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December 9, 2016

WarioWare: Smooth Moves

(You can't imagine the amount of work it was to make this title card. Hell, I didn't think I was going to run out of place on it! Seriously look at the full picture.)

One of the advantages of Nintendo is that they love to innovate. Touch screen; movement detection; the various features of the 3DS; the additional screen of the Wii U (You can say that it didn't turn out so well, but you can’t deny that it was an innovation); and now the Nintendo Switch that is practically three or four different consoles in one… They have always had this edge against competitors. Honestly, I love the concept of the Switch, I just hope they fill the roster of games quickly, with a lot of titles that make people want to buy the console.

And it’s inevitable: Since the Game Boy Advance, every new Nintendo console had its accompanying WarioWare title. The GBA had Mega Microgames and Twisted! (this one innovated with a tilt sensor); The GameCube had Mega Party Games; The Nintendo DS gave us Touched!; For the DSi (and 3DS?), we had WarioWare: Do It Yourself as well as Snapped!; The Wii U had Game & Wario; The original Wii had D.I.Y. Showcase, and Smooth Moves.

Applying the formula of the WarioWare series to the Nintendo Wii must not have been a simple task. Yet, they managed it rather well, by setting up Forms (positions the player must take with the Wii remote in order to play a certain category of microgames). Before every microgame, you’re told which form to use and you’re given enough time to switch accordingly. That way, even in the most randomized levels, you’re not left alone to figure out what you have to do next. That’s a good thing, because some of those poses are simply silly and you wouldn’t think of using them. Alright, so what’s the idea they found to connect all those things together? Let’s look at the plot!

It's like a parable. "And then the game dev looked to the skies and prayed
to his deity, the Random Number God, for an idea. And the RNG replied,
'here, have this weird-shaped game controller'."

In Wario's world, the Wii Remote was praised in the distant past as a fantastic item of legend known as the Form Baton. The years passed, and the legend was forgotten… UNTIL TODAY! An unlikely hero is about to bring the Form Baton to its former glory and share its secrets with the world!

"Hey! Those were the leftovers of my sixth meal of the day!"
Wario was snacking in front of the TV when a little alien-like critter showed up and stole his sweets and treats. Giving chase, Wario is brought all the way into the Temple of Form, where he picks up the Form Baton. He doesn’t have much time to wonder what it is, as he soon gets chased by a giant boulder. Wario barely survives this, but comes out with the Form Baton, which he inspects, as his irises slowly turn into dollar signs. Hey, maybe he could make yet another friggin’ microgame collection with that thing and hire his friends again! Sure, he’s gonna pay them jack squat, but they’ll be happy to help, right? Everybody loves being paid in exposure, am I right?

This level, as a tutorial of sorts, used nothing but the Remote Control form. Just point, move the Wii remote around a bit, press A if needed. Simple. As with every WarioWare game, you won’t get every single microgame in the level on your first playthrough, hence why you’re encouraged to go back to play it – and try to rack up a good score.

Hm, that looks like a nice city. I mean, once you get past the
large demons, the tiny aliens, the overjoyous martial artists,
the cab-driving bulldogs and the dueling dancers, Diamond
City sure is nice.

From there, we peek into the lives of other Diamond Citizens we’ve come to know and love from this franchise – and still a rare few more that are making their first appearance.

Shake me those pom-poms!
Go nondescript sports team, go!
Even though she’s apparently juggling four or five different jobs at once and a rock band, Mona still has time to be sexy with pom-poms on a sport field. Her cheerleading act has infatuated one football player, who scores the winning touchdown for her – though she leaves just as he’s about to spit out his feelings. Ah yes, the Ulrich Stern Syndrome. Mona teaches the Umbrella form, in which you hold the Wii remote upwards, and the Handlebar, in which you hold it sideways with both hands grasping it, like the handles on a bicycle.

