Let’s re-visit the past, if you don’t mind. I say we go back to the announcement of the Wiimote. We were all sitting at our computers, eagerly awaiting Mr. Iwata’s presence on the stage. When he took the podium, we watched and waited for any info (no matter how small) on the Wii’s control scheme. Then the first video popped up…a TV-like remote control that would be the centerpiece of the Wii gaming experience. After the first few minutes of “what the hell is that!?” we began to see the opportunities for the controller. If you are a Nintendo fan, then there is no doubt that the WarioWare series was one of the first things to pop up in your mind. Think of how the controller could make for a completely new experience in the WarioWare world. This wasn’t a new idea, seeing that WarioWare re-invents itself with every incarnation. We have had traditional button pressing, twisting, touching, and multiplayer. We sat and waited for more information on the title, imagining all the crazy possibilities. Now jump back to present day, also known as WarioWare: Smooth Moves launch day. I’m sure there are many of you who have already rushed out to pick up the title, eager to get your hands on some microgame action. Little do you know just how much Wario and friends will have you jumping around this time.
If you take away the microgames, than the other thing WarioWare is known for would have to be the weirdness factor. The games, art style, humor, and so on are all extremely quirky. It has come to be one of my favorite aspects of the game. Smooth Moves continues the tradition of weird for the sake of weird. The game starts off with a little make-believe history lesson. You are told of an ancient alien race that worshiped the mystical “form baton”. That’s funny…the form baton happens to look just like a Wiimote! Who else but Wario happens upon the form baton, which is when he decides to take it for himself. Wario…stealing?! I know, I found it hard to believe too. Wario learns of the fabled forms that were used with the form baton, and emulates them himself. That in itself explains the entire storyline of a game that needs no story. It is wacky, silly, and offers an explanation as to why you are waving your arms wildly through the air. Hell, if I am looking like an idiot, I might as well have a reason!
The heart of Smooth Moves control scheme focuses on the form movements of the Wiimote. There are a set amount of positions to hold the Wiimote in, each one set up for a specific group of microgames. I don’t want to ruin all the stances, seeing that half the fun of the first run-through is learning all the different styles of holding the Wiimote. I will go through an explanation of three of the Wiimote styles involved in gameplay. You will have to play through the title to find out the rest!
First up is the most basic style of Wiimote control, which is called “The Remote Control”. This is the same style that you use while playing the bow and arrow in Twilight Princess, or shooting a gun in Red Steel. You hold the Wiimote with the front pointed at the television, thumb rested on the A button. In a few instances you will actually need to use the A button, but those instances are very rare. You will never be told that you must use the A button, but there are just some games where it will feel natural to do so. For example, one of the “Remote Control” style games will have you aiming a laser sight at a giant Wario monster. You will have to aim at either his hands, or mouth, which will have a target. Take aim, then press A to fire your laser. Not all the games using this form are just aim and shoot games. A few stand-out microgames involve you guiding a tiny face through a jagged maze (you cannot touch the walls) until you get back to your family. One of my favorites involves using the Wiimote like a pool cue to line up your shot, and knock in the appropriate ball. The “Remote Control” form is the first form that you will learn, simply because it is the most basic. The games that center around this form range from games you would expect, to uses that surprise. This can be said for all forms though.
The Chauffeur form has you grab the Wiimote on both ends, and face the buttons towards you. It is the same position you would use while playing Excite Truck. Because of the form, you will definitely find a few racing style games in this set. The one demo that everyone has seen is Wario driving a cab through the woods. This is actually a microgame boss level, not a microgame itself. You take control of the cab wheel and steer it down the road, avoiding monkeys, cows, and other obstacles that get in your way. You can also use the A button for your horn, which beeps through the Wiimote speaker. Useless, but a nice touch nevertheless. The games that don’t use the Chauffeur form as a steering wheel are actually much more involved. One game has you rotating an item to find its barcode, and then swiping it over the scanner. One of the most interesting microgames is one that has you spinning a hunk of meat over a fire, rotisserie style. You do this by rotating the Wiimote in a circle, just as you would with a skewer. Another quick note, after every game where you have to rotate the Wiimote, you will be given a “drop the Wiimote” game. This happens 100% of the time because this game acts as a way to untangle the Wiimote wrist strap, which became twisted from the previous game. A pretty neat way of straightening things out.
