|Even grandma loves the Wii. Photo by AZAdam|
From the beginning, Nintendo's mission with the Wii console was simple—to use an innovative motion-sensing controller to open up the world of console videogames to an audience not exclusively composed of teenage boys. As a direct result of this mission, one particular genre seems to be getting a lot of attention in the console's first few months, from game developers and players alike: the minigame. Usually found in collections of tens or even hundreds of quick, skit-like sub-games in which players complete simple tasks, minigames have proved to be the perfect match for the Wii's more physical control scheme. Of the 10 most popular Wii titles now on Gamefly.com, a Netflix-like service for gamers, four are either entirely or partially based on minigames.
Currently at the top of the list is WarioWare: Smooth Moves, the latest addition (released last week) to the popular WarioWare franchise, all of which are collections of minigames. For WarioWare, though, “micro” seems to be the more appropriate prefix, since most of the individual games last no longer than a few seconds. Presented with the sense of humor and graphic style that can only come from Japanese videogame designers, Smooth Moves requires players to hold the Wii remote in various “forms” (between your fingers like a pencil, touching your nose like an elephant's trunk, etc.) and use it to complete any number of random tasks, from slicing barrels with an imaginary samurai sword to inserting imaginary dentures into an elderly woman's toothless mouth. [See the videos after the jump].
It goes without saying that a room full of people shouting “Grate that cellphone!” or “Interview that polar bear!” while flailing limbs and occasionally leaping up to do squats or a hula dance is, well, a unique scene. After witnessing such a scene, it becomes clear why the most viral of the Wii-related videos to sweep the Net almost always have the lens trained on the players of the games rather than footage of the games themselves.
Only a few months into its life, the Wii has managed to transform the spectacle of playing videogames (more often than not of the mini variety) into a form of entertainment in itself. I think it's safe to say that Nintendo might be on to something big.
For a closer look at WarioWare and the people who play it, click on through... —John Mahoney
A look at some of the microgames in WarioWare: Smooth Moves
A trade-show player filmed in the wild displaying typical WarioWare expressions and gestures.