Nintendo’s WarioWare series has always showcased a deliciously alternative streak. The first game was launched at a time when games designers seemed hell-bent on concocting ever more complex and immersive experiences, and it turned this ethos on its head with its short, sharp gaming hits lasting seconds rather than hours.
Wario has since gone on to twist and touch his way through successive adventures and while the chaotic spirit has undoubtedly persisted, it could be argued that none of the sequels have managed to capture the same wide-eyed brilliance of the initial GBA outing. Until now, that is.
Make no mistake about it, WarioWare D.I.Y. – which is already available in the US and sees its European debut on the April 30th – is a bold move. Granted, it comes pre-packed with 90 microgames but the emphasis is on creating your own slices of interactive brilliance.
Guided by an exhaustive and humorous tutorial mode, the player is given the basis tools of a game designer without having to worry about writing a single line of code. You can create backgrounds, characters and objects, formulate AI routines and specify win conditions. It’s astonishing just how involving the genesis of a 3 to 5 second micro-game can be.
However, it’s still an incredible risk. The opening tutorial section takes a good hour to complete and the sheer volume of options is often terrifying; in fact, it could be said that WarioWare D.I.Y.’s setup is the complete opposite of what the franchise is famed for – instant gratification with the bare minimum of effort.
In many ways WarioWare D.I.Y.’s closest competitor is Sony’s LittleBigPlanet, and while some will argue that the focus of the two titles is so different that comparing them is akin to comparing chalk with ladders, the same liberating sense of creation is present in both titles.
Where LittleBigPlanet scores over Nintendo’s game is its sense of community. Nintendo’s stubborn insistence on using cumbersome friend codes means that WarioWare D.I.Y. addicts can only share their games with people they know. LittleBigPlanet, on the other hand, boasts an online repository for all the thousands of different experiences crafted by its fans.
It’s a minor quibble, however. WarioWare D.I.Y. proves once again that Nintendo – in conjunction with the insanely talented first-party studio Intelligent Systems – is simply unbeatable when it comes to making engaging videogames.
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