Warioware: Smooth Moves
When you buy a new house, you get housewarming gifts. When you buy a new Nintendo console, you get a WarioWare game. It's the same basic idea: a meaningless but pleasant little something to liven up your new purchase and entertain the guests. Smooth Moves is an awful lot like everyone else's gifts this time around, though--a collection of minigames strung together to show off the ins and outs of the Wii Remote controller. Like Rayman. Or Monkey Ball. Or Wii Play. Or...well, not that it matters, since they're all biting off WarioWare's style in the first place. And Mario's tubby doppelganger still does it best. It's the random surrealism of the game that does the trick. Or maybe it's the frenetic pace; you wouldn't think a fat guy would be so fast, but almost every minigame here lasts about five seconds or so, rewarding those with the ability to process a dozen new situations, determine their solutions, and complete them in a split second. Unfortunately, Wario is uncharacteristically graceless this time around. Smooth Moves is really anything but in all, the game features 19 different ways to hold the controller, many of which are completely ridiculous. Intentionally ridiculous, no doubt, but WarioWare's strength has always been instantly intuitive gameplay, which is somewhat lost when the game stops to tell you how to reorient yourself every five seconds. Mostly, though, WarioWare delivers. It may not be the only game to put the Wii Remote through its paces, but it's certainly the most entertaining.
Sure, Smooth Moves does overload you with goofball ways to interact with the controller. And yes, the game grinds to a halt and hits you with lengthy explanations of each control type the first time you encounter it. But once you've digested the basics, you'll have reached Nirvana for the attention deficient. Manic, diverse, often old-school, and always hilarious, the minigames here are easily the most fun and funky in what's becoming a booming minigame industry on the Wii. Here's hoping Smooth Moves' fine line between innovation and insanity (using the controller as your schnoz, for instance) inspires other developers to conjure new uses for the Wii-mote. It's too bad that--considering Smooth Moves' gawker-drawing magnetism--the game doesn't encourage more group participation. Most of the multiplayer modes are competition-based, forcing everyone to take turns in the same minigames from single player (although you do get a mean game of darts). The lack of simultaneous play certainly isn't a deal breaker. You'll just be wishing for something a little more to do once you burn through the main game in a weekend.
Jeremy's right in saying Smooth Moves lacks the frantic pace and momentum we've come to expect from the series, but I'm going to cut it some slack in that department for being the new kid. As soon as I got familiar with the various controller grips, I took a whack at the lightning-quick elevator mode--that's when the good ol' WarioWare madness came rushing back. My beef is with the lack of game variety. The ones that are there certainly are fun and off-the-wall, but the game just doesn't have many of them (and some are just variations on the same theme). I'm especially disappointed in two things: the lack of Nunchuk/Wii-mote combo games (only one stage), and the relatively tepid selections for the Nintendo-nos-talgia stage. Smooth Moves is a fun game, but I expect major improvements in the next Wii Ware.