Already, you can see that the cutscenes and the microgames all contain a lot of comedy, as per WarioWare tradition. It’s awesome. It doesn’t stop there, either; the Narrator describing each form as they appear to you for the first time must keep a relaxed and monotone voice throughout, despite each form description containing a joke. Gotta love the WarioWare series for that. That poor guy must have been cracking up in the recording studio.

Kat and Ana will probably grow up to become part of a
group of heroes in a shonen series.

From there, we get two more levels. Kat and Ana are defending a pagoda against a giant oni looking for its kid. In this level, we discover three more forms: The Sketch Artist, where you hold the Wii remote like a pencil; the Chauffeur, where you hold the Wii remote sideways like a steering wheel; and the Samurai, one of the worse forms in the game, where you keep the Wii remote to your side like a Samurai about to strike, only to swing wildly as soon as the time comes to act.

Young Cricket: "I am a handsome guy in a video game.
Cloud has nothing on me! Swoon, please!"
Master Mantis: "The impatient butterfly gets squished
by the event it was awaiting, if it does not stay calm."
We also meet new faces! Well, we’ve seen them on this blog in the review of WarioWare: Do It Yourself, but in Smooth Moves, they were new: Young Cricket and Master Mantis. After a day of training, the sensei and his apprentice stop by Mona’s stand to get something to eat. Wait, Mona has yet another job? On top of being a microgame developer? Methinks she’s a Mary Sue… although, of the fun kind, at least. Young Cricket oversteps his bounds by stepping over the line of clients (literally; running on their heads) to get to the stand first, only to realize he's hurt every person waiting in line by stepping on their heads… so he goes back to the end of the line, by running on the clients’ heads again.

Yeah... that's not how you get people to swoon for you.

And thus, we get the Tug-O-War, a self-explanatory form; the Waiter, my most hated form in the game where you must keep the Wii remote balanced in your hand like a meal on a plate, and that form’s microgames involve a lot of balance; and the Elephant, one of the funniest forms, where you hold the Wii Remote to your nose and just wave the tip around, like a trunk.

Once again, Jimmy T. is heading to Club Sugar. It’s raining and he sees a lonely kitten in the alley, so he gives it his umbrella. Soon, some kittens start following him, and more kittens… so he busts out the moves and they follow. You could call this level “Dances With Kittens”. His level combines micro-games from the previous three levels, starting on the second difficulty.

"Your offering to the feline deity has been received.
You shall now obtain protection from the cat army."

To be fair though, Jimmy and his kittens are more synchronized than a lot of professional dance groups.

Aww yeah! Shake me those fleas!

Yes, that's a nose. There's always
a boss nose in these games.
Once Jimmy T.’s stage is beaten, we unlock three more, with two familiar faces: Ashley, who was introduced in Touched!, and Dribble & Spitz, veterans of the very first title. We also get a stage for Penny Crygor, the mad scientist’s granddaughter. The same one that would later teach you to create microgames by yourself in WarioWare D.I.Y. Yup, this is where she first appeared! Ashley tries turning a growing plant into a huge monster. The taxi-driving duo is escorting a mysterious lady to her destination, Tomorrow Hill. Penny is participating in an inventing contest against her grandpa. Hey, no fair! Hey, no fair! He’s got at least 40 more years of experience!

Once again, the microgames shine through their creativity.

We learn more forms through these levels:
Form: The Big Cheese.
Jump! That is all.
-The Thumb Wrestler, in which you hold the Wii remote by the top half, thumb on the tip.
-The Discard; for those who hate to hold remotes! Keep it face-down on a table and pick it up only once you need to!
-The Big Cheese, where you keep the remote on your hip and shake some booty to play the games.
-The Janitor, in which you sweep your cares away holding the Wii remote like a broom. And if you hate cleaning up, well, tough!
-The Mohawk, resting the Wii remote on top of your head with both arms. Big movements! Just don’t headbang too much.
-The dumbbell, because even gamers need to exercise, even though a Wii remote is apparently the heaviest thing some of us can lift.
-The finger food, in which you hold the remote between thumb and index on its side. Because, all I want to think about when I’m “exercising” is the next serving of fries I’ll be wolfing down, right?
-Mortar and Pestle, holding the Wii remote vertically, resting its bottom on your other hand. Not the most solid of forms. Needs more mortar. Dunno if it needs more pestle.
-The Boxer, which doesn’t mean holding your remote over your midsection, it means holding it so that it’s clutched in your fist, not pointing at the screen. I don’t consider this form to be fun, but not a total knock-out.

