I’ve recently played and finished Wario: Master of Disguise. There’s a certain kind of humor in the game, which I really like as it’s hilarious!
#??: Wario: Master of Disguise
It’s a somewhat unusual but yet similar game in the franchise that makes use of the Nintendo DS stylus to control and to give Wario new and interesting Powerups. The story is quite simple: You’re Wario that’s watching TV, and growing envious of the main hero of the show you build a helmet, called Telmet, which allows you to warp inside the TV. Man is Wario a scientific genious when he wants to!! You admire the main hero, a gentleman thief (the same one at the right in the image in the link above) named the Silver Zephyr and you proceed to barge in and steal his magic wand Goodstyle (who I imagine has a stereotypical British accent). And that’s where your new quest for riches and the search for the pieces of Wishstone begins. The story does seem as if it was developed by a 3rd party developer, which is the case…
Graphics: 7/10 This is a cartoonish game that unfortunately ended up with a bit too detailed sprites, probably since the Nintendo DS was capable of it. Probably it’s to allow for a bigger in-game screen and for a style that shows that this isn’t just another Gameboy Advance game, but it’s a shame that the colorful fantasy world of Wario’s franchise is replaced by something more “realistic”. Maybe this is because of Wario entering a TV show, but the stages look a bit bland. Also, the digitized 3D still images make this game look cheap by today’s standards (though I’d understand how they could have been considered very appealing at the time), especially when you’re introduced to each level with a generic- looking text that describes the episode title. Other than that Wario and his transformations look great, as do the antagonists in the game. Generally speaking, the small- fry enemies and most of the bosses don’t impress me that much, and the game seems as if various fans in different locations made it with all the different art styles that are seen meshed together. At least the drawn concept art shows how much force Wario uses in each strike, as his veins are outlined on his bulky arms in each transformation picture!
Sounds & Music: 5/10 The music isn’t that remarkable and memorable really, but the boss music really gets you pumped up. The sound effects seem to be sampled from various games but fit together quite well, but aren’t that original (compare them to the iconic sounds used in the Mario franchise and even the Metroid ones and you’ll get what I mean). There’s not much else to say, as this department is really bland.
Gameplay: 5/10 There are a lot of concepts in this game that were implemented wrong. The use of the touchscreen for movements wasn’t necessary at all, as the use of the D-pad and the four standard X, Y, A and B buttons would suffice enough and give a firm and responsive control-setup all along. Also, it’s widely bothersome to have to draw everything on the touchscreen, and while a nice gimmick at first to showcase the serie’s leap from the 32-bit Gameboy Advance into the 64- bit Nintendo DS, this soon shows to be superfluous and clunky. I can’t tell you how many times I drew hearts just to be presented with turds who ran on legs with bright and big eyes. I realized I’d get a heart 6 out of 10 times if I drew a circle instead, as opposed to 4 out of 10 times when I drew a downwards triangle and 2 out of 10 times when I drew a heart shape exactly as they wanted me to when I got the upgrade. And since you have to use the stylus to tackle with standard Thief Wario, you’d accidentally end up pressing too close to him which made the game think you were trying to transform him, and this made the fight against the Dolphin King really tedious. You should be able to switch between powerups using the L and R buttons and cycle through them all, or maybe even press start to do so, not through an imprecise stylus system. There are so many ways that are better than this borderline childish way of switching costumes, though I admire the courage of trying to implement something new. If this was more precise it’d have rocked istead of being a nuisance during gameplay, though I’m aware of that it must be very difficult to program code something like this into such a small touchscreen.
Otherwise the level designs are pretty straightforward with certain parts not accessible unless you acquire a certain powerup, and the puzzles are decent enough for everyone to figure out. The bosses are way harder than the levels themselves, but you’re presented with generous tips on what tranformation to use throughout them which lowers their difficult greatly. The transformations are fun to use and are all very useful bar the Electric Wario one which unfortunately doesn’t attack the enemies at all and he moves really slowly too, which is a shame since that’s by far my favorite Wario transformation design in the game. I really dislike the ruins level though as I wandered about for 50 frickin’ minutes before I found a concealed doorway that allowed me to advance!
Then there’s the treasure chest hunting, which much like in previous Wario Land games all are collected to take you towards a certain goal. While this used to be to get the biggest castle possible (with the worst scenario being that you get a hut of some kind) now they give you Disguise levels, with the goal of becoming the Master of Disguise. The mini-games that are played to open these chests take away from the main game as they break the previously built up pace and slow everything down. They vary in difficuly and increase in difficulty with each stage, and certain chests can’t be aquired unless you go back to a stage with a new transformation from a later stage. The minigames are really simple, and pretty easy to master, but the one where you have to guide the Wario head to the bottom of the net-like structure never works. I always just give up on it and wait for the next mini game to load the next time I open up the chest.
Replay value: 4/10 Unless you want to become the Master of Disguise and revisit old levels to get all the treasure chests you couldn’t get before, this game hasn’t any replay value to speak of. I didn’t even bother to defeat the last boss. I don’t even care if there’s a completion bonus or not for doing so, and I won’t even Google about it.
Trivia: What I described above might be because Suzak, a Japan-based 3rd party developer, developed this game. They later filed for bankruptcy in 2012… yeah. That’s sad.
First image from: meristation.com and the rest from mariowiki.com