Nintendo have shown a remarkable commitment to the Nintendo 3DS family since the Switch was announced and subsequently released.
It’s true that releases have slowed down, though hardware sales have continued to be strong, and the total sales now sit over 70 million consoles. So it is worth Nintendo’s time to make sure owners of 3DS and 2DS consoles have something new to play.
And what a strange but nevertheless very well-suited to 3DS game than WarioWare Gold.
From the bizarre micro games, sometimes grotesque and subversive aesthetic, and flamboyant lead, it’s almost like Nintendo has created a full-blown parody of itself. Yet at the same time it does feel familiar. There is much in common with Warioware touch on the Nintendo DS, though thankfully updated and broadened for the success to that handheld.
WarioWare Gold starts off with a short story mode that serves as the introduction to each style of mini game. Firstly there’s touch, using your finger or the 3DS’ stylus which sees you picking noses, pulling Wario’s shirt down, and spinning around lattes. Second is tilt, where you move the 3DS side to side to do sit ups and keep a pig in a pen among other wacky activities. The last main control system is simply using the D-Pad and ‘A’ button to control your character on screen. In the remix ‘Ultra’ modes, there are also some games that require you to blow into the 3DS’ microphone. Each mechanic is introduced slowly, with a gradual ramp up of effort, speed and difficulty. The pacing is nicely done, though the only times that I felt truly challenged was when I encountered a new micro game I hadn’t played before and therefore didn’t know what to do.
And this situation is the true double-edge sword of the series.
The truly hardest part of playing WarioWare Gold is not the micro games, but the meta game of predicting and reacting to what micro game is coming up next, particularly in the Ultra mode where it routinely swaps between control schemes. One second you might be using your stylus, and the next using the D Pad. Mentally managing these changing systems is difficult, but often in a good way. For me, the arcade mode where you simply try and do better at one single micro game didn’t appeal, and each game by design doesn’t have much depth to it. Once you know how to play each micro game you know how to do it, there’s no additional layers of mechanical complexity to discover. Which is not a bad thing at all – swapping between the dozens of micro games shows that sometimes quantity can be just as good as quality.
Now many of these micro games will feel familiar to those who have played previous entries in the series – this is more of a compilation of past entries than a wholesale new rethinking of what a WarioWare game would / could / should include. There are plenty of returning micro games and others that directly reference or take snippets of past Nintendo classics such as The Legend of Zelda, and whether you like them or not I think depends deeply on your existing familiarity with other Nintendo franchises.
If this game is sounding all a bit too bizarre to know whether it’s something you would like, there’s a demo available in the eShop, so if you’re unsure whether WarioWare Gold is the sort of game that would appeal to you, or it’s too familiar to previous entries, then there’s no reason you can’t check it out before committing to the full package.
Nintendo’s send-off games to the Nintendo 3DS family are generally a mixed bag, but the focus on the Switch has given the developers still on 3DS games the freedom to experiment with some strange titles. WarioWare Gold is one of these, even if it seems familiar.
It peels back the corporate shininess that often covers Nintendo, revealing the strange yet relatable minds that work on and around Nintendo properties. WarioWare Gold is a game that embraces and reflects back all the odd and fringe aspects of Nintendo fandom and answers the questions only deep fans ever dreamed – what if Wario was handsome? What if Nintendo made a game that looks like the imitation Mario flash games that have proliferated for decades now? It’s a bizarre package, but one that’s strangely compelling as a quick hit.
WarioWare Gold isn’t a game that will captivate you for hours, but it’s a great in between game, a pick up and play experience that will easy distract you from whatever you need. And yes, I would have loved to see this on the Switch.
Released: September 2018
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS