Bizarre. That really is the first word that springs to mind when I think of this game. Very good, certainly, but this is one of the few games I can think of that actively uses this bizarreness as a tactic to make you lose. You see, with most of the mini games that Wario Ware is comprised of, you have very little time to figure out exactly what to do, leaving you with questions like 'Does that Dog really want me to shake its hand?' or 'Should I be jumping this shark?' As you can see, you're a long way from Medal of Honour here, boy...
Wario Ware is the type of game that the GBA was made for. Bite size chunks of fun that you can enjoy anywhere and is ideally suited to the GBA's role as a train or bus companion. The game itself is divided into sections, each themed to one of the different characters that populate the Wario Ware world (that's the sequel name sorted out their Nintendo- just pop my cheque in the post). For instance, 9-Volt is a classic gaming fanatic, and his assortment of challenges is based around classic NES, SNES and GBA games. So you get a quick 5-second blast on F-Zero, a dash through a Legend of Zelda map and a version of 'Punch Out!' Each of these sections is themed and features a number of mini games that eventually lead up to a boss. Get through all of this and you get to the next character and a new set of challenges.
This main game is actually relatively small and will be completed by most within a very short space of time. However, aiming to complete Wario Ware is kind of missing the point. This games life span comes not from completing a set of tasks, but in the compelling nature of finding a new mini game or beating the number of games you can do consecutively. The games themselves are fantastic. There are over 200 of them, offering challenges based around timing, good old reliable button bashing and at its most basic, pure reflexes. It's also guaranteed to make you grin inanely, many, many times. Its quirky nature is precisely the kind of thing that we westerners tend to imagine when we hear about unusual games that only get released in the East. Though, I suspect Wario Ware has been westernized to a degree, it still retains more charm and inventiveness than most games could ever dream of.
Wario Ware also features a few games which make multiplayer gaming on the GBA not only feasible, but great fun. These are quite different to the single player game, but still retain the same sense of fun; a head to head race collecting rubbish with two vacuum cleaners is a particular favourite.
Graphically, Wario Ware is surprisingly rich. It boasts a range of different styles and colours throughout the many different games. Wario himself is represented in at least ten individual ways that I can remember, some of them very different from the norm (though that is Wario Wares key feature). The sounds are fantastic too and only add to the package, and the inevitable smile on your face, such as Wario's reactions when you fail a task. It all comes together in as a really glossy product that relies on each element to make it a success.
Innovation has always been something of a feature with Nintendo. In recent years this ideology has perhaps fallen by the wayside, but despite any lulls, Nintendo always seems to come back with something quirky and original; Wario Ware epitomizes that. It provides a new and addictive gaming experience that is a perfect fit for the GBA format. Although it may be a little too quirky and may not have an immediate appeal for everyone, once you get through the initial confusion there is a lot of fun to be had. So, a classic then? Critically, I don't think there is ever any doubt, though it misses the mass-market appeal to make it a true commercial smash. Which is a damn shame. Wario Ware is a gem that should be in everyone's collection.