The Wonderful 101 was always one of those games where if I got a Wii U, I would definitely give it a go, which I did! So what did I think of it? Read the review to find out!
While this game may look kid friendly, let’s just look at who developed it. Yup, Platinum Games. Known for their rather difficult hack n’ slashers, this is no exception. Don’t let the looks fool you. Along with that, it has a good but extremely humorous story, this game treats itself like a game a lot of the time. It seems to make plenty of references to Platinum Games’ previous games, some of those dating back to the Capcom days, for example, the character designs look extremely similar to those from Viewful Joe. Which is why, if you’re a Platinum Games fan like myself, you should probably definitely give this game a go.
Each piece of the soundtrack is well suited to this game, nothing seems out-of-place in this area. It even has its own weird theme tune.. which surprisingly suits it as well.
I think where it really shines though in this part is the voice acting. Each character had good voice work, it’s a rare thing to say this about Japanese games since they normally don’t have much luck when it comes to being dubbed, I think this did it well though.
For a Wii U game, The Wonderful 101 has graphics you could say are on par with PS4 and Xbox One titles. Although I think they were a bit too powerful for the system as when there was quite a bit going on there was noticeable lag. But we do have to remember there is a lot going on, at least 100 characters are on the screen at once, then enemies and then the environment, which adds up to quite a lot of detail. The lag was minimal so I won’t complain about it too much.
I found the character design to be the best out of this. There’s so many of them. Each of the designs are different (unless we’re looking at civilians, they are all near enough the exact same until you enter a new stage), they kind of have the same style as Viewful Joe characters and seem to be inspired by Japanese TV shows like Super Sentai or Kamen Rider (if you really have no idea what I’m talking about, think Power Rangers but even more over done). The bosses were designed nicely as well, one of my favorites was an early one (seen in one of the above screens), it kind of looked like it came straight out of Bayonetta (looks a lot like Fortitudo). Even the normal enemy designs were all awesome, there was maybe only a few re-colors although this was mainly when fighting returning bosses, each normal enemy had their own unique design.
You’ll see quite a few references to Platinum Games’ own games, whether it be from their time with Capcom or recent games, I’m sure if you have played some of their games you’ll catch out little bits here and there. There is also some references made to Nintendo exclusive franchises as well.
Each stage of the game introduced a different environment, so this kept it from feeling like you were always running about the same place.
Animations were quite fluent (except the bits where it would lag slightly), you could freely shift between your different methods of attack (as well as having them colored which made it easier to see at least who or what you were trying to play as.
The Wonderful 101 story is kind of mixed between serious and humor themes in its story. Although it does most of the time, treats itself like a game and kind of is a parody to those shows I mentioned in the Graphics/Visuals section of this review. The main character Wonder-Red likes to overdo the whole “Why if it isn’t “Character’s Name”, leader of “Organization”, and so on”. While all the other characters are making comments on how he remembers all this stuff, is this really required every time he meets someone. This may or may not get a bit annoying to you, but it’s his character. While Wonder-Blue is a lot like Dante from the Devil May Cry series and proceeds to insult and becomes Red’s rival (a bit of a Pokemon reference I think). Then Wonder-Green there to purposely annoy Blue. So pretty much, you have a cast of characters who have a thing for annoying each other.
Saying that probably makes you think the story is going to be annoying, but it’s not, there is some serious parts where each of the characters settle down a bit and concentrate on the task. While there is times they’ll be busy having little arguments and fights among each other.
The story is about the Wonderful 100, a team of masked super heroes who protect the world from the alien invaders known as the Geathjerk. The Geathjerk are at it again. A mysterious kid known of Luka (who may or may not be the same Luka from Bayonetta.. his character actually fits to being the same character) also shows up every now and then.
In Wonderful 101, you control a team of 100 super heroes at once. Depending on how many you have on your side, will affect how big of weapons you can create. The bigger the weapons, the more damage there is dealt. It is otherwise a hack n’ slash styled game, a genre Platinum Games rarely fails at.
While the game definitely has a learning curve and probably is best played using the pad controller (some of the drawing motions in this game can be quite difficult to do with a pro controller, with the few exceptions like sword, build etc). It will take a bit of time, but practice makes perfect in this game, even if you have to decrease the difficulty level just so you can learn it.
The hack n’ slash is done just like most of Platinum Games’ games of this genre, you gain a combo by varying your moves (it’s very similar to Bayonetta’s combo system), you have your usual moves like stinger, launcher etc (although, most of these moves do not make an appearance at first, but you do eventually unlock them). The combat system is actually very in-depth, especially later on in the game when you basically have every type of weapon you can think of. You will need to have a good memory though just to remind the patterns you need to use for certain weapons, they aren’t too complicated and are designed so you can quickly scribble them without paying too much attention.
You’ll fight enemies which will force you to change your combat style every so often, this being more common in the later stages, you’ll find yourself changing your weapons for nearly every enemy. Which can be quite challenging seeing since you have a gauge which limits how many times you can do this over the course of time until it regenerates or you use an item to restore it instantly.
You can also buy additional moves like dodge, shield etc, and upgrade those again adding spikes so they can damage enemies when you have perfect timing.
It also varies in gameplay styles a little, in boss stages you’re most likely chasing after the boss at first in your ship, shooting them, each boss has a different strategy to defeat them with, it isn’t really just pressing buttons, you have to take the hints the game throws at you and use the correct weapon to get the job done swiftly.
There was quite a few similarities with Bayonetta to this game, the rankings are done the same way, you are graded on various things, items used/deaths etc, you get the idea, if you have ever played Bayonetta or even any of the Devil May Cry series you’ll know how this works, the highest ranking being Pure Platinum which would mean being absolutely perfect in that stage, this will take a good bit of practice for some stages. It also includes mixing materials for items, this was a system in Bayonetta too where you would have picked up items on stage and you were given a range of items you could make, showing you everything you need.
The Wonderful 101 may seem like an annoying game at first before you get the hang of the control scheme but later turns into a great game. I really do recommend anyone with a Wii U that hasn’t got this game yet to consider it, it’s one of the lesser known of titles, kind of forgotten about but worthwhile playing if you have the console. It really shows what the Wii U is capable of with its pad controller. Definitely a game for Platinum Games fans. You can also be looking up to maybe 50 or so hours of game play when it comes to unlocking all those bottle caps. So there’s a good bit of re-playability in it for those interested.
Personally, before getting the game myself, I watched a pile of other reviews and so on, most complaining about the controls but these only seem to be major issues at the start. Yes, I know, it’s the start that can determine if the game is worth continuing for playing for some people, but you really do have to give The Wonderful 101’s gameplay some time before putting the game down, never to be played again. Even adjust the difficulty level if you need to, the game has a learning curve but for the fact of how enjoyable it can be, I really do urge people to stick at it.