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Nintendo's weirdest Wario game isn't as weird as everything else in 2018

Commentary: Warioware Gold is my video game security blanket for a stressful universe.


Weird Nintendo is great Nintendo. And also, weird Nintendo isn't as weird as it used to be.

I looked through my own Twitter history and realized my use of the word "weird" has expanded significantly over the last two years. These are exceedingly weird times.

I remember playing WarioWare on a Game Boy Advance a long time ago and marveling how strange it was. The game's fast-paced minigames have always felt like a demented riff on Nintendo's classic Game & Watch handhelds, a series of one-game black-and-white LCD game toys that preceded the Game Boy and were my summer camp companions for years. Those games were all about surviving as long as you could: faster, harder, repeat and die. Or, maybe, it's like Game & Watch meets Bop-It!.


I don't even remember what the goal of this one was.


WarioWare, if you haven't ever played, accelerates its bizarre little games at increasingly faster speeds, moving to the breaking point. The microgames last seconds. And there are hundreds of them, randomized, so you'll never know what comes next, or how the game will specifically function. It's chaos and bleeding-edge reaction times on the go.


Some modes mix minigames and a larger game-within-a-game (play minigames before your mom sees you and gets scary eyes).


WarioWare was always a great travel game for that reason. WarioWare Gold, available on the Nintendo 3DS, is an enhanced compilation of the best of several generations of older WarioWare games. It's the best version to get.

It belongs in the fun/strange pantheon with Rhythm Heaven, another game that Nintendo remastered and rebundled in a compilation two years ago (Rhythm Heaven Megamix). That game is also about speed and survival, and is equally weird, but is more about longer rhythm gaming sessions. WarioWare Gold is a quicker fix.

The game makes the most of the 3DS and its strange controls. A third of the games use button-mashing, a third use the stylus, and a third using accelerometer-based tilting. Some also use blowing into the microphone. Knowing what to do next, or preparing, involves lots of mistakes. A lot of bonus modes and remix modes offer plenty of ways to add challenges after the story mode's been beaten -- you'll never really "beat" the whole game, since it's all about setting high scores.

But the craziest thing now is that WarioWare isn't so strange. Plenty of weirder games and videos exist all over the place. News is strange. Life is strange.

Instead, I think about my memories triggered by playing these games again. It's nostalgia. And the quick fix attention ends up feeling therapeutic. Maybe even anxiety-lowering.

Who knew that WarioWare would now feel like comfort food?

If only it was on the Nintendo Switch. Maybe soon. But if you have a Nintendo 3DS, it's hard to think of a better game to fire up in the middle of weird midsummer 2018.