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The Wonderful 101 Review

In today’s world, it costs a lot of money to make video games. Because of this fact, publishers and developers seem to be playing it increasingly safe in regards to what types of games they invest in. Needless to say, innovation is lacking on many fronts, and the gamers are the ones who suffer by being force-fed the same game repackaged over and over again. But luckily, The Wonderful 100 are here to save us. Check out the video below for my full review.

Overview

The Wonderful 101 follows a group of super heroes as they serve as Earth’s last line of defense against an invading alien army known as the GEATHJERK, or JERK for short.

The team is led by seven veterans who I can’t help but describe as a dysfunctional version of my childhood heroes, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Each of the main characters is referred to by the color of their outfit. So there’s Wonder Red, Blue, Green, Pink, Yellow, White, and Black.

Gameplay

I have to start off by saying The W101 is unlike any game I’ve ever played before. If I had to compare it to something, I’d have to say it’s a cross between Pikmin and Bayonetta. It has fast paced action elements that often require amazing timing, but also forces you to simultaneously manage a large group of followers.

Each of the game’s heroes wields a different weapon, and each one is best suited for different situations; such as Pink’s whip which is best against spiked foes and obstacles. In combat engagements, the player must use an ability called Unite Morph to bring the Wonderful 100 together to form one of these weapons.

A Unite Morph is done by drawing the shape of the weapon you want either on the GamePad screen or by using the right stick; making a the drawing larger will actually bring more of the heroes together to form a bigger, more powerful version of that weapon.

This is why the game’s learning curve is so steep, as the player must figure out which weapons are best in different situations, and how to judge the spacing and timing when deciding how big of a weapon to use, all while keeping the group together; as any members who get hit will be knocked out and unable to participate in any unite morph until they are revived. And, on top of all these new mechanics, the game features the unyielding level of difficulty action game players will come to expect.

The-Wonderful-101-1

The game breaks up the combat by way of puzzles, flying and shooting sequences, and even some Punch-Out style boss fights; most of which, have their own control schemes.

So yeah, the game has a lot to take in, and it requires a great deal of time to get acquainted with the various gameplay elements, but once you do you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more rewarding than owning your foes with a series of well-timed Unite Morphs.

The campaign is fairly long, clocking in around 15-18 hours, and it’s divided into 20-30 minute digestible missions, making it easy for players to replay missions for a higher ranking. I, for one, get goose bumps whenever I earn the Pure Platinum medals. It just makes me feel like a bad-ass.

The game also has multiplayer, but it’s a little chaotic for my taste. Luckily, mulipalyer missions can be played solo if you don’t want to deal with that craziness. With this style of gameplay though, multiplayer couldn’t have been handled much better.

Story

Once you see the game’s characters interact with each other, you’ll quickly realize that The W101 doesn’t take itself too seriously. From cheap one-liners, to slap-stick physical comedy, The W101 delivers all the cheese you’d expect from your favorite Saturday morning cartoons.

For the most part, The W101’s story will make the kid in you chuckle, as all the characters have little quirks that make them memorable. But, towards the end of the campaign, the game starts to take a much more serious tone. I thought this detracted from what made the story entertaining, and made things rather convoluted. In my opinion, the game would have benefited from keeping things on the lighter side throughout.

wonderful101-boss

Visuals/Audio

The game’s cartoony art style gives it a vibe I haven’t felt in an action game since Viewtiful Joe. Most games in this genre are going for a darker look nowadays, so it’s nice to see one trying to brighten things up. You’ll also explore a variety of environments throughout the adventure, but the industrial locations are a bit over used. Since the combat is so chaotic, the camera can sometimes work against you, especially in tighter spaces.

All of the sounds in this game go right along with its kid’s super hero cartoon theme; a fast paced soundtrack with ridiculous lyrics; over the top voice acting; and futuristic weapon sound effects. Some of the dialogue sequences are a bit lengthy, but I wouldn’t trade Wonder Red’s long windedness for anything. How does he memorize all that stuff?

Wii U GamePad Features

The W101 uses the Wii U GamePad in a lot of cool ways. Obviously, you can use it for Off-TV play and drawing your Unite Morphs, but it also plays a pivotal role in solving some of the game’s puzzles. For instance, there was one puzzle in which my TV displayed flashing light rotating around a ring of squares outside of a building I was in, while my group inside the building was displayed on my GamePad, and I had to shoot a target in the building at the same time the light stopped on specific squares outside.

