series has done for mini-game compendiums what Konami?s Bishi-BashiSpecial
games threatened but ultimately failed to do: it?s turned them into highly saleable products that gamers buy as light relief to their epic Zeldas
. Wario has his place and cleverly sticks to it.
With a new hardware format ? especially one that?s as novel as Wii ? Intelligent Systems and Nintendo had a chance to reinvent the franchise. But wisely, they?ve chosen to adhere to the traditional WarioWare
format ? only with mini-game design, of course, that?s designed for the Wii Remote control.
Forgive me if I say that Smooth Moves
reminds me of The Powerpuff Girls
, but that?s certainly the initial impression you?ll get from seeing the art direction here. Characters such as Ashley and Mona have never looked as vivid as they do in Smooth Moves
, while Jimmy T and Jimmy P (twin disco hipsters) and their troupes of dancing cats and dogs are well worthy of a place on the Cartoon Network. 3D graphics in Smooth Moves
are limited to just a small selection of mini-games. For the most part this is a big and bold 2D world, but with animation techniques that give it a sense of depth. Technically, it?s perfect. The visuals are functional and, as you?d be right to expect, completely free of slowdown (even the 3D bits).
Characters in the WarioWare
cast all have their own episodes, beginning and ending with cartoon skits ? the mini-games are sandwiched in between. For example, budding DJs, 9-volt and 18-volt, get caught up in a fight over a flip-screen Game & Watch. It ends in tears when the Game & Watch snaps in two. The fighting chums go to the toyshop to find a replacement, but end up having to queue outside a game shop. When they finally get to the till, the cashier hands them a Super Mario Bros
?Question box? and classic Nintendo mini-game action kicks in. After a succession of between 15 and 20 mini-games there are boss battles to conclude these episodes (and in this episode?s case, that means a new version of the boss from the end of SNES classic Starwing?s
The structure of the game is simple, so the completion of one episode unlocks another ? in some instances, a few new episodes are revealed at once. When new episodes and other challenges are unlocked they appear on the city map that serves as Smooth Moves?
central menu. If you want to see what the game has to offer, you have to systematically complete new challenges as they appear. Unusually, even Smooth Moves?
multiplayer mode must be unlocked. It only took me a couple of hours? play in single-player mode to reveal the game?s multiplayer features. And although it struck me as a really bizarre move not to have multiplayer available from the outset, in practice it does at least give players chance to become accustomed to Smooth Moves'
new control systems.
There are about a dozen different control methods here, and they?re introduced gradually throughout the game?s single-player episodes. Before each mini-game, you have a couple of seconds to adjust your hold on the Wii Remote to suit the game that?s about to begin. Some of the positions featured include: holding the Wii Remote at your side (for games that demand hip movement), clutching the Remote above your head like a dagger (for stabbing steaks, of course), resting the Remote on the upturned palm of your hand, and positioning the Remote as an extension of your nose (most notably for an elephant?s trunk mini-game). Surprisingly, although there are a fair number of control methods, it?s easy to remember them all and, after a while, you?ll be able to make pre-mini-game adjustments quickly and without even thinking about it.