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December 12, 2014

WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase

This review of the WiiWare game WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase is a follow-up to my review of WarioWare: D.I.Y., which you can read here, here and here.

Here it is, the final part of this mega-review of WarioWare: D.I.Y. and its WiiWare tie-in, Showcase! For those who didn't read the last three posts, this WarioWare game is all about creating your own content and sharing it with other people. One way to do this is from your DS to a friend's DS. A now-defunct way was to use Friend Codes, a feature called the Warehouse, and the possibility to share with people you had never met in your life. The final way to share your games, records or comics? Transfer them to this WiiWare game, which was made just for that.

No, really. All in all, WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase is just that: An additional sharing tool that also lets you play your microgames on the big screen in your living room! Plus, you will not need an Internet connection to send stuff from your DS to your Wii! It also serves as an expansion to the plot shown in WarioWare: D.I.Y..

It even looks like it's smiling!
In case you don't remember: After a bad dream that involved video game creatures coming out of their world and attacking him (Geez, that sounds an awful lot familiar, doesn't it?), Dr. Crygor makes a machine called the Super MakerMatic 21, which can be used to make microgames, records and comics. Wario instantly smells jackpot (with his big nose, he can also smell truffles, illegal merchandises in suitcases, or the overly-smelly Ax body spray a mile away). He immediately orders the machine be mass-produced. Meanwhile, many of his employees have left WarioWare to create Diamond Software, all because of Wario's greedy ways. As a result, Wario hires the player to make games for him. Quite literally; he doesn't pay you. In fact, all the remaining employees of WarioWare seem absent from the DS game. They created their own company, Diamond Software, probably as revenge since Wario took all the credit for their creations.

Oh, but no worries. Wario seems to have moved his base of operations on an island. Why? No reason. The guy's just a jerk, and he's bitter towards his employees. This doesn't seem to have caused much friction; the only real broken friendship is that of 9-Volt and his ex-buddy 18-Volt; 9-Volt left for Diamond Software, while 18-Volt stayed behind to work for Wario, along with Kat, Ana, Dribble and Spitz. As such, there are four stages in Showcase, a total of 72 new microgames that you can send to your DS. That's awesome? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

However, before you can upload them to the Nintendo DS, you need to unlock them in the WarioWare Store. Just like in the DS game, you need to discover them by playing through the stages. But what are the four stages in this game? Here's a quick description of each.
"Oh no! This looks like the oeuvre of my arch-nemesis,
Potty Emergency! Wario-Man's here to save you, kid!"
-The Incredible Wario-Man! He flies a foot above ground, he can barely lift a tire, but he still claims he's Superman's cousin! During his daily training (which I suspect consists of munching on donuts), Wario comes across a restroom area in which ALL the doors are locked. We never find out who is the trickster who did that, but one thing's for sure; the restrooms themselves are unoccupied at the moment. In fact, there's a bunch of people waiting for the door to be opened! Wario-Man tries to open each person's door. (All of his microgames feature Wario. Wow, he really likes himself, doesn't he?)
- Dribble and Spitz, the fearless cab drivers, have entered a rally in the desert. Clearly no one plays by the rules – not even them. The entire point is to kick out the other competitors. The race starts! From that point on, every microgame you beat will bring one of the opponents down. (Their microgames are mostly about science-fiction. Or, that's what they say...)
Surveiling the skies, one parachute flight at a time.
-Kat and Ana's Sky Patrol: The preschooler ninjas love launching themselves off cliffs and then opening their parachutes! As such, they patrol the sky, helped by their animal friends. (They theme their microgames around animals, in case that wasn't clear.)
-18-Volt hasn't quite gotten over his broken friendship with 9-Volt. He has created a shoot-em up game in which he defeats armies of Fronk, and the boss is a large robot shaped like 9-Volt's huge helmet... with 9-Volt controlling it. Subtle. (Just like 9-Volt, 18-Volt's microgames make references to famous Nintendo games.)

Shouldn't he be a little more angsty about this whole ordeal?

Just play the stages for a while and you'll immediately notice something: The microgames in this one are a little harder. It's just an impression, but I feel like I'm not able to get a big score on these stages. And I think I know why. When playing a DS game, you just have to move your hand and tap when required. The reflexes can be very quick and you can tap precisely where you want. On the Wii, however, you need to rely on the Wii remote's cursor and the A button. Doesn't sound so bad? Keep in mind that it is a lot less precise. To complete a microgame, you will need ungodly precision and reflexes. It's a lot more difficult, as you need to aim and then press A, all while aiming. For that reason, it's a lot more difficult to hit moving targets, and it's even more difficult if the target is small. Have you ever had trouble aiming with the Wiimote because the target was too small? Yeah, that's the problem here. In fact, it's a recurring problem with the microgames in Showcase. Heck, try to transfer some of your games to Showcase; I can guarantee there are a few of them that you won't beat so easily now, because the object to tap is too small. Here's my advice to anyone who wants to send games to WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase: First off, make it clear what it is that the player must do (that's another problem with the microgames already in the WiiWare title: Sometimes the indications are too imprecise and you have no idea what to do). Next, make sure the object the player has to tap is large enough. Finally, if the object is moving, make sure it's not exaggeratedly fast.

Or make it so that the effect will activate regardless of where
you tap. That works too.

If you follow that advice, your games will be better than the ones you can unlock in the Showcase. Ironic, isn't it?

