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WarioWare: Move It! review: a perfect Switch launch game, six years later

Wario and his friends appear in WarioWare: Move It! key art.
WarioWare: Move It!
MSRP $50.00
“WarioWare: Move It! is a joyously fun return to the series motion-control era, though it doesn't evolve the formula too much.”
Pros
  • Hilarious microgames
  • Clever stance gameplay
  • Great use of IR sensors
  • Strong multiplayer focus
Cons
  • Stale structure
  • A few gimmicky modes
  • Lacking reasons to return

WarioWare: Move It! is the best Nintendo Switch launch game that never was. Sure, the motion-controlled “microgame” collection is launching at the tail end of the console’s life span, but it’s one of the few games to really take advantage of all its unique, and underutilized, features. From minigames built around the Switch’s lightweight Joy-Cons to exceedingly clever uses of those controllers’ forgotten IR sensors, it’s the multiplayer game Nintendo needed on day one instead of 1-2-Switch.

Of course, that isn’t what happened. The WarioWare series, one that had previously been a hardware showcase for Nintendo’s more creative systems, seemed all but dead in the Switch’s early days. Meanwhile, developers struggled to make good use of the console’s features as the introduction of the Switch Lite disincentivized motion-controlled play. The surprise release of WarioWare: Get It Together! in 2021 would disappointingly fail to capitalize on the system’s potential, opting for a weak co-op premise instead. Only two years later, Move It feels like a course correction built to give the Switch the zany multiplayer game it always deserved.

WarioWare: Move It! is a much-needed reset for a series that’s long struggled to hit the creative heights of its Nintendo Wii entry. A return to the physical fun of WarioWare: Smooth Moves is just what the doctor ordered, making for one last must-own Switch party game that’s not afraid to cut loose. Though it takes two steps forward, it’s a step back from Get It Together’s most ingenious modes, leaving more space for Nintendo to perfect its wackiest series.

I like to move it, move it

Despite the fact that it’s known for its unpredictable microgames, the WarioWare series runs on a surprisingly rigid formula that doesn’t change an inch in Move It (save for its tropical island theme). A two-hour story mode has players completing a gauntlet of microgames that last mere seconds and are bookended by cartoon cinematics about Wario and his pals’ vacation misadventures. There aren’t really any surprises there, as each familiar character gets their quick playlist capped off with a “boss stage.” It’s that stagnant format that perhaps explains why Nintendo spent nearly two decades struggling to reinvent the inflexible series.

The layout of the minigames isn’t as important as how they’re played, and that’s where Move It makes a change for the better. It plays like a direct sequel to the Wii’s excellent Smooth Moves, with each game built around the unique nature of the Switch’s Joy-Cons. Before each game, players are given a different stance that they need to assume. A Knight stance has players holding Joy-Cons like a sword’s hilt, while “Ba-kaw” has them holding one to their mouth like a beak and the other to their butt. That setup allows Nintendo to experiment with tons of clever two-handed motions.

A cat catches a fish with its thighs in WarioWare: Move It!
Nintendo

Take the Archer stance, for instance, in which I hold my arms like I’m drawing a bow. In one game, I’m using it to control a dancing couple that way, moving up and down to dip. The next minute, I’m sinking a pool ball into a pocket by lining up the shot and knocking my back hand forward. As is the case in every WarioWare game, the joy of it all comes from experiencing a microgame for the first time and scrambling to figure out what the heck you’re supposed to do as the seconds tick by. These orms turn that process into a slapstick comedy where you’re the star.

What’s especially exciting is how Move It takes full advantage of the Joy-Cons in ways few games outside of Ring Fit Adventure have. A handful of games utilize the controllers’ rarely used IR sensors to show what we’ve been missing out on all these years. “Hand Model” stance has me pointing a Joy-con at my free hand and tracking gestures as I play Rock Papers Scissors, or grab a frisbee by clamping my fingers. While there are only 10 or so IR games included, it’s enough to make me wish developers had experimented with the capable feature a bit more over the Switch’s waning life span.

It feels like Nintendo giving players one last chance to absolutely demolish their Joy-Cons before upgrading to something new.

