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The Wonderful 101 Review

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On 10/09/2013 at 12:00 PM by Matt McLennan

Armpit tickling as a boss finisher? Yes please.

A must-have action game for all Wii U owners.

The Wonderful 101 is at times a normal action/adventure brawler that is typical of Platinum Games, with an over-the-top sense of humor to boot. On the other hand, The Wonderful 101 is a deep action game with a unique battle system that brings about a sense of joy and discovery, alongside intense action from the bygone era of the SNES. It is, right now, one of the most unique Wii U games in retail, but it is not a game that holds your hand. Instead it will stomp on your hand and make fun of you; chances are you probably deserve it.

The story of Wonderful 101 concerns Will Wedgewood, an elementary school teacher in Blossom City who lives a double life as Wonder Red, who is part of the Wonderful One-Double-Oh. The Wonderful 100 have been tasked with pushing back the GEATHJERK armada and over the course of nine missions (and two prologue/epilogue missions) you will meet up with other Wonder Ones with varying personalities that lend their part to the overall story. Compared to Bayonetta, which had a very disjointed story, Wonderful 101’s story is easier to follow and more humorous but it does have its twists, coupled with a few dark moments.

Yet the storyline isn’t the game’s main attraction; it’s the gameplay, and it’s definitely wonderful. Aside from the prologue and epilogue stages, each of the nine operations are split into three separate levels. While the levels are mostly linear affairs, there is a lot of exploration and battling to be done. Every mission has a different amount of ranked fights, grading your time, combo score, and the amount of damage taken; while your set path to the goal is littered with  pre-set fights. Some fights are also hidden within the stage itself, such as portals that set a handicap on your abilities or give you a time limit. Finding all of these battles will give you a better rank at the end of the mission which ranges from Consolation Prize (worst) to Pure Platinum (best). It’s a very addicting system that gives a lot of replay value.

The way to fighting back the GEATHJERK and traveling through worlds is done with the Unite Morph abilities. Over the course of your adventure, you will gain seven different Unite Morphs. With these abilities, your current selected hero can morph his teammates into a shape, like Wonder Red’s Unite Hand, which has a primary attack of punching but can also turn gears in some light puzzle solving. In order to switch Unite Morph shapes, however, you must first draw the correct Wonder Line on either the touch screen or with the right analog stick; however, there is a catch in using this power: Battery Life. When using the Wonder Liner, the battery gauge underneath your life bar depletes. In order to avoid a battery crisis, the Wonder Liner recruits citizens found throughout the levels to not only increase the number of their group, but also the battery bar. A bigger battery bar allows for bigger Unite Morphs. It brings a great sense of strategy into the battles.

There are a couple of little issues with the gameplay, however. Most of the game is in an isometric view except for some shoot-‘em-up segments and areas where action switches to the Wii U GamePad. In these areas, the action is in the third person point of view, but there is no camera control except if you press the ‘L’ button or move the GamePad around with the gyro. I found the camera to be a bit wonky here, since some areas also have battles with enemies that can get cheap hits on you. I also had issues with depth perception. In a few areas I made blind jumps thinking I could make it, but instead fell and lost some health. While the game encourages experimentation, there are some times when experimentation is punished.

When it comes to graphics and audio, The Wonderful 101 excels in every way. It  runs at a smooth sixty frames per second without any hiccups, and the artistic design for the characters and environments are spectacular. The game itself is like a globetrotting adventure, with different locales showing various little touches to make the areas feel unique. It also runs very smoothly in Off-TV play, and touch screen graphics in things like the menu or Wonderful Mart will make you want to keep an eye on the GamePad screen. Little details such as the homages to Famicom carts and shop receipts that gets printed when you purchase an item are nice touches.

The music and voice acting in The Wonderful 101 are also top notch. Nintendo and Platinum Games spared nothing to get some grade-A voice talent into this game. Each voice actor gives the characters a definite personality and make the silly script work on a many levels; Paula Tiso, who voiced Silvia from No More Heroes, voices the over-the-top villainess Vjonne as if she was in a Power Rangers episode that had a seductive stripper as the monster of the day. Performances from Tara Strong as Wonder Pink and Steve Blum as the bug GEATHJERK commander, Wanna, give this game an over-the-top Saturday morning cartoon feeling I truly dig. As a fan of voice-acting, it gets two thumbs up from me.

In the sum of all its parts, The Wonderful 101 is one of the most unique action games I’ve played on any system in recent years. The over-the-top Saturday morning cartoon feel, coupled with a deep battle system is something you cannot ignore if you are a Wii U owner or not. If you’ve been holding out on buying a Wii U, buy it for this game; The Wonderful 101 deserves to be in your collection, and it deserves to be played.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




10/09/2013 at 05:13 PM

"If you’ve been holding out on buying a Wii U, buy it for this game; The Wonderful 101 deserves to be in your collection, and it deserves to be played."

I give the game props for originality--a principle I wish sequel/rehash-happy Nintendo would learn from. Nevertheless, this one title alone is not enough to convince me to shell out $300 for last-gen hardware. Like the original Wii, I see the Wii U as a more secondary system existing to compliment one of the other two competing consoles. I'll have my thrills with Titanfall or Watch Dogs, for instance, and then sidle over to my Wii U when I have a hankering for something quirky (this game) or old-school (DK Tropical Freeze).

In truth, however, I probably won't scrape together the money for a Wii U until the next price drop, or when Smash finally hits.


10/16/2013 at 04:35 AM

It sounds interesting. I'll have to consider it once I get my Wii-U as the next game to get after Zelda HD and Pikmin 3. I love Platinum Games.


11/13/2013 at 07:52 PM

I love the sound of all this. This and Pikmin 3 are must get Wii U games right now. I just wish that, ya know, I had the money to get them right now. Super Mario 3D World comes out in a week and a half and that will be a must get too, I'm sure.

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