays a mini-game in the dark while the other players shine lights to help illuminate the playing field. These modes try to give everyone something to do so, keeping all players on their toes and involved in each game one way or another.
You have to appreciate the attempt to turn what was primarily a great single-player diversion into a multiplayer game - at least they tried to do something new rather than spit out a quick port job. The effort does pay off, because it's not a bad party game at all. At its best, Mega Party Game$ offers a good burst of high-powered multiplayer fun.
Unfortunately, Nintendo missed a golden opportunity by failing to add any completely new Gamecube-exclusive mini-games. You'd expect to see some more interesting gameplay changes considering the change in hardware power. Fans of the GBA game will find this particularly annoying as they won't find any surprises.
Alas, it's really just a souped up GBA game, even in its delivery. The game graphics are identical, including the plain olive background of the old-school Game Boy mini-games, though the front end and menus are pretty nice. It's charming as whole, but by and large it feels a little silly playing GBA games on a big television without actually using the Game Boy Player. Same goes for the music, which is also pulled straight from the GBA game.
Ideally, I would have much preferred to play a brand new version of WarioWare built specifically for the Gamecube, as I think it would have been better all around. But if you never played the GBA game and don't have that system, you shouldn't pass on investing in Wario's weird company, especially considering its current stock price of a mere 30 bucks. His party is more fun than Mario's, at least.