At Nintendo’s booth at NYCC, there was no shortage of Wii U titles shown off. However, there was one that stood out over the rest, both visually and conceptually, The Wonderful 101. Developed by Platinum Games under the head honcho Hideki Kamiya (Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 2) and published by Nintendo, The Wonderful 101 is a game that I wasn’t sure what to expect due to how different it looked. Based on the demo, I can easily say that the game went from “not even on my radar” to “one of my most anticipated Wii U titles”.
The Wonderful 101 is essentially an isometric view, action game that has the same cleverness that you’d expect from Kamiya-san. The visuals pop out tremendously, being richly vibrant and detailed, helping it achieve a very “comic book” style feel to it. The level of visual detail is just astounding and is an absolute gem to see in action. As the protagonist, you’ll fend off the villains that threaten the civilians and upon saving them, you can recruit them on your team. Now this isn’t exactly the type of team where you’ll get attached to them but rather, think of them as the way you would handle “Pikmin”. As soon as you see them, you’ll draw an arc with the touch screen and if they’re in the vicinity of it, they’ll join up immediately. They’re there to help you out and based on how many you recruit affects how much more effective your special abilities can be. For example, swiping the touch screen upward on the Gamepad allows you to form a sword that extends further based on the amount of civilians recruited. Another example would be drawing a triangular object which will let you form a hand glider to get to out of reach areas. There’s a certain point where you get to a closed building with a gear on it. You have to rotate the gear attached to it and to do so, you needed to draw a circle to form a hand, grab the gear, then rotate the right analog stick to turn it and open the door. The cool part is when you enter the building, your Gamepad screen will provide an over-the-shoulder camera angle and you’ll be able to explore the building while the TV screen still retains the isometric view. It’s instances like this that showcase how the Wii U can bring a whole new level of immersion. As you advance, you’ll have to climb up a building that has no ladder, but with some “help”, you can tell your followers to form a “chain ladder” by holding Up on the right analog stick and reposition them by moving that same stick Left or Right. Further into the stage, there was an area where you had to vault over a billboard to move on. From here, you’ll have about 6-8 seconds to hold Up on the right analog stick and form an incredibly lengthy sword. When you’re ready, hit the action button and you’ll use the sword to just barely vault over in stylish fashion.
In terms of combat, the game relies on the face buttons. You’ll use the A button to use your Unite Team Attack (such as the sword you form or the giant fist), the X button lets your team do a Rush Attack and the B button lets you jump. Using the Unite Team Attack will deplete your batteries (you’ll need these to keep doing stronger attacks) and to refill them, you’ll have to use the Rush Attack. The faster you press the X button for the rush attacks, the faster the batteries will replenish. Should you need to dodge, you can press the zR button while pushing anywhere on the left analog stick or the zL button to do a stationary guard. The mechanics may seem slightly overwhelming at first, but I can assure you, it’s incredibly simple to pickup-and-play. It has a really arcady feel to it that’s refreshing in this day and age of over-saturated genres. As I made my way through the demo, I reached the massive boss at the end of it. Staying on top of his arms, you’ll be slashing away at the three lit-up orbs on each of his hands. Halfway through the fight, you’ll transition from one arm to the other by making a “chain rope” with the right analog stick, move across and finish the fight. The boss definitely poses a challenge though, as he’ll have a variety of attacks at his disposal while also summoning enemies to prevent you from inflicting damage upon him. After the battle, the demo ended with “To Be Continued…”
As I stated earlier, this was a title that really didn’t garner my interest when I first heard about it. It seemed interesting and knowing that Kamiya-san and Platinum Games were behind it, I knew it was going to be something neat. However, once I finally got my hands on the demo, I was thoroughly engaged in the experience and was bummed out that the demo had ended. Bottom line, for any early Wii U adopter, be sure to keep a very close eye on The Wonderful 101. This may be one of the killer apps for the console…
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