Pros: Fun WarioWare-styled gameplay.
Cons: Worthless mini-games, too much mini-game recycling.
Remember WarioWare: Smooth Moves, the game that involved playing a series of fast-paced microgames with the Wii remote? Well, replace “Wario” with “Spongebob”, replace “microgames” with “nanogames” and replace “Wii remote” with “uDraw Tablet” and you have Spongebob Squigglepants, a shameless WarioWare clone that manages to be almost as entertaining as its inspiration.
The Basics: Mini-Games Tailored to the Drawing Tablet
Squigglepants is the third game to come out for THQ’s Wi peripheral, the uDraw drawing tablet (unless you want to count uDraw Studio as a game, in which case it’s the forth). After waiting several months, uDraw Tablet owners should be glad to finally have something else to play.
For those of you not familiar with the WarioWare series, the games involve playing a series of microgames – excuse me, nanogames - that last perhaps five seconds and involve one specific action each. It is just the same in Squigglepants. For example, an onscreen indicator will tell the player that they are going to flick the uDraw stylus across the tablet, then the word “THROW” will appear onscreen and a scene will appear of a lobster waiting for Spongebob to throw him a Frisbee. Slide the stylus in the correct direction within a few seconds and you succeed. You then move to the next nanogame, and the next, and the next.
Truthfully, the majority of nanogames could easily work with just the Wii remote. Some involve picking up the tablet and tilting or shaking it, some involve just tapping the stylus the way you would press a button. Some would actually work better with the remote than with the tablet.
Others are very uDraw specific. You need to draw a path, or circle an object.
The Downside: Repetition and Forgettable Mini-Games
Squigglepants exactly copies the WarioWare design, including the colorful graphics, spritely music, quickening pace and humorous animations. It also does a good job of recreating such flaws as incomprehensible or overly difficult games: I never could figure out what I was supposed to do in a game that tells me to “match pairs” then shows me four pictures that seem to have nothing in common. Some games are almost impossible to complete in a few seconds, like one in which you must very quickly slide to and click on three different pizza toppings.
The game also has an annoying tendency to recycle mini-games too often. Each level has its own set of perhaps 18 nanogames, and you’ll play perhaps 20 or 30 in a round. It’s understandable, then, that there needs to be some repeats, but in that round you might see one game seven or eight times while you won’t see several others at all.
There are also a few unlockable mini-games. The three I unlocked were vastly underwhelming. One involves chopping a flying log, but it is very easy and does not appear to get any more difficult as you progress, which is almost incomprehensibly stupid. What on earth is the point in giving players the “reward” of tedious mini-games?
Speaking of tedious, between levels players must endure a live-action guy in a pirate costume who seems like the cheesy host of some small-town children’s show. To be fair, this might be funny if you’re ten years old, and it is considerably less tedious than the cut scenes of WarioWare: Smooth Moves, but I could have done without it.
The Verdict: If You Like the WarioWare Series, You'll Like This Copy
Like the WarioWare games, you can play through all the levels in a few hours. After that you can work to get high scores and unlock mini-games, but ultimately this is a game for those who love repetition. I don’t, but I will admit that playing and replaying Squigglepant’s nanogames for a few days was a lot of fun. While I wouldn’t recommend buying the uDraw Tablet just to play this, I will say it probably beats uDraw Pictionary as the best of the handful of uDraw games. I can’t wait to see what game the uDraw developers steal from next.