Nintendo's initial Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS Wii U Virtual Console titles certainly are an eclectic mix - with WarioWare Touched! perhaps being the most unexpected inclusion of the bunch. Having been initially released on the Nintendo DS in February 2005, WarioWare Touched! is one of the DS's earliest titles, coming from an era of bright-eyed optimism during which Nintendo eagerly demonstrated the many unique features of its shiny new handheld system, and just the kind of off-the-wall experiences that gamers could expect from it over the coming years. Thankfully, WarioWare Touched! is as fun, kooky and bizarre as it was ten years ago - and serves as a perfect introductory DS title for the Wii U eShop.
Much like its predecessor - WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames for the Game Boy Advance - the gameplay of WarioWare Touched! features a number of fast-paced microgames daisy-chained together in a brief but exhilarating series of challenges that players must tackle against an ever-decreasing time limit. However, for the first time in the series, WarioWare was able to make use of the Nintendo DS's many new features, such as its dual-screens, touchscreen controls and microphone in order to make the minigames even more varied and interesting.
The main hub of gameplay occurs in "Games Mode" which allows the player to tackle a number of short scenarios. Each one of these is specific to a member of the cast of colourful and unique characters. Every one of these personalities has their own theme which affects the gameplay, such as Mona - whose "Cute Cuts" centre around slicing challenges, or Mike - whose minigames solely require the use of the microphone.
The most fun and interesting of these characters are the duo, 9-Volt and 18-Volt, whose games all centre around retro Nintendo properties like Mario, Zelda and even hearkening back to the days of Game & Watch. These throwback challenges also make a nice change of pace from WarioWare's usual (though, admittedly amusing) crude toilet and booger humour which is often present. Once a challenge has been played in the main story mode, it becomes freely playable in "Album" mode - unlocking the ability to go back and re-play a specific game in an increasingly growing difficulty, in the vein of the main game. "Toys" and "Souvenirs" can also be unlocked over time, offering up even more little minigames and time-wasting devices such as a toy piano. Because, why not?
Unfortunately, many of the microgames aren't especially enthralling when analysed on their own merits, and there can only be so much variation in which touching, tapping or swiping your stylus can be implemented without becoming stale after prolonged gameplay. Some of the challenges (especially the microphone-centric ones) can be especially mundane, simply requiring nothing more than a quiff puff of breath into the microphone in order to complete, and are understandably limited in how much they can differ. Having said that, a huge number of them show an admirable use of imagination, requiring you to do far more than simply slice fruit or unravel toilet roll, and some of them will leave you genuinely baffled about the correct gesture required on the touchscreen.
Fortunately for the challenges that are a little on the menial side - the zany nature of the experience as a whole (which can only be described as Monty Python's Terry Gilliam meets Takeshi's Castle) and the heavy use of stark imagery, catchy tunes/songs and abundance of humour cause even the duller aspects to shine. With 180 challenges in total, WarioWare Touched! rarely becomes stagnant.
One of the major concerns voiced about porting DS titles onto home consoles in the past was the implementation of the system's many unique hardware features, such as the dual screens, touch controls and use of microphone, and their importance in certain titles of the DS's library (especially with the likes of WarioWare). Thankfully, Nintendo have managed the process exceedingly well. With the Wii U Gamepad featuring many of the same aspects as the Nintendo DS, such as a touchscreen and microphone, the likes of WarioWare are able to make the leap to their new home exceedingly well and certainly don't feel out of place or shoe-horned into the system.
The most difficult challenge Nintendo undoubtedly had was in condensing the dual-screen action onto a single screen. Nintendo have not only succeeded in making it viable to play DS games on a Wii U GamePad, but also made the experience extremely customisable - giving the player a total of six changeable screen layouts to accompany the DS's dual screens. These range from placing more emphasis on the top or the bottom screen, fitting one entirely on the TV and one on the GamePad, and even matching your hand orientation. Perhaps the best of the options (which also provides the most faithful DS experience) requires the Wii U GamePad to be held vertically in a portrait mode fashion, allowing the DS's top and bottom screens to fit onto the controller without the size of either of the screens being diminished.
Despite being an extremely short experience (with the main mode easily completable in an hour or so), and featuring incredibly simplistic gameplay mechanics which often verge on the tedious, WarioWare Touched! still has plenty to offer a decade after its release. The sheer abundance of microgames will leave anyone with a love of short bursts of on-the-go gameplay coming back for more time and time again, and its colourful visuals, quirky humour and wonderful soundtrack all work in making it a timeless experience. WarioWare Touched! might not have quite the wow factor that it had upon release, but it is still an enjoyable, frantic feast of the senses.