The Wonderful 101 is batshit crazy, and I love it. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Platinum Games, but I was genuinely taken aback by how much fun I had with nothing more than the public demo released on the Nintendo eShop last week.
In a glorious mashup of Pikmin, Power Rangers, and button-mashing combat, players take control of a hero who is saving a colourful world from a myriad of enemies and contraptions. The Wonderful 101 has you running from place to place, collecting bolts, power-ups, and most importantly, citizens.
These citizens will march into the front lines of combat to help you complete your mission, however they serve a far more important purpose as they morph into special attacks. Drawing shapes on the GamePad will morph your citizens into giant weapons, such as swords, fists and guns to lay waste to enemies in furious combos.
The demo features three special weapons: the sword is spawned by drawing a straight line, the Crimson Fist is created by drawing a circle, and a gun is delivered by drawing a L shape. The bigger the shape, the bigger the weapon, which lead to to drawing the biggest L possible to spawn a bazooka.
Each of these special moves drains battery power, which can be replenished by collecting spare batteries, completing combos or simply waiting. It’s a simple system, but one that forces the player to use these morph abilities sparingly as they switch between regular combat moves to maintain a healthy battery charge.
The Wonderful 101 is completely over-the-top, from its colourful presentation to its environmental based combat which allows you to literally throw tanker trucks at your enemies for an awesome victory.
Hideki Kamiya’s experience behind the Viewtiful Joe series is proudly on display in almost every facet of The Wonderful 101. Each area is locked until you defeat every enemy on the screen, with a grading system presented before you run into the next area of the level. The character design is extremely similar, yet it manages to feel unique and special on its own.
The Wonderful 101 does what no other Wii U title has managed to do since launch, showcase the strengths of the system. The graphics are sharp and pop from the screen, the controls make great use of the GamePad, but it can also be played competently on the Pro Controller. It’s also worth mentioning that the game supports 5-player co-op at launch, and given how crazy the gameplay is, I am willing to bet that is a blast.
The Wonderful 101 demo is limited to 15 play sessions, and I’ve already managed to knock out 11 of them over the past few days. Thankfully I only have to wait until the 22nd of August to get my hands on the game, but I’m already willing to state that The Wonderful 101 is the first game that I can confidently label a system seller for Nintendo.