Chances are that if you're even considering purchasing Wario Ware: Touched, you've played either its Game Boy Advance or GameCube predecessors. The allure is obvious, for more Wario Ware wackiness can never be a bad thing, and the game is as tailored to a system as one ever was. The question is, however, is if Touched can be a rightful successor to Mega Microgame$' throne of insanity.
Unfortunately, that answer is "no."
Like Microgame$, there's minute traces of a plot in Touched. Basically, Wario finds a DS and decides that he wants to milk some more money out of the consumer by creating a whole new set of games that uses all of its distinctive control schemes. Along the way, you accompany the returning cast through moments of their day, along with meeting some newcomers along the way.
To classify the game as a whole as "quirky" would be doing it a great disservice, for the word doesn't begin to describe the nutty feel of it all. You'll find yourself playing the trumpet, saving interstellar babies, and undressing Wario - and that's all before the questionable nose-spelunking. (Don't ask.) In the same fashion as Microgame$, you're thrown into the thick of the level with no directions, yet instead of the D-Pad and the A button, you're expected to make use of the DS's microphone, top screen, and touch-screen.
The main problem that I have with Touched's reliance on the handheld's unique interface is that the gameplay quickly goes from the innovative and sinks into the repetitive. The most jarring example of this is Mike's stage: using the microphone as your sole control mechanism is awesome the first time, but after the eighth or ninth level you find yourself just winded and waiting for something more. With most of the other levels, I'm reminded of Mortal Kombat's palette-swapping: different names, same motions. You find yourself feeling a bit of déjà vu because you really have done it all before.
This isn't to say that the entire game is a letdown - far from it. The same devious artistry is carried over from the first game, and the music is as infectious as ever. The most enjoyable level by far has to be newcomer Ashley's, for the combination of her theme song (eerily reminiscent of a schoolyard jump-rope chant) and the much darker tones stylistically set this particular stage above all the others. Not surprisingly, 9-Volt and 18-Volt's stage stands out as well, due to the nostalgia factor that the eight-to-sixteen bit graphics provide. It also has a quality which I find important in handheld games, and that's how easy it is to pick up and play. You can easily play a few rounds or so, and then just stop right where you are with no real consequences or save points to worry about.
You'll get enough game for your buck in repeat sessions, for the unlockables that you stash away in your game room are actually more interesting than the mini-games themselves. However, because the objectives are so easy to conquer, the process of unlocking also becomes tedious, and the collection is easily filled. The experience is crippled further by the glaring omission of any multiplayer options; with the exception of one unlockable game, the only way you'll be having fun with Touched is alone.
If Wario Ware: Touched had been a launch release, its praises would probably have been sung far and wide. Nevertheless, as far as the DS is concerned, Feel the Magic: XX/XY did a better job of creating a cohesive game that managed to both please the eyes and ears while remaining entertaining and compelling. Maybe Microgame$ will have its heir to the throne in the upcoming Wario Ware: Twisted, but in the meantime Touched is a peculiar, if not predictable way to pass the time.