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Of all the video games ever created, there are a few that changed the world. Perhaps slightly less rare than these legendary titles, there are games that invent a mechanic so fresh that it becomes an entirely new genre. One such game is WarioWare.
Instead of being a full-length adventure, WarioWare challenges players to beat short, focused microgames that only use the D-Pad and A button. The formula is addictive; what starts out slow and insulting becomes insane as the tempo speeds up and the games get tougher. The game’s zany sense of humor, huge replay value, and puzzle element (“what the heck do I do in this game?”) made it a winner, and there’s never been another game quite like it.
Unfortunately, you won’t find a perfect WarioWare replacement for mobile devices, but there are several games that borrow from the best aspects of WarioWare. Let’s take a look at some of the choices!
Dumb Ways To Die
The Dumb Ways to Die story is an interesting one. In November 2012, the Metro Trains company of Melbourne, Australia started a campaign to increase awareness about safety around the rail systems. A video was included in the effort, and it quickly went viral due to its catchy tune and quirky dark humor.
In May 2013, an iOS game featuring characters from the video was released, and the title was ported for Android users [No longer available] in September 2013. While you may not care for the original video, if you’re a fan of WarioWare, this game should not be missed.
Justin has already spoken well of the game in his review of Dumb Ways to Die for Android, so I won’t be redundant here. Suffice it to say that this game is a great mix of quirky humor, fast-paced action, and touch controls that all come together to create a great mobile experience.
The game isn’t perfect — there are video ads to deal with after you lose all your lives, and some of the microgames begin to seem impossible after a certain speed. (You can only tap the screen so many times in three seconds, after all!)
Three new games have been added to the mix recently, bringing the grand total to a relatively low 18. As such, this likely won’t be a game that keeps you coming back for months, but if you’re looking for a polished microgame collection, Dumb Ways to Die will keep you smiling for a bit.
Badass Free (there is no paid version) is another wannabe WarioWare game for iOS [No longer available] and Android [No logner available, and it’s more similar in style to the champ than Dumb Ways is. Some of the music might seem extremely familiar if you’ve played all the WarioWare titles, almost to the point of directly copying it. Badass throws you into various microgames with nary more than a “Dodge!” or “Fix!” and leaves you to figure out what to do.
Unfortunately, Badass Free has some fatal flaws that keep it from being the smash success that it could be. First, it hasn’t been updated since February 2013, which almost surely means it’s been abandoned.
Second, some of the games have glitches; mainly stuff like lacking precision in games where you have to drag an object. It’s not widespread, but there will definitely be times where you lose because of the game and not your own fault. Since we’ve concluded the game is abandoned, these bugs will probably never be fixed.
Worse yet, it follows the dreaded money-sucking freemium model, which is rampant these days. These games give you a little glimpse of the gameplay for free to try to hook you, and then shove micro-transactions in your face at every corner. Unfortunately, it’s this “feature” that cements Badass as an average-at-best title.
Since free-to-play games aren’t always bad, let me explain why it cripples Badass. When you start, you’ll have access to one stage, consisting of 15 different microgames. You earn one coin for every game completed at first, and as things speed up, the payoff increases.
Each new stage, however, costs 2,000 coins, which takes forever to earn. The microgames are fun, but who wants to play through the same games 100 times to unlock a new set? In WarioWare, you simply had to pass the boss stage once to advance. There are bonuses to help you earn more, but these cost coins as well. The thought of having to play the same 15 games for hours is awfully boring.
You have a few options to speed up the process, of course. You can purchase coins via the in-game store with real money, as shown above. In case you’re wondering, that pop-up window seems to be some sort of recent glitch, and it won’t go away on either iOS or Android. One item seems like a great investment: you receive 2,500 coins (enough to unlock the next stage, you reason), remove ads, and gain the Counterfeit Machine, which doubles all coins you get in-game.
The only problem is that you won’t ever receive anything for your cash! Multiple people have reported buying the Special Package and getting an error in return. Your cash will be taken, but you won’t get a darn thing. The developer’s listed website doesn’t work, and your email will be ignored. The game’s permissions unnecessarily require your location, as well.
Due to it being out-of-date, requiring hours of grinding to get past the first stage, and having nonfunctional, overbearing microtransactions, Badass Free is a disappointment. It’s worth downloading to check out the few microgames that you can play for free, but be sure not to have your money ripped off. If this game was like Wayward Souls, free of in-app purchases, it could have been one of the best games for mobile.
Mini Mix Mayhem
Mini Mix Mayhem takes the concept of microgames and puts a brand-new spin on it. In this title, you’ll have to juggle not one, but up to four games. Like WarioWare, the games are simple; you’ll be popping balloons, smashing ice, and defending against dragons, but this time it’s all done at once.
The game starts off slowly and allows you to get used to the games (the person playing in the above video isn’t very good, to be frank), but soon you’ll be trying to juggle multiple tasks. It’s great fun; some games require you to hold your character up to keep him from falling into lava, so one finger might be occupied with that while another is finding a word in a word search. The game never ends, so if you’re a superior multi-tasker, you’ll be able to really push yourself.
The game hasn’t been updated in a while, but you’ll never notice. It’s cool and polished with calming music and great retro sounds, both of which can be turned off if you wish. The game even includes a local two-player mode where each person is responsible for two slots. You share fifteen lives, instead of the ten in the single-player mode. It’s a unique experience for sure; find a fellow WarioWare fan and give it a shot!
Mini Mix Mayhem is totally free with no ads or in-app purchase nonsense on Google Play and iTunes. I can’t recommend this game enough; it’s addicting, can be played in short bursts, and challenges you in a way few other games do. Anyone with a compatible device owes it to themselves to download Mini Mix Mayhem. My high score is 10:16; see if you can do better!
Unlike the others, this title follows a point-and-click style with a strict time limit. McPixel is thrown into a variety of situations where doom is imminent, and he must figure out how to solve the problem. Each scenario has just a couple of interaction points, but only one is correct.
You’ll have to mess around to find out how to save the day; there’s no real penalty for failing, so the game is fairly casual. Each stage cycles through a few scenarios until you either pass them all or exit.
This game is more about having fun laughing at all the silly scenarios that arise from your wrong solutions than skill. Many people have said of McPixel that you’ll know whether or not you’ll like it within a few minutes of starting it. If you like randomness and don’t mind illogical solutions to the game’s many scenarios, it’s definitely worth a shot.
McPixel is the only game with a price tag on this list. The paid version is $3 on Android or iOS, and you can also grab a demo for either platform (Android; iOS). You can also get McPixel on Steam for Windows, Mac, or Linux, though it’s $5 for that version.
These games all feature gameplay that is in some way similar to WarioWare, but perhaps none of them scratched that itch for you. If that’s the case, you can emulate the real games on your mobile systems. Justin has explained how to set up any retro game on your Android, and in my list of the best games to emulate on Android, I highlighted the original WarioWare.
Using iOS, your options for emulation are much more limited. If your phone is jailbroken, you can get emulators running, but otherwise it’s going to be impossible. Otherwise, you can always emulate Game Boy Advance on Windows or OS X, of course.
Any Other Microgame Collections?
There are a lot of other mobile games that attempt to mimic WarioWare’s formula, but they weren’t covered here since they were of extremely low quality or wildly outdated. The genre really could thrive on mobile, and it’s a shame this isn’t a longer list. Hopefully new games will spring up to fulfill the need for more WarioWare!
Looking for more nostalgia over awesome bygone games? Check out four of the best on the original PlayStation.
Did I miss any great WarioWare-style games? What do you think of these titles? Leave a comment and let me know!