When plucking wiry armpit hairs from a statue is the least frustrating thing you can do in WarioWare: Get It Together, maybe there's something wrong. For a series that's always excelled on the strength of its mini-games, the brand new Switch release has tried to overcomplicate things by bringing in all the WarioWare characters as part of the playable roster. By not making you - or indeed - Wario, the star, Nintendo has greatly reduced that 'drop-in-and-play' party mentality that WarioWare really needs to excel.
Release date: September 10, 2021
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer: Intelligent Systems
The game opens with the Story Mode offering, which - if you've ever experienced a WarioWare title before - is very much the traditional microgame experience. Playable solo or in two-player co-op, you'll work your way through a variety of game packs, each themed around the new character it introduces to the game. For example, 9-Volt offers up microgame takes on Nintendo Classics, from Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Pikmin to Animal Crossing and Splatoon. But like anything in WarioWare: Get It Together, they're only as fun as the character you choose to play with.
Too Many Cooks
The narrative follows Wario and his friends as they attempt to create their own video game, but thanks to a load of development bugs, they're all physically sucked into the digital realm. For the first time, rather than having dedicated mini-game sections dedicated to them, many of the well-known characters from the WarioWare games are playable characters in Get It Together. Now, while that sounds awesome, each one has a specific power or skill set that makes them unique, but so much so that it means they can clash with the minigames in a way that makes it ultra dissatisfying to play.
Take the kindergartener ninja duo Kat and Anna for example. This pair is constantly jumping, one only able to fire left and the other right, meaning they play best when you're doubling up with a friend in co-op. However, many of the microgames you'll play through will require precision item selection, such as matching a Wario cowboy-looklike to his wanted picture, and when you have very little control over the movements of your character it's maddening.
Each one of the characters, pretty much bar Wario himself, have some kind of quirk from movement styles to attack directions. But regardless of the specifics, every impingement makes completing the microgames more awkward, especially as you'll only ever have seven seconds or so to figure out what's being asked of you. For every Story level, you select a roster of characters that you'll cycle through with each change of microgame, meaning whatever pairing of character and challenge you end up with is random. Some will play more nicely together than others, but with limited lives, I ended up failing levels for reasons out of my control. Quickly the silliness and wonderfully weird elements of Warioware: Get It Together were overshadowed by immense frustration.
WarioWare: Get It Together does do well to tell a story that's of the same quality as previous games, with the classic heavy sprinkling of ridiculousness that we've come to expect. It's just a shame it's so short. Playing solo, it's possible to complete the Story in just three hours, with some of the levels just offering a selection of the previous microgames in a new "Remixed" offering. When you get the right combo of character and game, you can really appreciate the microgame designs. Some are just beautifully executed, like the aforementioned Nintendo-inspired options, while others are just plain inspired silliness - which is what you'd hope for with a WarioWare title.
Variety is the strife of life
But only once you've ticked off the campaign, you'll unlock the further modes offered by the game: Variety Pack, Play-o-pedia, Crew, and Wario Cup. Play-o-pedia lets you replay any of the microgames you've unlocked; Crew lets you check out the characters, upgrade them, and view your play stats; and the Wario Cup offers a weekly challenge to complete. Variety Pack, though, is a selection of party games for one to four players, and offers some pretty brilliant takes on the classic WarioWare formula. My particular favorite is Puck 'er Up, which is a version of Air Hockey where you battle to first score a goal, and then to play the microgame contained within the puck itself. Whoever wins the goal gets to play the microgame, while the other player can try to sabotage them. It's a great way to get competitive with your friends without needing to worry too much about picking a selection of characters.
But that is a big part of the problem. Trying to get my partner to play WarioWare: Get It Together with me wasn't just a case of him diving in and having some fun, but rather me trying to explain the specific movesets of each character before we started playing. I can't imagine having a big group of friends round to play it would be much different either - these aren't recognizable characters with known traits that we've all got plenty of experience with, and that makes that drop-in and play aesthetic much harder to enjoy with WarioWare: Get It Together.
It's such a shame because after the 18 months we've all had, I was overjoyed at the idea of having something new and frivolous to play with friends over a few beers. But, WarioWare: Get It Together has lost sight of what made it brilliant, and instead overcomplicates the formula to its detriment.
Reviewed on Switch with code provided by the publisher.