I remember when the original WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! came out. It was a big hit, especially because it was a brand new concept. It didn’t have minigames; it had “microgames.” They ran the gamut of strange themes, and you had to think fast to figure out what exactly to do. Later entries in the series used different control gimmicks to spice things up, such as touch controls and motion controls, and each one was as addictive as the original. The bizarre games and entertaining characters have been missing for a while, though. The last time we saw them was 2013's Game & Wario, and the last traditional game in the series was 2006's Smooth Moves, meaning that (excluding spin-offs) we haven’t seen a true WarioWare game in over a decade. And now that we finally have one in WarioWare Gold, we find that it’s mostly made up of old microgames from earlier in the series. Should we be disappointed?
The game does play like its predecessors. Each character has their own set of games in a particular category, leading up to combined and remixed game sets later on. What really makes this entry stand out is that the early single-category sets are split among three control types: Mash (using the control pad and the A button), Twist (using motion controls), and Touch. Later sections combine all three, and it’s this variety of gameplay that keeps the game feeling somewhat fresh. Granted, fans of the series will recognize a lot of the microgames, especially as some have already appeared in multiple games and spin-offs. Of the 300 microgames, only 1/6th of them are new, but that’s still 50 new microgames and 250 returning from the entire history of the series. The use of multiple control styles allowed the developers to reach into just about every previous game, including DIY. Unfortunately, most of the “Mash” games seem to come from the first entry. Still, while I would have definitely preferred more new microgames to be included, there is a decent variety with the ones returning, so you’ll likely run into many that you don’t remember. And there is something to be said about having some of the best games from the series all in one place.
One thing that is new is the full voice acting they’ve added to this entry. The characters are one of the defining features of the series, and they have more personality than ever before now that the cutscenes and everything else are fully voiced. They didn’t cut corners either; the voices all fit the characters well, and the cast includes some voices I’m sure players will recognize, like veteran voice actor Kyle Hebert (Street Fighter, Dragon Ball Z), and the always entertaining Robbie Daymond (Fintal Fantasy XV, Persona 5). The closest thing to a weak spot here is surprisingly Charles Martinet’s Wario. While he’s obviously the right choice for the character, having voiced him for the past 20-plus years, it’s clear that he’s only used to voicing the character in short snippets, as the voice can be a bit inconsistent. Still, this is more than made up for with some of the other voices, especially for the character Mike.
This may seem too specific to deserve its own paragraph in my review, but if you’ve been playing these games for a while, I imagine there’s a good chance that you share my love for the Nintendo-themed microgames included each time. These games, usually presented by the character 9-Volt, started off focusing on NES and SNES classics, but now span the company’s entire history. Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are obviously well aware of this category’s popularity, as there are Nintendo-themed games in all three of the main control styles. They’ve really updated the variety of Nintendo games and products represented, with games referencing things that didn’t exist when Smooth Moves came out, like amiibo and the Switch.
Well, maybe they shouldn’t have referenced the Switch after all. In doing so, it draws attention to the fact that WarioWare Gold is a 3DS exclusive in a Switch world. Granted, I understand why Nintendo would want to keep releasing games for its ultra popular handheld console, and I also recognize that the use of touch controls would mean that at least some parts of the game would only work in Handheld Mode. Even so, it would have been nice to see the series make the jump to Nintendo’s hottest and most capable system. One of the reasons Smooth Moves is my favorite game in the series is that the jump from the DS to the Wii allowed for more variety in both visuals and controls. A Switch version of WarioWare Gold could have done the same, maybe even incorporating some of the Joy-Con’s features. Even if it was just a straight port, I think it would have been a big seller.
But, the game is on the 3Ds, and we have to judge it as a 3DS game. WarioWare Gold is a great return to form for the series, make no mistake. The gameplay is as addictive as ever, and there are more than enough games and modes to keep you occupied for a lot longer than some of the early games could. That doesn’t mean a lot, as these games never seem to hold my attention for very long, but by this point I think most fans know what to expect. It isn’t without its flaws; a greater focus on new games would have been nice, for example; but it does a more than admirable job representing the best of the series. This is probably a game you’ll want to try out first if you aren’t already a fan of the series, but if you are, it’s probably worth picking up even though you have played most of these games before. My final rating is 4 out of 5.