In some ways, it almost feels like Move It only exists because the Switch is on its last legs. Some microgames let me get surprisingly reckless, providing a bit of physical catharsis after years of being careful with the lightweight controllers. One stance has me dropping my Joy-Cons (while wearing the wrist straps, of course) to deep-fry vegetables and flinging them back up into my hands when they’re done. Similarly, Pounce stance has me laying my controllers on a flat surface and yanking them up to grab a toilet plunger or save a mouse from a cat’s watchful gaze. It feels like Nintendo giving players one last chance to absolutely demolish their Joy-Cons before upgrading to something new.

All of these fun control twists do come with some downsides. Both motion-control and IR detection can be spotty, with most of my failures coming down to a camera misreading my fou- finger gesture as two. Gestures also add some significant slowdown to the central story mode, as each level includes one to three stance tutorials that drag out a very short campaign. As always, most of the fun comes when replaying playlists after the main story, as it’s more fun to chase high scores uninterrupted at increasing speeds. Even with those hiccups, I’ll take the physical fun of using my butt to pop balloons over Get It Together’s tame character-swapping gimmick any time.

Multiplayer madness

More than any game in the series, Move It finds WarioWare trying to establish itself as one of Nintendo’s mainstay multiplayer experiences. It does do with a wealth of creative modes that seem especially built for families and couples. For example, every story stage can be played in co-op, and unlockable challenge playlists have players both working together to clear games and competing in elimination modes. Pairs who play together will get more mileage out of the package than solo players.

Its bigger party game swing is housed within the multiplayer-only Party suite, which contains games built for up to four players. One is a short, simple spin on Mario Party that has players moving around a board and clearing longer, mode-specific minigames. Then there’s the two-on-two “Who’s in Control?” mode where a player on each team pretends to complete minigames alongside their partner, leaving the other team to guess who’s faking it. Modes like that offer some of the most creative multiplayer experiences the series has ever seen.

There isn’t much to come back to after getting the joke of each microgame in around five hours.

Even so, the offering still feels just a bit lacking. Cute extras like Mirror Mode, where a player turns away from the TV and has to complete games by mirroring a teammate’s movements, are fun additions that don’t rise too far above clever curiosities. What’s especially disappointing is that there’s no sign of Smooth Moves’ defining mode: a 12-player, Wiimote-passing elimination game. That was perhaps a necessity considering that it would be a huge hassle to pass two Joy-cons and put on wrist straps between each game, but the lack of a mass-multiplayer mode does make it feel like it’ll have less legs than Smooth Moves, a game that defined casual multiplayer in the Wii generation.

For solo players, there’s even less to substantially dig into. Aside from a handful of unlockable modes (including a standout mode that has players quickly beating 20 fast games and tracking their “muscle” score), there aren’t a lot of reasons to jump in after unlocking everything. There’s a large number of bonus “poses” that players can collect by grinding out high scores in playlists, but there isn’t much to come back to after getting the joke of each microgame in around five hours.

A microgame built around Super Mario 64 appears in WarioWare: Move It!
Nintendo

That’s the one area where Move It takes a disappointing step back from Get It Together. While that game flubbed its central gimmick, it’s one of the series’ most replayable and progression-focused entries. That’s because of a smart ecosystem where players earn coins for completing goals, spend them on gifts for characters that level them up, and use that power to compete in Wario Cup, a rotating online gauntlet. All of that felt like it was laying the right groundwork for the series’ future by giving players a better reason to chase high scores and show off their reflexes. Move It returns to square one to nail down the fundamentals, but doesn’t quite move the series forward.

That’s perhaps more of an existential concern in a game where I use my butt to draw letters in space. Even if I don’t get much more time out of it, WarioWare: Move It! provides the same jolt of unpredictable comedy that’s kept me coming back to the series since its very first Game Boy Advance entry. I’ll always tune in long enough to unlock every microgame and see what bizarre, gross-out heights the creative minds behind it have dreamed up this time. Whether I’m drilling cavities in a koala’s mouth or grabbing an eel between my thighs, Move It never ceases to entertain me.

WarioWare: Move It! was tested on a docked Nintendo Switch OLED connected to a TCL 6-Series R635.

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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