Review by midwinter

"You Spin Me Right Round Baby Right Round"

Fact: Nintendo make good games.
Fact: Whenever they start talking GBA sequels and updates, I get a bit jumpy.

Now why would that be? Personally, I see Nintendo's unwillingness to accept the proven economic formula of diminishing returns as being the cause of all my worry. That is, they happily increase (x) [being output] while keeping (y) [which is development] static, ultimately resulting in (z) [the number of gamers actually still interested in this crap] slowly decreasing. And as if to prove my claims of heresy, I would point to the countless Pokemon/Mario updates flooding the GBA as all the proof I'll ever need... but hey, they're still selling so what the hell do I know?! Oh well, at least those who truly care will be glad to hear that the first sequel to last year's smash hit Made in Wario (aka Wario Ware Inc) isn't your average flogging of a dead horse. In fact if the truth be known, it's about as far from Nintendo's atypical money grabbing ideology as the phrase innovative gimmick could possibly allow. Serving up a fresh "spin" on the ever popular micro-game concept, Mawaru: Made in Wario is everything fans of the original could ever hope for, and just a wee bit more besides...

You spin me right round baby right round

By now you should already be familiar with the micro-game concept and how it works. Presented in rapid fire randomized succession, Made in Wario's 5 second bursts of pure gameplay are quite literally the interactive equivalent of a bullet to the head. As the music kicks in you're told to get ready. Then right when you least expect it *BANG!* the clock's ticking and your brain's playing catch up. Quick, quick, oh my God! What are we supposed to do now?! Eat that sushi, avoid that oncoming car, raid 5 treasure chests and dunk that basket. Round and round the action goes, gaining momentum and fusing players to their GBAs in a vice-like grip of total insanity. Insidiously addictive, utterly compelling, and most of all just really, really good fun, these micro-games have been ingeniously designed with the time between bus stops in mind. You won't need to worry about saving your game, nor will you dwell on any one challenge for too long. You could however indulge in 100+ games while on your way to work, and that's sure to speak volumes to those of us caught up in life's little rat race.

The problem is however, and there's really no two ways about this, you're going to look like bit of an arse getting your game on in public. Whereby players interacted with the original Made in Wario via a combination of D-pad movements and simple button presses, Mawaru ups the ante thanks to its all new and patent pending, "spin function technology". In a portable gaming first, Nintendo have equipped the cartridge with a motion sensor that detects how far the GBA has been rotated from its standard playing position. Tilt the game a little to the left and the on screen response will be a smooth soft drift in the relevant direction. A sudden twist however will elicit a much stronger reaction, perhaps just perfect for those extreme moments of Wario induced panic. Weighty without being too heavy, precise without being too fickle, the make-shift analogue controls are quite simply put, a delight to use. Now if someone would just explain why Nintendo chose to neglect the wonderfully tactile rumble function then maybe I could get on with distributing these merit badges again. What happened here guys? Why has such ingenuity been relegated to simple front end duties? And will we ever see a rumbling GBA cartridge again? When it feels this good I sorely hope so. But for now we'll just have to find our good vibrations some place else .... sorry about that...

Having brushed aside such disappointments, Mawaru's huge range of spin themed challenges thankfully manage to put the FUN back into funky. Whether you're shaving some guy's chin, smashing down a derelict building or simply trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, the desire to push onwards in order to unlock every one of the 200+ micro-games can take on almost life consuming qualities. For unlike its predecessor, Mawaru comes jam packed with a wide assortment of bonus extras and novelty time wasters that lend new meaning to the word "complete". From the useless little musical boxes that players wind up by spinning their GBAs, to a series of love testers, egg timers and a whole range of basic but fun mini games, there seems to be a whole lot more going on here than first meets the eye. Heck, there's even the opportunity for players to practice their happening hiphop skills by scratching their way through the classic Made in Wario soundtrack! Turn tables of course have been included.

Finally as if to say "Yeah, I'm insane. Whatchya' gonna to do about it?!", Mawaru's visual presentation proves to be an interesting hodge podge of differing styles and techniques. Brightly shaded colors, cartoon-esque graphics, wire frame monochromatic characters, and a spattering of basic 3D have all come together creating something that's just about the strangest thing you've ever seen. As it is with roses and thorns however, a handful of the ensemble cast remain as forgettable today as they were early last year. Even still however, there's always Mawaru's smile inducing soundtrack to fall back upon. Bright, cheerful, yet verifiably insane, its fast paced melodies are sure to light a fire in the pants of anyone within 5 yards of a GBA. Infectious to the point of contagion, Mawaru's many jingles are more than capable of getting inside the player's head and driving them that much closer to psychiatric care. Which considering the whacked out nature of the game in question, is really kind of appropriate...

For myself and millions more like me, the original Made in Wario was one of the most addictive GBA games of last year. Like a blast of Columbia's finest, once the the micro-game concept entered your blood stream there was no turning back. From the day you played your first round to the sudden deflating realization weeks later that you'd run your source dry, your next hit of the sweet, sweet 5 second rush become an all consuming factor in your life. Mawaru: Made in Wario on the other hand is everything its predecessor was and more, mostly thanks to the smooth as silk analogue style controls and its wealth of unlockable extras. The fact that Mawaru also features some 200+ all new micro-games doesn't hurt matter either! If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary then by all means, Mawaru: Made in Wario is game that's guaranteed to please. If you've already been down this road however then you'll no doubt be chomping at the bit, eager, ready and more than prepared to throw your life away for another fix of the classic 5 second micro-game rush. A concept that, surprisingly enough, seems to be getting better with age. Thank you for proving the nay sayers wrong this time Nintendo. Thank you so very much...

Pros
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* An interesting/fun new gimmick keeps the formula fresh
* The 200+ micro-games are the very picture of variety
* Super fast 5 seconds and you're done style action keeps players guessing
* Mawaru: Made in Wario is super addictive, seek counselling NOW!
* Analogue style spin/rotating controls work a treat
* Its varying graphical styles keep the eyes interested
* Bright and colorful, Mawaru is a game imbued with a wonderful sense of warmth
* The soundtrack is as infectious as ever
* There's so much more to unlock this time around, it's almost scary

Cons
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* Some of the character designs are quite 'naff
* Mawaru's rumble function has gone sorely under utilized


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/04, Updated 11/07/04


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