Puzzles like these require players to divide their attention between the two screens in order to solve them. The only problem, as I mentioned previously, is the small spaces these puzzles put you in can force the camera into some awkward spots.

The Unite Morph ability is a little touchy at times, since some of the weapon drawings are very similar, such as whip and claw which are a zigzag and Z shape respectively. I recommend using the right stick for Unite Morphs.

wonderful-101-hd

Conclusion

While the game is complex, it’s also extremely fun and rewarding. Most notably, it’s unique. Platinum could have easy rested on their laurels, and made something similar to Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but instead they’ve created a brand new gameplay style.

If you’re an action game fan, or someone just looking for something a little different, I highly recommend you check out The Wonderful 101.

Pros

+Innovative gameplay
+Lovable cast of characters
+Bright environments please the eyes
+Saturday morning cartoon style comedy

Cons

-Finicky camera
-Unite Morph controls are a bit touchy
-Story grows weaker towards the end

Final Score 8/10

Have you guys been playing The Wonderful 101? What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments.

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  • D.M.T

    I downloaded the demo yesterday and I had a lot of fun. But I have to admit that the controls are kinda confusing at times. But judging from just the demo, I can tell that this is a great game and I need to buy it later this year.

    • Entropyguy

      It’s a fun game, but you will have to practice a lot to get the hang of the controls. And you *will* die a lot in the process. Luckily there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of a penalty for dying, except that you get a lower score. And you can re-play levels to get a better score if you want. But, again, it’s an awesome game, and utterly unlike anything I’ve ever played. :)

      • Majora’s Mask

        dying in a game is what makes me hate it and especially with ranking i want to destroy the game w101 is worth a purchase but dont expect it to be memorable for a lot of time

  • Daniel Gonzalez

    I played the demo and still stand by what I said in a previous article, it didn’t leave any impression on me. I guess for me, I just like a darker story with super hero games. For those who do buy it, enjoy and hope the gameplay keeps you entertained. An 8/10 score sounds about fair and a good score.

    • Thomas Fitzgibbon

      The actual game does become a lot darker than you might imagine towards the end, yeah alright it’s no Tim Burton Batman dark, but more so, than the demo would suggest.

    • John Andalora

      Didn’t really like the demo either. Just not a game for me.

      Edit: I caved. People keep saying the demo is bad but the game is awesome, so why not? I got it. People better be right on this one.

      Edit of the Edit: Well, I’m certainly eating my words. W101 is really good. Not a fan of the script, the jokes are weak and kind of pander to a younger audience, and the face animations are just weird… But that action, man. Those action parts of the game are really, really, cool. It reminds me of something out of Shadow of the Colossus on some of that climbing on enemies thing. Dang…

    • Felix

      the demo was really boring, as i said in the other article too weeks ago.

      bad thing because i was hype about this game. luckily that demo help me to pass this game away

    • Kirbyomega

      Is the demo on eshop?

      • Entropyguy

        Yep.

        • Kirbyomega

          AwEsome! Gonna download it now!

    • Stuart Thomas

      The demo didn’t do it justice, the game was wayyyyyy more entertaining. The reason? You have to spend a good 1-2 hours with the controls and the demo doesnt offer that much. I hated the control system, in fact i wasn’t going to buy it just for that reason. But i purchased it as my son wanted the game. I gave it an 1 hour of my undivided time that turned into 4 and a half hours. It was great, the control learning curve was just too much, thats why people passed this game up. You can’t enjoy something straight away if it’s not easy to pick up and play.

      • Elitepwnsface

        This is definitely how i felt at first playing. I gave it another go after the target buy 2 get one free deal. Glad i did because its actually really good.

    • mojack411

      The demo was like MH3U’s demo. I didn’t like either demo but I ended up picking both up when each came out. Result: 150 hours on MH and a very satisfied customer with W101. The demo didn’t even begin to show off what the game is capable of.

      As for the story, yeah there’s nothing to say about that. The story did get a little bit more grim in the second half and took some turns that I wasn’t expecting but in the end it was still like playing a kid’s cartoon, especially the finale.

