Wario’s Wii ripoff

So I picked up Wario Ware: Smooth Moves the other day when I couldn’t find it at Blockbuster. I didn’t open it for a few days, debating whether it would be worth $50 or if I should return it and just look out for a rental. Then temptation (and, to be fair, an upcoming Wii roundup in the Times) got the better of me and I opened it up.

Wario_1 The game is pretty fun, if a little disorienting. I’ve only played handheld Wario games briefly so I wasn’t quite ready for the deluge of 4-second microgames. There’s pretty much no direction other than telling you how to hold the controller, so it took me a couple tries to figure out just how to scan the banana, move the hole to catch the bouncing guy, and direct the blue and red people into their respective houses. As that short list shows, this is a very random and weird game — but I like that. It has personality with all the weird games: turning a spitted roast; bouncing a tennis ball; picking a nose; pushing someone down; using a skunk on a stick to chase people away. It also gives hope that the Wiimote won’t just be used as a gimmick. A lot of the games, like this broom-balancing one, use a new way of holding the remote very realistically. Smooth Moves is a test run for a hundred ideas that will no doubt be incorporated into Wii games in more depth at some point.

But there’s no way this should cost $50. The graphics range from very basic 3-D to kiddie drawings. It’s basically just a bunch of little tech demos strung together. A college programming class could probably put this together over a semester or year. It would be worth it at $20, maybe $30. But $50 is ridiculous. Pricing like this and the continued high, uniform Virtual Console prices make me wish Nintendo did have some competish for the mainstream gamer.

The other annoying thing about Smooth Moves is you can’t play multiplayer games at first. Why on earth do minigame-heavy games like this and Rayman Raving Rabbids force you to play through on single player before you can play with other people? The whole point of the Wii is to inspire people to pick up the controller and play with their friends or family, and minigame games are mostly fun to play with others. It’s hard to do that if there’s no multiplayer option right away.

— January 25, 2007

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