Wario's oddball brand of "microgames" have always demanded players partake in the silliest of activities. You'd be tasked with picking noses, protecting cats from rain, and doing whatever else would best take advantage of the platform's unique features. For the Wii U installment, Nintendo changed the name and ditched the typical short-form microgames in favor of more fleshed-out minigames. Using only the GamePad, Game & Wario looks to highlight the Wii U's functionality in the same way the franchise has in the past for the DS, Wii, and Game Boy Advance. Sadly, it's a misguided effort, and makes for a lackluster minigame compilation that only shines with a room full of friends.
If you boot up the game in hopes of solo play you'll be met with a surprisingly long list of options. A strange campaign brings you through 16 different games that Wario, himself, created. As such, they're absolutely insane, with nose-tipped arrows flying into robots pirates launching attacks on Captain Wario's ship. Each attempts to take advantage of the GamePad in some way, be it by providing touchscreen/tilt controls or use of the two-screen setup. In some cases it's a success--one game, called Gamer, tasks you with playing typical WarioWare microgames on the GamePad while trying to hide from your mother, who thinks you're sleeping. It's wacky, and couldn't really be done without the Wii U's unique setup. Taxi is enjoyable as well, and has you driving a taxi in first-person (on the touch screen) while trying to shuttle farm animals back to their barn while fighting off invading aliens.
Other minigames are much less successful, with some playing more like gussied-up iPad games than something you expect from Nintendo's lauded halls. Ski, for instance, is a top-down skiing game. That's it. You just tilt the GamePad to ski. There's nothing fun or original about it, and there's really no reason it's in the mix. Problem is, this issue plagues nearly half of the minigames in Game & Wario, with several relying too much on the controller's tilt controls and not enough on the unique functions. Most games have a scoreboard, giving you incentive to try to beat your high scores, but few of the offerings are good enough to actually justify playing through it more than once or twice.
There's a silver lining, however, and it's in the game's multiplayer modes. While Disco--a two-player rhythm game--doesn't really have a ton of replay potential, the other three support up to five players with one GamePad, and can provide hours of enjoyment. In Fruit, one player is attempting to steal fruit amongst a crowd of AI-controlled characters while the other players try to discern who the thief is. The others, Sketch and Islands, replicate Pictionary and Shuffleboard well, but do so in such a way that adds in some zany Wario charm to make them feel at home on the disc. None are all that original, but they do provide some unique multiplayer fun on the system.
Problem is... that's pretty much it. Those four minigames join the singleplayer offerings to provide an underwhelming experience, even if the game is launching at a low price. Whereas other minigame compilations focus on providing entertainment for as many people as you can fit on a couch, Game & Wario puts most of its stock into its single-player, and few of the games are actually worth playing more than once. There are unlockable short videos and some other silly features on the side, but they don't make up for the shortage of interesting content on the disc. Maybe Wario should go back to farting--the whole "game making" business isn't really working out for him.