Wario: Master of Disguise

All hail Wario

Paying tribute to the original Nintendo anti-hero.

"Anti-heroes" aren't supposed to look like Wario. Anti-heroes aren't really supposed to have preset characteristics at all - the whole point is that they're defined by negation - but in the course of countless Gothic vampire stories and cyberpunk adventures, the role has come to involve certain visual traits. Anti-heroes must be lean, sexy, glowering and little-spoken, with a regulation two days' worth of stubble and a variety of intriguing scars. Their lips must be curling, bleached, sardonic. The eyes? Glowing, slitted, bionic and/or bloodshot. The apparel? Trench coats, mirror shades, knee-high boots, flapping bandages and anything cut from dark leather with sharp angles that smells ever so slightly of S&M.

Wario: Master of Disguise

Wario: Master of Disguise

Unable to disguise the smell, unfortunately.

I've always considered Wario as one of the most unusual characters in Nintendo's roster; while he plays a stock baddie in Nintendo's sports and party game titles (little more than an evil, palette swapped Mario) he's starred in two innovative series of his own, making a mark with the Wario Land series before the celebrated Wario Ware games made him a bankable star in his own right.

Wario: Master of Disguise is the first new Wario platformer since Wario Land 4 was released on the GBA over five years ago, and, intriguingly, Nintendo handed over development duties to Suzak, rather than develop it in house. Suzak has developed F-Zero: GP Legend in recent times, but it has also produced an astonishing amount of Japan-only licensed shovelware. (I'm personally saddened we never got "Deco Tora X Geijitsuden" which would easily have been localised as "Pimp My Truck.")

Although this most recent Wario doesn't include the Wario Land subtitle, like the previous games it has its own unique twist: eight costumes that give Wario a variety of different powers, which he requires to explore fully labyrinthine levels that he's trying to (as usual) steal as much treasure as possible from. As the game is on the Nintendo DS, of course, you can't just select the costumes from a menu; you have to draw a specific symbol over Wario on-screen. This doesn't actually sound too bad, as far as shoe-horned touch screen use goes, but it's hard to convey how unbearably tedious this becomes in play. But I'll give it a go.

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