    • Green

      I very much agree with this. I played the demo, and didn’t quite enjoy it, but I’m sure many people who purchased it seem to be happy as most of the reviews are mainly positive. It just sucks the game failed to sell.

  • Jack5221

    I really like Wonderful 101. I haven’t finished the game yet, but I like what I see so far. My only issue with the game was learning the controls. I had a hard time learning the controls, but once I got the hang of it I really started to enjoy myself. I love the gameplay, its extremely unique, I’ve never played anything like this before. I highly recommend it. The story is really cool too, its been keeping me on the edge of my seat.

  • aldo2410

    Isn´t like anything I played before, and I thank it to Platinum.

    • cheope

      Downloaded demo weeks ago.Purchased day one.It’ s a little bit hard the first 1-2 hour to manage as well controls but cannot stop playing! Believe me you could be addicted this game :-)

  • Entropyguy

    8/10 is probably fair. The camera wonkiness really is a bit much at times. And there *is* a steep learning curve to the game, for which you receive no tutorials (Which I think is a plus, but I can see where others might think that was a negative).

  • mojack411

    I actually liked how the story took a turn for the serious in the second half. It took me by surprise and I actually started to become invested in some of the characters. But that finale man, without spoiling anything, was everything I could’ve wanted with my initial expectations of the story.

    Controls can be a bit finicky sometimes (especially when you’re trying to draw Unite Claw and get Unite Whip 3 times out of 5) but it’s so satisfying to pull off those air combos with 5 different unite morphs when you did that I was able to look past it.

    I agree with the score for the most part, but I would give it slightly higher, like an 8.5/10 if half points are allowed.

  • greengecko007

    I will say, I’m quite confused by this review. It starts out immediately showing bias already to the game by using the old and tired argument about a lack of innovation in the video game community. Yet, the reviewer gives the game a lower score than what I would have imagined.

    From what I understand about this game, after watching several videos, it seems very well made, runs smoothly, and it’s only real technological problem is the camera at times. As far as gameplay, the controls may be different and take getting used to, but is that something that should be held against it? After all, you (the reviewer) claim you want innovation.

    Although it’s weird and obviously has a very limited audience, these factors don’t impact how well the game itself is made. I honestly was expecting a 9/10 review score, not that I am dissing your opinion, but because of the overall lenience when it comes to game reviews on this site.

    All this from a guy who would never buy this game in a million years.

    • John Andalora

      See, here’s the thing.
      it does take a while to learn the gameplay, and in that time you get really, really frustrated because the game does a bad job at teaching it to you. Each QTE is miserable, you get hurt by people who you couldn’t see, and more often than not you’ll spend most of a fight grabbing your partners again.

      That part really really sucks, and does take the fun out of the game.

      But when you get it, you really get it. It took me playing through the demo 3 times and some of the actual game, but when it clicked it is a lot of fun. It took until I ended one of the missions to realize I was clutching the controller harder than ever because I was so focused on the game. For the first time in a while the Gamepad felt natural.

      As for innovation, just because a game has it, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s perfect. A really great game is one where you are taught the controls at a steady pace, and can get into the rhythm of it a lot faster. W101 kind of throws you in the deep end, and has some ideas that weren’t really that good (like parts where you go through small corridors and use the Gamepad to view things).

      Though it’s still quite fun, it’s not perfect.

      • greengecko007

        I get what you’re saying. It’s all a matter of opinion, which I also understand. But I feel that even though the game may require getting used to (from what people say, I have no desire to play it) that in and of itself isn’t really a flaw.

        • John Andalora

          While I understand that, a game needs to explain the rules before it punishes you for not following them.
          W101 has some moments where it teaches you (like spinning cogs), but sometimes if forces combat before learning, which can make it difficult to learn something effectively.
          As for the drawings, it only shows you once how to do it when you get the new character, and doesn’t explain much else about it or why use it over others. I use sword a lot more than hand.

  • Erik

    Here’s what i think: It’s just awesome from start to the end. At first when i got the demo it was confusing at first because of the controls and how to fight. As soon i got the game it was a little confusing but after a couple of missions, things start to click in everytime. Sure the drawing on the gamepad seems a bit off but i went the the right stick in a matter of minutes. If anyone can get used to the controls and how each weapon is used in battle, then you can actually pull off amazing combos and leaving you untouched thus getting a Pure Platinum. I would give it a 9 out of 10 but an 8 or 8.5 seems fair enough for me :) (I actually don’t know why GameInformer gave it a 7.5….)

