WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Wii) – Review

Smooth MovesThe Warioware series of games have become a staple for the Nintendo platforms, throwing together a lot of wacky little games with almost no reason behind them, but throws them at you at such a pace to make a challenge out of it. With each iteration of the game, new concepts in the controls of the game have come about, from using a gyroscope for motion sensing in "Twisted!" to the touch screen in "Touched!". With the first Warioware game for the Wii, "Warioware Smooth Moves" does an excellent job of incorporating the various aspects of the Wii Remote for getting into the microgames with a nice crisp graphical update. The only thing lacking is the numerous unlockables that are usually are part of these games.

Gameplay: A

In Smooth Moves, the general gameplay formula is the same as the other WarioWare games. Each stage (represented by a character on a map) has several "microgames", games that last no more than a few seconds and require only one or two actions to complete. The games are thrown at you randomly, and introduced only with a brief instruction, so it may take a few times to understand what exactly you need to do to win the game. If you miss the objective or time expires, you lose one ’life’ out of 4, and when you run out of lives, the game is over. To further add to the difficulty, the game speeds up every few games, such that by the time you get 30 or 40 games into a series, you’ve got only a second or two to react and complete the game before it’s over. Additionally, there are boss levels about every 15 games, which still are minigames but usually with a set of expanded steps that you need to take to complete it.

WarioWare Smooth Moves ScreenshotSmooth Moves uses minigames explicitly designed for the Wii, and because of this, there’s an added feature not found in the other WarioWare games. Prior to each game, you’re given a "form" to hold the Wiimote in; each "form" is introduced over the course of the first time through the stages, with 21 forms total. These forms include holding the Wiimote like you normally would to operate the Wii menus (the "Remote Control"), holding it like a steering wheel ("The Chauffer"), holding it on top of your head ("The Mohawk"), or even starting from it laying down on a surface ("The Discard"). Three forms, limited to one special stage, also use the Nunchuck accessory in addition to the Wiimote, but when not playing this stage, you would keep the Nunchuck disconnected. With early play, there’s plenty of time to adjust your grip on the Wiimote to get the control in the right form, but as you get more games with the different forms thrown at you, you may slip a bit and find just trying to hold the Wiimote right a challenge, much less completing the game itself. This brings up one complaint I found, in that the wrist strap (which, like most Wii games, you should be wearing) prevented me from getting some of the forms exactly correct, but that may be due to having larger hands. To get some of the slack for some forms, I would need to loosen the strap a bit from the wrist, and while none of the games have you making motions of you throwing the remote at the screen, it may me feel a little unconformable using the remote this way. Fortunately, I found that I could achieve a variation of the forms that didn’t strain the strap as much as to still succeed at the challanges. Another aspect of the Wiimote is that for those forms that required pointing the unit at the screen and using the IR bar for detection ("Remote Control"), you don’t have any on screen pointer to tell you where you are pointing to until you actually are in the game, meaning that you may be wasting precious seconds figuring out where the cursor is before you can complete the game. It would have helped that with those forms, you had some pointer or cursor on screen (like the fairy in Zelda: Twilight Princess) before you started the minigame.

WarioWare Smooth Moves ScreenshotThe minigames themselves have the usual variation you can expect from WW games. There’s the standard "nose picking" one that’s been a staple of the game, and 9-Volt’s level, as usual, features nods to "classic" Nintendo games, though only if you include "Pikman", "Brain Age", and "Nintendogs" among "classic" games. Most, once you’ve figured out the goal, are usually simple, though a few are a bit tricking on timing (such as slicing an object as it falls down the screen).

As you complete the initial goals of each stage, you’ll unlock additional material for the game. There are not-so-much mini games based on specific microgames (one, for example, is a third-person, 3D adaption of Balloon Fight, controlled by literally flapping your arms). Once you’ve cleared the hardest Wario stage, you gain access to similar building/stages that are challenges; one where you only have one life, one where you start with the most difficult level for each minigame, and unique to Smooth Moves is one that plays like a normal stage, but does not show you the right form to start with for the game. You can go back and also play any stage again to beat your best score and attempt to unlock all the minigames for that stage.

Completing the main game also gives you access to multiplayer of which there are 4 different variations. You can play with up to 16 people, switching off the remote as you play through the games. Each of the variations affects how the next player’s minigame is selected; one variation leaves it completely up to the computer, while another variation allows the player that last completed a minigame to select another minigame based on the "forms", with each successive game of that "form" becoming progressively harder. As with the single player game, as you work through the multiplayer game, the speed also increases, and makes the multiplayer forms more a battle of endurance.

Value/Replayability: B-

Unfortunately, one of the other few places where Smooth Moves lacks is the value for the game. While WarioWare games have always been ’short’, in that it’s easily to unlock most of the basic features, and additional time to earn perfection on those, they have been on portable systems (GBA and DS), and thus the length is appropriate for the console. Smooth Moves, being the first console apparence of WarioWare, is pretty much as long as any of the other WarioWare games, and seems to lack as much unlockable content as the prequels. The length itself is not necessarily bad, since it can double as a party game more than the other WarioWare titles, but it is presently priced as a regular console game ($50 USD), and thus it is a tad expensive for the limited amount of material within it.

Graphics: A

The graphics use a whole range of apparences, from 2D sprites, fully 3D rendered games, and numerous combinations in between, in the same wide variety of styles that the other WarioWare games used. The story parts of the game use 2D sprites rendered in 3D, ala the Paper Mario style, and look a lot crisper than the traditional 2D animations used previously.

Sound: A-

Sound is pretty good – the music that sits between the minigames is the type that sounds nice and relaxed when you first start, but as you start to speed up and the music speed increases with the associated rise in pitch, it becomes more frantic sounding; themes from older WW games are reused as well. The in-minigame music, despite not having that much time to enjoy it, is good and appropriate.

Overall: A-

Smooth Moves may be the first real game that can really sell the Wii system; the use of the Wiimote throughout the game shows the full range of activities one can do with the unit, and hopefully will be used by other developers to come up with more unique game concepts, and it doesn’t have the same ’weight’ of getting into the game as "Rayman: Raving Rabbids" has. The price point may be a bit high considering that what you get in terms of number of minigames is comparable to the portable WarioWare games, but it’s still is a strong and enjoyable title.

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