After I finished downloading WarioWare: Move It, I booted it up in handheld mode and was met with a warning screen: yep, I completely forgot that it was a motion control-only game. My journey afterward was rife with peril, but the weirdness and general ingenuity of this series alleviated most of those frustrations.
WarioWare: Move It! (Switch)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Released: November 3, 2023
To be clear, yes, WarioWare: Move It (if you couldn’t tell from the name) is a motion control-only affair. For story mode, you’ll be using two Joy-Con in tandem for each player (to a maximum of two), and for the 2-4 player party mode, each person will be tied to one total Joy-Con. They’re referred to as “Form Stones” in the lore, and they fit like a glove.
As usual, WarioWare: Move It’s story mode begins with Wario being an asshole, and winning a trip to an island paradise for him and 20 of his friends (read: the entire cast and crew of the WarioWare series). After causing a ruckus he ends up being cursed by a shrine, with all of his other compatriots joining in on island adventures of their own (that occasionally cross paths with one another).
The setup and setting are a blast. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but the over-the-top voice acting, vibrant island visuals, and the typical unpredictable nature of the series all funnel into a constant sense of discovery. You never truly know what lies around the corner with this game, and I only hit a wall when certain poses are introduced. Let’s talk about poses in detail, because they’re the core pillar of the entire game.
The Big Cheese is the Dark Souls of poses
While trying to complete microgames (the 10-second or less minigames that the series is known for), you’ll need to perform specific “poses” to properly negotiate the aforementioned motion controls. For instance, early poses involve very simple concepts, like holding the Joy-Con above your head (Sky Stretch) or to your side (Choo Choo).
As you progress these poses get a bit more complicated, like stacking two Joy-Con vertically to form a sword (Knight), or putting them side by side horizontally to mime a game of tug-of-war. Some poses even force you to drop the Joy-Con; so yes, Joy-Con straps (I hope you kept them!) are a soft requirement for WarioWare: Move It. I assume at least one person reading this is groaning. I’m just the messenger!
Seriously though, your mileage will vary on each individual pose. While Move It gallantly intros each of them with a brief 30-second tutorial, some of them require further study. There were poses where I picked them up on the first try and they instantly clicked. For a few, it took me a handful of attempts to actually get it right, and even then, there were occasional mishaps. For several contentious poses, I questioned why they even existed in the first place.
Once things do click though, the multi-form challenge runs get appropriately hectic. Like learning a VR control scheme for the first time, there is a true novelty to “weird motion controls,” and putting one Joy-Con on your nose and another on your “rear” (as the game calls it) for a chicken pose (titled Ba-KAW) is just funny. When said pose actually works the first time, it’s a blast.
Some of them are going to get on your nerves. For me, it was the “Big Cheese,” which involves sticking out your chest, straddling your legs, and putting the Joy-Con to your sides. No matter how much I tried the motion controls for this pose felt inaccurate, and story levels that required it were a huge pain.
I’m sure someone else will acclimate very quickly to Big Cheese, and find Ba-KAW to be the real problem child. You may even have Joy-Con sensing issues that inadvertently impact your performance. That’s inherently part of the experience, and the gamble Nintendo took with forced motion controls in 2023.
Party mode has its ups and downs
So that’s the gist of how the story mode plays out. Here’s a brief overview of each core party mode (again, for 2-4 players), so you have an idea of what to expect:
- Galactic Conquest – A board game affair with longer minigames. This one is so silly it gives Mario Party a run for its money. In one match I was taken back to the beginning, forced to give half my points to another player, then taken back to the beginning again in subsequent turns. In another game I made it near the end, then stepped on a space that randomly swapped the goal with the starting point, forcing me to instantly lose. The minigames are a blast, but you absolutely cannot go into his mode with the mentality of taking it seriously.
- Medusa March – A fast-paced microgame marathon that also has the added wrinkle of “freezing” in place to avoid the stare of a Medusa boss. This one is good for getting a lot of reps in and is fairly innocent.
- Go the Distance – An old-fashioned PVP slugfest that mainly runs through microgames in quick succession.
- Listen to the Doctor – This childlike “Simon Says”-esque game requires an honor system mentality. You’re still playing microgames, but a “doctor” NPC will tell you to do something silly, like apologize while attempting to win. Other players will then vote on whether or not you actually did it. I generally avoid this one, even with a small child, because it’s so hectic that it’s tough to discern what the other player is doing (especially with some of the more subtle requirements).
- Who’s in Control? – This 2v2-only game ensures that smaller groups straight up will never play it, but the premise is fun enough, and reminiscent of the “spot the fake” trend that took off with Among Us. A team attempts microgames as a duo, with one person trying to actually win, and another faking it. The opposing team needs to spot the fake.
As always party mode is mostly a vessel for microgame delivery, but some folks are going to be alienated by the limitations of the mode itself. Remember this is a “2-4 player” gametype, and WarioWare: Move It is sadly lacking in solo consideration. While party mode inherently caters to groups by design, prior games did have more concessions for solo play.
I’m always game for more WarioWare, even if some of the choices are suspect
Even with the hangup of motion controls, when your daughter is laughing hysterically while playing, you know the WarioWare team did something right. Look, I love that characters like Mona and Joe still exist, and decades later, anyone cares about them enough to keep putting them in a first party Nintendo game. While the motion control issues are going to be polarizing in theory and in practice, I had a blast getting to see this cast in action again.
Most WarioWare fans will likely want to pull the trigger on this one, but I don’t blame you for being wary. There’s a lot of give and take here, especially with the heavy motion focus.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]