  • AAAkabob

    I played it and was loving it while increasing my skill at the game. Then college took up my time for a week and when I came back the game returned to being frustratingly hard as I tried to beat the last few missions. I agree w/ most of this review.

  • Nintedward

    I give this game twelveteen out of 10!
    Seriously though, around the 8.5/10 mark is right. The controls are undeniably finniky and may turn many people off even if some of us love them.

    Great, original game packed full of charm and 100% worth buying.

    • aldo2410

      100% worth buying or: a wonderful 101% worth buying!!!

  • Rman94

    That final battle was just..so epic, it even beat out bayonet tas finale for me! Here’s to hoping the game gets a sequel and a final close or dare I say better then gurenn lagann’s!

    • Paul Wright

      Not better than gurren lagann, but you can tell they took inspiration from the anti-spiral fight.

  • jrob23

    Having played the demo I can understand people’s opinion that the controls are difficult and that there is a steep learning curve. For instance, grabbing levers or knobs with the hand and turning, for me, seemed a little too much hassle. I like it enough to someday purchase but I have WindWaker HD and Batman Arkham City to play first. Then 3dWorld, Sonic Lost World and most likely a 3rd party game like Watchdogs or another that utilizes the gamepad well. TW101 seems like a game I need to devote all my time to. I can’t have another option that I will jump to when it gets difficult. So I will try to time it so that I don’t have anything else competing with it. So, unfortunately it will wait for a price drop and better timing.

  • crocodileman94

    8.0 is good enough.

  • Blugrave

    I get 8/10 but personally I’d give it a 9.5/10 the only thing I don’t like are the on gampad parts of missions due to the camera being hard to use. Very fixable in the sequel.

    • ICHI

      I would give it at least a 9 as it’s just such a breath of fresh air! Though with nothing else to gauge it against its very likely to get a couple of mistakes built into it. But this game is brave and a lot of the hard to control bits go away after a bit of practice. For instance on my first playthrough I thought the inside areas camera was terrible, then I realised while playing through the first mission for the second time, I could control the camera with the gyroscope in the pad! I don’t think the game ever told me this?

      • Blugrave

        Gyroscope is the weight right? It doesn’t work to well for me, especially when you need to turn around. As for combat mechanics! AWESOME! Original and fresh. Plus I beat Bayonetta for the first time prior to this game and I love it more. It’s just so unique. I hope this becomes a franchise. Add me on wii U bro “Blugrave”

    • Arthur Jarret

      Agree, the gyro for inside camera was not very succesful – and they should’ve just kept the fixed camera from the other 99%. The length of the game, the controls (easy to learn, hard to master), the story and the replayability will make this a game to replay every once in a while for me – just like mario 64, symphony of the night or chrono trigger before that

      • Blugrave

        I’m happy to hear that you list this game along side those other legendary games. Have you guys heard? Kamiya said he’d like to do a Wonder Blue spin off. It’d be a hack and slash but realistic. I’m thinking DMC like.Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Well Speak up about it guys. I emailed WiiU Daily about this but I got no response. I’d really like an article about this.

    • sd

      These sections almost ruined the game. I hated the controls here and for that I would downgrade it to 8/10. I almost wanted to stop playing at these points, which shows how much I disliked these part. But the rest of the game was very good.

  • The Clockwork Being

    Definitely a game I would pick up.

  • Michael Jurado

    This game is kick ass I loved the controllers and personally I would have given it a 9 if it had some of that old school difficulty

  • Blugrave

    @John The Author!
    Any chance you can post an article about Kamiya’s interest in doing a Wonder Blue spin off?! The World needs to know, and needs to build up the hype.

  • Empire State of Mind

    It’s a shame I have been playing this game for a week straight with no slow down, and every reviewer starts off with saying the same thing, how much a breath of fresh air this game is… game informer, ign, here, and multiple other sites…. some go on to praise the game on how different it is and how beautiful it is, quotes that most games these days can’t even attain. Then all the reviewers give it below a 9… which honestly seems backwards considering the way they all describe the game. This game really is a 10 the control issue everyone is having is the same control issue anyone would have trying to master a intense fighting game. Who picked up a controller and within a few weeks mastered the street fighter moves.