Beating these three stages unlocks 9-Volt’s stage. In it, we meet again 9-Volt and his vocabulary-impaired friend 18-Volt, who has just recently learned to say something else than “Word!”. The two get in a fight over a Game and Watch retro console and break it, so 9-Volt kicks him out. Desperate, 18-Volt heads to the nearest video game store to correct his mistake and buy a replacement one. As usual, 9-Volt’s stage is among the last because it encompasses most features seen so far, serving as the first “final exam” of sorts. Other than that, you know what to expect: All microgames based on Nintendo titles, topped with a very nice mini-version of a StarFox level. Best. Thing. Ever. 18-Volt finds a Game and Watch, courtesy of a jovial employee…

Iwata saves the day again!

…an employee that turns out to be none other than Satoru Iwata! Aww, I’m feeling sad now. 18-Volt rushes for it… and meets 9-Volt! With the young one realizing that his friend was trying to pay back for his mistake, the two make up and 18-Volt goes back to being his friend’s Player 2. Yup, never Player one. 18-Volt is the Luigi of that relationship.

We get another Jimmy T. stage, except it’s helmed by his doppleganer Jimmy P., who… dances with pups. Yup. It contains microgames from the previous four stages. After which, we unlock the final level.

Another staple of WarioWare: The final stage, helmed by
Wario or a Wario form, with every single microgame
containing a Wario element, like his arm, or mustache.
Wario receives Penny Crygor’s latest invention in the mail: A miniature motorbike. Okay, I take that back about not being absurd. He goes on a test drive, but then the thing gobbles him and spits him out as dozens of tiny Wario… things. Not sure what to call them. They start wreaking havoc wherever they can find sweets or garlic. As the final level, this one contains microgames for most forms, and can also include a few from previous levels. Once 19 microgames are beaten (including the very silly final boss microgame), the Tiny Warios reform into, what else, Wario. Three aliens approach him and ask him to give them the Form Baton back. He flees, and gets chased into the Temple of Form, where the Form Baton is put back in its place… against Wario’s wishes. Gee, good thing he patented a special video game remote shaped just like it!

Orbulon's stage; finally some use for that seemingly-
useless left hand.
By the way, if you wonder about those aliens… yes, apparently the Form Baton was an alien trinket. Orbulon’s stage, which is about him trying to lift the Temple off the Earth and into space, pretty much confirms it. He even has recently accidentally acquired an accompanying trinket, the Balance Stone (it’s a Nunchuk, but shhhhh~! Don’t contradict an alien lest you want a taste of their lasers!). His stage uses three versions of the same pose, the Diner, which requires Wii remote and Nunchuk to be played. A fun addition indeed. So, Orbulon has to repair his friggin' piggy sheep again, because it's an unwritten rule of the WarioWare world that whenever it appears, Orbulon's ship gets destroyed.

Then, as usual, we get the bonus Tower levels, this time with an elephant theme. A tower that mixes most microgames (only omitting Orbulon’s due to the Nunchuk being required for those), a second tower that starts off at an insane speed, a third one that starts at difficulty level 3 for all microgames, and a final tower that, *gasp*!, doesn’t reveal the form required before a microgame starts!

The heaviest sets of microgames in this collection.

