Wario Ware Touched!

Arun Subramanian

Wario Ware Touched! remains something of a demonstration of the unique properties of the DS.

Publisher: Nintendo
Price: $34.95
Multimedia: Wario Ware Touched!
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Number of players: 1
ESRB rating: Everyone
Developer: Nintendo
US release date: 2007-07

I don't envy my editor. He's the one that finds the screenshots that accompany reviews. Obviously, as you're reading this, there's a screenshot up at the top of this review. But right now, as I'm writing it, I have no idea how he could pick a representative screen from a game like Wario Ware Touched!. I guess he could do what he did for his review of Wario Ware, Inc. and use a box shot. I imagine that's what I'd do. The point is, when a game consists of nearly 200 individual "microgames", how do you choose one screen to reflect it?

When Wario Ware, Inc. was first released for the Gameboy Advance, it caught me off guard. I think it caught everyone off guard. It both parodied the party game genre and toyed with Nintendo nostalgia, yet it still remained insanely challenging and playable.

Nintendo has a history of trying to change the way people play games. Some examples are the Powerpad, Virtual Boy, GBA connectivity, and the Donkey Konga bongos. By and large, these are gimmicks with no real staying power. But every now and then, Nintendo does something inspired. The Wario Ware formula is one such example. Instead of the game being focused solely on reflexes, it instead relies on your ability to learn the rules of each individual game, and later to recognize which game you're playing, as quickly as possible. Games which tap into human cognition in this way are few and far between. Further, Wario Ware marries this concept with the increasing speed of various seminal arcade and puzzle games. Personally, I find that it is not possible to relax with Wario Ware. Certainly, it's quite fun. At the higher levels of speed, though, it is also one of the most frenetic gameplay experiences available.

Wario Ware Touched! is not exactly a sequel to the original. Instead, it's the franchise's entry on the Nintendo DS, a system itself thought by many to be a gimmick. As a console predicated on interaction with the stylus, it would be difficult to imagine this game being played predominately with the familiar D-pad and buttons. As such, all of the microgames in this installment rely on the unique ways of interfacing with the DS. This might mean drawing, tapping, or tracing with the stylus. There are even games where you blow into the microphone.

In his review of Wario Ware Touched!, Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot wrote "It's a good product, overall, but its overreliance [sic] on touching means that many of the microgames have you doing the same sort of activity again and again." This is a fair statement, but there doesn't seem to be any viable solution. It's not possible to both hold the stylus and remain ready to tap any necessary buttons. Certainly every attempt is made at variety within the confines of the Wario Ware formula. But in the case of the DS design, it seems clear that one can use either the stylus or the buttons, but not be prepared to do both.

What is clear, however, is that even though it's enjoyable, Wario Ware Touched! remains something of a demonstration of the unique properties of the DS. Certainly there are new microgames. But you'll still be picking noses and revisiting perfect two second recreations of NES classics. Regardless of how fun this is in practice, the reality is that the franchise has already made its first impression, and it's difficult to be blown away if you've played Wario Ware, Inc. before. This is especially noteworthy given the relative graphical power of the DS compared with the GBA. Part of Wario Ware's charm comes from playful graphics, but aside from the stylus, this game could have easily been on the older handheld. And a graphical push might have further distanced this game from the original in a dimension completely unrelated to the stylus. As it stands, it almost seems as if the existence of the game is meant to point out that it couldn't, in fact, have been played in this exact way anywhere else.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

Keep reading... Show less

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

Keep reading... Show less

Rather than once again exploring the all-too-familiar territory of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva's debut novel contextualizes the work's origins and gets inside the mind of its creator.

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been told and retold so many times over the years that, by this point, one might be hard-pressed to find a single soul evenly glancingly familiar with western culture who isn't at least tangentially acquainted with the holiday classic. This is, of course, a bit of holiday-themed hyperbole, but the fact remains that the basic premise of A Christmas Carol has become so engrained in our culture that it would seem near impossible to imagine a time prior to its existence. It's universally-relatable themes of the power of kindness, redemption and forgiveness speaks to the heart of the Christmas season – at least as it has been presented in the 174 years since it was first published in 19 December 1843 -- just in time for Christmas.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.