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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


WarioWare: Smooth Moves
(Nintendo for Wii)

By Michael Palisano

WarioWare: Smooth Moves brings hundreds of silly, irreverent mini-games to the Wii. The game uses different types of forms of controller configurations under the control of what is called the Form Baton. As usual, the game consists of hundreds of short-attention span mini-games where the reaction time is minimal, but the silliness and craziness of the game makes up for its lack of depth. Look inside and find out why Smooth Moves' absurdist sense of humor, untaxing gameplay and sometimes fun play makes it a perfect party game.

You can either look at the WarioWare series of games as a surreal and superficial diversion in Nintendo's lineup, or see it for what it is: a strange, somewhat cool and highly entertaining series of self-referential mini-games that allows gamers to let off steam with hyper-fast gameplay that leaves you enjoying it despite yourself. Like many the previous WarioWare titles, Smooth Moves consists of a series of small mini-games that players have to beat in order to unlock more levels and games. You are only given a few seconds to complete your task, and part of the fun of Smooth Moves is figuring out what you're supposed to be doing. If you complete a game, you move on to the next one. As you complete and beat mini-games, the game's speed will increase to make things even more manic. However, when you fail to finish, you'll lose one of your lives - when all of these are depleted, the game is over. Smooth Moves diverges from the previous games in that at the end of each stage, you face a boss, which will complete the level. When a level has been completed, you can then move on to the map to another level. Each level in the game has its own unique style and characters, which appear between rounds in mini-cinemas. One of the cool things about Smooth Moves is that you can use the onscreen map to navigate through the city, and can also find a tool shed where you can change your name, Mii character and more. You can also go to the temple stage and practice any mini-games you have encountered, which helps to figure them out if you are having problems with them. Most stages have very simple and sometimes oblique instructions so you need to experiment with different motions and tactics in order to understand what you need to do.

In order to help you discover what each mini-game is about, the Wii version of the game adds what are called Forms, which are basically ways to hold the controller in order to beat the mini-games. There are about eight different kinds of forms in the game, and each is described hilariously in oddly mellow cut-scenes with a weird humor that makes you laugh. One of the cool aspects of this is that you are told which form to use ahead of time which helps to give you a hint on how to approach the mini-games. There are many types of Forms ranging from the basic holding the Wiimote forward or sideways, to the more bizarre like pressing the controller (or "Form Baton" in this weird games' lingo) against your nose to imitate an elephant. This gives Smooth Moves a great diversity in its mechanics and the mini-games themselves offer a varied style of play. Many of the games are simple mechanical exercises where you need to move the controller or catch something. Others require a bit more skill where you have to pick something up or hit an object before it escapes. Several themes begin to emerge as you play through with many imitating simple exercises, motions or tasks such as drinking or swatting flies in humorous ways. Each of the mini-games gives you a very simple instruction before it begins, which is sometimes deceptive and makes you think more than you should. The game is definitely tricky at points, so you need to pay attention to these and figure out what needs to be done without expecting too much. There are over 200 unique mini-games, and each one has different speed levels and variations, with their recurrence not always as simple as it might seem on the surface. With such a large selection of games, it's difficult to memorize the mechanics and rules of each one, though you can get the hang of things and anticipate what you need to do instinctively after you've played the first few levels for awhile.

Obviously, one of the most enjoyable and endearing parts of Wario Ware is its' strange and bizarre sense of humor. This is most evident with its surreal, minimalist graphics which are quite funny and enjoyable. While the mini-games themselves present a variety of styles, most of the game keeps to a light-hearted, almost childish look that makes for a zany feel. Smooth Moves doesn't change the basic look and feel of previous games but makes some allowances in its cut-scenes for a slightly more advanced look. Most of the games are very simple and there's a distinctly 'classic' feel in some of the mini-games where famous Nintendo characters make cameo appearances. The music is manic and crazy as well, making Wario Ware feel more like an over-heated sugar rush than a traditional video game. Smooth Moves isn't the most elaborate or deepest game around and like its predecessors, it succeeds in creating a kind of weird satire of video games while paradoxically offering an enjoyable experience in its own right. Its quick mini-games offer a quick rush of knee-jerk gameplay that's quite enjoyable in short bursts. While the game is enjoyable in solo mode, its main appeal lies in its party-game presentation and mechanics that makes this a fun experience that should appeal to casual gamers as well as hardcore Nintendo players.


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