Sometimes games are art, and sometimes games are "experiences." In an era when visuals are evermore photo-realistic and AAA epics with half-a-billion dollar development budgets top the charts, WarioWare Gold crashes onto the 3DS with a fart and a chuckle, reminding us that, sometimes, games are just games.
Like Rhythm Heaven Megamix did before it, WarioWare Gold aims to capture the very best of a beloved and long-running series and give fans something new and surprising. The result is an enormous collection of over 300 micro-games: many returning, many completely new, all of them completely absurd. All of the micro-games stem from a central meta-narrative starring the always irreverent Wario and his friends, and this time, the game's animated cut-scenes are fully (and brilliantly) voiced.
The hook is simple. Each micro-game will initiate by giving you a simple prompt. The prompt will tell you what to do in order to win, and you only have a few seconds to figure out how to do it before the timer expires and you lose a life. For example, a micro-game may load showing a woman standing on the edge of a cliff, and a man hanging from a zip-line across from her. The prompt appears: "Reunite!" You have only a few seconds to figure out that the game is asking you to tilt your 3DS and send the man zooming into the arms of his lover. Then it's immediately on to the next micro-game.
The 300+ micro-games are divided into categories and themes reflective of their respective characters. Jimmy will feed you games based on sports (use the stylus to guide a skier down a snowy mountain), while 9-Volt's challenges are based on classic Nintendo video games (quickly tap A to help Link pull the Master Sword our of its base in the temple of time).
As you successfully complete micro-games, the difficulty will ramp up, which can make even familiar micro-games harder by changing the parameters in various ways. The game also speeds up as you go, forcing you to think and act more quickly. After completing the campaign, some challenge modes will mix up the various control methods -- buttons, twist, and stylus -- and even require you to complete them randomly with no warning as to which control scheme will be required. You simply have to know your micro-games like the back of your hand!
There's never a dull moment, and that's what I've always loved about WarioWare. Whether you're a total casual or a hardcore gamer, the barrage of mini-games is always overwhelming and stimulating enough to make you laugh out loud or straight-up panic. As strange as the games are visually, the objectives do always make sense, which makes learning fun and fair.
My wife is a non-gamer, and I absolutely delighted in loading up some stylus-based micro-games for her to try. She poked, swiped, laughed, and floundered her way through a chapter, and immediately asked to play through it again. I was surprised by how fast she picked it all up, and by how much fun she was having.
The main campaign can be completed in a couple of hours by WarioWare vets, but WarioWare Gold does offer plenty do do after the credits roll. You can return to play any of the 18 story chapters again, endlessly, to go for a high score. Nine additional challenge modes offer unique series of micro-game clusters and rules to work with, and a huge list of achievement or trophy style "missions" give you milestones to work toward.
No matter how you play, you're always showered with coins as rewards, and you'll spend those coins on gachapon capsules filled with goodies. There are tons of collectibles to hunt for. There's a museum's worth of old Nintendo toys, consoles, games, and gadgets to unlock with accompanying history and descriptions. Many of the unlockables are completely useless, but still fun, and you can even unlock additional mini-games to play. Collecting everything will taken even the most dedicated player a long while.
I've always loved WarioWare, and WarioWare Gold represents the apex of the series. It's the perfect place to start for newcomers, and is a wild celebration for those of us who have been there since the beginning on the GBA.
ComicBook's Score: 4 / 5