The much beloved WarioWare series returns in the tail end of the Nintendo Switch lifecycle for another microgame collection, this time called Move It!. With a focus on multiple players and motion control, we have spent many hours moving it and we can now report if this one is a success and if it will topple Super Mario Party as the go to party game for us.
While there isn’t a focus on story in Move It!, there is some set dressing on offer. After Wario wins a prize vacation, him and a band of supporting characters are whisked away to a magical island. Each character gets a pair of “Form Stones” which are clearly just the Joy-Cons. They – and thus you, the player – are thrust into a variety of scenarios that require successful microgame clears to progress through.
This forms the main gameplay mode in Move It!. You will progress through a series of stages in what can be seen as the campaign mode. This can be played as either a singleplayer experience, or with two people, each with a pair of Joy-Cons.
The main gimmick here isn’t just motion controls, but forms. Each microgame requires that you hold the Joy-Cons in a specific way before the game starts. “At Attention” has your arms at your side, “Lifter” looks like a boxing form, “Love Struck” is with the Joy-Cons held against your face, etc. We won’t spoil them all, but the Form system adds a nice wrinkle into the motion control format.
By giving you a start point for your body and the Joy-Cons, the game speed can really be ramped up. We hope you had your coffee before playing Move It! because the speed that the game requires from you to complete microgames is intense.
So how does this Form / motion control system work out? Well it’s mostly good but has some very annoying niggles that seek to poison the whole experience.
For most microgames everything works as it should and it’s a fun time. There’s a massive array of microgames that are all bizarrely unique and figuring them out in a split second is immensely satisfying. The difficulty varies wildly too with some microgames requiring one simple step while others are multi-part affairs which all need to be done in a split second to be successful.
We were impressed both by the sheer number of microgames, but also how they change depending on the player count. The main story mode can be done either as one or two players, and when a second player joins many microgames are changed to incorporate the addition. The developers could have simply split the screen and had each player do their own thing, but making it a more integrated experience is appreciated.
Unfortunately Move It! falls apart at multiple points. The Form system, as much as we like it, is filled with problems. Some Forms just work better than others and we dreaded when certain microgames would flash an unfavourable form.
This isn’t a matter of preference or skill, some Forms are just less thought out than others. One Form, for example, has you swinging the Joy-Con by the attached strap. It’s nerve wrecking given the high price of Joy-Cons and the movement detection for these wasn’t always accurate.
Another Form has you placing the Joy-Cons on the floor. This not only has us again worried about damage, but also presents a problem with the super strict time limit on most microgames. Retrieving the Joy-Cons from the floor and positioning them for the next game takes too long and had us fumbling every time.
We’re not sure why certain Forms, which require more setup, aren’t programmed in with some delay. Some may think this is an added challenge but it comes across as annoying.
Also annoying is the live system. We just complained about lives in modern games with Super Mario Bros. Wonder and now we have to do it again. Nintendo just can’t let these old systems die. In Move It! each level has you play with four lives. Fail a microgame and you lose a life, and if you lose all four you fail the level and need to restart.
Except that’s not really true. You get a chance to earn back a second chance (and four more lives) by striking a certain pose. This is rather easy and it all proves a distraction that should not be part of the game. Either make it more challenging and remove the second chance pose entirely, or do away with the farce and the lives.
This is exactly the same argument we made for Super Mario Bros. Wonder as lives were extremely cheap in that game too. It feels like some higher ups at Nintendo, out of touch with gaming, keep insisting for life systems and the more savvy developers have to programme around them. We have no idea if this is the case but it feels like internal strife that is present in the final games.
There’s many more hiccups in Move It! such as boss battles that don’t have much thought put into them or unclear instructions that, again, only lead to annoyance instead of a sense of accomplishment once you beat them.
Combining all of this and we can report that WarioWare: Move It! is fun. A lot of fun, actually, and you can experience that fun either by yourself or with others. There’s just a lot of rough patches that you have to struggle through that should have been caught in playtesting.
Outside of pure mechanics the presentation of this game is sublime. The joy of playing a new microgame is half the gameplay itself, and half the absolutely bizarre visuals the game will give you.
There’s a crazy mix of old and new on display and, as you see in the trailers, characters and locations from other Nintendo games even appear in microgames. You can get the feeling that the developers did a lot of this just because they could, and we really respect that. It’s not often you can clock into work and have “be as random and crazy as possible” as the main agenda.
As great as the visuals are we found the music to not be as enjoyable. Maybe it’s because of the manic pace of the game or the higher focus on visuals, but the tunes just melted into the background and thinking back on the hours played we can’t even hum one track from memory.
Should you buy WarioWare: Move It!? If you love the concept of microgames and movement controls, and you have someone to play with, then definitely. If the very concept of movement controls and human interaction gives you the ick, then you may want to give this one a miss. Fans of the WarioWare franchise will likely pick this up regardless of what we say, but to them we do want to say that this is another worthy entry.
Move It! has failed to dethrone Super Mario Party has the de facto Switch group experience for us, but it will definitely enter the rotation of game night choices. Compared to titles like Super Mario Party, Move It! also has a stronger singeplayer offering, which we appreciate.
FINAL SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10.