No need to be wary of Wario War­i­oWare Gold

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - BOOKS -

(Nin­tendo 3DS) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

Nin­tendo doesn’t seem as if it does naughty. The squeaky-clean he­roes of the Ky­oto gi­ant con­trast with the wicked war­riors and mean­spir­ited killing ma­chines that dom­i­nate the rest of gam­ing.

But Wario is back to re­mind us of Nin­tendo’s mis­chievous side, where du­bi­ous hand move­ments, snot jokes and sneer­ing jos­tle for space in rapid-fire mini-games. Wario ob­vi­ously fills the role of anti-hero to Mario and has taken small cameos in many a main­stream Nin­tendo ti­tle over the years. But he last had a star­ring role in 2013.

War­i­oWare Gold can’t even be counted as an en­tirely fresh in­stal­ment in this over­looked fran­chise, bring­ing to­gether as it does up to 300 mi­cro-games, of which few in this com­pi­la­tion ap­pear new. In fair­ness, the art­work’s been spruced up and a bunch of re­wards added, along­side some gut-bust­ingly funny mo­ments if you use the Ami­ibo fig­urines.

Gold just shows Wario up to his old tricks, fling­ing five-sec­ond chal­lenges at you in brisk fashion. He rarely ex­plains but al­ways makes you laugh as you at­tempt to mash but­tons, tilt the con­sole or scratch at the screen fran­ti­cally to carry out some lu­di­crous task.

So, same as it ever was. But it shows how much we’ve missed his cheeky an­tics that even a new help­ing of old Wario still de­liv­ers com­edy gold.

The Ban­ner Saga 3 (XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 12+

If Wario guar­an­tees a smile, then The Ban­ner Saga can al­ways be re­lied on to bring down the mood. This last in the much-gar­landed Vik­ing strate­gic tril­ogy starts as it means to go on with another ni­hilis­tic vi­gnette that throws you into the deep end. The band of plucky Vik­ings you shep­herded through parts one and two ar­rive at the last city stand­ing in the face of the malev­o­lent Dredge.

But a greater threat looms in the form of an over­ar­ch­ing evil known as “the dark­ness” and the sense is that the turn-based bat­tles are lost be­fore you even be­gin.

The doom-laden story is the main draw here, your de­ci­sions in pre­vi­ous in­stal­ments af­fect­ing how the clos­ing part plays out. If you’ve never en­coun­tered Ban­ner Saga be­fore, how­ever, this means a lot of the drama could pass you by. Con­se­quently, the weak com­bat sticks out more, the tac­ti­cal op­tions lack­ing the com­plex­ity of sim­i­larly struc­tured games such as the Fire Em­blem se­ries or Xcom.

It’s dif­fi­cult, nonethe­less, not to ad­mire its stylish hand-drawn art­work and win­try sound­track (by, um, noted com­poser Austin Win­tory) and ded­i­ca­tion to its apoc­a­lyp­tic nar­ra­tive.

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