Image: Nintendo

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! is one of those titles that feels so fresh today you could almost imagine it launched pretty recently. Even by modern standards, its zany, bite-sized challenges can hook you within seconds – but we have some rather alarming news to report. WarioWare's debut title is now 20 years old. Gulp.

It hit store shelves in Japan on March 21st, 2003, coming to Europe on May 23rd and North America on May 26th of the same year, and has spawned a franchise which continues to this day; the latest entry is WarioWare: Get It Together! on Switch.

Inspired by the "Sound Bomber" mode of Mario Artist: Polygon Studio – a title for the Nintendo 64DD add-on that never made it out of Japan – WarioWare (known as Made in Wario in Japan) is built around the idea of completing various mini-games against a strict time limit. Some of these are simple in nature, such as moving a character or pressing a button at the correct time, while others are short segments lifted directly from other titles, such as F-Zero or Metroid.

Conceptualised in secret by several developers within Nintendo R&D1, WarioWare's rag-tag approach is reflected by the fact that much of the game's audio is taken from the earlier GBA title Wario Land 4. Nonetheless, it became a solid commercial hit for Nintendo, and, as well as the aforementioned Switch sequel, has sired the likes of WarioWare: Twisted!, WarioWare: Touched!, WarioWare: Smooth Moves and WarioWare D.I.Y., the latter of which allows players to create their own unique mini-games.