Wario: Master of Disguise was developed by Suzak and published for the Nintendo DS by Nintendo in 2007. It utilises dual screens (of course), and also requires use of the DS touchscreen when playing.
During the introduction Wario is watching a TV show about a master thief called “Silver Zephyr” and is suddenly transported into it by one of his crazy inventions. Wario then comes into possession of a talking magic wand called ‘Goodstyle‘, which he obtains by falling onto the thief and stealing it from him. This sets-up the premise for the game: Wario exploring a bizarre TV show world, with the Silver Zephyr chasing him to get his wand back.
When you eventually get to control Wario you quickly find a treasure chest and Goodstyle explains that it contains a disguise and that each one of these disguises confers a new ability upon Wario. Opening a chest requires that you complete a simple touchscreen minigame within a set time limit. The first disguise is a space suit that allows Wario to shoot a laser, and this is useful for shooting ropes, chains, seagulls, and other things.
Changing between disguises requires that you draw a certain type of gesture on top of Wario with the stylus. To change into the space suit you draw a circle around Wario‘s head (his space helmet), and to change back into Wario‘s regular ‘thief’ guise you must draw a ‘tick mark’ on top of him. As you collect more disguises you learn the correct gesture to draw to change into them, and tutorials for all of them are found inside the Start menu if you forget what they are.
Pretty much all of the main game action is displayed in the bottom of the DS‘s two screens and this takes the form of a 2D platform game. Wario‘s health is indicated by the heart meter displayed in the top screen. When all the hearts have been depleted it’s game over and a restart (not from the beginning, thankfully), although it is fairly easy to keep Wario‘s health topped-up because defeated enemies often drop replenishment hearts. The top screen also has a map of the area you’re currently exploring, plus time elapsed playing the game, and a list of the disguises you currently own.
Wario: Master of Disguise is a bit of a mixed experience overall. While it is fun to play, it’s also frustrating at times. Switching between normal and touchscreen controls is a bit cumbersome – especially if you’re playing the game in an emulator. And while I loved all the 2D graphics of the platforming sections I thought that some of the minigames were a little weak and repetitive. Also: the fonts and text formatting throughout the game weren’t quite up to Nintendo‘s usual standards.
Overall, I don’t think that this game is as good as Wario Land 4 on the Game Boy Advance, even though it’s still an interesting and detailed game and is also quite funny in places (if fart jokes make you laugh). Master of Disguise is probably best played on a real DS, and even then I think that some Wario Land fans might still be a bit disappointed by it. I did enjoy playing it, but it took me a while to warm to it.