'WarioWare Gold' Winks at a Cynical Critique of the Games Industry

The latest WarioWare game is premised on game industry greed.

Aug 7 2018, 3:54pm

All images courtesy Nintendo

I’ve always enjoyed the WarioWare games (especially WarioWare D.I.Y., which had players creating their own 4-second ‘microgames’), but the new WarioWare Gold is on another level. At least in terms of corporate self-parody.

Wario, as a character, has always been a greedy asshole. His main motivation in life is to make money, which somehow makes him the anti-Mario (idk dude, Mario collects a LOT of coins) and in WarioWare Gold, his scheme involves tricking all of his “friends” into making games for a massive game jam/tournament, and basically getting rich off of their hard work.

The intro cutscene sees Wario, after a spending spree, running out of gold and turning on his TV for inspiration to make some “quick cash.” A news report shows a successful game launch, and Wario’s eyes flash with dollar signs. He exclaims “of course, games! Talk about easy money!” and he proceeds to exploit the labor of his game designer friends, joyfully offering “I just need to convince all these chumps to do the work!” before he calls them up for free labor.

It’s both a good premise for a WarioWare game (a collection, after all, of hundreds of tiny games), and, more interestingly, a reflection of the industry itself and developer-publisher relationships.

Was Nintendo probably going for an intense, biting, self-own here? I doubt it. But there’s a cheeky self-awareness about that intro cutscene. I imagine developers who’ve crunched at work doing a little snort-laugh at Wario’s antics. I have no idea what the development environment was for Gold, but I could also see a world wherein hardworking devs are putting in late nights to get everything ready in time for Wario to laugh at what easy money games are.

The game itself is awesome, as I mentioned on Waypoint Radio yesterday (though I have to—appropriately—play in short sessions due to a bad wrist). But I suspect it’s the intro and premise that will stick in my brain long after the microgame antics have faded.

How about you, readers? Do you have a favorite industry parody (especially from a source you weren’t expecting?) Let us know on the fourms!