With Wario: Master of Disguise, Nintendo has once again put one of its mascot characters in a game that emphasizes the use of the touch screen on the Nintendo DS. This time around, Wario takes center stage in a puzzle game that at first glance looks like a traditional side-scrolling platformer. However, the game isn't like any of the Wario Land games because jumping and pouncing take a back seat to figuring out the proper mix of abilities to get past the puzzling obstacles. These obstacles are so plentiful that levels often require 30 minutes to one hour to finish. This change in style is one reason fans aren't as likely to embrace Wario: Master of Disguise as strongly as Kirby: Canvas Curse. Another reason is that the touch screen doesn't enable you to do anything that couldn't just as easily have been accomplished by pushing a button; quite often, the touch-screen controls aren't as intuitive or accurate as pressing a button.
In Wario: Master of Disguise, you use the touch screen to change costumes and aim Wario's magical abilities.
Wario's latest bizarre scheme to get rich quick lands him in the fictional world of a TV show centered around a thief named the Silver Zephyr who uses a magic wand to outfit himself with various disguises and superpowers. Inevitably, Wario steals the wand and becomes the self-proclaimed Purple Wind, adopting the motto "silent but deadly." That's the only fart joke in the game, but it's said frequently. After swiping the wand, Wario and the demoralized Zephyr learn about the existence of another powerful object called the wishstone, which has been broken into pieces and scattered in various tombs around the world. Both characters set out to collect the pieces, and Wario further promises to loot any treasure he finds along the way.
In each of the game's 10 episodes, your job is to get Wario through a different mazelike tomb, jimmy open any treasure chests you find, and deal with whatever creatures or bosses you encounter. Thanks to the wand, Wario can change into any of eight different disguises, which afford him unique abilities. For example, the space suit lets you shoot laser blasts, whereas the artist costume lets you conjure stone blocks out of thin air. Movement is handled with the D pad, but all other actions involve the touch screen. When you want Wario to wear a different disguise, you have to draw a particular symbol around him. To direct laser blasts, conjure blocks, or perform other actions, you have to tap or draw on the touch screen. There's some basic creature pouncing and platform jumping in every tomb, but what you'll be doing most often is alternating the use of Wario's different abilities to break obstacles, plug up gaps in the floor, and locate and activate a wide range of switches, platforms, and doorways.
Even though the game looks like any other side-scrolling platformer, it is a puzzle game in every sense of the term. The rooms, tunnels, and interconnected doors inside each tomb are laid out like mazes, while each room is an individual puzzle of its own. In a typical room, you'll use the artist costume to create blocks to reach an elevated platform, switch to the dragon costume to use its flame breath to light a torch that causes the platform to move, and then put on the genius outfit so that you can see and land on the invisible outcropping up ahead. The next room may have you smashing through walls, melting pillars of ice, and swimming underwater. On top of all that, you'll frequently come across treasure chests, which lead to minigames when you try to open them. The minigames also employ the use of the touch screen and involve tasks such as rearranging a slide puzzle, tracing a small maze, or coloring an image in a short amount of time.