WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, known as WarioWare, Inc.: Minigame Mania in European languages, is a minigame compilation for the Game Boy Advance and the first title in the critically acclaimed WarioWare series of games. It was released on March 21, 2003, in Japan, later that year in Europe, the Americas, and Australia, and on July 4, 2005, in China. The game has the player play through themed gauntlets of microgames, very short minigames which only last for a few seconds each and whom the player must figure out how to complete through short written instructions and contextual clues. The game's plot centers around Wario who founds a game company and creates a video game along with his friends, an entirely new cast of characters introduced in Mega Microgame$!. The music and sound effects were taken from Wario Land 4.
Based on the "Sound Bomber" mode of Mario Artist: Polygon Studio, Mega Microgame$! was a passion project for its development team, who developed it in secret before showing it to their producers. The game was praised by critics for its innovative concept and addictive nature and would become a commercial success despite low internal expectation, selling over one million units worldwide.
It was re-released as a free downloadable title for the 3DS Ambassador Program in December 2011, only available to people who purchased a 3DS prior to the August 12, 2011 price drop. The game was also released on Wii U's Virtual Console in the Americas, Europe, and Australia on April 10, 2014.
One day while lounging on the couch in his house in Diamond City, Wario sees a report from Ken the Reporter on TV about a video game (Pyoro) that has made tons of money. Wario thinks of all of the cash that he could get if he made a video game. Quickly, he sits on his bike to obtain a laptop. Wario's house gets replaced with the headquarters of WarioWare, Inc., Wario's newly founded "company". After trying to make a video game by himself, Wario grows lazy and calls up his closest friends to help; they agree. Since Wario does not want to spend too much money on the game, they develop a lot of simple microgames rather than a single full-fledged game.
WarioWare, Inc. becomes a commercial success. Wario ends up swindling his employees, though, refusing to pay them and taking all of the money for himself. In the WarioWare, Inc. headquarters, he runs away from his friends with the cash and escapes with a rocket attached to the building. However, Dr. Crygor flying with his jet pack accidentally bumps the rocket and causes it to fall down into the sea along with Wario and the banknotes.
The game is based around the concept of playing very quick, simple microgames (over 200 in all) in rapid succession. Most games only last about four seconds on the lowest speed. There is a wide range of microgames which vary heavily in style and gameplay. Some feature just black and white stick figures, some games show photographs while the other ones are based on classic video games. A game can just make use of the button, but in the next game the player might use both the and the button to move a character in a platform game. Shortly before a game starts, simple instructions such as "Dodge!", "Pick!", or "Catch!" are displayed. Each microgame features three difficulty levels, the degree of changes from the lowest to the highest level depends on the game.
The game's main part are the microgame stages hosted by Wario and the other characters. After beating a certain number of the microgames in a stage, the speed will increase, and sometimes the difficulty level of the games as well. The microgames appear in a mostly random order. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! includes both modes with a set number of games to finish and arcade-style modes where the player aims for a high score. This concept in a much simpler form with only eight microgames in total was first used in Mario Artist: Polygon Studio in the Sound Bomber mode.
The Games mode can be referred to as the Story mode. There are nine stages hosted by the different characters from the game that come with their own set of microgames based around a certain theme each. Two special stages that are composed of microgames from several previous sets are included as well. Each of the eleven stages must be beaten to progress through the story. All stages feature cutscenes that are centered on the respective character, which are viewed before the actual gameplay. The epilogue of the story shows up after the player beats the stage.
To beat a given set, players must beat a certain number of the microgames specific to that set without fail. The last game to beat is the boss stage, a more complex game that lacks a time limit. Players are given four lives, losing one for every microgame lost. Losing all lives results in a Game Over. Between every microgame, a short intermission displaying the current score and number of lives shows up, its appearance based on the character's story. Seeing a microgame in the Games mode opens it up for free play in the Grid mode.
