The original Warioware, Inc: Mega Microgame$! is unequivocally one of my favourite games of all time. Everything about it was new, unique and awesome when it was released back in 2003 for the Game boy Advance, and it was the foundation on which the amazing sequels that followed were built. At the time I was gripped by games on that pushed the portable system seemingly to its limits, with the system becoming the home for the Castlevania series almost by accident, as well as also straining my eyes with games like Metroid Fusion and Tales of Phantasia. So it really came as a surprise to me that a game so simple is the one game that would come to define the Game Boy Advance for me in the years to come.
Originally drawn to the game by the fact that it was a game featuring the anti-hero of the Warioland series, I vividly recall the morning I strolled down to the local electronics store to pick up the game on the day of its release. Not really knowing what to expect, I happily parted with my AU$59.95 – the standard new release price for game boy games for as long as I could remember – and went along my merry way. Looking back it was perhaps the best video game purchase I’ve ever made .
From there on in the game filled me with surprise and wonderment every step of the way. From the amazing diversity and creativity of the mini games, to the ‘toys’ that were earnt through dedication – Warioware was like that box of chocolates that shall not be mentioned. The first surprise came when I opened up the instruction booklet, which was more like a sticker book than any instructional literature that I’d ever seen accompanying a game. Call me old fashioned, but I’m a big fan of a good quality instruction booklet and this one was among the best. Rather than just giving you a bunch of mundane ‘press A for X’ instructions on how to play the game, the booklet introduced the world, game and characters with incredibly witty writing that really set the tone for the game. Although these were all new characters it instantly brought them right to the forefront of Nintendo characters, second perhaps to only to the Koopalings from Super Mario Bros 3. It was funny and creative and certainly earned the Nintendo seal of approval placed firmly on the first page of the booklet. Not that it stands for much these days – but I digress….
The minute I ‘booted’ the game up, I knew that I had backed a winner. It was as addictive as it was creative, and it just screamed revolutionary. Needless to say following the release of the game developers cottoned onto the fact that mini games could be the next big thing and incorporated them into almost every game for the next five years. None, however, came anywhere near having the variety and polish of the mini games contained within the original Warioware, which would see the player do anything from picking a nose to catching a glass of water being slid across a bar. On paper, these sound absolutely mundane and ridiculous, but being able to combine them into a fun and simple arcade style game is what underpins the brilliance of the series.
The quirkiness and fun of the game was made even more exciting with the second game in the series which is arguably not only the best game in the series to date, but also the best game on the Game Boy Advance full-stop. Warioware: Twisted was almost a sign of things to come for Nintendo and looking back it is hard to see how we all didn’t see the Wii coming. The game utilised motion controls to create a game that was just as innovative as its predecessor, managing to keep the appeal and simplicity of the first game despite adding a second layer of complexity and precision through the gyro sensor. The concept of the game hadn’t changed since the first game, but the motion controls ( which were restricted to tilting on the x-axis) added just enough to avoid feeling too much like the first game. The motion control, achieved through a gyro sensor in the cartridge, made playing the game slightly more nuanced. Rather than just having a series of mini games based largely on timing, the introduction of a surprisingly sensitive sensor meant that the games could be slightly more involved with a lot more margin for error – which certainly increased the chances that the rapid pace of the game would be compromised. Luckily however, the developer was able to design the mini games so that they took advantage of the analogue motion controls without having to make compromises on the rapid fire game play.
Twisted wasn’t only the last game of the series to be released for the Game boy Advance – but it was arguably also the last big ticket game to be released for the system full stop. Luckily however, the end of the GBA as Nintendo’s flagship handheld system didn’t signal the end of the series, which continued its reign as the only mini game collection worth really caring about on Nintendo’s next generation of handheld consoles, while also managing to have an original entry in the series released on a home console.