Over time, the player unlocks a few extras. Nothing to the magnitude of WarioWare Twisted! and Touched!’s game rooms, unfortunately. Just a few side-mini-games. Tower Tennis, Block Star, Can Shooter, Balloon Trip, Tortoise and Hare… each of these is unlocked when you complete the level that contains a form you “need” to play them. Tower Tennis only requires the Remote Control form, so it’s unlocked early on. In WarioWare tradition, finding all 205 microgames unlocks a Pyoro mini-game. Fun stuff.

Looks like me when I'm exercising.
Dr. Crygor has his own secton too, the Kelorometer, a stage that uses the more physically-demanding microgames. It’s the fitness mode, you’re encouraged to train and try to score high! It’s alright, but it’s no Just Dance. The world map also has various other elements: Options, a bulletin board, a movie theater to rewatch the cutscenes of every level… And of course, the Temple of Form, where you can play each microgame individually. There is one thing that changes from the WarioWare formula there, though; microgames don’t have their own stage where you can play each one for as long as you want, trying to achieve a high score. Nope! You can only play once through each difficulty of that stage, and that’s it.

To compensate, Smooth Moves is probably the most multiplayer-friendly WarioWare game.

Oh! I mean… second most multiplayer-friendly! There’s a neat collection of multiplayer games, like Dart Club (who needs a dart game when you can get a crappy one in WarioWare?), Bungee Buddies (help each other jump over pits, go as far as possible!), Star Nose (still that nose obsession!), and a few others. So if you want to play with friends, that’s fine! Just pass around the remote to each other. Pretty fun stuff indeed, though some are pretty difficult – you need to know the microgames because you’re not given a lot of time to adapt to the situation.

And that’s about everything in the game. I love it! It must have been tricky to find so many forms to invent for the game, but they’ve done a very great job. Many forms are creative. Some forms feel like other forms, just slightly modified (like the Thumb Wrestler being almost identical to the Umbrella). Some require simple or basic movements, like the Remote Control or the Umbrella, while others need more complex moves, like the Mohawk or the Big Cheese. However, all forms have their pretty unique microgames, and that’s awesome. Once again, creativity shines through.

Hm. I didn't know Shia LaBeouf did game cameos.
The plot is as basic as can be – then again, in WarioWare, all we need is an in-universe reason for the new controls, and there we go. It is, however, very fun to see each character’s little life story as presented to us during each level. Pretty clever stuff, indeed. And all this on a majestic big screen, which is nice in contrast to the small screens of portable consoles. There weren’t many additions to the cast, aside from Cricket, Mantis, Penny Crygor and Jimmy P., though the former three are more remembered. Thus is the law of clones; no matter the awesome hairdo, they’re just clones. They get forgotten quickly. Sorry, Jimmy P.

Adding to this are the various mini-games to unlock, both in single-player and multiplayer modes, which don’t quite make up for the lack of bonus rewards, but at least fill the game with more things to do.

The final boss. Hm, is it me or Wario likes to dance?
However, I do have some criticism. Some microgames are unclear, showing you which form to use but not telling you what to do with it. Others don’t give the player enough time to do what’s needed. Some forms are annoying, especially the Waiter and Discard ones. Any shake as your hand moves can mean a loss for you in the former, and you NEED a table nearby for the latter. Thankfully, it’s still rather minor. There’s also a distinct lack of post-game content outside of “beat the high score in every single level including the unlockable mini-games”. You can’t try and beat a high score on every microgame, that’s not a feature present in the game. Kinda sad if you ask me.

Well, at least there is some focus on a multiplayer aspect with no less than 7 multiplayer mini-games and the possibility of playing with friends in the regular stages, to see who goes the farthest. “Leave your inhibitions at the door”, indeed.

Wonderful game, you have to try it at least once. Hell, you should look for it if you own a Wii. It’s a great time to be had.

Now that this review is over, and we’re close to the middle of December, I could do something Christmas-related… or I could review some Steam games. Hm… Hey, how about I do that? Come back next Friday, I’ll discuss a number of little games available on Steam. Both good and bad!