Platinum Games‘ The Wonderful 101 is a game that first caught my eye when it was announced at E3 2012. The game was originally supposed to be released during the launch window for the Nintendo Wii U. However, the game was delayed at some point until now. The team behind The Wonderful 101 is what intrigued me as the game was being written and directed by Hideki Kamiya, the person who directed games such as Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and Bayonetta. The first thing I thought when seeing the game was how similar the characters looked to the designs from Viewtiful Joe, so considering we are not getting a sequel in that series anytime soon, this game can serve as a spiritual successor, albeit with a very different playstyle.
Does this game live up to Kamiya’s past projects? Let’s find out as we look at the best and worst aspects of The Wonderful 101.
The Wonderful 101 is a game that can be a bit difficult to describe to friends due to the uniqueness of the gameplay. From first glances it may look like some sort of real time strategy game with such a large team, but that is far from the truth. You start the game with only Wonder Red on your team, but quickly get to increase that number. You end up saving citizens you come across on the street early that are asking for your help. By doing this, you recruit them to your team, which has a maximum number of 100. By having a certain number of team members, you are able to use something known as a Unite Morph. This is done by creating a shape with your team members using the right analog stick and then pressing A.
With Wonder Red, you are able to use Unite Hand to fight with, but also to turn cranks around the map. By pressing the A button, you are able to attack with that Unite Morph, but you can also hit X at the same time to attack with your army of recruited team members. So rather than delegating your team members in different areas, you get a greater sense of power by controlling everyone at once on the battlefield. It is important to hit both while playing to do more damage in a quicker amount of time. It may get tiring in some long battles, but it is well worth it.
The Wonderful Ones
The key element of The Wonderful 101 is the actual Wonderful Ones that you meet as you continue through the game. As said in the last section, you start the game with only Wonder Red. However, you quickly gain other members to your team that add multiple weapons to your arsenal. The next person you meet will be Wonder Blue, who introduces probably my most used Unite Morph, Unite Sword. I found this one to be the most effective in battle due to its power and speed. Soon after you will come across Wonder Green, who uses Unite Gun. This is an interesting change with the first two using melee weapons while Green can attack from afar. The next member to be introduced was arguably my favorite in the game, Wonder Pink. She uses Unite Whip, which was my favorite Unite Morph to utilize right ahead of Unite Sword. The range helps immensely and moves with great speed. There are other Wonderful Ones that you come across after these four, but I will leave them a mystery so you will have some surprises in store as you play.
Variety of Levels
One of the first things you will notice when you turn on the game is the detailed backgrounds that you will be seeing as you play throughout the game. The early stages feature a city setting, but this can range from running through the streets to moving inside a stadium. The first few stages actually reminded me a bit of the No More Heroes series among others. This will be followed up by stages including an airport, which leads to battles on top of and inside giant aircrafts, underwater areas, jungles, and ruins. It is very good for the game that the stages are very distinct from one another, but the individual stages themselves are made up of areas that are very different in looks and the obstacles they present. Not to mention that there are multiple parts of stages where you take to the skies and participate in air battles against enemies.