Character Spotlight: Wario Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of our Wario Character Spotlight series!! (If you missed Parts One and Two, click the blue links!)

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In 2007, Wario had another solo adventure: Wario: Master of Disguise (Phantom Thief: Wario the Seven, in Japan) for the DS. The half-hearted plot of the game involves Wario being transported to the world of television where he steals a magic wand (Goodstyle) from a character in a TV show (The Silver Zephyr). This all leads to a wacky misadventure where Wario goes on a quest to obtain an object called the Wishstone which can grant any wish.

In 2004, Nintendo R&D1 shut down and had its personnel transferred around. Because of this, Wario: Master of Disguise was developed by Suzak (who made previously made F-Zero GP Legend and F-Zero Climax). Master of Disguise is essentially a Metroidvania/puzzle-based platformer gamer with a big, segmented game world to explore. This game had a mixed, I want to say, slightly leaning towards negative reception.

I never cared much for it. The pacing is very poor all around, there's too much dialogue and none of it is particularly good. This is my least favorite Wario game. Time and pop culture haven't been kind to it, either; it's mostly been forgotten.

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Next, Wario FINALLY made his fighting game debut in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as one of the first new fighters announced, along with Pit, Solid Snake (!) and Zero Suit Samus.

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Wario's default appearance in the game is in his WarioWare biker get up. The Smash Bros. gamemarkers decided to get full-on with the gross-out interpretation of Wario: his B attack dissolves projectiles with garlic breath and his Down B movie is a fart that can be charged up to a massive fart cloud. Wario's movement is like that of a weird, trolly gremlin.

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I wasn't too crazy about this interpretation being the representation of the Wario series in Smash Bros. Being a massive fan of the Wario Land games, I wanted to see Wario's helmets from Wario Land 1 and Wario Land VB, or his Reactions from Wario Land 2, 3 and 4 (Such as Flaming Wario, Snowball Wario or Vampire Bat).

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It's a valid interpretation, but not my ideal Wario. Wario's first appearance in Brawl would solidify how the Smash Bros. games chose to represent him. Wario's classic look would be an alternate costume, but this has no impact on his playstyle or moveset.

I will say that I loved his throws and Smash attacks!

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In 2008, Wario had another solo adventure: Wario Land: Shake It (Shake Dimension in Europe, Wario Land Shake in Japan) for the Nintendo Wii. This installment followed Wario’s adventures in the Shake Dimension to recover the Bottomless Coin Bag for a group of fairies caled the “Merfles”. In actuality, Wario is out to take it for himself. Captain Syrup is also back after a ten-year absence.

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Shake It is part of a movement that came out during the Wii era to hearken back to the days when 2D action games were the kings. You see this in games like Mega Man 9, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby: Return to Dream Land and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I’m willing to argue that in spite of Shake It’s short length it does an even better job than those games of reclaiming the glory days.

This installment of the Wario series was outsourced to Good-Feel Co Ltd., with gorgeous 2D animated sprites and cutscenes provided by Production I.G. (the studio that animated Blood+, FLCL Progressive and the cutscenes of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the GameCube) Shake It is like a compromise between Wario Land 1 and Wario Land 4: this is not a non-linear, open-world or Metroidvania type game, this is an objective- based platform. Straightforward as the game is, the controls and physics meet the Nintendo standard, and the levels are surprisingly nuanced for what they are.

In spite of the short main campaign, the extra completionist-oriented modes add replay for obsessive gamers (like me!). My major complaint is that the shaking mechanics felt tacked on and seemed to exist mostly for the sake of themselves. This is kind of an issue with a lot of Wii games and some of the other titles I mentioned above.

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Sadly, the Wario Land series didn't continue after Shake It; it undersold. I highly recommend tracking down a copy, this was a good'un. . The WarioWare series would continue to be very successful and carry on the Wario legacy in the interim.

Though it's been over a decade since Wario has been on his last solo adventure, he is a constant presence in spin-offs. In his 25+ year career, we've seen him play the villain, the hero (in his mind) and something in between. He's gross, he's greedy, he's... Wario! And he'll be back in Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo Olympic games! In the meantime, go out and try some of the Wario Land games if you haven't already, especially if you love 2D action games.