December 2nd, 2006, 02:37 Posted By: wraggster
Forget what they say about needing a Mario or a Zelda game at launch. It's not necessary, especially when you have Wario around. Just like with the Nintendo DS two years ago, the Nintendo Wii is launching with the latest iteration of the Made in Wario series, and similar to its portable predecessors, it aims to utilize every feature of the Wii. Luckily for you, I didn't have to wait in line for a system, because I was able to get my hands on the system a full day early to have super early impressions of the game for you.
One of the first things we noticed about Wario was the jump in presentation quality. Sure, the games have always been a portable-centric lineup of games, but the amount of dedication put into the intro alone is remarkable. The intro has a humorous story about how the Wiimote was used in ancient times for entertainment and such, but had been long forgotten, until one day Wario stumbled upon the last remaining Wiimote. How did he do that, you ask? Simple, a little critter stole his sweets and whilst chasing said critter, he happened upon the temple housing the Wiimote. From there, we start our first level of the game. The first set of games simply introduces the gamers to one new addition to the series, and that's the various ways you are required to hold the Wiimote. The stance used in the first level is called Shoumen (Front) and requires you to simply hold the Wiimote in front of you like a regular controller. As you progress further into the game, you unlock other ways to hold the remote, such as Tsunahiki (grip the Wiimote as you would in tug-o-war), Tengu (pressed up against your nose) and Takinobori (Place the Wiimote vertically and facing towards you). Before each game, the stance changes, and you have to be quick because once the speed starts to ramp up, you don't have a lot of time to change between each stance.
Speaking of the games, they're just as creative as ever, and there is some definite homage to past Wario games. The nose-picking game makes a sparkling return in full 3D, as does the cutting mini-game. Some of the newer stages are totally out there, but as always, are easy to pick up. Favorites so far include saving a girl from certain death by reaching for her hand as she falls, a game where you have to mimic an elephant's trunk and place apples in a basket, directing traffic between the boys and girls restrooms, and a mini-game involving curling. What can I say? I'm Canadian, and it's a national sport. By the way, if you're wondering, the Wiimote strap does play a vital part in at least one of the games, as you have to physically release it. Which hand you use is also important, so each profile you make in the game (there are slots for about 25 or so) will ask you if you're left or right-handed. Out of the five levels that were completed, only one character was completely new to the series, and that's Young Cricket (a kung-fu prodigy) and his master. The other stages that you'll find early in the game were hosted by Wario, Mona (now in a cheerleader's outfit), Cat and Ana and Jimmy. As in previous entries each character has their own storyline. The ninja girls have to defeat a bratty little monster, while Mona's sweetheart, a big time football player, competes to win her affection. Wario, well, he's just trying to avoid getting run over by a huge boulder.
As mentioned before, the production values are definitely much higher on the Wii compared to the DS, and that's apparent from the intro and ending videos that are tacked on to each stage. All the videos feature very bright and high-res characters moving smoothly, and while some may question the quality of the animation - because fluid, it is not - it seems like it was more of a design decision rather than something that was influenced by the hardware. Having said that, the team's approach of having each game show off a unique art style pays off incredibly well in the Wii rev, where the graphics are sharper and 3D graphics are now possible without worrying about hardware limitations. Some of the new games really benefit from the use of 3D. For example, in one game you have to pass various grocery products over a scanner like in a supermarket; the graphics used here are all in 3D so that you can rotate the produce in full 3D to find the barcode scanner. Additionally, the visuals have this creepy early 90s CG look to it, making it stand out from the rest of the mini-games.
Standalone mini-games can be unlocked by completing levels, and so far two balancing games plus a movie theatre have been unlocked. Unfortunately, it seems like the multiplayer mode needs to be unlocked, just like in the GC rev of Wario Ware. This is a real disappointment since this game is just begging for some multiplayer action, but players are going to be forced to jump through several hoops to get them, despite how fun those hoops may be.
Aside from Zelda, Wario Ware seems to be the game that everyone is planning to purchase on Saturday when the Wii officially goes on sale, and it's no wonder given the pedigree of the series. Where Wario Ware Touched! had a mere half year deadline to meet, the Wii sequel reeks of polish. The games have a much wider variety compared to earlier editions and still remain unique compared to before. Wario even utilizes the Mii characters on your machine from time to time, so don't be surprised if you see yourself appear in the game. Overall, the game is solid right from the beginning, and is probably a better display of the Wii's key features than Wii Sports or Zelda. Expect the game to hit America next year.
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