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The Fashion Issue 2003


it's not Mario, it's better.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am




: Nintendo


: Nintendo Japan


: Game Boy Advance


: Every genre ever


: Everybody

What’s up with all the shit games out there right now? All the new releases are either movie licenses, sequels to games that don’t need them, or this year’s version of a sports game you’ve played a gazillion times already. And don’t kid yourself, the new fall line sucks too. What to do? Try picking up a new Game Boy Advance SP. It comes in a range of colors to suit your taste, has that cute clam-shell design, a back-lit screen for playing in the dark, and lithium ion rechargeable batteries that last for over ten hours. Plus it gives you access to perhaps the most out-there, avant-garde, and fun game ever made: Wario Ware.


Wario Ware is basically a series of 200-plus minigames, each lasting between two and five seconds. They get faster and faster as you progress, and the sheer variety of game style is mind-boggling. A minipiece of everything you’ve ever played is here. The designers have taken twenty years of video game history and condensed it into hundreds of three-second moments. One game recreates classic Donkey Kong. You have three seconds to jump over one barrel. That’s a game. Another has you tap the button to suck snot up a nose. There’s an egg- frying game, hot-dog-eating games, sports games, puzzles, memory games, shooters, racing games… you name it, it’s there. The only controls are the direction pad and one button, so it’s super-easy for anyone to pick it up and start playing, and it’s fucking addictive. You never really get bored playing Wario Ware because there’s this constant sensory assault of having to learn a new game every five seconds. They should give this game to kids with ADD—it would fix them up a lot more effectively than Ritalin. Once you beat the game, the replay value isn’t so hot. By then, you’ve just won every minigame in the universe, so it’s hard to impress you. It’s fun while it lasts, though, and average players should get at least a month or two of good solid crack time.

The graphics, like the games, are all over the map. You get arcade-style stuff from the 4-, 8-, and 16-bit eras, as well as parodies of modern web-style Flash graphics. There are some pseudo-3D games that remind you of 1991. There’s some really nice isometric icon-style graphic work, and there are even high-tech re-creations of those old LCD and backlight handhelds. Everything about this game is an assault on your senses. The music follows the same hyper-spaz path, and is classic 16-bit Japanese game music.

With so many games today relying on truly incredible 3D engines that churn out beautifully textured polygons at an alarming rate, it’s nice to see a game that gets by on raw gameplay and lean graphics. This game says “fuck you” to 20-minute intro scenes and cinematics. It’s a video game, not a movie. Wario Ware is an instant classic—old school meets new school perfectly done. It’s like going to the world’s biggest all–video game, all-you-can-play buffet and taking one small bite of everything there.