Game Review

Wario: Master of Disguise Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Not even a master could disguise this mess

Wario games have always stood out as being excellent venues for experimental game design. He challenged death in games by going immortal for a spell, helped Nintendo test the waters with motion control across multiple games and platforms and for the most part boldly goes where Mario dares not. He's seen a lot of highs in his illustrious career, but Master of Disguise is not one of them.

Developed by Suzak in 2007, who were the architects of the DSiWare Domo games, Wario's debut DS platformer seems to be operating under the modus operandi of wedging in as many touch-based mechanics as possible. Apart from moving and jumping, everything in the game is done with the touchscreen. As far as movement goes, it's all relegated to the D-Pad; the face buttons make up a secondary D-Pad for those who prefer to use the stylus with their left hand. The kicker is that jumping is done by hitting Up; if you've played a lot of platformers then this will feel so awkward that you might as well be playing with your toes. Even if you're new to the genre, the abundant diagonal jumps across the 10 stages are a pain to pull off. It's not inviting or intuitive in the least, and the game comes across as the exact opposite of how a typical Wario adventure, or any other quality platformer, should feel.

With such emphasis on the touchscreen, then, you'd expect it to be well-implemented and enhance the experience. It doesn't, really, and feels very forced. Swapping disguises and using abilities by tapping and drawing on the screen is fun and novel at first, but the sheen quickly fades once you rack up more disguises and are expected to use them in tandem to solve puzzles. The problem is the recognition can be very shaky and will often produce unwanted results, causing a lot of trial and error until you draw a shape just so under pressure and squeak by with the awkward jump controls. To open chests and collect treasure you're forced to complete a minigame, which can be anything from solving a slide puzzle to crunching cockroaches. They're not that fun to begin with and are there to showcase the "flexibility" of the touchscreen, but they wind up becoming tedious when all you want to do is grab that treasure and be on with it.

And while amassing treasure has been Wario's ultimate goal for, well, forever, the story manages to dilute an already thin premise. He's watching TV one day and comes across a show about a master thief named the Silver Zephyr, see, who uses crazy disguises to steal stuff. Not being able to distinguish reality from fiction, Wario builds a Telmet to transport himself into the show and steal all the treasure. He takes on the persona of the Purple Wind (who is silent but deadly, natch), yanks the Zephyr's wand and goes to town. It's a hokey plot, even for a Wario game, and the writing and humour is too reliant on bathroom jokes, even for a Wario game.

To top it all off, Master of Disguise is a fairly ugly game and lacks much of the charm of the Wario Land series. Wario himself and his various guises are appealing enough, but the environments are generic, bland and just plain boring to look at. For the world outside of the TV, Suzak opted for chunky pre-rendered CGI straight out of 1995 that makes the Donkey Kong Country TV show look good by comparison. Nor is the sound anything to write home about, with largely forgettable music and the occasional Wario snicker. The whole production just feels cheap and makes you wonder how in the world this game was published by Nintendo.


Ultimately, Master of Disguise is a victim of focusing too heavily on the DS's feature set. It tries too hard to be a touchscreen showpiece and in the meantime forgets to make the platforming fun. What we're left with feels like a half-baked minigame collection with an underwhelming game taped to it, all marred terribly by poor controls. Hopefully one day Wario will have a rock-solid DS adventure, but this, sadly, is not it.

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User Comments (44)



odd69 said:

I enjoyed this game up until a certain point, then it went all downhill from there. I'd give it a 4/10 myself.



Omega said:

The ideas in this title are good. It has almost everything a classic Wario jumper needs and the disguise feature is innovative. It is never boring. Okay, there are some weak points like repetitive mini games and sometimes inaccurate detection of the stylus but after all it's imho an above-average game.

Giving this game 3/10 is like giving Tomb Raider Legend 5/10. Sacrilegious!



Roo said:

Spot on. This must be the worst game to feature a big-name first-party Nintendo character of all time.



Raylax said:

Shame, I wish Nintendo wouldn't give out its big-names to poor developers. Remember Artoon's woeful effort with Yoshi's Universal Gravitation? Brr. I wasn't a huge fan of the Artoon-developed Yoshi's Island DS either, tbh. It felt like a dodgy ROM hack of the original (although a better effort than Universal Gravitation)



moomoo said:

I hated this game so much. I thought everything was too inaccurate and it sacrificed the fun for gimmicks. Spot on.



natendo said:

This is the one Wario game I never played or owned. I have all 6 Wario Land games (including the ones on VB and Wii), all the Warioware games, Wario World, heck even Wario Blast and Wario Woods.

The only reason I would get it, sadly, would be to complete my Wario collection.



warioswoods said:

I skipped this one due to the reviews and the developer. I'm not sure why they didn't let the brilliant teams behind the previous Wario Land games develop this one.



premko said:

Jonathan Wahlgren, we were really playing the same game ?
In my opinion this game is as good as WarioLand 4, and everybody - don`t listen to mr.Jonathan- T R Y T H I S G A M E !!!!



Supermegaman said:

And I was just thinking of getting this game...
Thanks for letting me know that that was the wrong desicion.
I have shake it to get me by anyway



Stargazer said:

Come on....this game is not NEARLY as bad as he makes it sound. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. The touch-screen controls work well, the levels are cleverly designed, and it's a fun platformer.

