Ever since launching back in November of last year, the Wii U has pretty much been in a constant dry spell for new releases. A few games pepper the calendar here and there, but, by and large, Wii U owners have had severely limited options when it comes to buying and playing games.

At E3, Nintendo demonstrated that, basically from June until December, they’ll offer up a big title every single month. This month’s “big” game? Game & Wario.

I tossed “big” in quotes there simply because this title doesn’t really compare to Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD and Pikmin 3. Game & Wario is a big title for Wii U owners simply because Wii U owners don’t have much to clamor for right now. Yep, that one hurts.

So, is this one worth your time and money? If you game with friends and are looking for a new game for your Wii U, I’d pretty much deem this title mandatory. Game & Wario isn’t perfect, but it’s fantastic for rocking out with friends.

A Small Time Waster When Played Alone

Let’s get these sour grapes out of the way here and now. Game & Wario, if you plan to take it in on a solo basis, really isn’t all that much fun. The games are interesting to play through once or twice, but the title never really stands up as a single player effort.

Think of it like you would Mario Party. You might sit down to play Mario Party alone when you first get it, perhaps to get a taste of the game in action, but you’ll quickly find that the title simply isn’t meant to be enjoyed independently.

As I game mostly by myself (it’s a lonely life I lead), I found this to be a touch disappointing. With previous WarioWare titles, I found that the games were silly enough to be engaging on a solo level. We’ll get to more specifics later in this review, but the silliness here really isn’t enough to float the ship of playing by yourself.

An Absolute Blast in Groups

While the single player isn’t enough to warrant a purchase for this game, the multiplayer elements are absolutely wonderful. During my time with the game, which ran for nearly three weeks thanks to Nintendo’s decision to get it out before E3, I was able to enjoy it with a handful of friends and on a few occasions with my wife.

Every time was different, and every time was awesome. Gaming with friends was the polar opposite of gaming alone with Game & Wario, that much can’t be overstated. Two mini-games in particular are outstanding for group play, and both of them present unique ways to interact with the Wii U’s GamePad.

One such game is “Fruit.” This one’s super simple to explain and play in big groups, so it stands as one of my favorites. One player uses the GamePad and controls a single character in a still space inside the game. This character’s task is to blend in with other characters and steal pieces of fruit without being noticed.

The other players watch the action unfold and try to figure out which character is being controlled by the player with the GamePad. At the end of the round, they’ll pick their suspect and win or lose. Here’s a video of Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata playing the game, try and figure out who he is.

Gaming with friends was the polar opposite of gaming alone with Game & Wario, that much can’t be overstated.

Like I said, deceptively simple, but a lot of fun and competitive when played in groups.

An Ode to Gaming as a Kid

I liked this other major mini-game so much that I decided it deserved its own section in my review. It’s called “Gamer,” and it’s a beautiful ode to growing up with portable video games.

I’m sure a lot of you readers can relate, but sometimes gaming as a kid required a little secrecy and stealth. You had your Game Boy or Game Gear, you were trying to clear a level, beat a dungeon or mop up the Elite Four, but it’s bedtime. We’ve all been here, right? You want to keep gaming into the wee hours of the night, but your mom or dad keeps peeking in on you to make sure you’re asleep.

That’s “Gamer” in Game & Wario

Game and Wario - 3

You’re tasked with beating a game while hiding from your mom. On the television screen is a shot of you, the player, sitting in bed gaming with your room behind you. On your GamePad you’ll find the actual game the player on the screen is trying to beat. You’ll have to keep an eye on your TV as your mom will look in on you every once in awhile. As she pops in, you’ll hold the shoulder buttons on the GamePad to duck under your covers.

Stay hidden, beat the game and win. It’s tough, and it’s a lot of fun.

Where’s That Wario charm?

Speaking as a fan of classic WarioWare efforts, I have to say that this one didn’t feel nearly as wacky and unique. The decision to bring Wario and his friends into the mix felt more like the need for a skin over top of this mini-game collection rather than an actual testament to the absurdity that is Wario.

And other Wario titles built around mini-games, Nintendo also managed to develop some semblance of ridiculous story in order to tie the antics together. Here, Wario’s a game maker on a binge for moolah, but that’s about the extent of it. Nothing here will make you audibly chuckle, which is the norm for the series.

I’m not going to sit here and suggest that the WarioWare titles were some incredible bastion for storytelling in the halls of Nintendo. I will, however, assert that there was always an extra element of charm with those games. Here? The charm feels flat.

Get it if You Play Games Locally with Friends

Rating

7.0
If you game with friends and are looking for a new game for your Wii U, I’d pretty much deem this title mandatory.

Game & Wario

Game & Wario isn’t a big blockbuster that Nintendo can count on to pull in tons of cash. It won’t stand as one of the best Wii U games ever released. Heck, it might even wind up in the forgotten pile two years from now.

That said, gamers looking for party action on the Wii U have a fantastic option in front of them. This title won’t satisfy all of your needs, but it is a good package of mini-games for group play.

And here’s where the value comes in. Game & Wario is selling at launch for $39.99, and that’s the MSRP brought on by Nintendo. You’ll likely be able to find it for even less from different outlets. $40 for a party game that’s genuinely fun in groups is perfect. Sure, the single player might not be a slam dunk, but the group stuff is exactly what I want from Nintendo titles.

Disclaimer: We received a physical review copy of Game & Wario from Nintendo. We played the game for roughly 10 hours before starting this review.