WarioWare: Move It! is a bit of an Accessibility Nightmare

Coming off the highs of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, WarioWare: Move It! hits store shelves later today. As the eleventh entry in the series, Move It! doesn’t exactly break from the franchise’s well-established formula. It’s oozing with colorful visuals, wacky characters, and an equally bizarre collection of microgames that are sure to please longtime fans. Unfortunately, it’s weighed down by one of the more bizarre design decisions I’ve seen in a while.

Motion Control Woes

In what I can only assume is a commitment to motion controls, WarioWare: Move It! does not grant players the luxury of playing with a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller or any other, more traditional input methods. The minute you boot up the game, you’ll be prompted to connect a pair of Joy-Con. And for those of you who think you can get around that by using a Joy-Con Grip, think again. Move It! fully expects (or rather demands) you to play with one Joy-Con in each hand.

While most gamers won’t bat an eye at this sort of requirement, it does present several hurdles for some Switch owners. For starters, the inability to play with a Pro Controller or docked Joy-Con puts the kibosh on most types of portable play. The only way you’ll be able to game on the go is to prop your Switch up using the included kickstand and play from a few feet away. Worse yet, if you happen to be playing on a Switch Lite, you’ll need to have a separate set of Joy-Con at the ready and some other method of keeping your Switch Lite upright.

Well-informed readers might be raising an eyebrow here — after all, this isn’t the first time a Switch game has hit shelves without support for handheld play. Every single Just Dance entry on the platform requires the use of a detached Joy-Con, as do a handful of first-party fitness games (Fitness Boxing, Ring Fit Adventure) and multiplayer-centric titles (1-2 Switch, Super Mario Party). That being said, most of those games don’t feature the same restrictive play styles that WarioWare: Move It! centers around.

Get Up, Stand Up

Not only does WarioWare: Move It! require the use of detached Joy-Con, but for all intents and purposes, it requires gamers to play while standing and have a full range of motion (and a bit of space to move around). Each microgame has an associated “form” (or pose) to go along with it, which prompts players to hold their Joy-Con in a very specific way. One form might ask you to hold your hands above your head, one Joy-Con in each hand, while another might require you to keep your arms outstretched to each side.

While you could try to play while seated, it would be rather difficult to play through some microgames, while others are essentially impossible to beat without standing up. The rigid control schemes, the inability to play while seated, the amount of movement one has to do to make their way through the single-player story — these requirements will seem trivial to a majority of gamers, but for those who aren’t as able-bodied or are suffering from physical disabilities, WarioWare: Move It! is out of reach for them.

The Obvious Fix

Sure, motion controls are nothing new for the franchise, but it’s also 2023. Accessibility options have come a long way in the past decade. A few years back, blind gamers were able to not only play but beat The Last of Us Part II, and Just Dance 2023 — a game that, for the record, focuses on dancing — even allows players to filter out maps that require standing or jumping.

Putting on my game developer hat for a second, the fix here seems rather obvious. WarioWare: Move It! should have shipped with an alternate control scheme for those who need to play while seated or with a more traditional controller. I can’t say that every microgame on offer would translate well to a gamepad, but a majority of them would, and it’s not as if the series didn’t start on the Game Boy Advance, with only a d-pad and a few buttons to take advantage of.

It remains to be seen if Nintendo will address these shortcomings, but given that they’ve also released a handful of other party games that have similar restrictions, I won’t be holding my breath.

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