WarioWare Inc. is my favorite multiplayer game, forever


It’s a family affair

Before drifting to sleep these past several nights, I’ve thought about my favorite multiplayer game, WarioWare Inc.: Mega Party Game$!, and how it will almost certainly hold that honor forever.

It’s been on my mind lately because, like Nic, I associate the holidays with couch-based multiplayer. In our family, WarioWare Inc. is it: the ultimate feel-good game that anyone, regardless of skill – and especially those with minimal skill – can enjoy. It’s fiercely competitive, but no one comes out feeling like a loser. And, if there are no unclaimed controllers left, spectating is also a joy.

WarioWare Inc. gets physical. You don’t know which microgame will pop up until the TV barks instructions at you and, oh shit, there’s a hotdog on wheels coming right at you. Better hop, fast! It elicits that thing you used to do, years ago, where you’d literally move your body while jumping over pits in Super Mario Bros. Nope, you didn’t outgrow the behavior. You never outgrow it.

One of the modes, Listen to the Doctor, requires you to act out requests while playing. Make duck sounds. Yell your favorite color. Close one eye. It’s on each of you to applause (in-game) for accuracy after every “performance,” but bartered deals and old grudges are unavoidable.

“Clap a bunch for me and I’ll clap for you, too,” they always say. Liar! Why must you lie?!

Then there’s Balloon Bang. Freakin’ Balloon Bang. Everyone who isn’t the active player engaged with a microgame mashes on their controller to inflate a balloon. If it pops on you, you’re blown sky high. (Side note: thank goodness GameCube controllers are damn-near indestructible.)

Before that moment comes – deceptively long before it happens – the screen will wail and flash like the explosion is mere milliseconds away. Just beat your microgame and it’ll be someone else’s turn, someone else’s problem. You’re safe for now, so screw karma: distract that poor soul until they succumb to the mounting pressure and get stuck in a cyclone of failure. Glorious.

But the best mode of the bunch? Wobbly Bobbly. In between rounds of microgames, players balance on turtles. One to start, which is easy enough. But as other players win games, your one-turtle tower grows until it is unsustainably tall. Fall down, and you become a turtle – one who’s free to hop around the stage and bite at other players to knock them over. Last one standing wins.

My family has a not-so-secret alliance to target me whenever and wherever possible, so I rarely come out on top. Doesn’t matter. I always feel like a winner just by playing this silly game with them.