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WarioWare: Touched! (DS) artwork

WarioWare: Touched! (DS) review

"With only a few exceptions, this is all done with your stylus. Thatís what differentiates this game from the original in the franchise. Adapting to the new style wonít take you long at all, and suddenly youíll wonder how you ever played this sort of thing before (assuming you have, of course)."

Two hours after I jammed WarioWare: Touched! into my Nintendo DS system, I was watching the credits scroll and thinking the game may have made a better rental. Thatís not to say itís bad. It most certainly isnít. But when I spend upwards of $30 on a product, I like for it to last a bit longer than that. If youíre of the same mind, donít go rushing down to the store. Borrow it from a friend.

Speaking of friends, Wario doesnít really have any. Heís a bit of a bastard that way. He does have acquaintances, though, people you will remember if you played WarioWare on the Game Boy Advance. Theyíre all back for this sequel, complete with new storylines to follow and laugh at.

If you have a soul, itís not really possible to play through the game without the occasional (unmanly) giggle. The story centers on Wario, who is living in wealth after his video game venture. In his leisure, he likes to scarf down a bunch of sugary treats. One morning, though, all that syrup finds a cavity that sends him off to the dentistís office post-haste. There, heís cautioned not to eat treats. Naturally, he ignores this advice. What would a dentist know? From there, the game follows the exploits of other familiar figures, including a disco-dancing fool with an afro that serves as a magnet for insects, a mad scientist whose own creations best him, and so forth. Everything is very charming, appropriate for all ages but humorous to just about anyone thanks to stylish visuals and sound.

Of course, plot is not the focus of WarioWare: Touched! Instead, itís the mini-games that deserve your attention. As you might suspect, these are both the gameís warts and its sexy smile.

A typical Ďgameí of WarioWare: Touched! finds you watching a scripted event before being plunged into a series of micro-games. These hit you fast and furious, one right after the next, leaving you little or no time to adjust. As an example, you might find yourself staring at a screen, told to pop bubbles that are drifting down from the screen above. Quickly, you get to work and pop them all, within about three or four seconds. Donít rest, though, because the next game is something else entirely. Maybe youíre cranking a reel on a fishing pole. Maybe youíre slicing fruit in half as it flies across the screen.

With only a few exceptions, this is all done with your stylus. Thatís what differentiates this game from the original in the franchise. Adapting to the new style wonít take you long at all, and suddenly youíll wonder how you ever played this sort of thing before (assuming you have, of course). As a matter of fact, the stylus allows such precision and haste that the games often feel simpler as a result, even when theyíre thrown at you in a quick-paced flurry.

Part of the gameís simplicity also comes from its basic design. Though I mentioned above that one game might find you popping bubbles and the next may have you messing with a fishing rod, this is not the case at first. Instead, stages are divided by theme. What this means in the short term is that youíll be playing a series of games that requires one specific sort of action. It doesnít really matter whatís happening on-screen; your role as the player doesnít really change.

In the case of the microphone-related games, this makes sense. It wouldnít be convenient to switch between blowing on the unit (think Feel the Magic, complete with similar light-headedness if you play for long stretches at a time) and wiggling a stylus across its touch screen. But most of the time, early play sessions will find you longing for just the slightest bit more variety.

Once you Ďbeatí the game, that variety comes. Itís easy to go back through and practice any games youíve already completed, and you can also challenge yourself to grab higher and higher scores. Indeed, this is about all thatís left to you if you want to extend your time with the game. Around half of the 180 or so mini-games on the cartridge will have been unlocked on your first run through, so thereís not a whole lot more to look forward to.

Naturally, this isnít all bad. WarioWare: Touched! does make an excellent diversion for a few minutes at a time. Itís fun to throw it in the unsuspecting hands of a friend, too, then watch him laugh his head off as heís unrolling toilet paper or swatting a horseís rump so it will run faster. When you donít know what to expect, the game is a laugh and/or thrill a minute. Then the newness wears off. Then you realize you just spent $35 for those last two hours you enjoyed so much. And unless youíre the type to worry about unlocking every last game or raising your score to the stratosphere, youíre pretty much done.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (February 18, 2005)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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