The Nintendo Switch recently celebrated its one-year anniversary since arriving on store shelves on March 3rd, 2017. I fondly remember waiting in line at Wal-Mart to receive the Switch that I had pre-ordered. I was most excited to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, like everyone else, but I was also excited about the unique multiplayer options the Switch had to offer. I wondered about how I would spend my time playing games with friends and where our gaming competitions would occur. So long as I had my Switch with me, my friends and I were only seconds away from Shovel Knight co-op or a heated race in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Long gone were the days of lugging around my heavy Xbox to a Halo LAN party, or carrying a tangled mess of cords to battle Pokemon through our Game Boy Advances.
Needless to say, the Nintendo Switch has revolutionized multiplayer gaming (especially when it comes to playing “on the couch”). The Switch is the first portable console that supports couch co-op multiplayer without the need for another console. A friend and I can still enjoy some Snipperclips puzzle-solving action while on the city bus (even if that friend doesn’t have their own Switch).
Only one kid on my school bus had one of these bad boys. Life was difficult when he didn’t show up.
While reflecting on my past year with the Switch, old memories of playing multiplayer games in elementary and middle school with my friends on the school bus, at home, and in class came flooding in. Late nights playing Halo 3’s Forge mode, Smash Bros. Brawl tournaments in my basement, DS Download Play on the bus, and even The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons in biology. While reminiscing about old gaming memories, one game stood out to me. It made me stop for a moment, take off the nostalgia blindfold, and then realize that WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! must have been the inspiration for the Nintendo Switch!
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! (WWMM) is a cute game for the Game Boy Advance. There’s not too much to this game. The player fights their way through an onslaught of microgames in order to progress (each one lasting approximately four seconds). If the player beats enough microgames and beats the especially difficult boss microgames, they unlock more challenging games and modes. The part of WWMM that screamed “NINTENDO SWITCH” was the multiplayer.
There were only four multiplayer modes:
- A race between Player 1 and Player 2 that is very similar to an Olympic track and field event
- A war between two sticks trying to push heavy blocks onto their opponents’ heads
- A game of chicken where the goal is to stop your skateboarder as close to the edge of a cliff as possible
- Two vacuums try to suck up as much popcorn as possible
Yes, they sound strange, but play them for yourself and it might make a little more sense.
The multiplayer modes in WWMM were simple yet entertaining, and the best part about the game was that only one Game Boy Advance was required to play; two people could play competitively with only one GBA. One person would use the R button to control their character, while the other used the L button. While picturing in my head how my friends and I used to snap at each other after losing these games, I realized that this game had turned the GBA into a portable console that supports multiplayer — without the need to be connected to another console.
Imagine this: Two hands are holding this GBA. One hand belongs to Player 1, and the other to Player 2. These two players compete in simple, one-button microgames. Simple multiplayer innovation.
WarioWare for the Game Boy Advance WAS the Nintendo Switch, but it was 14 years ahead of its time. WWMM had me and my friends playing the same game, on the same console, at the same time, on the bus, at home, and in class. There was no need for a Link Cable or a second GBA. None of us had to lug a heavy console down the street for a LAN party. This humble GBA game created a portable, “couch,” multiplayer experience incredibly similar to the one that the Nintendo Switch has created.
I wouldn’t trade my Nintendo Switch for the world. It’s easily my favorite way to play portably, but it’s incredible to see how far Nintendo has come. Whether or not WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! was the inspiration for the Nintendo Switch, it will always hold a special place in my heart for bringing the people that I loved together.