After spending half an hour with Bizarrioware - a Wario Ware-ish free collection of microgames by The Strangest - I feel scared and confused. Today's release is free, and very early, full of half-finished menus, a bellowing announcer and ten tiny games of wildly varying coherence that have me wondering whether I'm getting it or not. You'll definitely want a gamepad if you want to give this a try, or possibly two, as it seems geared for competitive play, with many games being scored, rather than binary win/losses. Give it a try on Itch for yourself here, and see the trailer below.
"Some games are cooperative and some games are competitive but all of them are weird and unreasonable", says the enthusiastic and loud man in the trailer, and I cannot agree more. I imagine that Bizarrioware gives me the same feeling that a complete beginner to videogames feels when playing Wario Ware. It wasn't until I turned on an optional tutorial mode that explained each microgame that I had much idea of what I was doing. It's confusing and unintuitive, sometimes winnable through mashing and blind luck, which probably makes for a fun time in multiplayer.
Alas, playing solo and without a defined victory state in many games, I feel I'm missing out on much of the experience. Still, the games are a creative and hallucinatory bunch, from frantic button-mashing to transform old men into cats, to trying to match eldritch symbols to summon an elder god. Probably the most baffling is a bomb defusal challenge that only gives you a few seconds to intuit controls that involve holding down multiple combinations of un-listed buttons and matching wires to Xbox controller button colours. Unreasonable indeed. I suddenly feel very old, and am going to play something relaxing and slow like Akashicverse to cool off as I begin my weekend.
Today's release of Bizarrioware is free, here on Itch. Those who put $5 or more in the Pay What You Want box will get updates to it a month early, and a Steam key. There's also a limited-edition physical version including a customised N64-to-USB controller adapter, just in case you've got a drawer full of old controllers lying around somewhere.