First-party Nintendo games were pretty scarce until Pikmin 3 released. Following that release is an interesting new title called The Wonderful 101. Not much was fully known about The Wonderful 101, until closer to it’s release date. Nintendo even devoted a whole Nintendo Direct to The Wonderful 101 in order to further explain what the game is about. It’s definitely a game that has a lot going on, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
To start, The Wonderful 101 is a game that’s full of action. No surprise, since the developers are Platinum Games (the folks behind Bayonetta). It follows a group of mask-wearing heroes called The Wonderful 100 (often pronounced 1-double-oh), as they band together to prevent the invasion of Earth from the alien race, GeathJerk.
There is a lot to take in when playing The Wonderful 101. You take control of The Wonderful 100 all at once as you face the alien threat. In order to pull off attacks, you’ll need to make use of The Wonderful 100′s Unite Morph ability, which turns your group of heroes into various objects. By drawing out shapes with your heroes, either with the gamepad touch screen or right thumbstick, you’ll assume the form of the shape drawn. For example, drawing a circle will summon the Unite Hand to do punches or grab things. A straight line will form the Unite Sword. You’ll gain more forms as you progress further in the game.
You don’t start off with the full 100 team though. So in order to assemble a large group of members, you’ll recruit the help of the numerous citizens from the city. Simply drawing a circle around a normal citizen will turn into a wonder-hero temporarily. This is important because your Unite Morphs become more powerful when you use more heroes in the shapes you draw. You can also summon multiple shapes at once, and that will require a large amount of heroes in order to pull off.
The Good: The story does sound like your standard heroes vs. aliens storyline, however the story of The Wonderful 101 is probably the biggest reason why I’ve enjoyed this game a lot, since it’s just flat out ridiculous and fun. It’s also really helpful that the presentation of the game is so great. Fantastic voice work accompanies the multiple characters you encounter, the music that plays out is spot on with the action, and the world you explore is very colorful. Let’s just say, it’s quite wonderful.
Matching the great presentation is the amount of action that will occur. A lot will happen in this game, and it can be pretty satisfying to play through. The boss fights are huge and tense, and will definitely keep you engaged. You’ll certainly experience a lot of memorable moments in this game.
Took me around 15 hours to complete the story of the game, but there is still plenty to do. Since you are scored in each encounter and overall from each chapter, you can replay past chapters to improve your score. There is also a Mission Mode where you’ll take on various small missions, and can do so with up to four others in cooperative play. Another incentive to replay missions is to discover all the secrets and collectibles you may have missed. There is a lot in this game, and those who are really into the universe of The Wonderful 101 can look forward to a lot of content to uncover.
The Bad: While the high action is great, it can also be too much at times. You’ll soon find out that a lot will be happening on the screen, and you may often lose track of what’s going on. You’ll face off with lots of enemies, and will definitely need to make great use of your various abilities. Especially when you’re encountering multiple enemy types. It can get overwhelming when trying to manage all the stuff going on and that led to some frustrating moments. Luckily, the game is generous with its checkpoints, so there’s not too much of a penalty with dying (other than your score).
The game is also difficult due to the multiple mechanics at work. Drawing shapes can be inconsistent, since the drawings for a couple of the shapes are pretty similar. So you’ll mean to draw one object, but may get another. I often play using the Wii U Pro controller, so I mostly use the right thumbstick when drawing shapes. However, I found that drawing those shapes on the touch screen instead often helped. There is definitely a learning curve to the game, so it can be a tough climb early on. I would even recommend players to change the difficulty to easy and to change over to normal when they feel more comfortable with controls and mechanics. Possibly even playing the whole game on Easy, to avoid frustrations.
Overall Thoughts: The Wonderful 101 has a lot of stuff going on, which is good and bad. I really enjoyed the amount of flair this game has, and the action of the gameplay. I did get frustrated at multiple points though due to the difficulty and inconsistent drawing mechanic. Once I’ve fully understood the game though (and playing parts on Easy), the experience only got better. This is a game you’ll really need to put effort in, and it will be very rewarding in the end. The Wonderful 101 won’t be for everyone, but I highly recommend Wii U owners to at least check the game out. Whether it be through trying out the game’s demo or viewing the multiple explanation videos found online. It’s a game full of ambition and so much uniqueness, that it deserves plenty attention.