Wario Ware: Smooth Moves Wii
Back in the early ’90s – what now seems like a trillion years ago – I was presented with Duck Hunt as a gift for my 7th birthday. It was the first game I ever experienced that did not use a controller as a means of manipulation for onscreen movements and back then the game seemed magic to me; I really did love it. Thinking back now maybe the game was not that great – sure it was fun in short bursts, but after a few failed attempts at shooting those damned level-two clay pigeons I resorted to cheating. Less than two minutes after starting I was walking up and placing the gun flush against the glass screen of my tiny TV and hitting each and every target… sure I was winning, but it was not the way the game was supposed to be played. Now, all these years later I have Wario Ware: Smooth Moves – another game which feels magic to me. There is a limitless list of things the game asks you to do and it thrives in making you look stupid as you are instructed to place the controller in multitude of weird places. Interestingly there are also numerous ways to cheat in the game to make it easy for yourself, but after playing the game for hours on end and sitting back watching your mates attempt the ‘elephant pose’ with not one of them wanting to take the easy way out (without getting any further into this review) you’ll realise the game’s greatest achievement and a top reason to pick up the game.
There is still more to talk about though… like how it offers 200+ mini-games and how it is the most awkward game to review in the whole world as none of the mini-games are similar to each other in terms of gameplay, graphics, and how overall the game has as little logic as a Vulcan in magic reverse world. Sadly describing it’s zaniness in words results in making the game sound stupid, but playing it offers the exact opposite of that. The game is literally stuffed with charm and there is many a reason why every new Wii owner should love it.
Smooth Moves plays like a typical Wario Ware game – although you’d be hard pressed to call anything about Wario Ware typical. The game does have a story, but if you have ever played a Wario Ware game before you should know that the story really does not matter. For this edition Wario accidentally stumbles into an old building called the Temple of Form. In there he finds the Form Baton, which looks strangely like a Wiimote and from there on the stage is set for the collection of micro-games and groups of surreal characters to make an appearance. You start off with the option to pick from one character, you do so and a cut scene plays to explain – or perhaps to confuse you more – about what going to happen. Once that plays though you start to play the mini-games and it is here that the first noticeable tweak is seen in the game. Instead of going into each game with no idea what to do, it is explained beforehand what position to take to play the upcoming game. The first position (or form) seen is the ‘Remote Control’ where the game – via the voice of a Zen-like master – tells you to grip the controller as you would a TV remote. Once you have some idea of what to do the game then starts with you playing the first few mini-games in that pose. These games range from the remote mimicking a torch as you aim a light at the certain part of the screen to guiding a character through a cave. Then, just as an air of normality starts to surround you, you are moved onto the next pose called ‘Umbrella’ where you must hold the Wiimote face up with the buttons facing you. From this position the game makes you mimic drinking out of a glass of water, swat a fly, ring a bell, and many other types of games. As you advance, the game then starts to jump back and forth between these forms all the while adding new, increasingly weird ones. You continue to advance until you meet the boss stage which is a longer mini-game based on one of the poses you have learned.
There are 19 forms to learn in total with at least one new one rearing its head during the course of each character’s story. There does not seem to be any duds through the list, but it is noticeable that many forms work better the others. In my opinion ‘Waiter’ and ‘Sketch Artist’ are probably the least successful; the former usually used for balancing games with the latter usually used for etching style game. On the flip side there are many highly successful forms with the best of the bunch being the likes of ‘Chauffeur’ and ‘Handlebar’ which are use for driving or titling style games. ‘Elephant’ and ‘Mohawk’ which are more or less the same as well except one asks you to place the remote on your head while the other tells you to put it at the end of your nose – then usually point at the screen to move around an object. And, finally ‘The Discard’ which tells you to leave the Wiimote down before the game starts and then pick it up as quickly as you can when prompted to answer a phone or be a Samurai and cut and intruders’ pants off. There are many more forms and games available, such as ‘Thumb Wrestler’, ‘The Janitor’, ‘Mortar and Pestle’, and more (with one even asking you to plug in a Nunchuk), but with such diversity it is hard to talk about them all in this review. The selection of mini-games is vast – which is another thing that this review cannot fully cover – and ranges from outright crazy tasks – one collection is devoted solely to parts of old Nintendo games such as Punch-Out!!, Pikmin, Starfox, and Super Mario Bros.
All in all when the single player lasts it is great fun, but it does seem to end all too soon – although it may be a case of time flying when you’re having fun. Once you near completion of single player the multiplayer options finally open up thus adding infinitely to the game lifespan. In multiplayer there are many similar mini-games to the single player mode (tied together in different kinds of play modes) along with a few brand new and equally captivating original games. Each of the games offer elimination and hot potato play options, although only one remote is needed despite the mode chosen as all the games are non-simultaneous. The first game on show is ‘Darts’ which uses the Wiimote just as you would expect. For anyone that had the misfortune of playing the ‘Darts’ game in Super Monkey Ball Blitz then this game will heal all scars – no matter how deep – that that game may have caused! Other new games are the weird-sounding ‘Star Nose’ which is a two player game with one player holing the Wiimote and the other holding the Nunchuk to pilot a nose to pick up fruit… the game is most certainly as weird as it sounds, but it is very fun to play! The next interesting inclusion is ‘Bungee Buddies’ which also uses both the Wiimote and the Nunchuk (with each player once again holding one). Each player then moves the controller to make the character on screen run and jump.
Graphically the game is presented very well. The cartoon style cut scenes between each of the mini-games are well done and each has their own distinctive style to differentiate them from the ones before. The graphics of each mini-game vary from basic line drawings to intentionally bad 3D to GameCube quality graphics. The game however was never made with high graphics quality in mind; if you are a graphics whore and need each of your games to top the one that came before then go play Gears of War and let your jaw drop. Audio is also done well. In terms of sound effects – as you would expect – the game varies depending on which mini-game pops up. There is some great music in the game which matches up with the cut scenes shown before each game and is also scattered between the mini-games. These compositions are usually of a very high tempo and set the scene well for the madcap nature of what to come.
While I cannot recommend Smooth Moves as a game all Wii owners should pick up, it is a game most should contemplate buying. The big problems standing in the way of universal adulation are longevity and the limitation of the single player options, but a packed house or at the very least a two or three friends bunched around a TV alleviate both of these problems. Ultimately the real draw of the game is multiplayer and there is no getting around the fact that no matter how fun the game is it will only last so long while played alone.
Hilarious game to play in any mode but truly shines in multiplayer.