    Its the birth of a new style of control for /action/fighting/hack n slash games, and for that alone it warrants a rather high score for nailing it as well as it has. I find myself switching between the gamepad and the analog for various combos which are easier to either initiate one way or another. Don’t think because the shapes are easy to draw that because it didn’t work there is something wrong with the controls many times its because either your characters are stunned, or you don’t have enough fighters ready at the moment. The action is so fast paced sometimes you can overlook the tiny variables the game takes into account.

    I was really hoping this site would have rated the game higher not that an 8 is not fair, but honestly so many other games get away with worse mistakes and earn higher scores and without any of the pros that this game has earned. Not all Pros are equal 8 is ok… but its still underrating this game… wish reviewers where not afraid to give this game the 10 it deserves. It’s just as revolutionary in its creative approach as something as massive and easily impressive like GTA or The Last of Us but in a very different field.

    • sd

      The problem is that although it is great it can also be annoying. I completed this game after 16 hours of play and it was very good. But some sections were very annoying and almost made me want to stop playing it. When i got past these sections it became great again. So I do agree that it is new and innovative and a breath of fresh air. I would recommend it to others, but I would also only score it 8/10 as well due to the many problems in the game.

    • John Andalora

      Disagree.

      Great fighting games have this sort of…. control scheme so that newcomers and veterans can get a great experience with it. Newcomers won’t feel overpowered by those who know all the combos, but veterans can certainly kick butt with great combos and defeat enemies better than just mashing buttons.

      W101 definitely has that veteran standard without catering to newcomers easily, which can take it out of a game.

      Other than that, I would personally give it an 8 for camera issues, cheesy writing, and ideas that just don’t quite feel natural (like those times when you have to look at the Gamepad in small corridors.

      Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

  • http://people.ign.com/pdxmojo81 Pdxmojo81

    This game takes a bit to get use to, specifically the controls for the unite morphs, but once you get it its very fun. 8/10 is a good score. Give it more than an hour.

  • DragonSilths

    I give it a 6/10. Loved the story, humor, and cut scenes. But when I actually was playing I hated it. I was like come on just get on with the story already.

    • Daniel Gonzalez

      Were there too many cutscenes? Kinda sounds like it to me.

      • DragonSilths

        No? Just took to long to get to the next cutscene lol. I was like I DONT WANT TO PLAY I JUST WANT TO HEAR MORE OF THE STORY!!!! lol

        • Daniel Gonzalez

          When you only wanna hear the story and not play the game, that’s a bad sign. Lol.

          • DragonSilths

            I know. To me that means the game failed to do what it was supposed to do.

    • John Andalora

      Weird thing is, I’m vice versa. Liked the game when I actually was playing, but don’t care for the story, humor, and cutscenes. Those first scenes repeat the same joke that people have trouble keeping a pose for a long time, and that really didn’t capture me at all.

      • DragonSilths

        We all like different things.

  • discuss

    I don’t like this game at all. I don’t like the atstyle nor the gameplay.

  • flybass

    I’m waiting for a price drop – based on the demo I’d buy it at 39

  • Marcel Jenkins

    This game is brillance itself. Most reviewer admit that. Its just that’s gamers in general have been spoiled by pick-up-and-play games with almost 0 learning curve or depth unless you play competitively (which the average gamer does not). I hate to say it but the average gamer just isn’t good enough for this kind of game. It requires patience and training to get good at. Try playing UMVC 3, DMC, etc when you don’t know what you’re doing. Its not too fun to play. W101 is the same thing but in the entitled generation we live in if you can’t master it in 10 mins its trash.

    The controls are flawless. Anyone who says otherwise either didn’t stick with it long enough or just plain bad. There is nothing wrong with them. Otherwise how could people like Saur on youtube (check him out if you want to see how this game is meant to be played) wouldn’t be able to pull off the stuff he and others do. Again, the controls are flawless, just too advanced for some, just like street fighter or bayonetta.

  • leo
  • TaintedXGamer

    I can draw so, when i do pick up the game, it be rather too easy to draw these unite morph signs ;P

  • Paul Wright

    This ended up being one of my top games of 2013. This game is fking awesome.
    I also thought the story was better in the second half imo.
    Also, Get good, the controls are fast and accurate once you get it down.

  • Is_Mort

    8/10? So that means 5/10.