The Student… hold your Form Baton in your right hand, and the box of wine with your left…

WarioWare: Smooth Moves (2007)

I’m fully aware that children may be reading this, so I hate to advocate mind-altering drugs here, but I just want to say that I am thankful to alcohol for many varied reasons. In general, all it’s ever done for me is make me shouty, belligerent, uninhibited, free-spending, giggly, light-headed and stupid. And for all of that, I’ll be forever grateful for its existece.

You see, I know you’ll find this hard to believe but I used to be a dreadful stick in the mud. If ever a moment passed when I wasn’t at the top of my mental game, I would feel embarrassed. Do you know what this left me as? An overly studious, financially conscious bore who wouldn’t have known what a girl was if one came up and… well, not sat on me, but you know what I mean. 

Actually, not much has changed for me from Monday to Friday; I’m still Mr. Boring with double grey denim. Once Friday afternoon hits though, and I have a few uninterrupted sleeps ahead of me, that all changes. Suddenly I’m on the double gins, ranting and raving like Ollie Reed, and it isn’t long before my lad is hanging out. There used to be the mandatory traffic cone on my head as well, but those were from my student days and, as you can imagine, I’ve grown up a lot since then.

I know, I shouldn’t really be making the case for lowering oneself into being a drunken, hollering idiot. But you can’t argue with the laughs I’ve had, and some of the female glances my way that I invented in my mind. There’s a lot to be said for crashing around drunkenly in shopping trollies, or having jousting matches on jockey-back, especially if you’re only witnessing this as a safe-standing spectator.

Then there’s “Watch This”. I love Watch This; anytime someone comes out with Watch This, I’m standing to attention like a meerkat because it’s 100% guaranteed that something is going to go dreadfully wrong for that person. Their suicidal overconfidence will immediately come back to bite them, painfully. If you call a Watch This, then you’re committed to whatever crazy plan you’ve just conjured up, and you must go through with it. Whatever you do will backfire horrendously, and you’ll be left embarrassed, mauve, even mangled, in front of everyone watching. Sounds great to me.

And even if you do end up getting carted off to the hospital with your leg pointing the wrong way, and your ankle gone so bulbous it’s in another postcode, then at least you’ll have another fabulous story for life. That’s assuming of course that you can even remember it. And having a repertoire of drunken stories to draw from really is invaluable to any raconteur.

You’ll want to leave your inhibitions at the door and maybe even pour yourself a preparatory drink or three before sticking on WarioWare: Smooth Moves for Nintendo Wii. This was released in the very early stages of the console, when the Wii was moving like hotcakes and literally any game would have sold a sackful. It was also a time when kids, adults and even your granny were amazed by what the Wii Remote could do, or at this game calls it, the Form Baton.

Of course, with hindsight we now know that Wiimote wasn’t all that capable really, but it was really new-wave thinking for us gaming plebs. The WarioWare games had become known for giving test-runs to all of Nintendo’s console gimmicks – the twisting, the touching, and God forbid, mashing a button every now and then.

Even busting this game out at a party could cause you some initial embarrassment, given that the design, presentation and cutscenes are so wild, insane, quintessentially Japanese. You may find yourself apologising once or twice, especially when the girl you have an eye on has just played one of the 200-odd 5-second microgames and frantically washed a cow’s bum – or if you’re luckier, put the Wii Remote on her head and started squatting for her life. Anything really does go in this game, and it’s almost impossible to explain WarioWare to a layperson – you just have to sit down and feel its madness for yourself.

Of course, the biggest flaw of these games is that you can pretty much be done with at least 85% of the game in about two hours. You wouldn’t want to have spent full whack on this game back in the day, that’s for sure. These days you can bag it for about a tenner, which is a lot more like it. After all, you don’t get two pints for a tenner anymore. I’m not so sure you’d even get a double gin for a ten-spot these days. Isn’t it funny how we’ll drop a tenner, a fifty, even a hundred quid on a night out easily, but baulk at the idea of spending twelve notes on WarioWare?

Get this one out at a party with a nice feed of drink, a few Wii Remotes (with straps of course – safety first) and then stand back. You’ll get a great laugh, watching people do fast paced microgames using such elegant poses as The Umbrella, the Samurai, the Mohawk and the Big Cheese. It quickly becomes the most ridiculous and therefore the most funny thing you ever saw. It probably won’t be long until someone falls over or smashes a glass or your TV or their collarbone, but that only adds to the laughter. It all adds up to what the Irish call ‘gas craic’, which can range from a sensible chuckle right the way up to forcible dismemberment.

It really is just the longevity that holds WW: SM back, but how do you even combat that? The microgames by their nature can’t last anymore than 5-10 seconds each, so even if you crammed a thousand of them in there you’d be lucky to get three hours worth of gameplay, plus a few admittedly funny cutscenes. But that’s OK, I’ve had nights out and pub stints that have lasted less time than that, and they’ve been some of the best nights I’ve had.

It’s between this and the original WarioWare for title of best WarioWare game, I reckon. Treat Smooth Moves as that liqueur or pub choice that you break out only every so often, just the tonic for a guaranteed burst of fun and memories. Then you wake up the next day with your muscles feeling stiff, a slight headache nagging at you, and you’re wondering what on earth just happened.

15 October 2021

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