Game & Wario — Wii U

Screenshot from Game & Wario

For a spin-off title in one of Nintendo's quirkiest series, Game & Wario has a lot riding on its shoulders. It's the first Nintendo-developed Wii U game since the console launched back in November, and frankly, Nintendo needs to start moving systems. Ocarina of Time 3D gave the Nintendo 3DS the boost it needed to kickstart its success story just two years earlier; the only difference here is that Ocarina of Time 3D was a remake of - in many gamers' eyes - the best game ever, whereas Game & Wario is a humble mini-game collection.

Surprisingly though, this game has a large focus on the single-player experience, with only four of the sixteen mini-games playable by more than one person - and even then the multiplayer games are asynchronous. With that said, Game & Wario does a much better job at showcasing the GamePad's ability to complement the TV display with unique and diverse gameplay options than any other Wii U game to date; avoiding the easy-but-effective route of settling for Off-TV Play, and arguably even outdoing Nintendo Land's asymmetrical multiplayer-heavy efforts in this regard.

However, Game & Wario is missing the sheen and polish of Nintendo's launch effort, and what it gains in terms of variety is lost in its lack of focus and depth. Arrow is the first - and most simplistic - mini-game of the bunch, which sees you firing arrows off the GamePad at approaching enemies on the TV screen. Nothing too dissimilar to Nintendo Land's Takamaru's Ninja Castle, then, but the on-screen enemies getting closer and closer, before eventually leaping onto the GamePad, really helps make Nintendo's innovative yet unrealised controller feel much more than a gimmicky add-on, and - in a way that's tricky to explain - makes the game feel like it's bigger than what's being shown on the TV.

As to be expected, the mini-games on offer here are something of a mixed bag. The aforementioned Arrow is a simple but effective demonstration, while others feel like dumbed down mobile games. Ashley's game - creatively titled Ashley - is an example of one such game, in which you tilt the GamePad left and right to guide the side-scrolling witch on her broomstick through simplistic levels, collecting items for points as you go. If you've played Jetpack Joyride, or a similar endless-scrolling platformer on another system, you'll be all too familiar with this one. Even the graphics look like they've been pulled from a mobile game. The GamePad hardly shows its true colours in this game, either, with the controller's screen showing an effectively useless close-up view of Ashley, which copies her movements from the TV screen where the gameplay takes place.

Game & Wario is a difficult one to score, then - particularly without spoiling some of its better mini-games. At times, you'll find yourself thinking "wow, now I understand how the GamePad can truly enrich gameplay - why aren't developers doing more stuff like this"; at other times, you'll be wondering which 69p iOS game the developers had been playing the night before deadline day for mini-game ideas. It sometimes shows glimmers of hope, but ultimately falls short of the crammed Nintendo Land, and the hectic WarioWare games of old - let's just hope that series makes a return sooner rather than later.

6 / 10