Review by Trilroy

Reviewed: 03/12/07

An Epic Addition to the Wario Franchise

I'll admit it, I had doubts about this game. When even Nintendo Power declared it a major disappointment, I was just about ready to scratch it off of my "to get" list. I don't know what happened, but at some point I bought it anyway, almost on impulse. What I played next made me question the sanity of every gaming magazine on the planet.

Story - 10
The beginning of the storyline is standard Wario-fare: after watching a show about a "master of disguise" thief, Wario designs a helmet that allows him to jump into the television, all in the name of upstaging the thief. Literally dropping in on the so-called "Silver Zephyr", he steals the thief's magic wand, a talking scepter named Goodstyle, and proceeds to abuse it for material gain, Wario-style. It starts out a bit simple, but all hell soon breaks loose as Carpaccio enters the scene, a businessman turned thief who has "fan-freaking-fabulous" hair and an enormous budget. The script feels something like a cross between "Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga" and "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney", which is, as fans of either game should know, a very good thing.

Gameplay - 8
The game plays out a bit like a harder version of Super Princess Peach, mixed with a little Metroid. The main goal is, of course, to reach the end of the level. On the way there, however, you'll have to solve several mind-bending puzzles, sometimes optional but usually not, that require the use of the seven "disguises" that Wario can don after unlocking them, costumes with special powers that each have their own advantages. While the game is very original and creative when it comes to the puzzles, more often than not the levels play out in the same basic pattern: go through level, find locked door early on, search level for various keys or door-opening switches for about an hour, come back and go through the door, fight boss, next level. Thankfully, the level design is so varied that this isn't very noticeable, and only about half of the levels do this in any case. The bosses of the game are nicely difficult, but not as hard as they could be due to a small "hint bubble" in the corner of the top screen that appears during bosses and tells you which disguise you need to use at what times. The biggest problem in the gameplay is that you may sometimes find yourself "lost" in the levels, not sure what to do next even with the assistance of a map that marks rooms with yet unsolved puzzles in orange. In addition to the normal gameplay, the levels are filled with chests, some of which have to be opened to complete the level. Rather than smashing them open, you have to play little minigames to get them to spill their contents. Lose, and you get a face full of exploding bombs. They're novel at first, but later just become a bit of a hassle. Overall, though, the gameplay is fairly solid for a modern game.

Controls - 8
And now we come to the infamous controls, the thing that supposedly made everyone give this game low scores. To be honest, they aren't nearly as bad as everyone says they are. You control Wario's movements with either the D-Pad or the ABXY buttons, depending on your handedness, and use your other hand to change his disguises and use special moves via the touch screen. The concept is great, but in practice the idea is slightly flawed. The small motions you have to make on top of Wario to get him to change costumes can be a bit hard to pull off at times. Some of them, such as the astronaut, artist, and genius disguises, I can easily get on the first try. Others, especially the dragon, electric, and demon disguises, can be a bit frustrating if you're trying to turn them on quickly during boss battles. But mastering the controls is just part of the game's steep difficulty curve, and it would be wrong to take off too many points due to my own lack of mastery, a practice that too many reviewers often follow.

Graphics - 9
The graphics are fine. There's nothing really amazing to say about them, but they're not bad at all. If I have to note something about them, it would be the crisp, varied use of color, and the nicely fluid animations. There is one problem with the game, however, that I will mention here for lack of a better place. At some points, especially when firing a great deal of lasers around on the screen, the game can slow down a bit. It isn't too bothersome, but still should be noted.

Sound - 10
The sound effects themselves are nothing special: then again, what sound effects ever are? The voice acting must be noted, though, especially that of Count Cannoli, (the real identity of the Silver Zephyr who fights you occasionally in a deranged attempt to retrieve Goodstyle), which quite obviously pokes fun at the famous voices of the Mario brothers. The real thing that makes the sound great, though, is the soundtrack. The music is extremely fitting for all of the levels, and you definitely won't be turning down your volume while playing. The boss themes are incredibly epic and amazing: which is good, because unless you're truly a "master of disguise", you'll likely be stuck on a few of the bosses for a while.

Last Word
Wario: Master of Disguise is a great addition to anyone's game library, though it may sometimes feel a bit too easy for veteran gamers and a bit too difficult for young gamers. It's the sort of game you can hardly put down until you've beaten it, nagging at your mind even when you're not playing it. The big garlic-eating guy has shown he can still make a mean platformer, to the joyful relief of fans everywhere.

Overall - 9

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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