Words by Milo Fisher
The Wii U is known for being a console for younger gamers due to the lack of hard and challenging games for the system. Thankfully, Platinum Games have decided to bring a hardcore game to the Nintendo market with The Wonderful 101.
Platinum Games have been known to create whacky games with interesting mechanics that define their iconic creativity. This creativity is in 101 by the bucket load, characters and locations are some of the strangest and most entertaining things to come out of a game recently, with loveable characters such as wonder-toilet and wonder-mailman being some of my personal favorites. The story takes on a Saturday morning cartoon vibe where the main cast go up against hordes of alien invaders that trap people inside giant gumball machines. The story never dares to take itself seriously, and I thank it for that. Too many games these days try to be a gritty story about humanities evils, so it’s nice to see a game have so much fun with its story and characters.
Wonderful 101 plays like a dungeon crawler mixed with a drawing game. The player controls a certain wonder-hero and uses the other 100 heroes around them to create items or weapons by drawing them on the touch screen. The premise is cool and some of the forms that can be created are really inventive, but the execution of some of these forms can be downright painful. Creating powerful weapons and attacking drains a battery meter that allows the heroes to hold their form, but sometimes the heroes will randomly disperse or shrink to a smaller version of the weapon when the bar still has energy. It’s a pain to have to stop attacking a group of enemies because you need to re-draw a sword again and again because the heroes keep disbanding.
A lot of success in 101 comes from proper timing. The game allows the player to buy the block and dodge ability from the start, and doing so is crucial to achieving victory, because 101 is a hard game already, and players will need all the help they can get. Learning to properly guard and deflect enemy attacks is required to survive, timing the block just right will reflect the damage and daze the enemy, allowing the heroes to do some serious damage. Having the game focus heavily on timing and learning enemy patterns harkens back to old retro games where the only way to safely succeed was to play a level over and over until you discovered the best way to deal with a boss, and 101 constantly reminded me of those glorious days.
Despite the unique and inventive gameplay, 101 get boring rather quickly. Playing for more than an hour often had me tapping my foot and waiting for something new to happen. The game introduces mechanics and new enemy types very slowly, and it isn’t long before the majority of the time was spent spamming the sword and glove at enemy weak spots. Thankfully the game gives mid-level checkpoints where the player can quit and come back to, but the fact I questioned if I wanted to keep playing after only an hour and a half was slightly worrying. Children may find the repetitious gameplay absolutely fine, but people looking for more detail and depth to the game may be a bit let down.
The Wonderful 101 is a fun time for any action fan, providing that you don’t mind mashing the same attacks into the same enemies over and over, while pausing to re-draw the same weapon for the billionth time. While it isn’t the console selling exclusive Nintendo were hoping for, I think that anyone with a Wii U should check it out and see what all the fuss is about.