The Wonderful 101 video review: strength in numbers

It's going to take you time to get the hang of The Wonderful 101, the latest from Nintendo and Platinum Games, but stick with it! Once you learn it, it becomes one of the strongest action titles of the year across all platforms, not just the Wii U.

Why settle for just one hero when you could have a hundred of them? Nintendo and Platinum's army of superheroes have arrived in The Wonderful 101, a creative take at squad-based action that's covered in Silver Age-era superhero whimsy. The planet is being invaded by an alien armada known as the GEATHJERK, and it's up to The Wonderful 100 (pronounced one-double-oh) to defeat them. The narrative is told through the eyes of leader Wonder Red, as he's quickly joined by supporting team members from around the world. The lighthearted romp effectively sets the stage for Platinum's zany action-heavy design. The Wonderful 101 seems designed with Wii U in mind, with players able to activate their powers by by drawing on the GamePad, a mechanic called the Wonder Liner. The more people you have in your team, the more powerful your weapons will be. Of course, players don't start out with all hundred teammates off the bat. Along the way, you'll have to increase your rank by deputizing endangered citizens. A higher team population allows players to create larger versions of various Unite Morph weapons, like the Unite Sword or Unite Gun. Due to its unique mechanics, this is a game that takes getting used to, and even Platinum admits that the first playthrough will feel like a tutorial. Once you get the hang of it, the pace starts to quicken and it starts to deliver upon its potential, as you start switching between whips, guns, swords, and other weapons on-the-fly. The action can be relentless at times, especially with titanic boss battles becoming the norm.

The story doesn't take itself too seriously, with moments like this

The GamePad is used for more than just activating new powers. The Wonderful 101 also takes advantage of both screens to great effect, with some puzzles requiring paying attention to both what's on the TV and what's on the GamePad. These sequences are clever, although their reliance on the GamePad's gyroscopes for camera control can be a bit cumbersome. And while the super team's weapons are all varied and easy to use, they're not necessarily easy to make. If you take your eyes off the screen to start drawing weapons, you're likely to get hit by an incoming attack, especially on higher difficulties. Fortunately, the right analog stick works just as well and, wound up become my preferred input method--especially for the game's many tricky QTE sequences. As bombastic as the adventure can be, the game does suffer from poor pacing issues. Most of the time, finding the right path isn't always obvious and too often did I wander aimlessly trying to figure out what to do next. Levels are already pretty lengthy, and these unanticipated pit stops became frustrating slogs. But once you figure out the path, there are many reasons to come back and keep playing, as there are unlockables sprinkled throughout the world, new members of the Wonderful 100 to discover, and higher scores to achieve. There are even new difficulties to unlock, with the already-challenging "Normal" being the most difficult option out-of-the-box. The controls may be cumbersome, and the pacing may be faulty, but it's a romp worth sticking with. With its superpowered premise, memorable characters, and fascinating gameplay gimmick, The Wonderful 101 is a theatrical blockbuster that's perfect for Wii U. [7]
This review is based on early downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher. The Wonderful 101 will be available at retail on Wii U. It will also be available digitally on the Nintendo eShop on September 15th for $59.99. The game is rated E10.
Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
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    September 10, 2013 10:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, The Wonderful 101 video review: strength in numbers.

    It's going to take you time to get the hang of The Wonderful 101, the latest from Nintendo and Platinum Games, but stick with it! Once you learn it, it becomes one of the strongest action titles of the year across all platforms, not just the Wii U.

    • reply
      September 10, 2013 10:04 AM

      It is cool to see Video Reviews, but you need better audio quality

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        September 10, 2013 10:05 AM

        Noted. Should hopefully be fixed up in the future.

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      September 10, 2013 10:09 AM

      Really cool to see a video review again. Audio issues aside, you looked a little nervous at the end. It's your show, man, rock it. I look forward to seeing more of these.

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      September 10, 2013 1:43 PM

      I like the video review! Nice to see, thanks.

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      September 10, 2013 2:21 PM

      Thanks for the review. Good to hear more about this game is it's getting pretty mixed reviews.

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      September 10, 2013 2:25 PM

      Good review. Game looks awesome.

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      September 10, 2013 2:33 PM

      If that 7 is as strong as the one Pikmin 3 got i'll probably love it.

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