Wario Ware had the right idea. This game, in its own quirky way, took a look at games and stripped the established formulas and conventions down to their bare essence: simple forms, simple functions, and simple goals. To keep things fresh throughout the franchise history, Wario Ware games have embraced the power of a governing gimmick. After the first Wario Ware game was released on the GBA, the following Wario Ware used gimmicks of twisting (tilt-pack), touching (DS), motion controls (Wiimote), and,if you include Rhythm Tengoku, music.
Not only are the Wario Ware games a smorgasbord of quick fire micro games, but they are also jam packed with creative additions that range from arcade games to what can only be described as "doodads," "toys," and "other." To give an example of what can be found in the "other" section, there is a "game" where players squeeze water out of an old wash towel that has been conveniently dipped in water. It doesn't have a goal, and it's not quite a game. But it's kinda fun and intriguing. It is a little "game" like this, when included in the whole package, that helps make Wario Ware Twisted a game where all ideas are welcome.
Such whimsical "games" would never see the light of day if they were packaged on their own. Games like Wario Ware and Wii Fit are perfect for housing these small bits of gaming. One of my favorite games in WiiFit is Lotus Focus. In this game players assume a cross legged sitting position on top of the Wii Balance Board. The idea of the game is to sit as still as possible as you filter out outside distractions from the space around you. If you happen to live by yourself and you don't have a pet to distract you either, the game does a pretty good job providing a few environmental noises.
On my first tries I lost very quickly. Unlike other games, in order to master this one, I had to master my physical self. Understanding the path I had to take, I calmed myself down, entered a meditative state, and sat completely still for three minutes thus beating the mini game. Lotus Focus is unlike anything else I've experience in gaming. If it wasn't for WiiFit, I don't think I would have ever come across the game. It would be hard to imagine finding a short, simple mini game like Lotus Focus for sale on WiiWare (I'm ignoring the existence of Pop).
Now with the Wii Balance Board in my arsenal, I've started designing small nuggets of gaming that are simple tech demos of the kind of innovative design that can only come from the Wii. In the spirit of Wario Ware, Wii Sports, and WiiFit I intend of making something small that can stand out on its own. This week I'll be breaking down traditional gaming design elements and formulas to better illustrate the design paths I'm taking with my current projects. Stay Tuned.