WarioWare Understands Mario Party Better Than Mario Party Does

The new WarioWare game, WarioWare: Get It Together, has been the talk of the town ever since Nintendo’s E3 Direct. The game… wait, what? Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2? Playable Zelda or Ganon or second Link? Link’s been on the Guinness? Never heard of it. Anyway, all anyone has been talking about is WarioWare, at least in my house – I’m the only one who plays video games in my house, and I talk to myself a lot.

A new WarioWare debuted alongside a new Mario Party, although in the latter’s case it’s not quite a new game so much as it’s a collection of existing mini games repackaged as a standalone entry. That’s great – it gives them a new lease of life with some much needed tweaks – but it’s not as exciting as a completely new game, which is what WarioWare is. Mostly though, it was strange to see both games in the same showcase, because I’ve always thought of them as one and the same.

Wario is like the evil Mario, but it’s not like there’s Evil Mario Golf or Evil Mario Strikers – just because Mario has a game doesn’t mean Wario will invert it. And besides, I don’t think WarioWare is an inversion of Mario Party – but I do think it understands Mario Party better than Mario Party understands itself.

Mario Party is a deceptively layered game. It’s not a complex, twisting narrative, but there’s more to it than you’d think. Too much, sometimes. The most recent iteration, Super Mario Party, contains just the four boards – a fact that has seen it come under constant criticism. Boards are the lifeblood of Mario Party, and while each of the Super Mario Party boards have something different, two only get good after a long game, and their unique features feel like gimmicks rather than something added to enhance the game in any way. Beyond boards though, there were also uninspiring multiplayer modes that traded on better versions in earlier games, a rhythm challenge, and a rafting mini game. The rafting was decent enough, but even with limited boards, Super Mario Party was pulling itself in a whole host of different directions.

WarioWare does not over complicate things – it does exactly what it should do. There are some other frills, but WarioWare games are essentially an endless barrage of mini game after mini game after mini game. That’s all I buy Mario Party for – I don’t even really care about the board; they’re just vehicles for the games. A decent multiplayer mode is better than a convoluted twist on monopoly where the CPU ends up winning after two hours because the endgame stars are given out to whichever character spun around and sang Dua Lipa the most times on a Tuesday.

There are still a few differences. WarioWare is far more hectic, which can be off-putting to newcomers in the way Mario Party’s warm tone welcomes them in – although the board game instructions are more intimidating than anything in WarioWare, usually. Games in WarioWare are also much shorter – they’re micro games rather than mini games – which adds to the excitement and energy, but means there’s no time to learn the rules. Most are just ‘chop a tree’, ‘squeeze some toothpaste’, or ‘pick a nose’, but still – the second you try to understand the game, the time has already run out.

Again though, this taps into what’s great about Mario Party – it’s a level playing field for gamers and non-gamers alike. If you’re coming up with strats for Mario Party, you’re probably not going to get invited to any real parties anytime soon.

Also, while I can’t say for definite, I suspect the WarioWare: Get It Together trailer is the longest we’ve ever heard Charles Martinet (voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi) deliver a monologue. He usually just says a handful of phrases or soundbites, but this is a full voiceover. I don’t think that’s a hint at a more involved story mode in WarioWare – the game is best when it’s as silly as can be – but it hopefully does suggest a big push from Nintendo. It featured prominently in the E3 showcase, and while Wario is never going to be the draw that Mario is, it seems like Get It Together is being treated as a title unto itself and not a spin-off. This doesn’t mean a deeper story or needlessly complex mechanics in WarioWare, it hopefully just gives them even more room for off the wall wackiness.

Mario Party desperately needs to go back to basics, and WarioWare is showing it the way. The constant board chatter likely means the next Mario Party will overcorrect, giving us way too many boards and not enough thought to the rest of the game, rather than keeping things nice and easy. I hope it doesn’t, but in the meantime, we’ll always have WarioWare.

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