I find it difficult, these days, to find a so-called (and often self-professed) hardcore gamer who admits to enjoying minigames. We live in the Wii era, after all– one in which minigames are too often equated with the words “waggle,” “pointless,” and “oh-my-gosh-just-stop-this-now.” But bring up the WarioWare series– or to a lesser extent, the Rhythm Heaven series– and suddenly even the most jaded hardcore gamer’s eyes light up like a Z-Targeting Navi. For some reason WarioWare thrives even in hardcore Videogameland, what with its helter-skelter art design, rapid-fire button mashing, and copious allusions to Nintendo history. While video game enthusiasts might balk at having to throw water balloons in Rayman: Raving Rabbids or somehow control table tennis paddles in Wii Play, picking cartoon noses is totally kosher. Maybe this says something about the tendency of video gamers to rebel against society, starting with the social rules that denounce picking one’s nose– or picking someone else’s nose– as impolite. Maybe gamers enjoy pretending to be a crazy man, as Wario totally is and as Jack Nicholson has shown is totally hip. Or maybe it’s best not to think about it too much.
Of course, seeing as WarioWare has come into its own as one of The Many Franchises of Nintendo, a Wii U installment wouldn’t be much of a surprise. In fact, it’d be downright impressive. We’re talking about a WarioWare game that could not only be Twisted and Touched, but also pull it all off with Smooth Moves. (There might also be buttons if you’re into that kind of thing.) And with near field communication support– essentially, communications between Wii U controllers and various custom-made objects, like AR cards– this sounds like it could be quite the game.
Just as WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! revolutionized the idea, if not the play, of minigames (sorry– microgames), so could a Wii U version change gamers’ minds about the Wii U tablet. It’s so easy to say that The Legend of Zelda, for instance, could be “different” with the Wii U via “DS-style maps” and “inventory spaces in your hands I guess,” but that’s not really revolutionary.
But let’s go down a path here that may or may not seem a detour at first glance. Remember Mario Party-e? (A better question might be, “remember the e-Reader?”) Not too many people played it on account of the whole point of Mario Party games being the minigames and being mean to your friends, and without the e-Reader the minigames didn’t exist. But with the e-Reader, Mario Party-e became downright magical. There’s just something about real-world objects influencing video games (or vice-versa) that grips the imagination. And with Wii U’s near field communication support, WarioWare would become more than just a minigame collection: it’d become a physical part of our realm.
The game might come with a deck of WarioWare cards, nothing too special, and each one could have a distinct effect on the game. One might be as simple as containing a new minigame; another might change the pace of the game, boosting minigame speed even faster than usual. Some might even damage player progress, like items from a Mario Kart game. They’d make up a veritable Deck of Many Things, essentially giving players something to do in multiplayer mode that actually effected distinct changes in the gameplay. (As though watching players squirm, as in WarioWare: Smooth Moves, weren’t entertaining enough.) Minigames could pass even further into the real world, maybe by asking other players to hide a card someplace, forcing another one to find it and scan it. Maybe that sounds a little too silly for a video game– or real-world game, at that. But silliness is what WarioWare is all about.
Of course, seeing as Wii U’s controller does all sorts of crazy gymnastics with its touch screen, mic, and motion capabilities, WarioWare on Wii U could definitely incorporate those as well– except those have already been done in previous installments. The difference here would be that all of them could be played with each other, with motion and touch combined in some kind of crazy The World Ends with You mashup. Difficult? Yes. Silly? Also, yes.
On a more traditional level, with the Wii U controller in only one player’s hands, one player could control the minigames while the others play them. It’d probably be a lot harder to pick a nose while it’s actively running away from you– and boss stages could be not unlike those in Feel the Magic XY/XX, except this time the AI is, well, not A. It’d certainly make WarioWare more competitive, which would be different, but totally interesting. The thing to remember here is that the Pac-Man VS strategy is totally a legitimate one: it’s always fun to overcome the odds in one versus three.
The raddest thing about WarioWare, though, is that it’s completely unpredictable. And, considering how nobody really knows what Nintendo’s planning on doing with Wii U, that means WarioWare’s a perfect fit for the new console. It’s a series that’s totally willing to take up the new mechanics of any platform, and doesn’t care about fitting in with more traditional parking spaces. Besides, Wario always wants to make more money– and setting up shop on Wii U seems like a great way to do it.
All this week at Nintendojo —