Developer - Intelligent Systems/Nintendo EPD
Publisher - Nintendo
Platform - Nintendo 3DS
Price - £34.99
Genre - Microgames
About time. The last proper WarioWare title, the Wii's excellent Smooth Moves, was released in 2007 ('proper' in my eyes - there has been a DSiWare game, a 'make your own game' game in the form of WarioWare D.I.Y., and the not-quite Game & Wario between then and now) and it has been too long. The traditional WarioWare five-second burst of game is present and correct: you're thrown into a situation with a simple command, and have to figure out how to win before being chucked into the next scenario. It's as frantic, energetic and fun as ever.
Most microgames fall under one of three umbrellas: Mash, Twist or Touch. Mash games see you using the D-pad and/or A button to win; for example, punching falling water droplets with a well-timed press of A. Twist games involve - you're way ahead of me! - turning the console left or right like a steering wheel for success. One of my favourites involved tilting a crescent moon until an imp slid off into oblivion. Touch games use the touch screen, naturally, and include tracing a path for a slalom skier to get through the flags and reach the finish line. A small number of games make you blow into the microphone to, perhaps, pop a balloon. The main three action types are grouped together (for the most part) to keep things simple.
Once you've beaten the Story Mode - in two or three hours, it has to be said, although the voice acting is awesome - the game opens up. You get access to various challenge modes, such as Thrill Ride (do as many microgames as possible with one life) and Sneaky Gamer (the best part of Game & Wario: finish as many microgames as possible whilst periodically fooling your Mom into believing that you're asleep), but more importantly, the Capsule Machine. Earning 600 in-game coins gives you a shot at getting a souvenir: this could be a song from the game, a Top Trumps-style character card, a minigame, or a few more things besides. I spent a long time earning coins to unlock everything (which is why this review's a bit late; sorry).
Wait, "minigames"? There are fourteen of these blighters, ranging from the returning Pyoro to expanded versions of the in-game golf and bowling. These are by and large great diversions but are not the only examples of WarioWare Gold's generosity. Something you might have seen already is Wario's amiibo Sketch, which does exactly what it says on the paint tin. Tap an amiibo on your preferred 3DS interface and Wario will paint a version of the character (unless Nintendo don't own the sole rights, like with Shovel Knight or Pikachu - then you get abstract and bizarre concoctions) with brilliant results. These are immediately sold in-game for Capsule Machine coins. Sad: it would have been nice to have built up a gallery.
That is a rare misstep for WarioWare Gold. The game swaggers as confidently as its title character: for example, if you didn't like the cutscenes, you can revoice them yourself. It's almost as if the dev team thought that mastering 316 microgames and 14 minigames wasn't going to take up enough of your time. Even then the game has a huge list of achievements to complete: seeing the genuine 100% completion point will take a very long time indeed. If you're only here for the story and not the score attacking you may get little out of it - but I would venture to suggest that that would be missing the point..
The game's most obvious flaws are part of the gameplay: it can be frustrating working out what to do (my most-hated were "Spot ghost!" and "Deflect!", if you're keeping score (because Wario is certainly keeping score)) and the clash of art styles can induce a mild headache. Also, the voice samples the game uses to encourage you in between microgames (just totally typed 'micrograms', hah) get repetitive fast. Twist games do not always work as cleanly as I would like, though this is probably the fault of the hardware and not the software.
Before the final verdict, the elephant in the room: the Nintendo Switch. The 3DS is nearing the end of its lifespan but Nintendo keep giving it shots of adrenaline, like this (with Luigi's Mansion and Bowser's Inside Story still to come). OK, they're remakes or compilation games, but nonetheless, it's going to be sticking around. Nintendo insist it's to keep a machine out there with a low price point but I'm not so sure: I reckon it's because there are still brilliant games that can be made for it, and that's what Nintendo do. Besides, I wouldn't want WarioWare Gold on the Switch - that console deserves a Smooth Moves-esque WarioWare game instead. Crossing my fingers!
Final Verdict: Another anarchic slice of microgame mayhem with that unique WarioWare style, Gold is packed to the rafters with more stuff than ever before. If this proves to be the 3DS's last original title, it will go out with one heck of a bang. With fireworks you have to pop yourself using the touch screen, naturally.