There are too few instances in modern life when one can use the word wacky without wearing really bad luminous clothes or throwing green gloop over someone. So praise be to the Japanese and in particular Nintendo for providing us a rare opportunity to do just that. Warioware: Touched! is without any shadow of a doubt a wacky game. To be fair you could probably add 'Zany', 'Crazy' and 'Downright Mad' to the list.
You see this isn't a typical game. Indeed, it's not one game at all, but a collection of multiple mini challenges which are joined together by a typically wacky (there we go again), but actually rather weak premise. Essentially you are a visitor to Wario's world, (he's sort of the evil version of console favourite Mario), and you must assist him and a selection of his similarly bizarre friends across a variety of challenges.
Virtually all of these challenges are incredibly short and involve you using the DS's stylus to interact with some roughly drawn graphics to variously rub, draw, slice, drag, point, press or rotate objects on the lower screen whilst the upper screen either shows more detail. The challenges vary hugely from bursting balloons and stroking a dog to slicing pizzas, squashing flies, unravelling toilet roll and even blowing objects around the screen (yes we did say blowing - you use the microphone socket!). Complete a set number of the smaller challenges and you'll then be faced with a more complex boss level in which you have a longer and even more ridiculous challenge, such as guiding a remote control car away from a giant or taking a stroll through Wario's nose! All of this takes place under severe time pressures and is accompanied by an incessant over-the-top music track which adds to both the franticity (this isn't this a word - Ed) and overall roughness of the presentation.
If all this is starting to convey the impression of a dog's breakfast of a game, then we'd be very pleased, because that's precisely what WarioWare Touched! is. Quite frankly it's a complete mess. The story is tenuous, the visuals sketchy and the challenge often childishly simple.
And yet somehow it works. Somehow it makes you play along. Somehow it grabs you and makes you want to explore its world, discover its secrets and beat its high scores. At some mystical tipping point the whole thing just clicks and you succumb to the juvenile fun (for us it was the brilliant bouncing game in which you have to draw mini trampolines to keep an egg airborne!) It may not happen immediately, in fact it probably won't, but believe us it will happen and once it has got under your skin Warioware: Touched!, like the bugs that frequently dog the lead character, will take some shifting.
Fortunately there's plenty of playtime here to feed the addiction. Whilst completing the adventure element might not keep you occupied more than a few days, the main menu system allows you to go back to specific characters and take on their challenges again until you perfect them. The reward for this is twofold. Firstly, all the mini-games you complete successfully in the main game become available to play as increasingly taxing standalone versions allowing you to challenge others or set unbeatable high scores. Secondly, by defeating levels and then smashing the UFO on the main menu screen you can unlock special 'toys' such as mini pianos, a plankton tank which you can explore to your hearts content with the stylus. There's also a doodle mode allowing you to colour in pictures of the different characters, although, to be honest, this is unlikely to appeal to many over the age of 8 unless your feeling particularly bored or inebriated.
But above all WarioWare Touched! is a great showcase for your DS, especially to those who can't usually see the point of playing games. If this in itself is not reason to add the title to your collection, the fact that it's also a well-crafted, stunningly original and downright fun-to-play game should be.WarioWare: Touched! is on sale now.