As good as other Wario games (4 and Shake It)? No. But the graphics aren't as bad as the review says, and the game has a good sense of humor.



pixelman said:

Yeah, I've said this many a time: This is the game that forever cured me of that dreaded disease known as "impulse-buying". It's an absolutely terrible mess.



WolfRamHeart said:

I am so glad that I never bought this game. Thanks for saving me from a future bad purchase Panda.



FonistofCruxis said:

Don't listen to this reviewer, it may not be as good as most of wario's platformers but it's still a good game worthy of a 7. The graphics are nowhere near as bad as the reviewer makes out, especially the CGI, it certainly not ugly like the DKC TV show. Using up to jump was a bit awkward at first but I got used to it and the stylus controls could be inaccurate at times but they weren't that bad, The levels are long, big and well-designed and as they are so big the map on the top screen is helpful. Although episode 6 was annoying and confusing even with the map. They soundtrack is a lot better than they make out. Quite a few of the songs were average but all four of the boss themes were awesome and the final level them was too. I would even go as far to say thet the final boss music and the boss music for carpacio are some of the best I've heard. If the controls were improved, the treasure chests were without the annoying mini-games and it just overall had a bit more polish it might be good enough for an 8 or 9/10.



Pastry said:

I'd give it a 6 or 7. It was really fun for me. There isn't a whole lot of replay value though.



Bobpie said:

I actually enjoyed this: yes there is some backtracking, but the minigames are actually fun, using guises are fun, and I love the satisfying feeling when you get a new one.

I had this when I was younger, so maybe it's more suited for that age, but I would give it at least a 6/10.



Rensch said:

I got tired of this game after about 15 minutes of dreadful touch recognition.

This is totally the black sheep of otherwise awesome platform games.



Faildude said:

I would give the game a 6 out of 10
other than in the mini games and when you fail at drawing an object as painter Wario I don't remember any toilet humor in the game (whats so bad about having a pile in a mini game?)
the controls weren't that bad too
You get used to jumping with the up-button really fast, the comparison, that you might as well play with your toes was uncalled for IMO
I also loved the music in this game. It's all still in my head even though I haven't played the game for 2 years (the boss music when you fight Count Cannoli in the mecha is one of the best boss themes I have ever heard)
I have to admit, a lot of the enemies in the game looked really weird and didn't fit, however the environment was done really well

By the way, the UK/EU release date is not in your database. It came out there on June 1st 2007 (I still remember that date for some reason)



Linkuini said:

Like the reviewer said, Wario is great for unusual ideas like this. The only surprising thing here is that games like this come along so rarely. 'Tis but a fleshwound!



Odnetnin said:

I remember playing the demo at Target a few years back--I was appalled by the repulsive graphics even then, and as a 9/10-year-old I wasn't difficult to please.



Twilight_Crow said:

I agree with this review. Played this game a couple of times at a friend's house, didn't like it at all, too much text for a dumb story to begin with, then too much touch screen gimmicks, and finally the fact that I'm lefty, and didn't like to use my right thumb to move the character with the buttons instead of the pad, so I started switching from pad to stylus, and was awful.
Of course that's just me, and I see some people liked it, so, if you've ever considered getting this game, why not try it?, but really TRY IT FIRST.



DK_vs_KK said:

@Raylax: The art style in the original Yoshi's Island was fantastic, but Artoon failed to re-create the same look in Yoshi's Island DS, or even the great soundtrack. I was very dissapointed with Yoshi's Island DS for these reasons, and I let Gamestop buy it from me. Nostalgia was the main reason I picked it up, but it was definitely not was I hoping for at all.



Knux said:

I agree with this review. Master of Disguise is dull, the touchscreen controls are meh, and the story is odd. Wario Land:Shake It!! is a much better game.



Jacob said:

This was the first game I had bought with my DS Lite. Anyone willing to buy it? Real cheap in more ways than one!



marioman said:

this game I found was pretty good. at least a 8.5/10



xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

I liked this game for a while, until everything started going wrong. The controls kept aggrovating me, and each time I tried to put on a disguise, it'd give me the wrong one. Then, I couldn't get past this one part (because of some of the controls/disguises). Yeah. But I did like this game a bit.... At least a 5, maybe.



Spagem said:

i love this game! its just like wario land but more adventure and u can transform. Best wario game ever! i give it a 8/10



SpearGuy said:

This game is ok, like, right in the middle for me. 5/10. It has good ideas, but has poor level design. I can't get past the 4th level, but this game is pretty enjoyable. I recommend this for patient people. It's not that bad.



Beau_Skunk said:

Nintendo Power magazine gave this game a 6.5 which is actually quite low compared to how they usually rate games, (Anything 7.0 and up is usually "good" to them) so even they found this title "mediocre."



kenshinrurouni said:

This review is funny. Play the game people and let me say the music is AWESOME, not forgettable like the reviewer states



CM30 said:

I would heavily disagree that the music is forgettable. The rest of the game maybe, but the music (especially the final boss theme) is one of the highlights of it.



Rixor13 said:

people dislike this game? well there's another game to add to my guilty pleasures list.

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