After beating a stage, it turns into a challenge to see how long the player can last. The player scores a point after every microgame, even if he or she lost the game when at least one life is left afterward. In this challenge, the game continues after every boss stage on a higher difficulty level. After beating the boss stage on the third level and every next time, the speed increases additionally instead. By winning a boss stage, the player also gains an extra life if he or she has less than four lives. As a little gimmick, a short break scene featuring the stage's host, which the player can influence by pressing the button, is shown after a boss stage. The stages do not need to be played again to reach the ending sequence, but some extra content is only unlockable by getting a minimum high score on certain stages, and playing every microgame at least one time is required to unlock two of the bonus minigames.
By playing the stages, extra challenges can be unlocked. These include special minigames for one or two players, and mixes of the microgames from all sets. They are chosen from the same screen as the microgame stages in Games mode.
The single-player challenges feature special minigames, several of them being beefed-up versions of the microgames. There are also dual-player games which allow for two people to play four simple minigames using only one handheld. The first player uses the button while the second player uses the button. A single bonus minigame can only be unlocked by playing the microgames in the Grid rather than the stages.
Finally, there are the tower stages that are the last unlocked stages and challenge the player beating as many of the microgames as possible until he or she has lost all lives. Microgames from all previous stages are put into the mix. For example, one tower challenges players to not miss a single of the hard versions of the microgames.
In this mode, players can play any microgame they have encountered in the Games mode. The Grid allows competitive players to challenge the game. When selected, a single challenge will be fired at the player over and over until they miss four times. Like in the stages, the player scores a point after every microgame. The game goes through a three-microgame difficulty cycle, with the first one being easy, the next being of normal difficulty, and the third being hard. After that, the speed of the game increases and the difficulty cycle begins anew. When getting a minimum score on a game (between 10 and 30 points for regular games, and 5 for boss games), the player earns a red flower for this game.
The third and last mode the player can choose from is the Options menu. There he or she can view the epilogues of the character stories or delete the current game data, which resets the game to its original state. It is also possible to change name and gender of the player which originally has to be entered before he or she is able to play the game. The gender doesn't affect the gameplay, but some scenes in the character stories and text lines depend on the player's gender. Additionally, the player can change the background music in the name change screen by pressing the button, the three songs available are the background themes of the stages Sci-Fi, Reality, and Nature.
Aside from Wario himself, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! introduces a completely new cast of characters. The other main characters are told to be Wario's friends, but it is left unexplained how they met him. Each of them hosts a set of microgames and comes with an individual story dedicated to them. At the end of each story, except for the very first one, the respective character meets with the other ones at the Gelateria. The cutscenes mainly take place in Diamond City, which is first seen in this game as well. The characters were designed by Ko Takeuchi.
Beneath the main characters, several other characters are seen in the game. Most of them reappear in further installments of the WarioWare series. Note that a number of these characters were renamed in later English releases.
There are nine different sets of microgames, each one created by one or two WarioWare developers and focused on a certain theme.
Note: The menus of WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! mention the Intro Games stage as an "Introduction" stage and not as Wario's (first) stage. Also, the menu mentions only Dribble as the developer of Sci-Fi games and only Kat as the developer of nature games, while Spitz and Ana clearly are developers as well.
Microgame set compilations
Besides the single sets, there are also six extra microgame stages involving the microgames from more than one character. Two of them are Remixes of Jimmy T. that act much like the regular stages and need to be beaten to unlock three or one new character stage(s), respectively. The other ones are hosted at four different towers located in Diamond City, all featuring pig sculptures. The intermission between the microgames in the tower stages looks like a reverse-colored child's drawing of the inside of an elevator with an animated pig head on the doors.
Besides the microgames, also "full" minigames without a strict time limit can be unlocked. They are mostly beefed-up versions of the microgames. Some of these games also involve other WarioWare developers than Wario, in the microgames only Wario is featured in his own games. There are also slightly altered ports of past Nintendo games.
In these games, the player aims for the high score which will be saved.
In all of these games, one player has to press the button while the other one has to press the button. Unlike the single-player games, there are no high scores, a game just ends after one player has earned the necessary points and won.
Diamond City, the main place of the WarioWare series, features several locations in this game that are mostly connected to one character or character pair each. Almost all of these places reappear in further installments.
The following list includes the objects mostly seen in the character-related cutscenes. Objects only seen in the microgames are not listed.
