Many publishers treat mini-game compilations as a means of making a quick buck, lots of cheap and easy ideas bundled on a disc and sold as '10/20/50 games for the price of one!" The general rule is, the higher the game count, the lower the review score and the less trust punters have in the form.
It needn't be this way. Nintendo has proven the mini-game compilation can serve as teacher, using a scattershot approach to school gamers in the various capabilities of its host hardware.
The metaphorical staff room has grown busy over the years; Wii Play is your nursery school teacher, indoctrinating kiddies in the ways of the Wii Remote with plush cows and bubble popping. Then there's Wii Sports, the PE teacher in the criminally short shorts who demands you man up, grab that remote and swing to victory.
In fact, the PE faculty is rather overstaffed, having employed a yoga expert (Wii Fit) and a graduate versed in cutting edge sports technology (Wii Sports Resort). All of them are jealous of Nintendo Land, the hip newcomer with the interactive whiteboard and after-school gaming club.
Then there's Game And Wario. It isn't in the staff room because the other teachers locked it in the stationery cupboard to hide it from Ofsted. Game & Wario is Jack Black in School of Rock: bloated, crude, gassy... everything a malleable young mind should be protected against. But while it spends its day digging around the inside of a nostril or, worse, a chicken's back-passage (more on that later), it is secretly as much a teacher as any who came before it.
Game And Wario was conceived as built-in software for Wii U and it shows. Strip away the wacky exteriors and each of the 16 mini-games offers a conservative lesson in GamePad functions.Weaker games cover old ground. Patchwork's jigsaw puzzle exercise aims to stretch your stylus-wielding skills, but if you've played any stylus-based DS game, or indeed, held a pencil, its 90 levels of cloth rearranging will have you devising ways of arranging material into a makeshift noose.
Ashley, a duff scrolling shooter starring the titular witch, dive-bombs into the same boredom zone with a twist of the gyroscopes that could have easily been done on Wii.
Also unsuccessful: attempts to eradicate old Wii Remote thinking with novel GamePad spins. Bowling swaps Wii Sports' waggle for a stylus-flicked ball and gyro-enabled after touch. Which is odd. Did anyone really play Wii Sports bowling and find themselves wishing it was less like bowling? We didn't and still don't.
Likewise, Arrow's decision to do a shooting gallery with tilt-controlled trajectory. It's technically fine and blasting ranks of Wario bots is chaotic fun, but it feels like an extra layer of stressful faff after the immediacy of Remote pointer aiming.