"Hate to rip off Family Guy, but this game is freakin' sweet."

One can fret and moan about video game originality going to ruin, but Nintendo's WarioWare series shouldn't be mentioned in that same breath. For some reason, stupid little five-second games are really enjoyable when strung together at increasingly frantic paces. That's why the original WarioWare holds a spot among my favorite video games of all time, and I can safely add this spinoff (no pun intended) to that esteemed list as well.

While sitting back to enjoy a little handheld game, Wario finds himself frustrated by a particular level and tosses his GBA at the wall, wrecking it. With his heart and game equally broken, Wario decides to have his old buddy Dr. Crygor repair the unit.

It turns out that Crygor is happy-go-lucky over his new gravity manipulation device, and he absent-mindedly tosses Wario's system into the machine, causing it to spew out dozens of little handhelds - which, incidentally, have no buttons. Instead, as Crygor mentions, the game is played by rotating the system. 9-Volt and Mona stop by for a visit and are both enthralled by this new creation. Wario, true to his nature, sees the opportunity to make mega-bucks from this fun little game - and so begins another smorgasbord of stupid little five-second games.

The game follows the same formula as the first: beat story mode stages to unlock new ones, and then go back and earn high scores on each microgame to get hidden goodies. The execution, meanwhile, is an entirely different animal.

Aside from the game's enlarged box, you'll first notice that the cartridge has a big bulge on it; there's a motion sensor in there. (The game automatically adjusts the sensor so you can play it on the original GBA, GBASP, Nintendo DS, or GB Micro with equal ease.) Surprisingly, this little thing works extremely well and didn't give me the feeling that it was too loose or tight in the controls department. As before, the only button you'll ever use for certain microgames is A, and the others are reserved for stuff like menu navigation or pausing. The control pad isn't used at all, but the motion sensor is a perfectly fine substitute for it. The rumble motor is mostly relegated to jumping just a little bit to let you know when the tilting is and isn't being used.

Though it sounds cumbersome (and at times is), I completed the whole game on a GBASP. I'd rather use something resembling an older model GBA with a frontlight built in instead of wrangling with the SP's flippy screen, but if I managed to pull it all off on an SP, you can too.

Wario starts you off with a series of untimed games which allow you to ease into the game's play scheme. Mona's games require small spins for things like balancing a pencil on a guy's finger. Dribble and Jimmy's games toss in pressing A and using big spins, respectively. Kat and Ana's games, astoundingly, only use the A button. 9-Volt's packing some challenges exclusively inspired by vintage NES games (including a boss stage that takes you through tilt-controlled renditions of stages from Super Mario Bros.). Orbulon's games require some thinking. And Dr. Crygor's stages, probably the coolest of the bunch, treat the tilt sensor as a gravity-manipulation device (they probably also invite the most stares from people, especially the boss level).

I can't go without mentioning the staggering mass of extra goodies players can obtain during play. You know those machines at arcades and grocery stores where you turn a little knob and a toy in a plastic capsule pops out? This is set up like that; every time you get past a boss stage, you're rewarded with a new collectible. Some are neat little games like air hockey or a Wario-styled Excitebike clone. There are interactive "doodads" like a love tester and a lie detector. And some are simple toys like those light-wands you wave around to make an image appear in the air. In summary, these make the extras from the first WarioWare look like peanuts.

In terms of graphics and music/sound, little has changed since the previous game. You do get a good showing of rotation and (in some instances) pseudo-3D effects. The voice samples from the first WarioWare continue to be used heavily here in addition to some more recent ones from newcomer 18-Volt. Especially worthy of praise, however, is the song which plays during Mona's rotation, a cute and catchy little ditty advertising Mona's current business as a pizza delivery girl for the cleverly named "Mona Pizza" restaurant - later invaded by a shameless plug from her competitors, "Pizza Dinosaur".

I find little to fault this game for. If anything, the single-button Kat and Ana games seemed a tad wasteful. Nevertheless, what we have here is a well-designed, addicting, and charming title that just goes to show that the creature called "creativity" still has a pulse in her. Buy this game and watch it suck the hours of free time out of your life.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/02/05


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