Saturday, November 3, 2012

3RM @ NYCC 2012: Game and Wario


Game and Wario, which is a play on Game and Watch, is fairly similar to Wario’s other mini-game-focused franchise, WarioWare. However, instead games in five-second lengths, Game and Wario focuses on longer mini-games which utilize the Wii U GamePad’s various features. Nintendo had the game playable at their NYCC booth so I decided to give it a go.

The demo had at least three different games playable: an arrow-shooting game, a skiing game, and a photography game. While I only played the latter of them, I did watch a number of other players try the other games. In the skiing game, aptly called Ski, the player controls Jimmy as he races down a ski slope filled with obstacles such as snow drifts and ski jumps to hinder his path. Holding the GamePad on its side, the player has to tilt the controller left and right to guide Jimmy safely and quickly to the end. Also, the player had to use the screen to accurately see what was going on, while the TV screen showed outlandish camera angles, making it impossible to know what was on the slope. At the end, the game tallies your score and awards metals. Out of the three games, this one was the weakest, in my opinion, particularly because it was so short.

The second game, Arrow, also has the player hold the GamePad on its side. The GamePad screen shows a bow with nose-pointed arrows along with four strawberries, and the television shows an open field filled with Wario robots trying to get their hands on the fruit. The idea is to aim the GamePad, pull back on the bow, and shoot the arrows at the robots. Sometimes when there are a large group of robots, the player can shoot an arrow at a landmine near them to take them all out at once, racking up points in the process. Even without landmines, there were special pepper-shakers that could power up the arrow. By rubbing the nose on the touch screen, the nose enlarges, and when that large nose-arrow hits its target, it explodes with sneeze-filled power. However, if any robots reach the front of the television screen, they quickly run onto the touch screen and must be squashed before they reached the strawberries. The wave of enemies changed over time, with some Warios wearing armor or flying around, but at the end of the battle, a massive Wario robot emerges to face off against the player.  In this final bout, it takes plenty of precision to take out specific parts of the robot before knocking its teeth in - literally!  This game was much longer than Ski, but I hope there are more levels than just the one shown.

Finally, the game that I played, Shutter, was about taking pictures of criminals in a crowed area within a limited timeframe and with limited film. The television screen shows out the window, showing the streets, buildings, parks, and apartment windows all filled with people. Meanwhile, the GamePad screen shows what is being seen through the camera, which can zoom into the scenery in order to take pictures of people far into the distance. Once the game began, I was shown a number of faces of the supposed criminals of whom I needed to take pictures. My boss also mentioned that there was a strange little creature hidden in town that could earn me extra points if I found it. Around the town, the civilian faces were varied with different head shapes, eyes formations, noses, lips, and hairstyles. It was important to study these faces carefully as some people in the town might share the same hairstyle or head shape. After taking a picture, I had to point the GamePad down to develop the photo, which was then evaluated based on the subject facing the camera, the subject's head fitting the photo, and the subject’s face being the right size. Finding the people through the camera was not easy, so I had to view the whole scene on the television to get a better look, then aim the camera at the person once I found them. As time counted down, my boss gave me some hints of where the people might be; these hints included "so-and-so likes high places" or "this guy likes feeding the ducks." Once everyone was photographed, I was given free time to search the area for Fronk, a strange character from the WarioWare series. Despite his small size, I managed to find him getting extra points and a special article in the game result’s newspaper screen. It was a fun experience, but I hope we are going to see more locales in the final version.

While the graphics and presentation of Game and Wario are updated from past Wario games, it still was simplistic and minimalistic like it predecessors. With the move into HD, the game looked a lot better despite retaining its signature strangeness and limited details. If someone was looking to be blown away with amazing graphics, Game and Wario is not going to be that game

Instead, this game is about various, experimental gameplay styles. However, my concern is that what made the WarioWare games special was their vast amount of fast-paced mircogames that kept things interesting, and Game and Wario instead focuses on large mini-games to play. With other mini-game collections already coming out for the Wii U especially with Nintendo Land coming out at launch, I worry this game will be redundant where the mircogame-design would have kept it fresh. I can only hope the other games in Game and Wario make up for the changes to the series.

Game and Wario is expected to release in the first quarter of next year for Wii U.

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