Mario's diabolical, greedy and slightly-overweight rival Wario is a genius of sorts. After all, why bother with long games when you can make many quick-paced, five-second challenges? The third game in the WarioWare series, entitled WarioWare Twisted!, never made its way to Europe - which is a crying shame, as it's one of the most unique instalments in an already innovative series.
After losing at a game, Wario destroys his Game Boy Advance out of anger. Instead of buying a new one, he pops down to his loony scientist mate Dr. Crygor and asks for it to be fixed. The end result were oodles of the handheld system, with buttons replaced with motion control. Never one to pass a money-making opportunity, Wario once again enrols his friends to help out with creating over 220 micro-games for the funky new system of his.
Each entry in the WarioWare series usually has a gimmick going on. With this game, it's all about twirling the console softly left and right to control the game - like a steering wheel, but without the fear of smashing into other drivers. The game cartridge has a gyro sensor fitted into it; it's certainly a fresh and new way of playing the game compared to mashing away at the buttons. The aforementioned sensor is also very functional and is perfectly balanced between not-too-sensitive and not-too-stiff. Of course, gyro controls are commonplace in mobile games these days thanks to the accelerometers installed inside every mobile phone and tablet, but back in 2004, this was truly groundbreaking stuff.
Most games are five seconds long, hence the name 'micro-games'. A command will pop up, and you'll need to complete them. Quick! Feed the alien! Shave the beard! Shake Mario's hand! Chug the drink! No, stop reading this and go...ah, too slow. Each stage has four lives, and failing a game will take one away. Lose all four, and it's game over. Win a boss battle, and you gain one. With silly sights like nose-picking rockets and a shaving Earth, Wario really has a surreal sense of humour; some of the objectives or outcomes will likely make you chuckle. They all have brilliant graphics, as well as some appropriately silly sounds and suitable music.
Most stages usually have specific control styles for their games. They're all held by Wario and his weird and wonderful chums, all of which have a story to their stage and an ending if you complete it for the first time. The cut-scenes are quite goofy and are very fun to watch. The disco-dancer Jimmy has games that require big spins, whilst the jack-of-all-trades student Mona will require little twists for her stage. The weakest stage has to be the nursery school ninjas Kat and Ana, since only the A button needs to be pressed, meaning most of their games are pretty easy.
Other stages will have some nifty twists to them. The old school grade-schooler 9-Volt has his usual assortment of Nintendo-themed games with some remixed game-play. For instance, his boss stage is a game of Super Mario Bros., except each level is curved, and turning the GBA to the right will move Mario and speed up the environment, so his jumps must be perfectly timed. Orbulon the super-intelligent alien has his usual assortment of challenging brain-puzzlers, but his games have twice as much time to compensate the player. Since they're a notable step up in difficulty and require all sorts of movements to win, these are some of the strongest stages.
There are unlockable stages that offer one life, put all the games in the mix, and even crank their speed up to the max, which are perfect for any hotshots out there. Wario's stages all have time limits instead of lives, where winning games will grant a bit of time and losing them will stall the clock. They're quite different from the other stages but excellent fun nonetheless. An odd inclusion are the Fronk micro-games. Fronks are small, pixelated things that appear in the WarioWare series. The gimmick here is that each Fronk game offers half as much time to complete, and will appear in any stage since it does not have its own. Because of this, they can be quite frustrating to play, since they'll catch you off guard and cost you a life if you're too sluggish or clumsy.
Those who love collectibles will be in for a treat here. After beating boss-stages, a machine can be given a twist to unlock a souvenir. There are over 130 in total, ranging from trinkets that aren't too fun to more interesting toys like musical equipment and records of in-game songs, like the iconic Mona Pizza tune and the funky Wario De Mambo theme. Some micro-games are turned into longer mini-games, such as ice hockey, which have plenty of replay value and are amusing distractions. Sometimes a phone number will appear, which can be used on the unlockable phone, so you can get a silly message. If you get all unlockables, all you'll be getting is numbers, so you might see the same messages again and again.
It all might sound tough, so playing each micro-game individually is an option, allowing players to adapt to the gradual increase in difficulty. If the high-score is beaten, a crown will appear over the game. Get crowns on all of them to win the super-secret souveneir: an in-game cartridge of WarioWare: Twisted. In other words, it restarts your game. Erm...woo-hoo?
Without a doubt, WarioWare: Twisted! Is one of the strongest inclusions to the series, offering oodles of micro-games and unlockables, meaning there's plenty of replay value to be had in this downright surreal game. It's got some great graphics and appropriately wacky sounds, as well as some catchy jingles to listen to. Whilst some of the stages are notably weaker than others, and the final big souveneir is a waste of time to unlock, this game is most definitely an excellent step-up to the otherwise already-brilliant first game in the series. Here's hoping it'll find its way to the Wii U Virtual Console eventually - the GamePad's gryo controls will allow for a faithful conversion.