‘WarioWare: Get It Together!’ review: A welcome return with a so-so character quirk

In 'WarioWare: Get It Together', manic microgames still delight but lack the anarchic spark of past entries

The brilliance of any casual game is being able to appeal to people who don’t normally play games within seconds of picking up a controller. The genius of the WarioWare series is that while they’re casual on the surface, its microgames test your games literacy by distilling years of gaming know-how into a matter of seconds with little more than a verb – Collect all! Escape! Squeeze! – while you figure out what to do with what comes up on screen.

Fans will be pleased that this continues to be the core of the experience in WarioWare: Get It Together, the series’ long-awaited return to a Nintendo home console (if you discount the underwhelming spiritual successor Game & Wario on Wii U), as the dastardly Wario cooks up a new collection of microgames that, for the first time, are also possible to play with two players.

Get It Together’s Story Mode revolves around Wario completing a new handheld console only for a bug to suck him and his friends inside. As they traverse different themed sections of microgames to squash the game’s myriad bugs and attempt to find a way home, some fun voiced cutscenes that have the look and energy of a Saturday morning cartoon round off the madcap experience.

This setup, however, means you actually play as Wario and his friends (albeit in shrunken chibi form), each with their own unique control scheme, such as Wario’s jetpack that lets him fly around and charge at objects horizontally, Young Cricket who jumps around like a standard platformer character, or 9-Volt who’s constantly on the move on his skateboard (but can stop to shoot a projectile upwards).

Some characters control in more complex ways than others, such as Mona who’s always moving on her scooter unless she throws her boomerang, which then becomes the object you’re controlling. Others are underwhelming with questionable handicaps, such as a couple of pairs of characters where each can only fire in one direction, which then begs the question of why you’d pick them once you unlock Ashley, a witch who can fly and shoot in any direction.

More fundamentally, the fact that you’re controlling these characters dramatically changes the context of the microgames themselves, as you’re essentially a foreign bringing outside moves and skills to a microgame that otherwise would be a little more controlled. This freedom ends up making Get It Together lose some of the series’ weird charm.

This is most obvious when you’re supposed to be tweezing the armpit hairs of a hench statue without any tweezers, or using a character to plug a giant nostril rather than pick it with a finger. That each character plays differently may, on one hand, make each microgame more replayable, but some characters’ controls feel more awkward to play, robbing microgames of their immediacy and charm.

WarioWare: Get It Together! Credit: Nintendo
WarioWare: Get It Together! Credit: Nintendo

Thanks to some weird and wacky art – some recalling the surrealness of Monty Python animations – the individual games still thankfully elicit big laughs even when you fail, and with around 200 microgames, it’ll take more than a few playthroughs to discover them all. One of the highlights riffs on Nintendo games, which also include some surprise first party Switch entries, such as Splatoon 2, Breath Of The Wild, and even Fire Emblem: Three Houses, as well as some more obscure references from the company’s eclectic vault. However, whereas the thrill used to come from controlling an iconic Nintendo character even for just five seconds, since you’re playing as Wario and pals, it’s underwhelming to see the likes of Mario, Link or Donkey Kong reduced to bystanders in their own game.

However, it’s the inclusion of a microgame riffing on Game Boy Advance title WarioWare: Twisted that drives home what’s missing in Get It Together – the lack of a hardware hook. I suppose others might call these gimmicks, but what better place for gimmicks than a party game? Twisted, of course, made use of gyro sensors, while entries for the Wii and DS made use of their respective hardware’s motion and touch controls.

Get It Together doesn’t make use of any of the Switch’s unique features at all – no gyros, no motion controls, no HD rumble – with the only real nod it makes to the host hardware being how the Joy-Con allows for local multiplayer out of the box. I imagine this will be bliss to those who have a complete aversion to these kinds of gimmicks, and it does ultimately make Get It Together more accessible by being playable on any controller with sticks and buttons (while also considering Switch Lite owners). But it also results in a game that plays it safe, counter to the subversive innovation that’s defined the series, and pales to the wackiness of launch game 1-2 Switch, which I still believe is the console’s most underrated game.

WarioWare: Get It Together! Credit: Nintendo
WarioWare: Get It Together! Credit: Nintendo

Beyond the short and sweet Story Mode is also the chance to rinse and repeat individual microgames for your own personal high score (which fortunately lets you pick just one character to use) as well as Wario Cup; weekly challenges for expert players who can compete to get the best score on a series of microgames with set conditions such as a specific character or higher difficulty. You can also level up characters by giving them gifts bought from a gacha-esque Emporium (using in-game currency, that is – don’t worry about microtransactions) although the rewards mostly amount to palette swaps or character art.

For parties, there’s also a Variety Pack mode that includes mini-games for up to four players, some of which also include the existing microgames as part of the gameplay. Annoyingly, this mode isn’t available right away so you’ll need to play through the Story Mode to unlock, and even then, it’s hard to see these extras being more than a brief diversion compared to other party games available on the Switch. The running gag may be that microgames were always meant to be cheap and fast knock-offs Wario makes for a new get-rich-quick scheme, but this time, they do actually feel kind of cheap.

WarioWare: Get It Together! is available on Nintendo Switch.

WarioWare: Get It Together! Credit: Nintendo
WarioWare: Get It Together! Credit: Nintendo

The Verdict

At best, WarioWare: Get It Together! is a welcome return of Nintendo’s subversive anti-hero in a series that delights in being weird, hilarious, and taps into the purity of gaming five seconds at a time. Yet while there are plenty of laughs and Nintendo nuggets to be enjoyed, incorporating in-game characters turn its microgames into awkward platforming jobs dulls the game’s edges, while the lack of any unique Switch gimmicks makes this feels the safest and least inventive entry in the series.

Pros

  • Microgames continue to be silly, hilarious and surreal as ever
  • Lots to unlock beyond the first playthrough with optional weekly challenges
  • A fun story mode supporting co-op play with other multiplayer options

Cons

  • Playable roster of varied quality overcomplicates the series’ immediacy
  • Virtually no use of the Switch’s unique features
  • Extra modes feel fairly short-lived and most aren’t available right away
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