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and first announced in early 2003. It was directed by Hirofumi Matsuoka and produced by Takehiro Izushi. Other key developers include Goro Abe, Ko Takeuchi, and Kazuyoshi Osawa.
The WarioWare concept with very short minigames coming one after another was first used in Mario Artist: Polygon Studio, a game released for the Nintendo 64DD in 2000 only in Japan. The game's so-called Sound Bomber mode includes eight microgames, six of the microgames in WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! are based on those.
Made in Wario, as the game is known in Japan, was originally made secretly by a number of developers on the development team Nintendo R&D1 without telling their manager at the time. The people came up with the idea of using Wario for the game since they couldn't think of anyone else who would be best for the game. According to them, Wario is "always doing stupid things" and is "really idiotic", so they used him and the other newly created characters, who have become a recurring cast in the series.
Being convinced by their work, the makers presented their idea to their manager at a certain point. He didn't seem to be surprised and just gave his okay, so the people continued the development.
For the creation of the microgames, each person on the team came up with their own ideas, which were wrote down on notes and attached to the director's table. After this, the people went through the ideas to decide which ones could be included in the final product. Since the game became well-known around the department, even people who weren't on the project started to submit their own ideas. Because each of the programmers created their own graphics during the development of the games, the art style is very different with each microgame.
Shigeru Miyamoto put a lot of thought into how best to market the game. He wanted to show how its unusual playing style made it distinct from other games, in the way it could be simply picked up and enjoyed. Miyamoto gave the staff the approval to use the slogan "More! Shorter! Faster!" (最多 最短 最速 Saita Saitan Saisoku), which prominently appeared on the Japanese box art, surpassing the actual game logo in terms of size. It wasn't used for the later Western packages which depicted Wario and his friends rather than just a portion of Wario's face as seen on the Japanese counterpart.
Made in Wario or WarioWare, as the franchise is called in the West, was first announced by Nintendo in early January 2003 and originally released in March 2003 in Japan. Nintendo didn't have hugely high commercial hopes for the game. However, the game's sales figures were growing and growing and it gained a very good reputation.
Since WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! was commercially successful, Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, requested a remake of the original WarioWare, Inc. for the Nintendo GameCube that had to be finished "as soon as possible." The development resulted in the first sequel, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$!, which focuses on multiplayer and came out in Japan only a half a year later after the first game. It is also the first WarioWare game that was co-developed by Intelligent Systems. More WarioWare sequels have followed since, which mostly make use of a new piece of Nintendo's hardware, and so WarioWare has become one of Nintendo's headliner titles whenever they bring out new hardware.
Pre-release and unused content
The Japanese Famitsu magazine rated the game a score of 35 out of 40. 1UP.com's Shane Bettenhausen rated the game 9.5/10 and enjoyed how fast-paced and frantic the game was. He also stated that playing the games was all it took to convince his friends of the game's value. Bettenhausen enjoyed the weirdness of the game, too. Jeff Gerstmannf of GameSpot stated that the combination of minigames and pacing of puzzle games such as Tetris came together in a wonderful way. He rated the game a score of 9.1/10. IGN's Craig Harris loved WarioWare and awarded it a score of 9/10. He stated that it did not matter that the main quest only took one or two hours. The additional replay value made up for it. He also cited the game's "pick up and play" qualities as reasons for his high score.
The game was awarded the Editor's Choice Award at both GameSpot and IGN. At the Edinburgh International Games Festival in 2004, WarioWare took the Edge Award and was named the most innovative game of the year. Furthermore, WarioWare, Inc. gained one of the three Innovation awards at the 4th annual Game Developers Choice Awards in 2004. In 2008, Game Informer named the game one of the top ten weirdest of all time.
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! was entirely developed by Nintendo R&D1, while future installments would be co-developed with Intelligent Systems. The game was directed by Hirofumi Matsuoka, who previously directed Wario Land 4 and Mario Artist: Polygon Studio, whose "Sound Bomber" mode was a direct inspiration for WarioWare. WarioWare was Matsuoka's last work at Nintendo, as he would depart the company to join Creatures, Inc. shortly after the completion of the game.
Names in other languages