After five years, a new WarioWare is finally upon us. Well, mostly new, anyway. Warioware Gold is a mashup of some of the best microgames the series has had to offer, along with a few new ones. Most 'best of' collections include a creator's hits; those tracks you can't help but play over and over, despite knowing every single beat. WarioWare Gold has that one game where you have to jam your finger up your nose. We basically couldn't be happier.
In 2018, it may leave one wondering why Nintendo would opt for a 3DS-only release of a new title, rather than simultaneously releasing on Switch, a-la Sushi Striker; however, once you get your hands on the game, it's easy to see why. WarioWare makes use of most aspects of the 3DS's functionality, from the touchscreen to the gyroscope to the microphone.
To say that WarioWare Gold is a mere 'best of' collection would be unfair; there's plenty of new content on offer, from about 50 new microgames to some hilarious amiibo functionality (tap any amiibo, then tap the Wario one). However, the biggest changes come in how this new entry in the series is presented.
For the first time in Wario's history, the character stars in fully-voiced animated cutscenes. You'll get to hear more than just, "Wa-ha-ha!" this time around, and the same treatment is given to the rest of the extended cast. The cutscenes are hilarious and prove WarioWare's trademark humour is alive and well, despite its somewhat long absence.
Most importantly, WarioWare's microgames are now split into leagues. Each league is based on a different type of microgame. There's the Mash League, which features games that use only the D-pad and buttons; the Twist League, which uses the 3DS's motion controls; the aptly-named Touch League, which uses the touch screen and finally the Ultra League, which includes some brand new microgames as well as those of every type from the previous leagues.
The decision to sort types of microgames into leagues proves to be quite ingenious, as it makes it easier to choose which games to play in certain settings. For instance, we found ourselves saving the Mash League and Touch League for times we couldn't (or shouldn't) move the 3DS around wildly or talk into its built-in microphone. This only holds true for Story mode, however, and there's much more to the game than that.
After clearing Story mode you gain access to the challenge mode, and that's where the real fun begins. Challenge mode introduces a series of crazy stipulations to the established formula. For instance, split screen mode features games being played on each of the 3DS's screens, with no delay between them, meaning as soon as you finish a game on one screen, you must immediately look at the other one and play an entirely different game. The games in Challenge mode can be of any type, so at any given moment you may also need to switch control schemes. It's fast, fun and chaotic in the best way.
Once you unlock Challenge mode you can also play Battle Time, a multiplayer mode in which players can compete against each other to see who can last the longest with a set number of lives in a mixed playlist of microgames. Unfortunately, every player will need their own copy of the game in order to play, as download play doesn't appear to be supported. One of our favourite modes is a take on one of the games featured in Game & Wario. In it, you'll play microgames as 9-Volt whilst simultaneously trying to conceal the fact that you're doing so past your bedtime from prying eyes. Hide too long and 9-Volt will fall asleep; play too long and you're bound to get caught. It makes for an interesting metagame that had us constantly looking back and forth between the two screens on the handheld.
If you're a fan of the series, then you know all too well that each game packs plenty of unlockables to earn, and WarioWare Gold is no different. Among them is a sequel to the hilarious Mewtroid which features a housecat with an arm cannon, as well as a tool which allows the player to dub over the cutscenes, which we can't help but feel would've been a perfect fit for the Switch's video capture feature.
WarioWare Gold is proof that there's life yet in the venerable 3DS line of handhelds. The microgames on offer are some of the series' best, and the fully-voiced cutscenes in the Story mode are hilarious. Challenge mode will give you plenty of reason to come back and the unlockable souvenirs are our favourite in the series to date. We would have loved to have seen this on Switch as well, but it's clear this game was designed for the 3DS from the ground up. With its absurdist humour, wonderful voice acting (courtesy of Charles Martinet, naturally), immensely satisfying gameplay and stern challenges - many of which will make even the most seasoned players' palms sweat - WarioWare offers something for everyone. If this does turn out to be the 3DS' swansong, then it's going out on a high.