Aside from those 72 microgames, there are also 18 records to listen to, and 18 comics to read. What, not 72? ...Nnnope! However, you CAN store up to 72 comics or records in Showcase. However, I have a feeling the reason there is so little new material in those two fields in the WiiWare title is either because:
A) Wario only accepts that his employees make microgames, because comics and records don't sell (an in-story reason; you might remember that in WarioWare D.I.Y., you only get the sales charts for the microganes you've created; and as I said earlier, Wario's a greedy bastard), OR
B) The real developers at Nintendo:
B.1) Had a hunch that there wasn't as much interest for records and comics for those who bought the game. Thankfully, fan feedback and Internet reviews proved that, indeed, comics and records weren't appreciated as much, and therefore they rest assured that they made the right choice in including less records and comics to Showcase, OR
B.2) Were instructed to make less records and comics due to time constraints, OR
B.3) Just got lazy.

The reason doesn't really matter, anyway. I just like to theorize.

Let's see what happens when you put microgames in a
Of course, you can play the microgames in your own Game Blenders here, and just like the ones in WarioWare: D.I.Y., there are special Blenders for Shuffle and Ultra Hard modes. Once again, you can combine all the microgames (yours and those by Wario's team) in special Blenders. There's even a Multiplayer Blender in there! Now that's new.

Also, in this game, they modified the way you listen at the music! You're brought to an all-black screen with a Balloon Boy floating to pick up the notes. Yeah, they made a mini-game out of listening to music. It's not that great, and I kinda suck at it, but thankfully there's the option to just listen to the song; there, the Balloon Man (because he's got gray hair) fills up the screen and collects all the notes.

You can still read comics, in the same way as before. Pick a comic, then press A to flip the pages. Easy as pie. Every developer in Showcase has made three comics, and since we have Wario-Man, 18-Volt, Dribble, Spitz, Kat and Ana, it makes a total of 18. Many of these comics are alright (I mean, it's all in black and white and maximum 4 panels each)... But I find Wario-Man's three comics absolutely disgusting, distasteful and kinda yucky. I'll just say it: They're not my favorites.

Just like in the DS game, there's a Distribution Center here. Before the end of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for Nintendo DS and Wii, you could access the NinSoft Store, in which you could add lots of new microgames to your collection. There was also the option to send games from your Wii to another, but that, too, ended with the WFC. You can still, however, send games from your Wii to your Nintendo DS! That's neat. There was also the option to turn the D.I.Y. Friend notifications on or off, but now that the connection has been terminated, you can't even do that.

There was a special option for those who shared their microgames between their Wii consoles: Surveys! I never got to try them, but apparently you could receive surveys from your friends registered in the WiiWare game. You could then fill them and send them back, giving your friends your opinion of their games. Or something. Like I said, I never got to try that option, but I don't think it was that important anyway.

I guess that's all I had to say for this one. Final thoughts?

Yeah, it's just not as good as the original WarioWare D.I.Y.. Obviously that's because Showcase was made as a companion software so that you'd have more options when it comes to sharing your games, records and comics with other people. This companion software lost a LOT of its appeal when the WFC ended. In fact, that was one of its reasons for existing! Showcase isn't the only one to have this problem. Both WarioWare D.I.Y. games are a little weaker now. That's rather sad. But Showcase was the one that suffered more because of it. You can still enjoy WarioWare D.I.Y. for the DS, since that's where you can make games, records and comics, but you can't create anything in Showcase.

Also, what shoot down Showcase's playability is the different controls. Instead of using the stylus, you must point with the Wii remote and press A, which could be fine as long as the quality and playability of the microgames isn't affected by the different control scheme.... and sadly, it is. The microgames you make in D.I.Y.'s Game MakerMatic are built to function properly with the Nintendo DS, on which it's easy to tap repeatedly. You don't have a cursor to move, just tap where it's needed. On the Wii, though, it's much different. This adds some difficulty to games that would otherwise be a lot easier to beat on the Nintendo DS. It's apparent in the microgames you can play in Showcase, too: It feels like some of them were though for playing on a DS, but were then transferred to Showcase as a last-minute decision, so not all of them are very playable with the new controls. It still offers a challenge, though in this case, the challenge is there by accident.

Changing the looks of the music player so that it feels more lively is a good idea, though. It's fun to see that huge character hitting all the notes you (or other developers) have placed in its way.

I'm getting closer... Tag! You're it!

Other hints that Showcase is really just a companion software: There are no achievements, no goals, no rewards. The only thing resembling “progression” in this game is when you beat a stage in the Game Blender, when you unlock new microgames from a character, or when you unlock the special Game Blender stages once you've unlocked all 72 microgames. By the way, 72 is a pretty small number of microgames, but at the same time, there are 90 microgames in WarioWare D.I.Y., bringing the total to 162, which, while still less than other WarioWare games, is still a respectable number. It's smaller because of all the microgames you can make yourself (think about it: Including Showcase, there is room for 162 of your own microgames in all the shelves!). It's just kinda sad that you need to buy a second game to get the rest of the microgames... but as far as selling out goes, I'd say we can all agree that there's much, much worse out there.

In the end, Showcase has lost a big part of its raison d'être, now that the sharing possibilities have been limited. It can still be fun, especially if you use it with the DS game to trade microgames, records and comics between each other. In fact, if some of your friends have a Wii but not a Nintendo DS, they can still buy Showcase (the Wii Shop Channel is still open, from what I understood) and you can send your games to their Wii! So not everything was lost. Phew.

Now I realize I spent four posts talking about WarioWare: Do It Yourself. We're in december now, which means... A musical review to end the year! Yes! Tune in next week for a semi-musical review of Rock Band 3!

...For the DS. Come to your own conclusions... See ya then!