One of my favorite forms would definitely be the “Thumb Wrestler”. Unfortunately there aren’t as many microgames that use this form as the others, but what is here is great. This form has you holding the Wiimote vertically, with your thumb over the top. The thing that makes this form so entertaining is the fact that you really do have to keep your finger over IR sensor. This plays into most of the games in this set. For instance, one game has you shaking a beaker full of liquid until the chemical reaction happens. If you shake the beaker on its side, and you don’t have your thumb on the IR sensor, the liquid will spill out. This form makes for one of my top 10 microgames, entitled “Spray it, don’t say it”. In this game you are holding a bottle of soda (which suspiciously looks like a bottle of wine) that you have to shake up. After you shake it the right number of times, you take your thumb off and spray it at the thirsty joggers. If you don’t take your thumb off and point it at the joggers, than the soda doesn’t spray out. There are more great uses of the Wiimote like this, some which use the form in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Everyone pretty much knows what to expect from gameplay in a WarioWare title, but what about the presentation? This is the first true console entry in the WarioWare series. We saw WarioWare on the GameCube, but that was just a multiplayer addition to a WarioWare we had already played. Smooth Moves does little to show of the Wii’s graphical power, but it brings the style of the series to new heights. The cartoon style of storytelling is in full effect here, brought to life with much more style and fluidity on the Wii. The storytelling aspects of WarioWare make you feel like you are watching a Saturday morning cartoon. The images are huge, brightly colored, and uniquely animated. The quirkiness of the WarioWare series shines through better than ever before. Microgames utilize a number of different styles as well. Some games are displayed in full 3d, others are hand drawn, and some are a mix of the two. WarioWare was never about the graphics, it was about the visual interpretations. There are so many different visual styles in the game, it is hard to not find something you like. The games that utilize 3d do add another factor into gameplay, but they retain the same style of previous games. The only true difference is the presentation. It’s nice to see WarioWare used as an outlet for game designers when it comes to visual flair. It may not have the best 3d, or the shiniest graphics, but what WarioWare does have is a very unique and varied sense of style.
Wario’s wacky visuals are matched by the equally weird audio. Smooth Moves once again retains the style of the series. I think it is pretty safe to say that the sound effects and soundtrack could have been easily reproduced on the DS, although at a lower quality. The cast of characters cheer you on when you do well, berate you when you fail, and make all kinds of other strange noises in-between. Familiar sound effects from the GBA/DS versions return, such as the victory noise, failure noise, and other reoccurring sounds. I actually have to give Smooth Moves the nod in the soundtrack section though. Some of the songs in this game are actually pretty damn catchy. There is another full voice song before as in WarioWare Touched, but there are some pretty funky compositions as well. I found myself bobbing my head to the beat on more than one occasion during play. Once again, Smooth Moves is trying to stay in line with the other entries in the series. You aren’t going to find any fully orchestrated pieces here, but if you dig the audio package from the other titles, than you should be equally as happy with this one.
I have to make mention of the multiplayer in Smooth Moves. Finally we have a brand new WarioWare that offers multiplayer (not counting Cube version). There are a ton of great modes to pick from, as well as varying amounts of players. Some games allow for 2-4 players, while another offers 2-12. Each game offers up a game within a game. For instance, one multiplayer game has you competing against friends to score the most points. Microgames are given a set amount of points, and if you beat that game, you earn the points. These points are added up at the end of a set amount of rounds, and then come into play for the final round. This round has your character (which is your Mii by the way) hanging above a river infested with alligators. Depending on your score, you are given a number of ropes to hang by. Players take turns snipping ropes, and the last person left hanging is the overall winner. There are other mini-games that involve the use of one Wiimote and Nunchuck for two people. These games are an absolute blast to play. I really want to ruin one of them for you, but it is a lot more fun to unlock it yourself. Let’s just say that one of them will give you flash backs of the Power Pad and Track & Field.
Unfortunately the game does have its downfalls. My biggest gripe is with the amount of extras. One of my favorite parts of WarioWare is unlocking all the hidden extras at the end. There definitely are extras to be unlocked in Smooth Moves, but there just aren’t as many as we are used to. You go through all the work of playing every game, be it micro or extra, but you don’t get the rewards you would expect. Perhaps I expected too much from Smooth Moves in the extras department. This coupled with the fact that there are 200 microgames this time is pretty rough. I just pictured so many things that could be done with the Wiimote, perhaps they are saving up for a sequel. I can’t say that I am not disappointed though. The good thing is that the extras included are top notch, and offer a good amount of replay value. There are extras that fall into the single and multiplayer categories, and there are more great ones than there are duds. Length is always a drawback to the series. Once again, Smooth Moves only takes a few hours to clear the main mode, and then another few to unlock all the extras. The extras will keep you coming back for awhile, but if you are looking for a lengthy main game, look somewhere else. One tiny gripe worth mentioning is the learning curve of the game. Smooth Moves is way more involved than past WarioWare titles. The Wiimote works perfectly 99% of the time. There is that 1% though where you perform a move perfectly (or so you think) and nothing happens. It very rarely happens, but when it does, it frustrates.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves is a must for a bunch of different people. If you are a fan of the series, then you should rush out and pick up this game. If you are looking for another perfect game to show you what the Wiimote can bring to gaming, then this is an excellent choice. If you are looking for something new, quirky, and an experience that you cannot get on another system, then you can’t go wrong here. On the other hand, if you want a robust single player game, Smooth Moves is not a wise choice. If for some reason you are a shy person, you may have a rough time “coming out of your shell” to play WarioWare. It really makes you look like a fool. I think this is absolutely great, and a huge part of the fun. Sure you can fool the controller a few times, but most of the time it is just easier to do what the game recommends. If you really get into what the game asks you to do, then you will have a blast. Smooth Moves gives me so many ideas as to uses for the Wiimote that could be fleshed out into an entire game. It shows the possibilities that the Wiimote can bring to video games…let’s hope that developers take note.