While he's appeared in plenty of great games, the pink-nosed, garlic-chomping Wario has always been a B-list Nintendo character. Admittedly, his cause isn't helped by average adventures such as the GameCube's Wario World, but perhaps one of the reasons he's always lurked behind the likes of Mario and Link is because the series he's most famous for has provided some of the strangest videogame experiences of the last ten years.
From the GBA original to the GameCube conversion and the DS's Touched!, WarioWare has always been critically acclaimed, yet the mental micro-game compilation hasn't managed to shake off its reputation as a quirky game that's a bit of throwaway fun for a wet afternoon but not much more. Well, hopefully that's all about to change as Smooth Moves is a genuine Nintendo classic and if there's any justice it will propel its star into the big league.
You Don't Have To Be Mad...
WarioWare has always been one of those games you either get or you don't, and while dissenters could understandably point out that pressing one button to complete a variety of five-second mini games is too simplistic, no such charges can be levelled at Smooth Moves. There are so many ways to complete these mad games that it will never, ever get boring. You hold the Remote above your head and squat up and down for a weightlifting game, perch it in the palm of your hand to balance a broom, flick it to sautee food, jerk it up and down to sprint towards a finish line...
Some micro-games even require you to do two things - for example, one has you shaking the Remote to open a bottle of champagne before pointing the controller to spray the booze at a bunch of racing drivers.
On top of its inventiveness, Smooth Moves is very, very funny. You may have already heard about some of the silly games like the one where you have to insert a set of false teeth into a granny's mouth but that's just the beginning, and while many supposedly funny games will make you snigger, Smooth Moves will make you laugh out loud. Not only is there the series' usual bum-related humour but there are some surreal comedy moments that wouldn't be out of place in a Reeves and Mortimer show. Some brilliant examples of this skewed thinking are the instructions...
As already mentioned there are lots of different ways to hold the controller but the instructions you're given as you're introduced to a new style are so odd. First you'll hear some 'elevator' music and then a soothing man's voice comes through the speakers, telling you how to hold the Remote for a certain type of game.
When you have to do 'The Mohawk' (or rather, hold the Remote above your head and squat), he first tells you how to grab it and then signs off by saying "letting the baton drop is like letting a Mohawk flop - shameful and forbidden." There are many more beauties like these and they're so funny and baffling you'll want to hear them again immediately. If only the Wii had a rewind button.
Many of the games are hilarious too. Obviously, washing a cow's backside and picking Wario's nose will make most people snigger but there are a few subtle jokes that you won't spot first time around. In one memorable micro-game it appears as if you have to waft smoke away from someone's face, but it was only on our third go that we noticed Wario in the corner of the screen with his pants around his ankles and it dawned on us that the smoke is, to put it politely, bum gas. And if you're not laughing at the games you'll certainly laugh at your friends as they wildly gesticulate while they're playing.