Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: Touchdown

Friday, December 17, 2004


After a solid hour of gentle but persistent haggling with my import dealer yesterday, I managed to buy myself a Nintendo DS at a good price. I also picked up the japanese Super Mario 64DS and Sawaru Wario cartridges.

Sawaru Made in Wario (or "Touch! Warioware" as it will likely be named here) is tops. It retains the same feel as the original GBA Warioware, featuring around 200 mini-games thrown at the player in quick succession. Each game lasts around 5 seconds or less. It's almost entirely 2D and bright and cartoonish in its presentation. Don't expect this game to show off the graphical power of the DS. It doesn't, though for what it is, it looks brilliant on the screens. Instead it really explores the potential of the touchscreen for different methods of play. I certainly haven't seen all of the games on offer, but I have unlocked all the characters and tasted a sample of each of their gamesets. All the characters from the first Warioware return and I'm guessing that all the characters from the japanese GBA sequel Mawaru (Twisted) are in as well. There are probably a few new characters too - there's at least one new guy who I'll mention later.

The two screens are often used together as one large screen during cutscenes and many of the games. A few times I found myself instinctively (ie. stupidly) trying to use the stylus on the top screen when faced with a new game and mere seconds to work it out. Most of the games can be instantly worked out without the help of the one-word prompt (given that its in japanese!), though a few left me scratching both my head and the touchscreen. Slicing, tapping, rubbing, winding, drawing, dragging: if you can do it with a stylus, there are games where you'll have to. Each characters' set of games has a distinct feel, which is fine as the variety is kept up, except in the case of Crygor's games which all rely on winding or other circular motions. His set felt all a bit samey. Crygor's new buddy Mike the robot also has a set of games that are quite the same, but radically different from all the others. As his name suggests, Mike's games are played using only the built-in mike. These all involve blowing to create wind or inflating something. It works very well, but while I usually don't give a shit about what people think of me while I play games on public transport, I have to say that I draw the line at blowing a console in public.

Any complaints about the sameyness of those two characters' games cease to be relevent once you've cleared them and moved on to the final hectic sets of games in the elevators where everyone's games are thrown into the mix. These increasingly frenetic and unpredictable stages are the highlight of the game. There are lots of bonus mini-games and extras to unlock ranging from cool to utterly wierd. On the main 'lobby' screen where all the characters mill about, you can (and should) whack Orbulon's UFO as often as possible to have strange little extras pop out. Two player table tennis where each player gets a screen and a shoulder button is pretty cool, but some of the other extras are just wierd, like an old granny drinking a cup of tea. If I blow on her tea, she'll drink some and say something to me in japanese. Some of the bonuses are excellent mini-games, others are just plain odd.

Overall, it's great fun and that's what counts. Mario 64DS may look better, but its touch control system feels tacked on. Touch Wario is the launch title that really shows off the unique possibilities of the DS.


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