The Wonderful 101 is the first joint venture between Platinum Games and Nintendo leading to a brand new and unique Nintendo IP. This game has been a long time coming, being one of the first titles announced for the platform back at e3 2012 when it was called Project P-100 and it’s finally here.
The game feels like a combination of a lot of familiar elements from other games such as the hack and slash combat from Kingdom hearts, devil may cry, and bayonetta and some from the pikmin series like being in charge of multiple characters at once and the more strategy focused gameplay. There are also some light puzzle solving like in Zelda and some admittedly mediocre platforming. Throw in some space harrier, afterburner, and star fox like stages and boom, you got the wonderful 101. All this comes together to make a new gameplay experience unlike anything you have experienced before.
The wonderful 101 is a game whose main focus is its combat. Like I said earlier, it’s quite similar in feel to games like Kingdom Hearts and Bayonetta, but what sets it apart (its gameplay hook) are the Unite Morphs. Unite Morphs are special abilities that you perform by combining a number of your available heroes. They can be done by pressing a button like the dodge and block Unite Morphs, or by drawing a shape/line on the gamepad (or using the second analog stick). This is a very interesting mechanics that changes things up quite a bit and it’s a very interesting use of the gamepad. You can use a sword, a giant fist, a gun, a whip, etc. It adds variety and makes you think before you attack.
The combat has a surprising amount of depth, there are many ways in which you can attack an enemy. You can purchase new moves and items on the Market which serves as a checkpoint in each level. As you progress in the game and you purchase more and more abilities it becomes clear just how much you can actually do in this game, it’s pretty insane. But, a pretty big issue with the game is that….well, the game doesn’t tell you how to do a lot of them. If you hope to enjoy the game, you’ll have to make some effort into learning about how it all works. It’s kind of like the anti-Nintendo game in that way, at least compared to the last Nintendo game I played-Mario and Luigi: Dream team that hammered you with tutorials. The wonderful 101, on the other hand, just drops you in and says “good luck”. Near the ending I found myself saying “Oh, you can do that? Why wasn’t I told?”. I didn’t mind too much, although I would’ve liked to know these things earlier in my playthrough. But seriously, the combat is pretty damn great once you get the hang of it.
The game has a very interesting presentation, with fantastic music, very nice visuals, etc The main theme is very catchy and works very well with the theme of the game. The game mimics tilt shift look photographers use to make real world locations look miniaturized and toy like. The shiny and cartoonish nature of the characters adds to this look as well. The locations are very varied as well, so you should never get board of looking at the game.
The story telling in this game is surprisingly good too. It’s told through spoken dialogue bubbles through cutscenes. While not completely ideal, they do fit the comic book look and the character dialogue pictures are very detailed and interesting to look at. The dialogue in this game is also superb. the voice acting and writing are both superb with “star fox”-like banter going on between the characters while the story progresses. The game’s story will make you laugh, but it’s also capable of being fairly serious when it wants to be which is an important balance. My biggest complaint would have to be how they handled Wonder Pink, which is voiced by Tara Strong, she’s severely underutilized.
I have plenty of good things to say about the wonderful 101, but I also have some pretty big issues with it too. Like I mentioned earlier, the game doesn’t tell you how to play it very well. Some hint boxes will show up every once in awhile, but those boxes won’t teach you everything. You’ll have to dedicate time to learn everything the game has to offer. Also, the camera can be a problem some times. It’s not too often, but it can get pretty bad at times.
The game is pretty packed content wise. A unusually lengthy single player campaign should last a normal player from 15-20 hours, I clocked in around 30 hours through my first playthrough. I probably could double that with a second playthrough trying to unlock all of the secrets and then doing the missions in mission mode which can be played with 5 players simultaneously. So if you didn’t want to pick it up because of lack of content…well don’t do that, it easily has a lot more than Pikmin 3 and most other Wii U titles.
I’ll leave the review with this: The Wonderful 101 was a title that I was skeptical about, it didn’t help that Nintendo delayed the North American release by around 2 weeks killing off most of my hype. I might not of bought it, and that would’ve been a real damn shame. Why? Because the Wonderful 101 is THE best game the Wii U currently has to offer. It’s not a port, it’s not a remake, it’s not an overused IP, it’s a brand new and unique experience that’s probably not for everyone, but if you can get clear the learning curve…well damn, there’s something truly special here.
The Ninty Chronicle rewards The Wonderful 101 a:
A fantastic game that has few flaws which can be easily overlooked by the positive aspects. A must have game for your collection if you are a Nintendo fan, especially those that have been bugging for a new IP from the big N, this is it, and it’s truly wonderful.