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WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgame$
Platform:  GB Advance
# of Players:  1-2
Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  N/A
Truly, WarioWare was one of the most unique games released in 2003. Debuting in May of 2003, WarioWare is the epitome of ?pick up and play?. Leave it to Nintendo to design a game that is merely a collection of the shortest, simplest games of all time, and merge them into one of the most compelling, and unusual games on the GameBoy Advance today.

When I first picked up WarioWare it seemed rather lame and without a point. Perhaps it was just seemed too simple. I had to catch a falling rod, jump over a charging hot dog, and keep a spotlight on an escaping Wario. Eventually after ten of these rather simple ?micro? games I encountered a boss stage. All I had to do was time a series of punches on a swaying punching bag without letting it hit me. After about four hits, I beat the stage.

By beating the introduction stage I unlocked the next stage. The next stage was simple sport related games. Some of these had me timing a basketball shot, making a golf putt, or karate chopping a piece of wood. This stage had about 15 games to win before playing the boss stage which turned out to be a simple rendition of a boxing match from the old NES game Mike Tyson?s Punchout. By now I was starting to appreciate some of the ingenuity of the game. It was kind of cool to see what the next microgame might have me do. Some of them had me picking my nose, hammering a nail, shooting ufo?s (ala space invaders), playing old Nintendo games like Duck Hunt or Metroid, jumping barrels in Donkey Kong, eating an apple, or brushing my teeth. Curiosity kept me going.

The game was also becoming more of a challenge. Each of the microgames took about five seconds to play. In that time you have three things to do: read your objective, figure out how to complete the objective, and quickly and correctly perform the action needed to complete the objective. For example: the first game I played had a hand holding a rod at the top of the screen and an empty hand towards the bottom of the screen. The instruction said ?Catch?. A second or two later the rod fell, and by hitting the A button at the right time, the bottom hand would close and ?catch? the falling rod if the timing was right. If you were successful then you would proceed to the next game. If it was not successful you would loose one of your four lives. If you had lives remaining then you could still go on to the next game. This sounds easy, but the further you get into the game, the harder the games get. In time, figuring out how to play the microgame won?t be much of an issue once you?ve seen the games a couple of times. But that will not necessarily make the game a cakewalk, as the games will change ever so slightly to make it harder for you.

During a stage, each game is randomly chosen out of that stage?s pool of microgames. Every three or so microgames played will cause the game to speed up. As the game speeds up, those five seconds becomes less and less until you are playing by reflex alone. Also, as you progress within a level, you might see the same microgame a second time. But the next time you see that microgame, it will probably be a little more difficult. For example, the rod might be half as long, the ski jump might be half as wide or the number of enemies to kill might double. Any of which, will require you to be more exact with your catch timing. Each of the microgames has around three alternate and increasingly more difficult renditions that will appear as you get higher within a stage. Not only that, but the game will surely be going faster by the next time you play the same microgame. It?s this increasingly faster gameplay coupled with the progressively harder microgame versions that will supply the challenge for you to do better than the previous try.

There are 11 stages to beat in all, but beating each stage is not the only goal in the game. Most stages contain 24 or 28 microgames, but you will only have to beat around 60% of those games in order to clear a stage. Once a stage is cleared you can go back and play the stage again to try to set a high score. This time around you can pass the boss stage and continue until you fully run out of lives. The longer you play the stage, the better the chance that you might hit a game that you had not previously played thereby unlocking the game in the Grid mode.

The Grid mode shows you all of the microgames that you have encountered by playing them during a stage. Any unplayed games will stay locked. You can play any unlocked game by itself continually increasing in speed and difficulty until you loose all of your lives. This is a good way to practice a microgame that you might not be good at. Also, each game has a high score list and a goal score to reach, like 15 or 20 or 25. If you reach the goal score of all of the microgames within a stage you might unlock a bonus microgame. These might be two player games, or other bonus games, such as the original version of Dr. Mario (with Wario in the place of Mario of course). This really adds to the replayability of the game giving the player the freedom to play however they?d like.

As mentioned above, there are some two player microgames that you can unlock. Some of these games are expansions of one player games that can be found in the main part of the game. Because all of the microgames basically require you to hit the ?A? button and maybe use the directional pad, the two player games, just map the ?A? button presses into the shoulder buttons. Therefore, player one will use the L button and player two will use the R button on the same GBA. This works pretty well, and the games are quite competitive despite just having one button to press. For example, in one game each player controls a spinning vacuum cleaner. Each vacuum cleaner has an arrow that points while it spins. When you press your button, the vacuum cleaner will move in the direction of the arrow. Your goal is to collect 100 pieces of randomly appearing trash before your opponent. Add to that a randomly appearing character that will cause you to spill some of your trash if caught, giving your opponent a chance to possibly comeback. The two player games are a fun diversion from playing the one player microgames assuming you have someone to play with.

Graphically the game showers you with a myriad of different styles. Some of the games display the progression of graphics from the simple blocky days of Atari to the more detailed and recognizable graphics of the SNES. Some games show a large amount of color and detail, such as the replica of F-Zero for the SNES while others are plain black and white, like the Astroids looking ?Lift Off? game. This mixture of graphical styles adds yet another dimension to curiosity and character that comes from playing the collection of games.

The sound in WarioWare does what it should. It contributes to the experience by speeding up with the gameplay as well as rising in pitch. This helps add to the building pressure of reaching the end of a stage or setting a high score. I would have expected nothing less. Also, the various sound effects throughout the game seem to match well with the actions they represent and the graphical style of the game. There are even a couple digitized voices that you will hear from time to time.

WarioWare Inc: Mega MicroGame$ may not be a 50 hour RPG or an extremely well crafted platformer. Hell, it?s not like any game we?ve seen before. But it will catch your attention. The game has character, that won?t be found in many other games, and it?s quick and easy gameplay lend it to be one of those games you?ll leave on the coffee table and play a little bit of every night. Its addiction is strong, so if you give it a chance you might be surprised of how much fun, little five second games can be. Don?t let this game slip by without at least giving it a try.


Jesse Labrocca

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