Warioware: Smooth Moves Review
This review originally appeared in E171, January 2007.
After a faltering start on DS with WarioWare Touched!, Intelligent Systems has taken Nintendo's baton and run with it, strip-mining the capabilities and possibilities of the Wii remote with intimidating speed and confidence. Smooth Moves' disposable microgames were always going to be the perfect environment for experimentation, but it's still humbling to see how much ground has been covered. Some games are so sensitive that they react to the tiniest quiver in your hand, while others ask for extravagant, violent movements – the first designs to use the pointer and tilt controls simultaneously. The collection of grips, motions and concepts is so complete that Intelligent Systems has already moved on and taken a step back from the controller – and asked you to do the same – with games that ask you to drop it (wriststrap definitely advised) or place it face down on a table. The freedom of movement and thought is absolutely intoxicating.
You need to be intoxicated because Smooth Moves requires considerable suspension of inhibition: it's easy to cheat your way through many games by holding instead of balancing, shaking instead ohula-ing. It's testament to its infectious absurdity that you seldom will, even when exhausted and alone. There are misfires – sometimes you can't figure out exactly what you're meant to do or why what you're doing isn't working – and the constant grip changes take their toll on WarioWare's immediacy. But in the end these are small prices to pay for the breathless, slapstick barrage, and the constant and immediate reward of new ways to use your new toy.
Smooth Moves is at its best in the traditional singleplayer (though not necessarily alone), where you can enjoy the rampant, accelerating surrealism of the games and cut-scenes, collect new games through replays, and compete with other profiles for high scores. The multiplayer element is restricted to passing a single controller around for one-off microgames, which is a thrifty and sociable solution. If you have the numbers (game styles support five to twelve players), this is excellent, but the framing mechanics aren't always well-paced enough to keep the momentum up. The version of darts tucked away as an unlockable minigame is something of an after-hours classic that can hold its own against any of the Wii Sports.
Above all, it's funny. Despite its status as poster-child for the Wii Remote, Smooth Moves hasn't smoothed over WarioWare's extreme absurdism. If anything, this is the most bizarre game in the series to date. Nintendo's bad boy has come good again for its new console, but that doesn't mean he's going to behave himself. And once you get your hands on this free-standing, free-associating riot, neither are you.